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 series of our rankings uses data from the beginning of 2017 until the end of APEX, finishing on the date of the finals. Recent results from the past three days have not been included, to save the exciting online action happening in the West for our next edition. Expect that article in early May, recapping PIT Championships, the Rivalcade Rumble, Monthly Melees, and more to give a comprehensive view of the talent in the West.
Back to this edition though: in the time since our last rankings, APEX Season 2 has essentially defined the top five teams in the world for us. The intensive double elimination playoff group format tested every top team against a huge range of their opponents, quickly eliminating the Western teams invited and ending with a final that was mind-blowing.
North America continues to be ruled by its French overlords, but is putting up strong resistance with the performances of Selfless, Immortals, and LG Evil. Europe has only just woken up with the PIT Championship, with many of its teams not playing enough to be reliably placed.
The format of our rankings 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 - though in regions where those opportunities don’t exist, reasonable comparisons must be made.
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: Lunatic-Hai [-]
- 1st APEX Season 2
- Did not qualify Nexus Cup 2017 Spring
Overall record: 7W - 2L (Map record: 24W - 11L)
The kings of Korea have been crowned. Lunatic-Hai stumbled against RunAway in the playoff groups, and again had an incredibly close game in the final, but eventually overcame the fierce competition of APEX to win the most prestigious title in Overwatch. Their performance throughout the groups and playoffs cements them as the current world’s best team, though it seems any of the top five could win a direct match against Lunatic-Hai on a day that favoured them.
This team is packed full of individual talent that allows them to outclass their opponents in terms of execution. WhoRU had an MVP performance in the final, and indeed most of the playoffs, making a strong case for the best Genji in the world with his powerful ultimates; Ryujehong remains the best Ana in the world with his excellent performance against the strongest competition; Miro is still clearly the best on Winston, making great use of the hero’s recent buffs; and Tobi silently puts in an utterly solid performance every game on Lucio with his impeccable ultimates and positioning.
They are not the most flexible team in the world. They are certainly not the most strategically deep team in the world. But it is hard to argue, after seeing their performance throughout APEX, that they are not the current best team in the world.
2nd: RunAway [+2]
- 2nd APEX Season 2
- 7th/8th Overwatch Monthly Melee March
Overall record: 6W - 5L (22W - 18L)
RunAway captured the hearts and minds of fans around the world with their determined, passionate run through APEX Season 2. The team was fuelled by Runner and Kaiser’s internal fires - the first burning wild and setting others alight with inspiration, the second channelled like the stoked blaze of a furnace into his play. At nearly every stage RunAway looked to be the underdog and yet each time they clutched the victory, defying expectations.
The team had already proven themselves to be a top team by making the finals, and then hit us with an incredible series against Lunatic-Hai to quell any doubters. While it must be said that their wins are close and their losses can be less so, it’s a by-product of their scrappy and individualistic team style. Kaiser is a phenomenal talent and their team plays around him beautifully, giving him support that few teams can afford to give their Reinhardt. Add that to the scary DPS duo of Haksal and Stitch, and RunAway has deep playmaking talent.
RunAway seemed to be a mystery one month ago: their roster shifts were strange, the players unknown, the structure of the team amateur. Over the course of APEX we’ve learned about the talent on the team, seen the importance of Runner’s calling and preparation, and must respect their position at the top end of Korea and the world.
If you're still wondering about their odd win records listed, this includes a high ping showing in the Monthly Melee where they obviously failed to perform to their LAN level. Those results have been weighted accordingly at 0 Newtons, and will continue to float in the air until such time as we need to compare RunAway to Brazil Gaming House when both teams are on 200 ping.
