The task of ranking the top teams across worldwide competition is a tough and subjective one, especially in a relatively young esport, but is imperative in understanding the flow of the scene. Storylines crafted by wins and losses can often get lost in a sea of results, and a history of rankings helps map out teams’ journeys through peaks and troughs.
This month the water is particularly muddy. The scene remains split between Korea and the West, Misfits and Rogue have effectively come to the end of their tenure, other teams have made significant roster changes, and MSI MGA was cancelled and pushed back to 2017. Nevertheless these rankings represent the end of an era before MLG Vegas, NGE Winter Premiere, and IEM Gyeonggi close out the year and lead us into 2017.
Every month overgg releases the World Rankings of the top ten Overwatch teams. The format looks back at the last two months of evidence to analyse tournament finishes, teams beaten, and the context of the matches. There is a large emphasis on recent games and teams beaten, while offline matches and larger tournaments carry more weight. Online games are still counted for now, as these are still a prominent part of the Overwatch circuit and many offline events are invite-only.
This is not a ranking of the best teams over the last two months, nor is it a list of those on a current hot streak. The overgg World Rankings aims to use the evidence from the last two months to determine the current best teams in the world.
1st: EnVyUs [+4]
- 1st OGN APEX Season 1
- 2nd Overwatch Open
Overall record: 9W - 2L (Map record: 28W - 13L)
EnVyUs were long considered the best team in the world but didn't have the results against other top teams to show it. In this last month they have benefited from a perfect storm of roster swaps, role changes, and a new patch that saw them able to reach their potential. With wins in the last month over Rogue, KongDoo Uncia, and Afreeca Freecs Blue that resulted in a first place finish at the hyper-competitive APEX Season 1, compounded by their 2nd place finish at the Overwatch Open, they take 1st place this month.
The recent roster swap had myriad benefits for nV. It unleashed HarryHook on the dps role, on his favoured hero Soldier: 76 no less due to the recent buff. It allowed INTERNETHULK to move from offtank/flex, a role he had been slumping in, to Lucio; the role shift has not only seen him demonstrate some of the best Lucio play in APEX but also seems to have improved the clinical teamwork that EnVyUs excel at. And, of course, it made room for Mickie - an inspired acquisition that has given nV one of the best D.Vas in the world and improved their motivation and team atmosphere no end.
They also profit from Rogue's hubris, as Rogue effectively denied themselves the opportunity to make a deeper run in APEX by selecting nV in the first round. Had aKm chosen AF Blue and made a deeper run on the opposite side of the bracket, it's likely they would have been contesting the top spot this month.
2nd: Rogue [-1]
- 5th/8th OGN APEX Season 1
- 1st APAC Premier
- 3rd/4th Overwatch Open
Overall record: 11W - 4L (Map record: 35W - 13L)
Rogue slip from pole position this month after shooting themselves in the foot at APEX. Their performance at the Overwatch Open, at APAC Premier, and in the groups of APEX was excellent; they tore through Afreeca Freecs Blue twice over the course of these two months on the previous patch, taking down Lunatic-Hai and Misfits as well.
They were unable to overcome EnVyUs in the quarter finals in a very tight game, reminiscent of their defeat to Misfits at the Overwatch Open, but this time on a patch they were blatantly uncomfortable with. The fact that both playoff losses were 2-3 nailbiters to the eventual champions lessens the defeats somewhat, and Rogue remain one of the best teams in the world.
Or rather, they would have remained so had Rogue not undergone a huge shuffle immediately after APEX. The swap could be advantageous for the team, who have gained skipjack and SoOn and eliminated the cultural and personal issues that were plaguing their team atmosphere, but they have yet to show it. Questions must also be asked of their flexibility and style moving forward; this rank is not a measure of their expected ability moving forward.
3rd: Misfits [-1]
- 1st DreamHack Winter Championship
- 4th Alienware Monthly Melee November EU
- 2nd King of Nordic
- Did not qualify for MSI MGA
- 2nd DreamHack Winter EU Qualifiers
- 1st Underdogs Season 1
- 1st Overwatch Open
Overall record: 18W - 7L (Map record: 47W - 26L)
Misfits have an amazing record at LAN within the last two months. After winning the stacked Overwatch Open and placing 2nd overall last month, a first place finish at another major LAN tournament would usually send them higher in the ranks rather than lower.
DreamHack Winter however was not a truly stacked field and Misfits took the trophy after winning games against LDLC, compLexity, and Fnatic. Having not been given the opportunity to play against Rogue or EnVyUs again, nor the top Korean teams, nor even NiP at LAN, they lack the results to jump upwards in the rankings.
