The rumored 2-2-2 lock has indeed come to fruition and GOATs will be an Overwatch League staple no more. Instead, teams will be forced to use two DPS heroes--no more and no less.
This, of course, will throw the league into a totally new meta. What exactly that meta will be isn't a sure thing yet. The first week of Stage 4 saw many different heroes in a wide range of compositions, which could very well be a symptom of teams still trying to figure out the meta.
Regardless, it's different. Despite the difference, this week's power rankings will still consider past performances in previous GOATs dominated matches. Why is that? The logic behind that is a good team shouldn't just suddenly become terrible after a patch and a terrible team shouldn't just suddenly become good. While average teams could move in either direction and teams in either direction could move to average, the change shouldn't be more extreme than that.
Perhaps that is faulty logic or perhaps it's the correct train of thought. We won't know for sure until Stage 4 continues on.
Here are the power rankings after one week of Stage 4 play.
Image credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
1. (+2) Vancouver Titans (22-1)
With Haksal finally unleashed, the Vancouver Titans Vancouver Titans OWL Rank #16 look just as good as they did during GOATs. That part shouldn't be too surprising. What is surprising is seeing Hooreg in the starting lineup of a Titans team that appears to be the best in the league. Perhaps this is finally the meta where he will shine.
2. (-) San Francisco Shock (17-5)
The San Francisco Shock San Francisco Shock OWL Rank #1 used a different DPS pairing in every map, almost as if to show off the flexibility of the lineup after running the same six in every map for the last several months. They have the ability to do that, all of their DPS players are good.
3. (-2) Shanghai Dragons (13-10)
Although the Shanghai Dragons Shanghai Dragons OWL Rank #2 lost their first match of Stage 4, their loss was to a Titans team that appears to be once again the best team in the game. They should be tough to beat for just about any other team they face; their match against the Dynasty is evidence of that.
4. (+6) London Spitfire (14-9)
This week's opponents for the London Spitfire London Spitfire OWL Rank #14 weren't particularly tough, but their rise in the rankings has less to do with this week's matches and more to do with their past. They can now put Gesture on Orisa (or Winston!), birdring on Widowmaker and Profit on literally any DPS hero. The 2-2-2 lock may help the reigning champions finally return to championship form.
5. (-1) New York Excelsior (19-3)
There are certainly concerns about the New York Excelsior New York Excelsior OWL Rank #3 's ability to win playoff matches, however few worry about their ability to win in the regular season. While the Gladiators' roll of the Excelsior in their first match of Stage 4 might make it tempting to start worrying, now isn't the time to start. The Gladiators are a talented team and the Excelsior definitely have the players necessary to thrive in a meta defined by the 2-2-2 lock. They should be fine.
6. (-1) Los Angeles Valiant (9-13)
Beginning Stage 4 with a close match with the Paris Eternal is not a good look for the Los Angeles Valiant Los Angeles Valiant OWL Rank #8 . Perhaps the Eternal are better in the new meta, perhaps the Valiant are actually worse or perhaps that game was uncharacteristic of either team. Regardless of what made the match close, the Valiant needed to close out the win as they did. They absolutely cannot afford to lose to opponents their favored against if they want to make the top 12 and have a shot at the playoffs.
7. (+1) Los Angeles Gladiators (14-9)
After their first match, the Los Angeles Gladiators Los Angeles Gladiators OWL Rank #10 looked destined to shoot up the rankings. Then the Gladiators lost in their second match of the week when they played a very beatable Houston Outlaws team. The oddest part about their week was the decision to play Hydration at main tank in the opening map of both series. They must really love his Wrecking Ball to take the risk of him being forced to switch off (as he was against the Outlaws).
8. (-1) Seoul Dynasty (12-11)
Matching the theme of the rest of their season, the Seoul Dynasty Seoul Dynasty OWL Rank #7 had an extremely tough opening pair of matches. Their defeats in Stage 4's opening week shouldn't be reason for Dynasty fans to panic just yet.
9. (+2) Guangzhou Charge (11-12)
The Guangzhou Charge Guangzhou Charge OWL Rank #5 looked strong in their 2-2-2 lock debut. It definitely helps that Happy has been fully unleashed on his signature Widowmaker, but he's not the sole reason for their success. nero has looked like a strong counterpart to him since joining the starting lineup and he should continue to shine alongside Happy as the stage continues.
