After the storm: Overwatch League weekend preview (May 9-10)

It’s been a wild few weeks of retirements and trades, but the league sails on with returning favorites and shifting rivalries.

Photo by Tonya McCahon via Activision Blizzard

In the past two weeks of the Overwatch League, a former league MVP and a DPS superstar have retired and an entire roster has been dropped amid rumors of internal conflicts. Along with that, players have been traded, acquired, or benched as usual.

The weekdays between matches often feel like a never-ending storm of news. No matter how rough the weather, teams still have to give it their all on match day. 

This weekend is jam-packed with a total of 12 games taking place on May 9 and 10 across multiple time zones. In a way, the schedule brings a sense of normality to the wild ride of endless roster updates. So does the relative adaptability in this week’s Hero Pools, in which steadfast shield-bearers Reinhardt and Brigitte are disabled. Reaper and Ashe are out on the DPS side, so Echo is safe from B.O.B.’s ire for a short time. 

New rosters debut and old teams return to the battle in this week’s highlighted matches. 

London Spitfire vs. Chengdu Hunters 

It’s been two months since we last saw the London Spitfire in action. A series of delays and the COVID-19 pandemic delayed their plans to participate in the Atlantic North division of the Overwatch League. Now, the team has settled in South Korea alongside the New York Excelsior as a part of the Pacific East division.

The Chengdu Hunters have had a few tough weeks in the division and come into this match with a 3-8 record. Spitfire’s team of talented rookies performed well in front of live crowds at the Atlantic homestands, but with two months of break time and the introduction of Hero Pools spicing up the meta, their slate might as well be wiped clean. Other teams have managed to outsmart Chengdu’s wild compositions, but London will have to be the latest to adjust at 5am CT on May 9.  

Paris Eternal vs. Los Angeles Gladiators 

Thanks to cross-regional play, the Paris Eternal can finally escape fighting off the Philadelphia Fusion for a week or two. After a reverse sweep by the Fusion last week, the Eternal are looking for some redemption as they take on the Los Angeles Gladiators. The Gladiators, meanwhile, are looking for a challenge after rolling through most of their Pacific counterparts.  

Paris’ new flex support, Kwon “Fielder” Joon, showed incredible talent as he fought off Philadelphia’s DPS on 200 ping while playing from Korea. This week, he’ll be forced to stand up to the dynamic Gladiator support duo of Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara and Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni. This match, which begins at 2pm on May 9, will test the evolving Paris roster’s ability to face off against a cohesive, coordinated team. 

Washington Justice vs. Vancouver Titans 

Until a few hours ago, no one was actually sure this match would even happen. After the Vancouver Titans parted ways with their entire roster on May 6, the team didn’t debut their new additions until a day before their 4pm match on May 9. The new Titans roster is built from a global squad of Overwatch Contenders hopefuls who will have to instantly adjust to Overwatch League life. 

On the other side of the ring is a Washington Justice reeling from the retirement of DPS Corey “Corey” Nigra. In addition, flex DPS Ethan “Stratus” Yankel will be transitioning to a content creation role after this match. Will the Justice win another for Stratus without Corey’s hitscan carry or will a brand-new squad of talented rookies take them out? Honestly, no one knows. 

Toronto Defiant vs. San Francisco Shock  

This big narrative for this match, which takes place on May 10 at 4pm CT, is Toronto Defiant off-tank Andreas “Nevix” Karlsson taking on his old team, the San Francisco Shock. Nevix was the only player released from the championship Shock squad during the 2019 offseason, so he’s likely looking for a bit of good-natured vengeance. It may be hard to acquire, considering the Defiant are entering this arena with a 4-6 overall record against the 6-2 Shock. 

While much of the focus is on Nevix, it should be redirected towards Harrison “Kruise” Pond, who recently joined the Toronto Defiant from the Paris Eternal. As a talented main support and noted shotcaller, Kruise might be able to provide a voice of leadership and coordination that the Defiant was sorely lacking. If Toronto is able to even be somewhat competitive against the Shock, they can take that confidence into future matches against an often-mediocre Atlantic division. 

This weekend’s matches begin at 3am CT on May 9 as the Shanghai Dragons take on the Seoul Dynasty. North American games begin at 12pm CT when the Paris Eternal faces off against the Los Angeles Gladiators.