Misfits clearly had stellar talent on their roster and great cohesion between the players. They were the kings of the West while Rogue and EnVyUs were in Korea, but they also had a poor record against NiP and had to resort to flexing their crazy individual skill to squeak past Fnatic.
Misfits have changed the most of any team during the triple shuffle. They only have Zebbosai and Nevix of the former roster and will likely retain very little of their classic style. TviQ is a formidable new asset for the side, but the team's individual skill has been mostly diluted by the other new additions. Even more so than for Rogue, this rank is not representative of the team's level in the future.
- 5th/8th OGN APEX Season 1
- 2nd APAC Premier
- 2nd DANAWA X BATTLE
Overall record: 8W - 2L (Map record: 21W - 11L) This excludes results of DANAWA X.
Lunatic-Hai are similar to Rogue in their recent accomplishments and adaptation to the patch. They had a good domestic record at the beginning of this time period, took 2nd at APAC after beating NRG and Rogue in the groups, then topped their group at APEX by beating EnVyUs.
They were upset in the quarter-finals by their failure to adapt fully to the new patch. The changes to the game compounded Lunatic-Hai's issues with their tank roles and LEETAEJUN's mediocre performance. They lost in a very close game against KongDoo Uncia which saw them struggling with compositions, but remain a top Korean side.
- 2nd DreamHack Winter Championship
- 1st DreamHack Winter North American Qualifier
- 3rd/4th Overwatch Open
Overall record: 10W - 3L (Map record: 27W - 13L)
Fnatic continued their improvement by taking 2nd at DreamHack Winter and strengthened their claim for a top spot in the rankings. By showcasing their tactical strength in the game against NiP and then almost beating Misfits, they proved their ability to compete against elite teams and outwit them.
They have had a stellar record against the other NA teams and victories at MLG Vegas will see them cement their position at the top of the world. It is a pity Fnatic were not able to showcase their ability against KongDoo Panthera and Rise or re-match NiP at MSI MGA, as those would likely have been incredibly close and high-quality series. Fnatic don't have enough results against top 15 teams to be able to claim a higher spot than 5th, with only the single victory over NiP in the last two months.
6th: Ninjas in Pyjamas
- 3rd/4th DreamHack Winter Championship
- 1st Alienware Monthly Melee November EU
- 1st MSI MGA Qualifier
- 1st King of Nordic
- 1st DreamHack Winter European Qualifier
- 5th/8th Overwatch Open
Overall record: 23W - 2L (Map record: 53W - 13L)
NiP were given the opportunity at DreamHack Winter to contextualise their online dominance as the precursor to a dominant offline spree and failed to do so, instead drawing attention to their inability to match the pace of teams who step up offline. NiP had beaten Misfits again and again offline with their advantageous comp match-up, but failed to translate that into a finals appearance or a trophy.
The Ninjas in Pyjamas still have a good record, beating out REUNITED, Dignitas, and compLexity at LAN and all current teams in Europe online. Their online results must count for less than previously thought however, despite them being a hugely talented team, because clearly with good positioning their excellent teamwork with triple tank can fall apart and they fail to adapt.
NiP are the team who had the most to prove at MSI MGA and were understandably frustrated when they were unable to play. NiP's LAN calendar looks barren over the next few months, and future patches may not play into their hands. During a period wherein their competitors counted them as the scariest team in the world, NiP were unable to make it further than the semi-finals of a LAN tournament.
7th: KongDoo Uncia
- 3rd/4th OGN APEX Season 1
- 3rd/4th MSI MGA Asia Qualifiers
- Did not qualify for Nexus Cup Halloween
Overall record: 7W - 4L (Map record: 22W - 12L)
KongDoo Uncia in their matches against Lunatic-Hai and EnVyUs looked excellent to the eye. Their co-ordination, use of ultimates, and natural ability on the recently buffed heroes made them a seriously scary team on the new patch. Uncia upset Lunatic-Hai in the quarter finals without losing a map, although they were incredibly close to losing two of them, and then took the eventual winners EnVyUs to five maps before bowing out.
Despite being one of the best teams in the world to the eye, they have only two games played on this new patch and in the previous one KongDoo Uncia were merely a good Korean team. Before this patch, Uncia's only notable wins were against LW Blue and NRG; the latter was mere days after NRG had undergone a major roster transition and had no time to practise. In that time period they had also lost to LW Red, KongDoo Panthera, and BK Stars.
