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.
In the time since our last rankings, we’ve had a winter break notorious for its lack of European competition. The top European teams have barely shown themselves since reforming other than to lose in Korea; while in North America the competition has been active but split between Winter Premiere and APEX. The Korean tournaments have raged on in full force, with their teams showing a constantly improving level of Overwatch.
This time in the over.gg World Rankings we’re looking at the time period from APEX S1 playoffs to now, just after the Winter Premiere and the beginning few games of APEX S2. The format looks back at the 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 over.gg World Rankings aims to use the evidence from the last two months to determine who can reliably be called the current best teams in the world.
1st: EnVyUs [-]
- 1-0 in APEX Season 2
- 1st MLG Vegas
- 1st APEX Season 1
Overall record: 8W - 0L (Map record: 24W - 7L)
EnVyUs have shown no signs of slowing down after their win at APEX Season 1. They followed up their incredible playoff run in Korea by coming home and knocking the North American teams to pieces, plowing through the top three of Fnatic, Cloud9, and FaZe without losing a map. Their route to victory at MLG Vegas looked utterly dominant other than an initial shaky game against compLexity in the groups.
EnVyUs certainly look far better for having been in Korea for months practising against a range of top teams and showed up clear weaknesses in the other North American sides. The meta shift after the most recent patch appears not to be substantial enough to knock the kings off their throne; with such a formidable roster that has developed an incredible amount of teamwork in their months playing together, they are one of the favourites going into APEX Season 2.
Their first game back at APEX was a lot closer than expected, with a 3-2 win over a solid but not incredible MVP Infinity. EnVyUs have benefited from a relatively easy group compared to the others, but still will face challenges from Meta Athena before playoffs. There are a lot of other excellent teams in APEX Season 2 - despite the strength of EnVyUs it will be a very difficult route to a repeat victory in Korea. For now though, they sit on top, waiting to be beaten.
2nd: Luxury Watch Blue [NEW]
- 1-1 in APEX Season 2
- 1st IEM GyeongGi
- Did not qualify for Nexus Cup Grand Finals Korean Qualifier
- 5th/8th APEX Season 1
Overall record: 5W - 3L (Map record: 15W - 12L)
Despite losing yesterday to Lunatic-Hai, the new LW Blue team with Fl0w3r deserves 2nd place in the rankings. LW Blue were a solid team that lacked enough decisive aggression before replacing NoName and were beaten in APEX Season 1 playoffs after narrowly making it there in Group D. They then narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Nexus Cup Grand Finals online after beating one strong Korean side Meta Athena 2-0 but falling to Kongdoo Uncia in the final. This was a team on the bottom end of the Korean top five - and they have accelerated to the top.
The improvement after Fl0w3r joined the team was incredible. This one change added a huge amount of firepower to their frontline, took pressure away from Saebyeolbe and allowed him to shine as a second DPS, and transformed the Luxury Watch Blue team into a force to be reckoned with. LW Blue, playing at IEM GyeongGi as Red for branding reasons, stormed the competition on the harder side of the bracket.
The 3-0 sweep of Kongdoo Panthera was particularly impressive as one of the most powerful teams in the competition was brushed aside without issue. They went on to pick apart the new Rogue roster 3-1 in the semifinals and dispatched Lunatic-Hai 3-1 as well. They set the bar incredibly high for the rest of the global competition at that stacked tournament, proving themselves above the new European teams and able to beat the best of an improved Korea as well.
Yesterday they showed difficulty matching the dive potency of Lunatic-Hai and fell over four maps, but this team is still very strong and can play against the best with a range of styles. They are likely to make playoffs despite being in the “group of death” at APEX Season 2 after beating Misfits 3-1 and still have room to grow.
3rd: Lunatic-Hai [+1]
- 2-0 in APEX Season 2
- 2nd IEM GyeongGi
- 5th/8th OGN APEX Season 1
Overall record: 4W - 2L (Map record: 13W - 8L)
After an initial stumble to Kongdoo Uncia in the APEX Season 1 playoffs, Lunatic-Hai adapted to the tank meta and made it work for them. They had an incredibly tight game against Misfits at IEM GyeongGi with both initial maps going to best-of-one tiebreakers on Control, but Lunatic-Hai showed that they had the edge on that specific gametype and just pulled through. They then took a win over AF.Blue 3-1 and made it to the finals, winning the first map against LW Blue but losing the next three convincingly. A second place finish at such a stacked tournament is not to be sniffed at, though Lunatic-Hai had an arguably easier route than LW Blue.