10. (-1) Houston Outlaws (9-14)
Is it a bit troubling that the Houston Outlaws Houston Outlaws OWL Rank #17 may have only beaten the Gladiators because they made a mistake with their substitutions? Yes, it definitely is. Regardless of how it happened, however, the Outlaws upset the Gladiators after getting blown out by the Eternal. Danteh was a large part of their success against the Gladiators and they won all three maps he played against them. He was also in their only map win against the Eternal. Simply put, Danteh needs to play if the Outlaws are going to find success and make it into the top 12.
11. (-5) Hangzhou Spark (14-8)
A terrible showing against the Atlanta Reign by the Hangzhou Spark Hangzhou Spark OWL Rank #9 really puts the assumption from the beginning of the article to the test. Hopefully for the Spark, it's a hiccup caused in part by a week filled with drama regarding the whereabouts of DPS player Krystal . It's unlikely they'll finish outside of the top 12 at this point, but they'll still need to look better than they did this week if they hope to be one of the final eight teams competing for the league championship.
12. (+1) Chengdu Hunters (11-12)
Here's a fun fact: the Chengdu Hunters Chengdu Hunters OWL Rank #13 played against the exact same pair of teams the Guangzhou Charge played against this week. Both teams beat the Fusion in a close five map set. The difference between the two teams was that it took the Hunters five maps to take care of the Uprising while the Charge beat the Uprising in a sweep--and even played their bench players in map four in the process.
13. (+2) Atlanta Reign (10-12)
After sitting him on the bench for the majority of the last two stages, the Atlanta Reign Atlanta Reign OWL Rank #11 have finally freed NLaaeR . How they decide to utilize him and BABYBAY alongside projectile star ErsTer may determine how far the Reign can go.
14. (-) Paris Eternal (9-14)
While the Paris Eternal Paris Eternal OWL Rank #12 had a pretty decent week, they still didn't stand out as a team that could be on the upswing following the role lock. Some more time in the new meta should give more insight into how they'll stack up against the rest of the teams.
15. (-3) Philadelphia Fusion (12-11)
As stated in previous weeks, the Philadelphia Fusion Philadelphia Fusion OWL Rank #4 's biggest problem is that their greatest strength--their DPS players--doesn't look head and shoulders above everyone else anymore. They have been able to get by despite it for most of the season, but this week they appeared to finally be cracking. They'll need Carpe and EQO to find their magic again if they hope to avoid a collapse.
16. (+3) Washington Justice (3-19)
Rejoice, Washington Justice Washington Justice OWL Rank #19 fans! This is the highest the Justice have been ranked all season! The Justice are definitely better off now that the meta has shifted away from GOATs, and may be able to take advantage of a schedule this stage that features some easier opponents. Unfortunately for them, LullSiSH and ELLIVOTE will not get their visas before the season ends and so it's hard to imagine they'll be an incredibly strong team this stage. At the very least, they look better now than they did before.
17. (-1) Dallas Fuel (10-12)
To be fair to the Dallas Fuel Dallas Fuel OWL Rank #15 , the Spitfire will likely be one of the league's best teams this stage and it was unlikely they'd be able to put up much of a fight from the start. Still, they looked terrible in Stage 3 and their performance in their first match of Stage 4 didn't do much to inspire confidence that this stage will be any different.
18. (-1) Boston Uprising (8-15)
19. (-1) Toronto Defiant (7-16)
The Toronto Defiant Toronto Defiant OWL Rank #18 's losing streak is now up to nine matches. They are now 1-14 in their last 15 matches. It is unlikely their midseason rebuild will be enough to steer them back towards the top 12 and the playoffs. Instead of turning around, they may just keep losing.
20. (-) Florida Mayhem (2-20)
Not much can be learned from the Florida Mayhem Florida Mayhem OWL Rank #6 being swept by the Vancouver Titans. That match did leave us with one question worth asking, however. Why did Swon play in the first two maps of the match when the Mayhem have added two new main tanks to replace him midseason?