Of all the teams in the Overwatch League, few have gone on the wild roller coaster ride of success and failure like the Houston Outlaws have. The team peaked in the first stage of the inaugural season then spent years clawing its way back to the upper echelon of the league. Last year was arguably the Outlaws’ most consistent and successful season, which bodes well for 2022.
Some things never change for Houston, however. The team will still head into battle with a few familiar faces leading the charge and will once again be facing an uphill battle against West Region opponents that are also bolstering rosters with proven talent.
One of the few remaining players to have been a part of all five Overwatch League seasons, damage dealer Danteh is almost synonymous with the Houston Outlaws at this point. This will be his fourth year on a team that has (intelligently) chosen to craft rosters around him.
Houston also racked up one of the most surprising transfers of the offseason, acquiring 2021 Rookie of the Year Pelican from the Atlanta Reign for a cash trade. Most fans expected him to stay on the second-place Reign, but he opted to take his exceptional skills to the Outlaws. MER1T, a solid hitscan from Overwatch Contenders Korea team O2 Blast, will round out the damage lineup.
The Outlaws borrowed more of the Reign’s best by picking up flex support Ir1s, who showed promise when paired with talented DPS players. He should do well in his natural state of healing Pelican. Former Los Angeles Valiant player Lastro will also be heading to Texas, but he may end up trading his usual flex support ways to play whatever Houston needs him to.
Standout off-tank PIGGY is the only tank the Houston Outlaws will be working with this season, showing the team’s immense faith in his ability to flex.
Longtime Outlaws fans may be looking for veteran player and DPS expert Jake Lyon’s name, who spent all of last season jumping from the player lobby to the coaching table. He’s hanging up his player jersey to be a full-time coach this year. Meanwhile, former assistant coach JunkBuck has stepped up to the head coach chair this year.
Like most years, the Houston Outlaws can’t be accused of lacking talent: acquiring Pelican was one of the boldest, and possibly most intelligent, moves of the offseason. Though he and Danteh share similar hero pools, the unpredictability of Overwatch 2 means their adaptability might mean more than their past specialties. MER1T offers the consistent hitscan option the team sorely needed.
Houston’s support and tank line is also impressive, but issues may arise from a lack of options if meta changes demand too much expansion from players. The team is not only missing a “main” support (basically a Lucio expert in Overwatch 2) but also a second tank to take over if PIGGY can’t cover the entire roster.
Damage dealers like Danteh and Pelican are likely capable of carrying fights and swaying matches against most of the league, but the Outlaws’ issues will show up against the top tier of opponents. Simply shooting better can only go so far against teams like the Shanghai Dragons, who seem to always be playing five steps ahead. With Jake solidly in the coaching seat, the team could have a substantial chunk of brainpower devoted toward higher-level strategies.
Should the economy-sized roster not break from being stretched like rubber bands, Houston will be able to play with the big kids this year.
The team’s first match of the season is the Battle for Texas, held live in San Antonio, against the Dallas Fuel on May 6 at 5pm CT.