Overwatch League 2021: The favorites in the West and the potential surprises.

The Overwatch League returns for its 2021 season in an online format. There are twenty teams that form two groups n based on their location for the season - East and West. The West includes teams from North America and Europe. It also features some tournament favorites such as San Francisco Shock, Los Angeles Gladiators.

The twelve teams in the West are as follows:

  • Atlanta Reign.
  • Boston Uprising.
  • Dallas Fuel.
  • Florida Mayhem.
  • Houston Outlaws.
  • London Spitfire.
  • Los Angeles Gladiators.
  • Paris Eternal.
  • San Francisco Shock.
  • Vancouver Titans.
  • Toronto Defiant.
  • Washington Justice.

The top three OWL teams of the West

The West comprises twelve Overwatch League teams who will compete for the top few spots to play in the May Melee tournament. Here are Esports.gg’s top five teams from the West, and a few more that can throw up a few surprsies.

San Francisco Shock

<em>San Francisco is the favorite to win the OWL West division. Image Credit: </em><a href="https://twitter.com/SFShock/status/1375981560399155203"><em>San Francisco Shock</em></a><em>. </em>
San Francisco is the favorite to win the OWL West division. Image Credit: San Francisco Shock

As the two-time Champions, San Francisco Shock comes into this season as the overwhelming favorites. The team will feature the same tank lineup of Matthew "super" DeLisi and Myeong-hwan "smurf" Yoo. The duo was a big reason for SFS’s strength last year and will continue to play besides each other in 2021. The team’s DPS lineup is almost mostly the same, although SFS has surely added some new faces. Nam-joo "Striker" Kwon remains the face of the San Francisco Shock DPS lineup and should be on the team's startig roster throughout the season. The biggest change for the team comes in its support lineup. Losing Grant "moth" Espe to Los Angeles Gladiator will be a huge hit to the team’s strength. Moth’s Mercy played a key role in San Francisco’s Grand Final victory over Seoul Dynasty in the 2020 season. But despite this change, SFS is one of the season favorites.

Los Angeles Gladiators

<em>The Los Angeles Gladiators is one of the top three teams in the Overwatch League. Can it challenge the San Francisco Shock? Image Credit: </em><a href="https://twitter.com/LAGladiators/status/1382413041690574848"><em>Los Angeles Gladiators</em></a><em>. </em>
The Los Angeles Gladiators is one of the top three teams in the Overwatch League. Can it challenge the San Francisco Shock? Image Credit: Los Angeles Gladiators

The Los Angeles Gladiators snagged Moth from San Francisco Shock, a move that could be a gamechanger for the team. However, Gladiator’s tank lineup looks weak at first glance. The team has Indy "SPACE" Halpern, who is one of the best tank players in the world but the lineup lacks depth. New names such as Kim “MuZe” Young-hun and Kim “skewed” Min-seok have a high skill level. But their lack of experience at the highest level might impact their performance.

Ji-hyeok "birdring" Kim leads the Gladiators' DPS lineup. But the former London Spitfire player has lacked consistency. It is the new blood that could help Gladiators surprise opponents due to the deep hero pool and flexibility of its players. Gladiators are one of the favorites to top the West and one of the biggest challengers to San Francisco's claim of being the best Overwatch League team.

Florida Mayhem

<em>Florida Mayhem has a small roster with the core intact. Image Credit: </em><a href="https://twitter.com/FLMayhem/media"><em>Florida Mayhem</em></a><em>.</em>
Florida Mayhem has a small roster with the core intact. Image Credit: Florida Mayhem.

Florida Mayhem added Seung-hun "Checkmate" Baek, Sung-jun "SLIME" Kim and Min-seok "OGE" Son. The Overwatch League team’s core has remained together for the most with the addition of the three new players. Florida Mayhem has a relatively small roster but the tight-knit nature of the roster ensures that the team can focus on strengthening its playstyle and working on existing strengths. The team has three DPS, two tanks and two support players, so there will be very few changes through the maps. The team’s strength in OWL 2021 will depend on how the coaching staff can extract the maximum performance off the roster. 

Washington Justice

<em>The Washington Justice has one of the best Tank+DPS combos in the League. Image Credit: </em><a href="https://twitter.com/washjustice/status/1377059519700828166"><em>Washington Justice</em></a><em>.</em>
The Washington Justice has one of the best Tank+DPS combos in the League. Image Credit: Washington Justice.

Overwatch fans have high expectations off the Washington Justice’s DPS lineup in 2021. The Overwatch League team has Ho-sung "TTuba" Lee, Gui-un "Decay" Jang, Tae-hee "Jerry Min and Sung-won "Assassin" Kim. Decay and Assassin are two of the best DPS players in the League and bring significant firepower to the Justice roster. Assassin was a part of Runaway and 2021 will be his first year in the Overwatch League. If he can maintain his form from Contenders into the League, Assassin can fuel Washington Justice to the top.

