OWL Pro-Am West: 4 takeaways from weekend one cover image

OWL Pro-Am West: 4 takeaways from weekend one

Let’s take a look at what went down over the course of four days of play.

The first weekend of 2023 Overwatch League play is in the books. A preseason preamble to the regular season, the OWL Pro-Am West event is our first look at an Overwatch League facing turmoil. Unhappy league investors, teams being shuffled around, and more have been the offseason narrative.

But the advent of this Contenders/OWL showcase brings about a whole slew of new questions. Let's take a look at the four biggest takeaway from the first weekend of play.

OWL-Pro-Am West: Contentious Contenders

A lot has been said about the inclusion of the T2 Contenders teams in Overwatch League, along with much conjecture. Is it a portent that the league is in trouble? Are the Contenders just the OWL equivalent of seat-fillers at the Oscars? Will League investors continue to cry into their solid-gold toilets over Contenders teams being given a temporary seat at the table?

But none of that has anything to do with the actual performances of these seven teams--three of which playing during the first weekend. The verdict?

....I mean, it started out promising, right?

The NA Contenders squad Trick Room came right out of the gate with a statement match against the former multi-time champion San Francisco Shock. Not just an upset, Trick Room outplayed this new Shock squad and rendered its Rookie of the Year and MVP player Kim "Proper" Dong-hyun inert.

And yet, the momentum stopped there for Trick Room, as well as the other Contenders squads. The three Contenders representatives at the OWL Pro-Am West opening weekend combined for a record of four wins and eight losses. While four Contenders teams remain, Trick Room and Saints represented the best that T2 had to offer.

If that was its best then the other four teams should prepare for trouble.

Shock and awe

Speaking of the Shock: What a wild weekend for them, huh? Starting out 0-2 and being the first OWL team to drop a win to a Contenders squad. It didn't look good for a team predicted to do great things in the 2023 season. Yet, you can never count out a roster that has a player the caliber of Proper.

His play on Tracer appeared time and again as a life raft that San Francisco clung to for survival. This includes a map on Antarctic Peninsula against Timeless in which he almost single-handedly turned around from a 90 percent deficit.

San Francisco qualified for week three with their second place, 2-2 record in Group A. Will the Shock continue to grow in power? We'll be waiting two weeks to find out for sure.

The undefeated

Not to discredit the Florida Mayhem and Atlanta Reign, but it feels like both teams quietly and efficiently went undefeated in weekend one of the OWL Pro-Am West. This isn't to say that both team's run through Groups A and B wasn't impressive. Far from it. However, it might be fair to say that with the Shock not playing their best it left the door open for a few teams to dominate.

Both squads achieved this on the back of solid, uncomplicated team play. In the case of the Florida Mayhem they also managed to remind people of the wide difference between a professional OWL team and a T2 Contenders squad.

No offense to Trick Room, but their game on Sunday looked more akin to when I get matched up in Quick Play against someone in Grandmaster than a pro Overwatch match.

Both Florida and Atlanta will head into the playoff bracket undefeated and stronger than ever.

OWL Pro-Am West: Meta madness

Yes, the above Roadhog pick was one-half tilt, one half-troll. However, it does highlight an important aspect of this first weekend of play: We saw a lot of different Heroes used in myriad ways. At last we saw Overwatch League play the meta was firmly locked into various versions of Winston/Kiriko/Lucio. And perhaps it's the inclusion of Contenders teams who don't always adhere to the pro meta, but we saw a lot of different looks when it came to characters.

The two predominant team compositions focused on dive and brawl, but both getting different variants. We saw a number of teams deploy and find success with coordinated dive compositions of Wrecking Ball, Tracer, and Sombra. Meanwhile, on the deathball side there were a number of Ramattra and Reinhardt compositions.

There was even some solid Pharah play on the part of rookie standout Kamden "Sugarfree" Hijada from the Vancouver Titans, dropping a crushing Barrage on Trick Room.

Will this trend continue? With four more Contenders teams left to play the answer seems to be "yes." We may not know how the full meta shakes out until official season play begins. However, by that point we'll be looking at a new Support Hero entering the arena and all bets are off.

And keep (Over)watch on esports.gg for more esports news and OWL notes.