Lunatic-Hai then picked up two new players to add to their roster: Zunba, of CONBOX T6 and World Cup fame, and WhoRU, a young talent that added strong flex DPS ability to the team. Initially designed as an eight-man roster, this idea fell apart when controversy struck Leetaejun and dean; they retired under immense pressure from the Korean community over online interactions with female fans, forcing Lunatic-Hai to use the two new recruits.
This was, as many with an outside perspective predicted, a blessing in disguise. They removed their least impactful player, shifted Miro to main tank where he shines in dive comps, and added a competent Genji to the roster. Combine this with the return of dive comp viability and Lunatic-Hai were cooking with gas.
Building on a strong 2nd place finish at IEM GyeongGi, they came back to APEX Season 2 and slammed AF.Red 3-0 then took sweet revenge on Luxury Watch Blue with their own 3-1 win. Lunatic-Hai outplayed their opponents with Genji and Winston mirror matchups, and look to be back to full strength.
It is possible that within the next month or two we will see Lunatic-Hai become the kings of Korea, but so far they have only shown evidence of that in a single match. For now, LW Blue take 2nd place a fraction ahead due to their victory being in the final of IEM GyeongGi, through a harder bracket, added to their win over Misfits.
This is a rivalry that may shape APEX Season 2 - and will drag many others into the mix en route.
4th: Kongdoo Panthera [+6]
- 1-0 in APEX Season 2
- 1st Nexus Cup GF
- 5th/8th IEM GyeongGi
- 9th/12th APEX Season 1
Overall record: 7W - 1L (Map record: 16W - 4L)
Kongdoo Panthera have continued to improve since October and their hallmark in matches is their incredible consistency. They rarely lose to lower teams in upsets and regularly win their matches without dropping a map, even against top competition. They won the competitive Nexus Cup Grand Finals tournament having only dropped a single map, brushing aside Chinese competition then making AF.Blue and Kongdoo Uncia look amateur in the semis and final with 2-0 and 4-0 victories.
Panthera also competed at IEM GyeongGi and immediately came up against the eventual winners, losing 0-3. To be fair this cannot be dismissed as a foreseeable loss; Panthera certainly did not perform at their usual strength and questions were being asked of whether this was due to the LAN atmosphere rather than being online.
With a number of roster changes, mostly focused around two key slots in the team as they searched for suitable permanent replacements, Kongdoo Panthera came into APEX and proved they could compete at LAN. They barely looked challenged against Fnatic and utterly shut them down with stellar defense. They are strong favourites to top their group and go into playoffs, likely to make a deep run and contest the trophy.
It remains a pity that they, along with others, got completely shafted out of an extra LAN at MSI MGA. It would have been incredibly interesting to see them play Fnatic earlier in this time period as well as taking on NiP and Rise.
Kongdoo Panthera could be the strongest team in APEX within a month. But then again, one could say that about many of the Korean teams this season.
5th: KongDoo Uncia [+2]
- 1-0 in APEX Season 2
- 2nd RuneMedia Grand Prix S3
- 2nd Nexus Cup GF
- 3rd/4th APEX Season 1
Overall record: 12W - 6L (Map record: 35W - 21L)
Despite their run to the semifinals of APEX Season 1, many still questioned whether Kongdoo Uncia would continue as a top team further into the patch or when a new one landed. Those questions have now been mostly answered. This is not a one-trick pony team who were merely quick to adapt.
Kongdoo Uncia built on their semifinal finish in APEX Season 1, where they beat Lunatic-Hai and took EnVyUs to five maps, with relatively strong performances in online cups. They had a 2nd place finish at the Nexus Cup Grand Finals, but it wasn’t a simply route for Uncia. Strangely this tournament saw them lose to Chinese team FTD and lose twice to Mighty AOD before eventually beating them in the lower bracket. They then beat AF.Blue 3-0 to claim a place in the finals but were smashed by sister team Panthera 0-4.
There were complaints of latency issues in the cup which may account for the upsets, but Uncia again lost to a lower level Korean team a short time later in a final.
Kongdoo Uncia came into APEX however with a refreshed roster and looked excellent to the eye in their match against Afreeca Freecs Blue. The roster swap to bring in Butcher for Fatal has given Uncia a powerful offtank to go alongside their good DPS duo and world-class Reinhardt.
This team has a real opportunity to make another deep run at APEX. The competition has stepped up but it looks like they have too. While they don’t have the results to justify a higher position yet, Uncia could easily get rolling and require a lot of effort to stop.
