After the Grand Finals of Season 4 wrapping up in September, the Overwatch League has once again entered the offseason. During this phase, while we wait for Season 5 to begin, teams have begun retooling in preparation for the upcoming season. Unlike other years, however, this offseason has proven to be particularly chaotic, thanks to the announcement that Season 5 (which starts in April 2022) will be played on Overwatch 2.
Overwatch 2 contains a multitude of changes to the PvP side of the game, with the most impactful being the switch to a 5v5 format and there being only one tank per team. With so much still unknown about what the meta will look like and what kinds of specialties teams will need, many teams released most if not all of their roster at the very beginning of the month in a so-called roster armageddon. I often find it difficult to follow all of the signings, new free agents, contract expirations and more chaos that comes throughout the offseason. So, I’ve spent some time pouring through Twitter feeds and have been able to assemble a little recap of how every team’s roster is changing following the massive changes we saw throughout this month.
Atlanta defied everyone’s expectation during the regular season, going to three of the four major regular season tournaments and then making a surprise lower bracket run to the grand finals. They now continue to defy expectations, with Ir1s, Masaa and Edison’s contracts expiring and all of them leaving the team to enter free agency, and 2021 Rookie of the Year winner Pelican being traded to the Houston Outlaws. They also have just announced their final roster for Season 5, with nero, Venom, UltraViolet and Ojee joining the team. Venom, UltraViolet and Ojee all come from Contenders. While I’m disappointed to see Pelican leave, I think this new roster has a lot of potential with both veterans and rookies alike.
Okay, I’ll be honest with you. I’m a sucker for up-and-down teams like Boston. Even though they never win a title, I love the gamble of not knowing how a match is going to go. Whether that is winning in a 3-0 sweep against the Houston Outlaws or losing 0-3 to the Vancouver Titans, they always seem to be an interesting gamble of a team. This year, however, they’re going all-out. Fusions retired, and Boston let go of Colourhex, Stand1, GaeBullSsi, im37 and Myunb0ng. While they all showed potential, I think that Boston definitely needed to try something different. I’m very happy to see Punk, Faith and Valentine all stay, as I think their synergy was excellent and it’s a great core to build around. Boston was able to pick up two-time championship winner DPS player Striker and bring him home, along with Crimzo and Marve1. I’m going to be honest, this team looks very strong. I really hope Boston will get somewhere finally in the brave new world of Overwatch 2.
A team that didn’t lose half their roster! Minus the loss of Ameng and Lateyoung, I think Chengdu is looking strong as ever. In a way, the departure of those two may help the team! One of the things the Hunters struggled with last year was finding the right lineup, which led to all the more chaos. Assuming that Chendu doesn’t sign more players (which is unlikely considering that we are only six weeks into the offseason), I think that this team still has a lot of potential. It’s hard to be worse than at least mid-tier when you have the 2021 MVP Leave on your team, after all.
Following an excellent performance in Season 4, Dallas is hoping to refine the excellent team they have with a few key additions. Jecse and Pine left, but to fill in their shoes Dallas has signed two new Korean Contenders players, Guriyo and ChiYo, as well as signing Edison who was formerly with the Atlanta Reign. Dallas played very well last season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw them make yet another championship run with this stacked roster.
The Mayhem are in, well, mayhem. They let go of every single one of their players, including top-tier DPS Yaki, and have only so far signed Checkmate for their 2022 roster. They also have signed rookies SirMajed and Hydron, though they are both currently underage. I have no idea what the Mayhem are planning, but I really hope it works. Mayhem fans deserve something after a season of disappointment.
I think that the Charge’s main problem last season was coaching, as it had four different major staff changes. Their actual roster has a lot of potential, and they’ve stuck with some portion of it. Jihun, MYKaylee, KariV and Mandu all left, and while I’m sad to see KariV leave, they were able to sign star DPS Develop from the Shanghai Dragons. With him as well as the addition of Unique, as long as the coaching stays intact this time, I think we could be looking at an up-and-coming Eastern team.
Spark have not done much yet in terms of player signings, having not done anything since they let go of iDK, ColdesT, SeoMinSoo and M1ka. I’m not exactly sure what I want to see the Spark do this season, but I know that they definitely have players with potential and hopefully making a few key Contenders signings or getting a veteran free agent will get them to a state where they can compete with the other Eastern teams.
Houston fans should be very happy with how the offseason has gone for their team so far. Yes, losing Crimzo, Happy and Dreamer is a loss, but in exchange Houston has been able to pick up the aforementioned Rookie of the Year Pelican and flex support Ir1s from the Atlanta Reign. This new roster seems extremely strong, and I’m frothing at the mouth to see the disgusting plays a Danteh/Pelican DPS lineup can make.
Ah, poor London. They may have won in 2018, but they’ve since dropped to the near bottom of the league. Needless to say, it’s time for another rebuild, and with that, London has dropped all of their players minus Sparkr and Shax, who both turned out to have fairly decent seasons despite their team’s failings. Backbone has also just been signed from European Contenders. Beyond that, I’m not exactly sure where London plans on turning next, but for the sake of the fans, I hope it turns out well.
Los Angeles Gladiators
I have to say, the Gladiators looked amazing at the end of last season, and they only appear to be getting stronger. Yes, Birdring retired and Moth didn’t get re-signed, but I think that’s more than made up for thanks to the signing of my favorite main support player FunnyAstro, returning champion DPS player Ans and promising Contenders maintank Reiner. These additions, alongside the extremely strong existing backline with Shu and Skewed, star D.Va Space and flex DPS Kevster may make Gladiators a near unstoppable force. The only real weakness I see in this roster is that Ans is slightly out of practice, and since he’s mostly known for his long-range hitscan play, it may be difficult to effectively run Tracer-Sombra or Tracer-Echo compositions. I think that this will be made up for by the amazing Zenyatta, Briggitte and Baptiste skill between Shu and Skewed, however. Overall, these are excellent pickups for Los Angeles and I’m so ready to see all these stars on one team.
