With the Summer Showdown in the rearview mirror, only one tournament remains before the season enters its final act. Shanghai Dragons won their second tournament in a row, further cementing 2021 as the year of the Dragons. Meanwhile, the Chengdu Hunters added some welcome chaos to the league as the Dallas Fuel failed to make the finals for the first time all year. That may be concerning for some, but it’s nice to know there are still surprises in store. In the meantime, here is where everyone stands in our Overwatch League power rankings.
The Summer Showdown wasn’t so kind to the West Division this past weekend, as both of the region’s representatives went home before the finals. It’s tough to know how much the flight to Hawaii is a factor, but it is certainly more involved than what the East Division has to do. Regardless, it’s starting to look more and more like the West can’t quite compete with teams like the Shanghai Dragons, and there’s only so much time to shape up before the recently announced grand finals.
1. Dallas Fuel
Overall record: 9-3
Another Overwatch League power ranking, another Dallas Fuel top finish in the West Division. It’s no surprise that for this entire season, the Fuel have been the team everyone wants to defeat. Their instant success in the May Melee and June Joust, despite their flaws, made them a true contender. However, the Summer Showdown has been their worst tournament so far. Making it to Hawaii wasn’t the hard part, but beating the eastern teams was always a concern. The composition the Dragons and Hunters were running was similar to the one that the Fuel lost to in the June Joust finals.
Their time in Hawaii was reminiscent of the Florida Mayhem in the May Melee; they were only able to get one win, which just elongated their minimal time in the tournament. It was clear the eastern teams were more prepared in the meta as soon as Chengdu dominated Dallas on the first day. Fans of the Fuel must have hoped they could make the game closer the second time around but, instead, they got swept. Considering how many times they lost maps to western teams in both the qualifiers and playoffs, this loss was predictable. The Fuel are the best team in the west, but the west is no longer the best division.
— Michael Czar
2. Atlanta Reign
Overall record: 7-5
The good news for the Atlanta Reign is they qualified for their second tournament of the season. The bad news is they did it by the skin of their teeth and then made as early an exit as possible. That still makes them the second best team in the west, though that’s looking less relevant than ever these days. Still, Atlanta took Dallas to the limit after only winning one map last time, so that’s an improvement.
As usual, the whole menagerie (Blake “Gator” Scott, Xander “Hawk” Domecq and Oh “Pelican” Se-hyun) looked fierce, as did Kim “Edison” Tae-hoon. It should be a good sign when two thirds of a team is so impressive. But, unfortunately, their valleys are as high as their peaks. Until the Reign learn to maintain their momentum when opponents catch them off guard, they may have hit their ceiling at No. 2 in our Overwatch League power rankings.
— Jason Krell
3. Washington Justice
Overall record: 8-4
After a bad time in the June Joust, the Washington Justice regained their form in their third tournament. For the Summer Showdown, the lack of hero pools and coordination of their team put them on the fast track to the top once again. The team proved to the league that their first tournament was no fluke with their performance in the Summer Showdown. Original Rookie of the Year candidate Kim “Mag” Tae-sung also returned to form, which was key to their resurgence.
Additionally, one player that stepped up their game in the tournament was Kim “Assassin” Sung-won, primarily while playing Echo. His performance, along with the rest of the Justice in the June Joust, was underwhelming, especially with the depth at his position. He needed to perform and he did just that, getting Washington the closest they’ve been to going to Hawaii. The entire team seems capable of beating top teams, but they just need to get over the hump. If they get some big wins, Washington could make a good run at the end of the season.
4. Los Angeles Gladiators (+2)
5. Paris Eternal (-2)
6. Boston Uprising (+1)
7. Houston Outlaws (-5)
8. San Francisco Shock (-3)
9. Toronto Defiant (-1)
10. Florida Mayhem (-)
11. London Spitfire (-)
12. Vancouver Titans (-)
Only one thing was more awe inspiring than the images from the Shanghai homestand on the weekend of July 9, and that was the Dragon’s level of play. Nothing could put a damper on their run through the Summer Showdown tournament, including a Chengdu Hunters squad full of moxie.
The pandas are our only hope against a season full of nothing but confident victories by the best team in the east. Chengdu — and hopefully another representative from the East Division — will have one last chance to put a stop to the reign of the Dragon before we head into the final stretch of the 2021 season. Chinese teams will have a chance to do it in person at the Guangzhou homestand on the weekend Aug. 7.
1. Shanghai Dragons
Overall record: 10-2
Is this a surprise at all at this point? The Dragons are on top of our Overwatch League power rankings again, and that’s where it seems they’ll stay for the rest of the season. They’re not just the best team in the East Division — they’re the best team in the entire league. In the world, even. The parts of their play that seemed to be shaky at the start of the season — namely, the tankline and overall cohesion — have been completely patched up. There’s no stopping this team anymore.
The Dragons became back-to-back tournament champions after a perfect run through the Summer Showdown. They didn’t drop a single qualifier or playoff match and they don’t look to be slowing down any time soon. At this point it’s really just a question of whether they can carry that momentum all the way through to the Grand Finals.
— Bonnie Qu
2. Chengdu Hunters
Overall record: 7-5
The Hunters had an incredible run through the Summer Showdown. Nearly every game they played was a nail biter, and their opponents were no joke. Their double takedown of the Dallas Fuel solidified them as a team that shouldn’t be taken lightly. They ended up losing to the Shanghai Dragons in the finals, but it was still an incredible feat for them to have made it that far at all.
In the past, the Hunters have had hot streaks, but never like this. Before, they’d do well for a bit, then drop off again, seemingly without rhyme or reason. This time feels different somehow. It’s like something has finally clicked for them. Only time will tell whether that’s true, but the future of the pandas seems bright.
3. Seoul Dynasty
Overall record: 9-3
Chengdu had a close shave against Seoul in the knockout round of the Summer Showdown but could barely put a dent against the Dragons. Even if the Dynasty had made it to the rounds that mattered — and that would have been something to be proud of — they wouldn’t have shut down Shanghai’s flexible attack.
It would have been Dongeon “FITS” Kim dying from Jae-won “LIP” Lee’s arrow instead of Huang “leave” Xin.
Seoul has it in them to go on a late season run and climb our Overwatch League power rankings, but something needs to change at the core level on the team. The talent is there, but the players, coaches and staff need to approach their toughest matches with a malleable mindset. They must adapt to surprise compositions mid-map more often. Hopefully, Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek’s words won’t be relevant much longer.
— Aron Garst
4. Hangzhou Spark (+1)
5. Philadelphia Fusion (-1)
6. New York Excelsior (-)
7. Guangzhou Charge (-)
8. Los Angeles Valiant (-)