6th: Meta Athena [NEW]
- APEX Season 2
- Qualified APEX Season 2: Super Week
- 5th/8th SteelSeries OTA S6
- Did not qualify in Nexus Cup Grand Final Korean Qualifier
- 1st Challengers Season 2
- 1st MyTh Cup
Overall record: 19W - 3L (Map record: 53W - 16L)
Meta Athena until recently was a Challenger team. They came 3rd in the first season and improved to finish unbeaten in Challenger Season 2 with a monstrous map record of 33 - 5. That performance against lower level teams boosted the stats shown here over this time period, but should not be discounted as Meta Athena styling on scrubs. All the evidence suggests that Korea has a deeper pool of strong teams than the West; despite being around the 13th - 24th best teams in the small country, it is a tough ask to retain a clean sheet against them.
Meta Athena then went into Super Week and won their right to play in APEX Season 2 with two wins over Rhinos Gaming Titan and MVP Infinity, the latter without losing a map. Given how well MVP Infinity are now performing, that is also an achievement.
Meta Athena are all new faces to APEX but their players are as talented as many contesting playoff spots already. Their aggressive and varied compositions show a comprehensive playbook that has been developed while the team was stuck in Challenger, and the team has great cohesion without ultimates.
They have now also posted a 2-0 record in APEX Season 2 after beating BK Stars and MVP Infinity, almost guaranteeing their entry into playoffs already. Their performance over this time period proves they can consistently beat many top 10 teams in Korea.
Now they must work in APEX to challenge the top five and prove that they can compete with the best in the world.
7th: Afreeca Freecs Blue [+1]
- 0-1 in APEX Season 2
- 3rd Nexus Cup Grand Finals
- 3rd/4th IEM GyeongGi
- 2nd APEX Season 1
- 3rd/4th KT G-Star Collaboration Festival
Overall record: 6W - 6L (17W - 20L)
Afreeca Freecs Blue finished 2nd at APEX, beating REUNITED and BK Stars, though they made their way through an easier arm of the bracket to EnVyUs and got rinsed in the finals 4-0.
They then fell to Lunatic-Hai at IEM GyeongGi after being seeded straight into the semifinals. It was a reasonably close game and AF.Blue were perhaps regretting being seeded straight against a top team immediately. This cannot be a real excuse however, as even the quarterfinal losers are likely to be better than AF.Blue.
The reality of the situation is that, despite being a good Korean team, AF.Blue have not shown themselves to be competitive with the best teams in the world.
They took 3rd in the Nexus Cup Grand Finals but only beat Chinese teams to get there, losing without taking a map against Uncia and Panthera. They then lost again to Uncia at APEX Season 2, looking thoroughly outclassed but still taking a map.
Incredibly, they’ve gone up a place in the rankings despite performing at a mediocre level over the last two months. This is largely because Rogue, NiP, and Misfits have performed either more poorly or hardly at all, while AF.Blue have shown they remain at roughly the same level.
8th: Misfits [-5]
- 0-1 in APEX Season 2
- 5th/8th IEM GyeongGi
- 1st DreamHack Winter
- 4th Alienware Monthly Melee November EU
Overall record: 7W - 5L (Map record: 18W - 17L)
The triple shuffle has not paid off so far.
Although the win is listed, the current Misfits roster cannot hold much claim to their victory at DreamHack Winter. Only two of that roster remain with the team, Zebbosai and Nevix, the latter of whom has switched roles. Their fantastic run at the Overwatch Open holds absolutely no relevance, being both with a similarly foreign roster and in the distant past.
Misfits went to IEM GyeongGi just after shuffling their roster, with minimal practice and four players unfamiliar with Korea. They had an exceedingly close game against Lunatic-Hai which saw them only lose on Control bo1 tiebreakers and then a Control map, scuppered by map elimination and tiebreaker systems so regularly criticised.
This is broadly why they are featured in the rankings while Rogue are not - Misfits and Rogue have both played a tiny amount of new matches but, along with the shred of claim the Swedish team can lay to their DreamHack Winter win, Misfits have shown themselves to be far more competitive against the current best in the world post-shuffle.
It certainly has not helped Misfits to be put in the ‘group of death’. They have lost already to LW Blue and will have to reverse the result of IEM GyeongGi - winning against an improved Lunatic-Hai - to force a three way draw in the group. This is, of course, barring any upsets from AF.Red who could throw a spanner in the works.
2017 could start with a very rough time for Misfits. Despite being potentially good enough to make a decent run at APEX Season 2, and continue improving all the while, they have been put with the 2nd and 3rd best teams in the world. If they are eliminated, as is eminently possible, the Swedish team will be fighting to stay relevant in the next major tournament.