3rd: Luxury Watch Blue [-1]
- 3rd APEX Season 2
Overall record: 5W - 3L (Map record: 20W - 14L)
Over a long enough time span, LW Blue may still end up being the best team of late 2016 and early 2017. The team was MonteCristo’s favourite for the APEX title and were heartbreakingly close to making the finals and potentially wreaking vengeance on Lunatic-Hai. Both of their losses in the playoffs were balanced on a knife edge, LW Blue able to rematch and beat Kongdoo Panthera but not offered the opportunity against RunAway.
They remain one of the most well-rounded and versatile top teams, able to excel on triple tank and dive whenever the situation calls. This ability to last through patches and find a style to match any opponent will almost certainly grant them wins in the future, and could have reasonably resulted in a victory in APEX had certain fights gone marginally more in their favour.
While they appeared to struggle a little towards the end of the season with Fl0w3r’s injury, the playoffs became Saebyeolbe’s playground. His performances on Tracer and Roadhog were unbelievable at times, carrying his team through maps. Though the players from Lunatic-Hai and RunAway will stick in fans' minds for MVP votes, Saebyeolbe was one of the outstanding players of this season.
But in the end it wasn’t enough. The team exited in 3rd after beating Meta Athena, ruining their chances of two back-to-back titles in Korea. LW Blue has the ability to overcome the competition through rugged consistency. They will be back for blood.
4th: Meta Athena [+1]
- 4th APEX Season 2
- Did not qualify Nexus Cup 2017 Spring
Overall record: 5W - 3L (Map record: 18W - 11L)
Towards the end of the season, two things happened to Meta Athena. One was the demonstration that they are a multi-faceted team and capable of more than a single Hoon-centric style, as Libero in particular showed himself as a rising talent with an infinite hero pool; the second was that they faced the best dive teams in Korea and were found wanting.
Meta Athena remain one of the most creative teams in the world, innovating with Mei boosts and Sombra executes that dazzle as often as they succeed. After battering EnVyUs in groups with their Zarya teamplay and overcoming AF.Blue, the real challenge began. While many were counting them out against Kongdoo Panthera and LW Blue, in their final playoff group match they destroyed Panthera, picking them apart with tactical precision.
Meta Athena are at their best when they bring the fight to their opponents and have time to set up plays. It worked brilliantly against the immobile and reactive compositions of EnVyUs and Panthera, but against the dive prowess of Lunatic-Hai and LW Blue they fell to pieces.
There are clear areas of improvement for Meta Athena and their style does not match up well against the top teams in this dive meta. Their streak through APEX may have been broken, but Meta Athena firmly established themselves as a top team and hinted at the power lying dormant in Challengers.
5th: Kongdoo Panthera [-2]
- 5th APEX Season 2
Overall record: 4W - 2L (Map record: 13W - 8L)
Kongdoo Panthera looked like an unstoppable force during the first half of APEX. They went through groups without dropping a map thanks to their bulwark of a defence, then beat LW Blue in an incredibly even battle of the titans.
After beating LW Blue in the upper bracket of the playoff groups though, Meta Athena outplayed Panthera and LW Blue came back through the lower bracket to find revenge. Rascal continued to have a strong season with his flexible hero pool and the team kept their coordination, but each of their previously unassailable defences was tactically picked apart and snowballed down by dive compositions.
Kongdoo Panthera is still a powerful team and could be again one of the best in the world if dive is neutered slightly. Over the off-season, this team will likely aim to diversify their playbook and compositions, bringing another option to the table when countered.
6th: Rogue [+4]
- 4-0 PIT Championship NA
- 1st Overwatch Monthly Melee: March
- 1st Overwatch Monthly Melee: February
Overall record: 16W - 0L (Map record: 35W - 5L)
Rogue have been tentatively placed in sixth this month, though it’s true they’ve not faced many other top 10 teams in their short time in North America. Despite many brushing off their consistent dominance over the North American teams as ‘bullying the nerds’, Rogue’s performance in recent tournaments demands more credit and respect.