There is no denying that KongDoo Uncia's performance in this new patch mark them as one of the best teams in the world, but so far there is not enough data to tell if this will be a long-term rise for Uncia. Have they simply been able to adapt more quickly than the competition? Will the others catch up and overtake them?
8th: Afreeca Freecs Blue
- 2nd OGN APEX Season 1
- 3rd/4th KT G-Star Collaboration Festival
- Did not qualify for Nexus Cup Halloween
- 5th/8th APAC Premier
Overall record: 7W - 5L (20W - 18L)
Afreeca Freecs Blue took 2nd place at APEX but have the worst win records of any team in the top ten by far. They have two one-sided losses to Rogue, losses online in tournaments to KongDoo Panthera and BK Stars, and of course were blown out in the APEX finals 0-4 by EnVyUs. Their only notable wins were over RG TITAN, REUNITED, and BK Stars at APEX.
There are two ways to interpret these results: either AF.Blue lucked their way to the finals at APEX, backcapping with ArHaN on the easier side of the bracket to get there; or they are a team that steps up at LANs in terms of preparation and performance, but still isn't good enough to contend with the elite teams like Rogue and EnVyUs.
While ArHaN and recry have moments where they look like a godly duo, they largely drop away against those elite teams and their respective dps players. The team makes real attempts to counter their opponents, flexes onto interesting compositions, and bans effectively, but they are limited by the other players on their roster and how well they make decisions in the game.
To rise next month, AF.Blue will have get wins at IEM Gyeonggi and redeem their otherwise mediocre performances. The first round bye is an unhelpful crutch for this and requires them to only beat Lunatic-Hai or Misfits to make the final, but frankly a win against either and a competent performance in the final would be a great boost for AF.Blue.
9th: BK Stars
- 3rd/4th OGN APEX Season 1
- 1st KT G-Star Collaboration Festival
Overall record: 6W - 1L (Map record: 17W - 6L)
BK Stars are a newer team than most, having only played in two competitions since their formation just before APEX. They look good in their games and made deep runs in both tournaments, only losing to AF.Blue at APEX in their two month life as a team.
BK had beaten AF.Blue at the KT G-Star cup mere days beforehand on the same patch, but couldn't repeat it on the big stage. They also beat RunAway in that miniature invitational cup and boast wins over KongDoo Uncia, NRG, and MVP Space as well.
Without an invite to IEM Gyeonggi, BK Stars have little way of pushing themselves further up the rankings or maintaining their position for the next edition. Nevertheless they deserve their position over the Korean competition and the North American teams based on their consistency and level of competition they have faced and beaten.
10th: KongDoo Panthera
- 9th/12th OGN APEX Season 1
- 1st Nexus Cup Halloween
- 1st MSI MGA Asia Qualifier
- 1st DANAWA X Battle
Overall record: 12W - 2L (Map record: 29W - 8L) This excludes results of DANAWA X.
Things get sticky at the 10th position between Panthera, LW Red, REUNITED, Cloud9, and FaZe. Panthera started off the two month span with initial losses to REUNITED and LW Blue at APEX, but have improved since then. They show a measure of consistency against top competition that the others lack.
KongDoo Panthera looked messy in their first games at APEX but have blasted through tournaments after the middle of October. They have wins over LW Blue, KongDoo Uncia, AF.Blue, AF.Red, LW Red, and RunAway during this time, mostly without losing a map.
Panthera have only played a single game on the Sombra patch, hours after it hit; MSI MGA would have been incredibly useful to accurately judge the strength of this team. IEM Gyeonggi will work in a similar way, as they are up against LW Red, then Rogue, then a potential final.
During this period the new results were from:
- OGN APEX Season 1
- Alienware Monthly Melee November EU
- KT G-Star Collaboration Festival
- DreamHack Winter Championship
There are strands of the Overwatch scene that remain unconnected and in some sense unconnectable still. There are top teams in North America and Europe who have had no opportunity to test themselves against Korean teams or other Western teams who have been over there. The Korean talent depth appears larger, judging by APEX and the experience of the Western teams there, though the elite teams appear better in the West. The rankings remain up in the air until we have more global major competitions, of which I hope 2017 offers many.
LW Red are pounding on the door of the top 10 by slamming APEX Challenger teams again and again. Next season of APEX and any good results at IEM Gyeonggi are likely to bring them into serious contention for a spot.
FaZe and Cloud9 have been isolated in NA and failed to qualify for DreamHack Winter or MSI MGA. They have remained on a geographical leash, and FaZe in particular have had very middling results online against tier 2 NA teams. They can't be given a free pass based on their ping, and Cloud9 must prove themselves against better LAN opponents at MLG Vegas.
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