Los Angeles Valiant
How the mighty have fallen. Once a fan-favorite, the other LA team now sits looking at their bottom-placement 0-16 loss streak from Season 4. After a move to the APAC region in Season 3, the Valiant nixed their roster and started fresh. This action lost Valiant most, if not all, of their fans and screwed over many star players, and Valiant has still not made any announcements in terms of their 2022 roster. They are currently still looking at MoLanran, Krystal, Wya, ShowCheng, NvM, Silver3 and Highbee. While none of these players are bad in their own right, they were all rookies and couldn’t seem to step up to the level of the veteran teams they were playing against. If Valiant wants to get back on the upswing, they need to release this roster or make some major changes if they hope to compete in Season 5.
New York Excelsior
New York is in a bit of a pickle at the moment. Friday and BiaNcA both retired, and then the rest of their players, minus Flora, all declared free agency. That leaves them currently with only a mid-tier DPS to build around. Without stars like JJonak, and with many of the other best free agents already signed to other teams, I’m not exactly sure where New York is going next. I really want to see this team do well, so I hope that the staff can pull a rabbit out of a hat for Season 5 before it’s too late.
I was extremely pleased with Paris’ performance in Season 4. It wasn’t amazing, but Avalla truly put together a great set of players and coaching staff. So far, it seems like she’s doing it again! Although the team is no longer fully European with the addition of Glister, I think he will only make the team that much stronger. After the departure of Onigod (along with Vestola and Tsuna), Glister is one of the only players who could really match Onigod’s or Tsuna’s skill. Paris has a great starting five, and depending on their budget this year, they may or may not be able to pick up a backup sixth for extra flexibility. I like what Paris is doing, and I’m glad they’re again on the up-and-up!
I know I said I like teams like Boston that are always a coin flip to watch, but Philly are just frustrating at this point. Now, without Eqo, HOTBA, FunnyAstro and Poko, Philly has filled in with some decent options from Korean Contenders in MN3 and ZEST. They’ve still got Alarm and Carpe, and my goodness do those two deserve a title at this point, but I’m just not really sure how Philly can fix its consistency issues. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
San Francisco Shock
Ah Shock, the back-to-back winners of 2019 and 2020. While they weren’t able to get farther than fourth in the playoffs and sixth in the regular season, I thought they may be able to get somewhere with their roster full of veterans and champions. The managers at SFS, however, seem to disagree. In a move that was a shock to everyone, they released their entire roster, minus godly flex support Viol2t and the “face” of the team, Super. While it’s a surprise to see so many amazing players like Smurf, Nero and Ans leave, maybe it is time for a new chapter of players. They’ve now picked up FiNN, Kilo and Proper from Korean Contenders. I think that Super and Viol2t is an excellent core to build around, and Proper in particular seems like a good player to compliment Viol2t, so there’s definitely potential here. It now all depends on who they sign to round out the rest of the lineup!
Seoul seems to be the Boston Uprising of the APAC region. Usually a mid-tier team, they struggle with consistency. However, I don’t know if that will be such an issue in Season 5. Losing only Gesture to the roster armageddon, they’ve signed all-star championship-winning veterans in Smurf and JJoNak, and promising rookies in Vindaim and Stalk3r. This team finally seems like an APAC team that can properly compete with the Shanghai Dragons, and I am here to see it all.
Shanghai won the Season 4 grand finals, and besides releasing Develop, they are currently sticking with what works. Their roster was able to consistently roll over the top competition, and so sticking to their guns certainly seems like the right move. While it was certainly nice to see them on the up-and-up after the infamous 0-40 Season 1 performance, I do hope that for the sake of entertainment at least one or two other APAC teams will put up a good fight.
Toronto, you break my heart. You finally did alright in the regular season, and then you released your entire roster except for Heesu, including my favorite rookie DPA player Aspire! I may be able to look past this injustice, however, as the Defiant picked up Twilight and Muze, who both had excellent performances last year. In addition, Contenders rookie CH0R0NG should synergize with this starting lineup well. While I’m still grieving the loss of Aspire, Toronto is definitely looking at a decent squad here and I so desperately hope they’ll finally escape the pits of mediocrity.
Not much to say here. Vancouver went 1-15 in the regular season. As it turns out, releasing your entire roster and then signing a squad of only rookie players might not have been the right move. Vancouver has now once again let go of their whole roster and have not yet announced any new signings. It will be interesting to see where they go next, and they need to do it soon! I just hope it isn’t another squad full of rookies and inexperienced coaching staff. Rookies are great, but there usually needs to be a veteran voice or two in there that has the OWL experience.
Washington took a pretty mild approach to the roster armageddon and only lost Closer, BeBe, Jerry and TTuba, who while strong were definitely not key components to the team’s success. This made room for Happy, who certainly deserves a spot on some team given his performance on the Outlaws, as well as Contenders rookies Vigilante and Krillin. Washington is another team that needs to work on consistency, coaching and team coordination. If they can get it together this upcoming season, they’re looking at a daily competitive team.
That does it for the offseason news for now. It’s been awfully busy this year, and it’s only made me more excited to see how these new mixes of players will gel. In terms of the teams that are still lacking a full squad, I really hope they’ll be able to get some good players in time. There are still a decent amount of free agents looking for a team, so teams like Vancouver and New York should be sure to be quick on the draw before other teams get in their way.