For starters, the domestic talent in North America is no joke right now. Immortals and LG Evil have shown consistently strong performances over the last few months, and Selfless are the real deal. Rogue has sent them all to the trash can over the three tournaments they’ve played, dominating 2017, winning every single series since adding NiCO to the roster.
That’s not to say they’d be dominant if put against other top Western teams or the Koreans; there’s just no way to tell right now. Taking into account how phenomenally coordinated Rogue have looked in their games, their individual talent on show, and the strength of their triple DPS composition, we’ve decided to rate Rogue as sixth. They might well be able to beat the Korean teams above them if given the chance, or they may lose to EnVyUs or Cloud9 in the upcoming Rivalcade Rumble. Maybe this patch will slowly see their favoured composition fall out of fashion.
The lack of large or global LAN tournaments in Overwatch justifies a slightly unhealthy dose of gut feeling and reliance on the ‘eye test’ when constructing these rankings. Thankfully, Rogue have reportedly been invited to APEX Season 3 as one of the two Western teams, where all our questions will be answered.
7th: KongDoo Uncia [-1]
- 5th/6th APEX Season 2
- Did not qualify Nexus Cup 2017 Spring
Overall record: 4W - 3L (Map record: 13W - 13L)
Kongdoo Uncia slips one more position this month down into seventh, as a clear gap developed in the late season between them and the elite of Korea. You can’t hold their inability to qualify for the Nexus Cup against them, with Lunatic-Hai also knocked out as the underdogs won across the board, but Uncia certainly lost their shine as APEX dragged on.
To their credit, Uncia went unbeaten (in the easiest group) of APEX, with only Cloud9 taking them close to the edge. EnVyUs also took Uncia to five games but lacked a cohesive plan, and Uncia ended the hopes of both top NA teams. They’re a team with a risky style and the talent to pull it off against less coordinated teams, but Lunatic-Hai and RunAway picked on their weaknesses and pulled them apart.
To be fair to them, Kongdoo Uncia did get knocked out by the first and second best teams in the tournament, but unlike many of the challengers, Uncia were not particularly competitive in those games.
8th: Misfits [-]
- 5-0 in PIT Championship EU
- 9th/12th APEX Season 2
Overall record: 6W - 2L (Map record: 14W - 9L)
Misfits returned from Korea after missing out on playoffs, denied by two powerhouse teams, and decided to make a role change. Nevix moved back to DPS, with Manneten picking up flex to make room as Zebbosai went to support. This has unlocked extra firepower for their DPS duo and Manneten also looks more comfortable on offtanks, with the team capable of playing triple DPS and triple tank equally well.
Misfits went through the group stages of PIT unbeaten, putting strong teams like Movistar Riders, Dignitas, and Hammers to bed. The standard of their play in APEX, better than the record would suggest, added to their performance in the groups of PIT giving them the edge over EnVyUs for now.
As we live in the future though, beyond the scope of this ranking, it’s relevant to note that Misfits have already taken a loss in PIT to eUnited and could fall early to NiP, Movistar, or eUnited again. While these teams are all strong, and in a sense dark horses due to the dearth of recent matches, losses for Misfits could see them overtaken in the rankings as their weaknesses are exposed.
From what Misfits have shown so far though, I remain reasonably confident that there are further untapped depths to this team. They keep visibly improving on certain maps as they perfect compositions and strategies, and the individual level on the team is very high. They’ve chosen to become a well-rounded team rather than go for a single style and that’s a long-term decision with larger returns down the line.
9th: EnVyUs [-2]
- 7th/8th APEX Season 2
Overall record: 2W - 3L (Map record: 8W - 12L)
EnVyUs have only shown a single game since our last edition of the rankings, losing 2-3 to Kongdoo Uncia. They didn’t look any more comfortable in that series compared to their former performances, still struggling in the APEX patch. The team doesn’t seem naturally suited to dive compositions and appears to have lost some of the fierce coordination they were previously known for.
