The Overwatch League 2021 season is more than halfway over, and the overall picture is becoming clear. Teams like the Dallas Fuel and Shanghai Dragons rule the roost, thanks to their star players and quick adaptability, but the league feels much deeper than it has in the past. Plenty of unexpected teams have stepped up, and new teams continue to figure things out each stage. Still, the Summer Showdown qualifiers have only just begun, so our Overwatch League power rankings could still shift plenty.
The West Division is in an odd spot at the moment, with teams like the Boston Uprising, Toronto Defiant and (less surprisingly) the Houston Outlaws undefeated after the past two weeks. Paris Eternal also turned in their first 3-1 qualifier of the season, which means another new team has a shot at the Summer Showdown. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Shock probably won’t even get to play after losing to the Los Angeles Gladiators and Houston Outlaws. The next set of games should un-muddy the waters, though, so fans can expect continued chaos in the Overwatch League power rankings.
1. Dallas Fuel
Overall record: 7-3
Mom, Dallas is doing it again! Just as they have multiple stages this season, the Fuel started the Summer Showdown qualifiers looking…not particularly terrifying. But, despite some obvious issues to iron out, Dallas is as poised as ever to qualify for the next tournament and start really clicking at the perfect time. It’s just part of a cycle at this point.
Now, it may seem like things are different this time because the Fuel won both of their matches last weekend, but consider how that really went. Both series went the distance with an eventual 3-2 victory, but they won the exact same map types in both matches: control and assault. Whenever a payload was involved, things didn’t go as smoothly. And, to be honest, some of their maps could have gone either way. That made sense against the surging Atlanta Reign, but less so with the struggling Florida Mayhem.
Still, every member of the team turned in solid performances and tightening back up their ultimate play will help a lot. Kim “Doha” Dong-ha threw away a few too many Blizzards and Lee “Fearless” Eui-Seok didn’t pop off as he has plenty of times before. On the other hand, a W is a W, and resilience in the face of setbacks is part of what makes Dallas such a contender for the championship this year. It also helps keep them atop our Overwatch League power rankings.
— Jason Krell
2. Houston Outlaws
Overall record: 9-1
The Outlaws bounced back from another play-in loss in the June Joust to start the Summer Showdown strong. Winning their first two games was key for their qualifiers, especially their first game against the San Francisco Shock. After losing control, the Outlaws were simply better in every way, capitalizing on a good but inconsistent Shock squad. After signing Song “Dreamer” Sanglok as a backup main tank for their team, integrating him cost some maps in the June Joust. Not this time, as they stuck to their main roster with Cho “JJANGGU” Myung-heum and eventually steamrolled the Shock.
Along with their starting roster staying the same, the consistency of both Lee “Happy” Jung-woo and Dante “Danteh” Cruz has helped the team tremendously. With Happy and Danteh playing the heroes they enjoy while fitting the meta, Houston is a fearsome team to face. However, the same question will come up for the play-ins: can they win when it matters and finally get to Hawaii? This looks like their best meta so far, and their best chance to get there.
— Michael Czar
3. Paris Eternal
Overall record: 6-6
A one of the biggest jumps in the Overwatch League power rankings so far, the Paris Eternal have turned around their season in the Summer Showdown. Much like in 2020, specific additions and a meta shift seem to favor them heavily. With Alberto “neptuNo” González and Elliot “ELLIVOTE” Vaneryd leaving the team on short notice, the team’s expectations were low. Little did anyone know, bringing in Arthur “dridro” Szanto and Ilari “Vestola” Vestola was exactly what they needed to lift them back up.
Two promising talents from European Contenders came and gelled with the roster quickly. They won a good game over the improving London Spitfire and then reverse swept the Los Angeles Gladiators to start 2-0. After losing to the Shock 3-1, they swept the Titans to finish with three wins and qualify for the Summer Showdown. Paris Eternal won the games they needed to win, despite being regarded as one of the bottom tier teams in the league. Now, they are rising up the rankings and will compete in the play-ins for the Summer Showdown tournament. They will have to prove that their new synergy is not a fluke, as they will face tough opposition in their first elimination game this season.
4. Atlanta Reign (-2)
5. San Francisco Shock (-2)
6. Los Angeles Gladiators (-2)
7. Boston Uprising (-1)
8. Toronto Defiant (+1)
9. Washington Justice (-2)
10. Florida Mayhem (-2)
11. London Spitfire (+1)
12. Vancouver Titans (-1)
The high from in-person Overwatch action in Hangzhou will hopefully resurface as we head into the Shanghai homestand event on July 9. The Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hanghzou Spark, Los Angeles Valiant and Shanghai Dragons will all meet in front of a Chinese crowd that’s hungry for more Moira moves and Soldier 76 shots. NYXL, Fusion and Seoul Dynasty — all based in South Korea — will continue to fight from home.
We’ll see if the energy of the arena will be enough to help anyone else in the East Division catch up to the Dragons after they started Summer Showdown qualifiers with two shutout wins. Perhaps the live crowd will propel one of the Chinese teams to an unexpected win. Maybe the quiet calm of the team facility will give the South Korea-based teams an advantage. No matter where teams play as we head into the Summer Showdown, it’s the Dragons’ tournament to lose.
1. Shanghai Dragons
Overall record: 8-2
The reigning tournament champions returned from their week off in even better form than their June Joust showing, if that’s even possible. Last time, we questioned if anyone could hope to knock the Dragons off their pedestal and the answer seems like a resounding “no.”
The Dragons swept both the Dynasty and the Fusion this week with no trouble at all, thanks in large part to a masterclass in Sombra play from damage dealer Lee “LIP” Jae-won. In the last two tournaments, the Dragons showed signs of mortality. In this one, it seems like they’ve patched up those problems and ascended to godhood. We’ll just have to wait and see if anyone can find their Achilles heel.
— Bonnie Qu
2. Seoul Dynasty
Overall record: 9-3
Nothing helps a team develop more than experience. It’s safe to say that Seoul is finding their groove with a 3-1 start to the Summer Showdown, but the lack of extra playtime against other top teams is starting to show. The Shanghai Dragons decimated the Dynasty in their most recent matchup, proving that Seoul has a long way to go in the standings even though they are no. 2.
The only way to start closing that gap and challenging for a top spot in our Overwatch League power rankings? Getting past the knockout round on July 11.
Seoul may be locked into the knockout stage, but a chance to play extra matches against Hawaiian tourists still feels far off. The Jaehui “Gesture” Hong-led squad hasn’t made it any further this year, but winning a few teamfights could change that.
— Aron Garst
3. Chengdu Hunters
Overall record: 5-5
The Hunters are coming off a 1-1 record in the first week of qualifiers. They lost 3-1 to the Dynasty, then got to roll over the Guangzhou Charge as a consolation prize. It’s a performance typical of the Hunters — hot one moment, cold the next.
The Hunters are also undergoing some roster changes. This tournament saw the debut of their new damage player, Zhong “TAROCOOK1E” Yunlong, who had an impressive showing in his first matches. However, the team’s longtime starting flex tank, Luo “ELSA” Wenjie, recently retired. The roster shuffle means that the Hunters will need to stay on their toes heading into next week, but we can never count them out.
4. Philadelphia Fusion (+2)
5. Hangzhou Spark (-3)
6. New York Excelsior (-3)
7. Guangzhou Charge (-)
8. Los Angeles Valiant (-)