9th: Fnatic [-4]
- 0-1 in APEX Season 2
- Qualified for Winter Premiere
- 3rd/4th MLG Vegas
- 2nd DreamHack Winter
Overall record: 13W - 7L (Map record: 33W - 25L)
Fnatic have a relatively impressive resume for this time period, having come 2nd at DreamHack Winter, reached the semifinals of MLG Vegas, and qualified for the Winter Premiere before having to drop out to attend APEX.
However when you look more closely at the teams they’ve beaten and lost to, Fnatic have not performed well enough to accelerate in the rankings, despite being one of the better teams in North America. They came 2nd at DreamHack having beaten NiP in a crazily close game, which was a great win for the team, but MLG Vegas was less impressive. They beat Rise Nation, were smacked around by EnVy, beat an admittedly strong coL, but then choked in the semifinal and lost to FaZe.
In the qualifiers for the Winter Premiere they lost to LG and Immortals, though they also beat both teams in matches later and were playing with some high latency. Moving to Korea, they immediately came up against Kongdoo Panthera, a formidable team - especially if players have never faced Koreans before. They were obliterated. It was not close.
While these performances are not too bad, they are certainly not moving forward and do not appear to be on the level of tier-one world teams. And when EnVyUs and the Korean teams are so rapidly moving forwards, if other teams aren’t accelerating they’re essentially moving backwards.
Fnatic have a reasonable chance at escaping their group even so if they’re able to beat RunAway. RunAway are a team that play few games and give little away, making it difficult to get a read on how strong they are. Fnatic will still have a tough game against them, and in fact will have to deliver RunAway their first loss in months, but if Fnatic win they should be out in the clear.
10th: Immortals [NEW]
- 1st Winter Premiere
- 2-0 in Realm Winter
- 1st BaseTradeTV Cup
- 1st Alienware Merry Melee
- 2nd Carbon Masters
Overall record: 37W - 7L (Map record: 83W - 31L)
Immortals have been plowing through tier-two teams in North America, to the point where they must be put into the discussion as a potential top team. They’ve had two best-of-five wins over Cloud9’s late 2016 roster with the Europeans, have beaten FaZe, Fnatic, LG, and almost every other lower team in NA.
Recently they won the Winter Premiere, performing with incredible consistency. After qualifying for the tournament they remained in pole position from beginning to end, staying at the top of both round robins and consistently beating every other tier-two team in North America. At the LAN, they waltzed through a match against Luminosity and then solidly beat Ghost Gaming, even with coach Chance subbing for Nomy on tank.
Immortals are a team to watch in 2017. They have been playing weaker teams than many others in contention for the top ten, but their wins and consistent performances have put them in tenth worldwide. Immortals need the opportunity to face better teams both in North America and abroad to climb from here on.
As an aside, Immortals are above Cloud 9 based on their head-to-head record and C9’s underwhelming performance at Vegas. There, they only won against NRG twice and lost to FaZe and EnVyUs badly. They are also above FaZe due to FaZe’s terrible online performances and recent poor form after kicking TwoEasy, which overshadows their finals appearance at MLG Vegas. Cloud 9 however is the only one of the three teams with an opportunity - and a good one - to win against other top teams. A playoff run in APEX is possible for C9 if they beat AF.Blue with their new Gods roster.
During this period the new results were from:
- Nexus Cup Grand Finals
- MLG Vegas
- IEM GyeongGi
- APEX Season 2: Super Week
- Winter Premiere
- APEX Season 2
Rogue have only played two single matches since mid-November, both losses. They fell 2-3 to EnVyUs in the APEX Season 1 quarterfinals and then lost at IEM GyeongGi to LW Blue 1-3, again in the quarterfinals. It has been three months since Rogue had a notable victory and their new roster is incomplete, unproven, and has no wins to its name. Despite the team’s rumoured strength, there is no evidence yet to suggest they are a worldclass team.
Hopefully we see them competing in a European tournament shortly alongside Ninjas in Pyjamas, who had not played a single match since DreamHack Winter until two days ago. Even then, the calibre of teams at Winter Assembly appears to have made them take the tournament semi-seriously, trying out different half-hearted comps until they were forced to win.
RunAway is a Korean team to keep an eye out for, especially if they continue their winning streak and upset Fnatic to make playoffs. So far though they are afflicted by the same lack of results that plague the European teams, though are not lacking opportunities.
The story of this winter was the slip of the European gods, the gap broadening between EnVyUs and the other top North American teams, and the continued rise of the Koreans.
There will be another episode of over.gg World Rankings after APEX concludes to see how that tournament - and those running in EU & NA - have affected the lay of the land.
Special thanks to urns for creating our series banner!