It’s impossible to tell how much of this is due to a lack of leadership or strategy and how much is simply burn-out or inability to focus from being in APEX, living in hotels, two season in a row. It’s likely to take its toll. EnVyUs will be playing in the Rivalcade Rumble later this month as their first online games since the Overwatch Open qualifiers in mid-2016, but they cannot take it easy.
Their coach KyKy reported earlier this month that the team had been unable to practise since being eliminated from APEX and this will only compound issues they are having. The North American scene they left at MLG Vegas is incomparable to the one they return to, with large improvements and new faces ready to prove themselves against the old gods.
EnVyUs have the talent to be a top team again, and may still be one within North America, but they need to put in serious work to get back on top.
10th: Selfless [NEW]
- 5-0 in PIT Championship
- 2nd Monthly Melee March
- 1st PIT Championship NA Qualifier
- 1st Good Gaming #8
- 1st Rivalcade Weekly #2
- 1st Academy Gaming #40
- 1st Good Gaming #7
- 1st Rivalcade Weekly #1
- 1st Enter The Anrea
- 1st Academy Gaming #39
- 3rd/4th Academy Gaming #38
- 3rd COW Open Weekly #10
- 3rd/4th Academy Gaming #37
Overall record: 48W - 5L (Map record: 86W - 18L)
Our final team in the top 10 for this month is Selfless, a North American team making waves within the domestic scene. They’re known for their perfection of a key composition, only altering it minimally to suit the map or enemy, and incredible individual talent.
Looking at their accomplishments in 2017 it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but unfortunately most of their wins are against unknown opponents as they ground their way to relevancy. They forced teams to take notice and TOs to invite them to larger cups by demolishing the lower end of North America. Notable wins came in Enter The Arena, where they took out LG Evil and Renegades to win, and then in their two most recent tournaments.
In the OMM March and PIT Championship they’ve proven their stock against the best in North America currently, running Rogue to the wire over two incredibly close series. That match-up was almost dead even, with both teams making constant adaptations to try and get the edge, but Rogue took the lead both times to win. They’ve also dominated LG Evil in three separate series in the last few weeks, beating Immortals as well to show their current level is above that tier of competition.
Selfless’ team style relies heavily on individual performance and putting opponents in uncomfortable positions. Already we’ve seen Liquid adapt their team compositions and playstyle, aimed at halting the aggression and disrupt Selfless’ composition preferences, so far to great effect in PIT. Once teams catch on, Selfless are likely to have more difficult games; on the flip side however, they are continuing to improve themselves, adding new tools to their arsenal each day. This is a team with a legitimately high trajectory.
Special mentions this month go first to wNv, a Korean team who seemingly only participate in online cups against top Chinese and Korean teams. They have a consistently strong record against other top 15 Korean teams, with wins over Kongdoo Uncia, Mighty AOD, MVP Space, and X6-Gaming within the last three months. Crucially, they also have no losses in that period of time, beating out every Chinese team as well as those top Koreans to take three online tournament wins. I can offer no insight into why they appear to have never even attempted to qualify for APEX, as they would surely be in contention for making it out of Challengers.
Another special mention to the teams currently competing in Europe in the PIT Championship, as they are proving the depth of talent still in the scene despite its woes. Movistar and eUnited have both progressed to the Upper Bracket Final ahead of NiP and Misfits, neither of whom appear to be slacking too hard themselves. ex-Cyclone are another team to keep an eye on in Europe, storming through smaller tournaments of late.
A final mention to the genuinely talented teams of LG Evil and Immortals who have failed to make the top 10 despite consistently good results in 2017. They are a large part of what makes the North American region look more competitive than ever. Even with Rogue and NRG reportedly moving to compete in APEX next season the scene should be strong.
2017 is building to become a fantastic year for Overwatch. Bring on the LANs.
During this period the new results were from:
- APEX Season 2
- Overwatch Monthly Melee: March
- Overwatch PIT Championship NA & EU
Special thanks to urns for creating our series banner!