But Assassin does not have a lot of pressure on his shoulders, not yet at least. Decay single-handedly carried the Washington Justice last season and with more support, fans can expect him to achieve greater heights. While the Washington Justice DPS lineup is extremely strong, the team’s tank players will make a difference in the May Melee. Tae-sung "Mag" Kim and Jun-ho "Fury" Kim are two of the best tank players in the Overwatch League 2021 West and can provide more than enough space for the DPS lineup to shine.

The Next Tier

Atlanta Reign

<em>The Atlanta Reign players. Image Credit: </em><a href="https://twitter.com/ATLReign/status/1379132228471554053"><em>Atlanta Reign Twitter</em></a><em>.</em>
The Atlanta Reign players. Image Credit: Atlanta Reign Twitter.

The Atlanta Reign brought in many changes to the roster this season.  Most recently, the team added Se-hyun "Pelican" Oh and Kai "Kai" Collins to its lineup boosting the Overwatch League team's chances in OWL 2021. Pelican is a big signing for the Reign and will surely be the showpiece of the team. The team's tank player, Blake "Gator" Scott, did not perform as per expectations last year, but the player has potential and high expectations. This was actually the case for most of the Atlanta Reign roster last year.

It will be interesting to see if Atlanta players can find the consistency and form this season. All eyes will be on iTae-hoon "Edison" Kim and Seung-hyun "Ir1s" Kim to step up for the team. But Se-hyun "Pelican" Oh and Kai "Kai" Collins’s addition to the roster adds the extra oomph needed for the team to break into the top tier of OWL. Kai already has experience playing against the best teams in OWL and is significantly better at hitscan heroes. Atlanta Reign remains a mystery in the West; the team has a lot of potential but its 2020 performance does not inspire confidence. 

Dallas Fuel - Bleed Blue

<em>Dallas Fuel. Image Credit: </em><a href="https://twitter.com/DallasFuel/status/1381389106152759299"><em>Dallas Fuel’s Twitter</em></a><em>.</em>
Dallas Fuel. Image Credit: Dallas Fuel’s Twitter.

A closer look at the Dallas Fuel roster will remind Overwatch fans of the Element Mystic lineup. Player familiarity is an excellent strategy to improve the team’s synergy. The Dallas Fuel management hopes to build on this synergy to find success in 2021. The Fuel roster has a strong tank lineup featuring Eui-Seok "Fearless" Lee and Choi “Hanbin” Han-been. Fearless was one of the standout players in 2020 for Shanghai Dragons and has been extremely consistent in his OWL career. The player’s versatility and deep hero pool will be crucial for Dallas Fuel’s performance in 2021. It’s easy to sleep on the Dallas Fuel this season. But the team’s coaches and support staff seems to have had a focus on ensuring excellent intra-team synergy which should translate into better performance and good results. 

Houston Outlaws

<em>Houston Outlaws added Junkbuck to its coaching staff. Image Credit: </em><a href="https://twitter.com/Outlaws/status/1374462472430620678"><em>Houston Outlaws</em></a><em>.</em>
Houston Outlaws added Junkbuck to its coaching staff. Image Credit: Houston Outlaws.

The Houston Outlaws continues on its 2020 philosophy of prioritizing flexibility over hero-specialization. The Overwatch League team has a decent mix of Contenders players and some old familiar faces. The DPS lineup comprises some big names such as Dante "Danteh" Cruz, João Pedro "Hydration" Goes Telles, Jung-woo "Happy" Lee and Kyle "KSF" Frandanisa. Jacob "JAKE" Lyon also makes a return to the League and will be one of the popular faces of the League. The tank lineup looks underwhelming, but the players' flexibility should be enough to cover for any lack of strength in the tank department. William "Crimzo" Hernandez and Enrique "Joobi" Triana are the only two support players on the roster. One of the biggest changes to the team is the addition of Jaewon "Junkbuck" Choi. The former SFS coach brings some innovative strategies and and his coaching style focusses on strengthening the players' playstyle.

On paper, the Houston Outlaws player roster does not look very strong. Jake is a decent addition to the team but there are no indications he will shine as a player on the team. The most valuable signing for the Outlaws has been Junkbuck. The coach brings a keen eye for talent and should be able to utilize the players to their full extent. 

Overwatch League 2021 West features some of the best teams in the entire League. Will San Francisco Shock manage a three-peat? Or will some other team surprise the favorites.

Stay tuned to Esports.gg for the latest Overwatch League news and updates.

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