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 April to the present, running from the end of APEX Season 2 until the conclusion of APEX Season 3 semifinals, Contenders Season Zero, and the BEAT Invitational. This time period has seen dramatic growth from the North American scene, a thorough tournament system spanning Europe and North America with huge open qualifiers, and two serious LANs in TaKeOver 2 and APEX.
The top tier of Korean teams still lead the way, with EnVyUs and Rogue nipping at their heels, but a fork in the APEX seedings left us with strange data to assess just where the second tier of Korean talent sits. Back in the West, Immortals have stepped up with their new imported players Kariv and Fate, filling the empty boots of Selfless comfortably as the ‘next best’ NA team. And unlike previous countless months in Overwatch that saw Europe claim an edge over North America, the depth of the talent in NA has now been fleshed out with strong domestic talent, giving them the overall lead in tier two and below.
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 [-]
- Finalist APEX Season 3
- 1st APEX Season 2
Overall record: 7W - 1L (Map record: 24W - 10L)
Lunatic-Hai have cemented 2017 as their era in Overwatch and show no signs of slowing. Ever since adding WhoRU and Zunba to their roster in January they have obliterated the competition, dropping only two series throughout the seven month period in the most competitive league in the world - and both losses to eventual finalists of the competition.
When one considers that Lunatic-Hai also made the finals of APAC Premier and IEM GyeongGi, and were favourites for APEX Season 1 before the playoff meta shift, it’s hard to argue that any team has been more legendary in the game so far.
Ignoring the historical component for a moment and homing in on the present, Lunatic-Hai are just as good right now as they have ever been. Pioneering a defensive Sombra style that rips teams apart from the tanks backward, they have outplayed and out-thought opponents who anticipated an easier game once WhoRU was out of the picture.
Lunatic-Hai have an intelligent, flexible, and talented team who have proven an ability to master a range of styles. Their upcoming APEX finals match against Kongdoo Panthera will require them to adjust to the aggression and power of Rascal and birdring, but even if they lose the finals Lunatic-Hai will still have a strong position to claim to be the best Overwatch team in the world.
2nd: Kongdoo Panthera [+2]
- Finalist APEX Season 3
- 5th APEX Season 2
Overall record: 4W - 2L (Map record: 17W - 9L)
Kongdoo Panthera had obvious flaws in the group stages of APEX Season 3. Their defense was a passive line begging to be approached. Their backline was as watertight as a sieve. wakawaka was getting picked more easily than a bargain basement padlock. Over the course of the season, however, these holes appear to have been patched quickly and Panthera are growing into their new style with frightening results.
Unlike Lunatic-Hai which is structured primarily around its supports and then tanks, with the DPS pairing a strategic afterthought, Kongdoo Panthera has paired together potentially the best DPS duo in the game and worked backwards from there. Rascal and birdring, particularly the latter, have been wreaking havoc in matches and making their opponents look frankly shabby by comparison. Their combined hero pool and raw skill is unmatched across any of the top teams currently in APEX, and they are quickly developing the discipline and coordination to fully bring their talent to bear.
Fissure is also regarded by some, including most of the Western opposition he faced in Korea, as the best tank in the world - though he has strong competition for that title - while his partner Void is an incredibly savvy D.Va. The team is aggressively focused and keen on execution, with their strong positioning applying pressure onto opponents throughout the game.
They have played against Lunatic-Hai twice already this season, once in groups and once in playoffs, but while Kongdoo Panthera have worked on honing their style, Lunatic-Hai have shown an ability to change theirs like a chameleon. Kongdoo Panthera have also had an easier road through playoffs, beating Lunatic-Hai before they had figured out Sombra and were using Gido as a straight Genji replacement - a poor man’s WhoRU at his best - and then sailing through a janus-less Luxury Watch Blue.
Kongdoo Panthera have wins over Rogue, EnVyUs, Luxury Watch Blue, and Lunatic-Hai this season but will have to be playing at absolute peak performance to overcome the reigning kings of Korea.
3rd: Afreeca Freecs Blue [-]
- 3rd APEX Season 3
- 7th/8th APEX Season 2
Overall record: 6W - 1L (Map record: 19W - 5L)
AF.Blue were demolished by Lunatic-Hai in the APEX semifinals, but their first match against an elite team did not expose AF.Blue as being overhyped. In much the same way a towering skyscraper is made to implode with targeted explosives in key locations, Lunatic-Hai took down AF.Blue with strategic precision and countered their style perfectly. Despite the 0-4 loss, it is undeniable that Afreeca Freecs Blue are one of the best teams in the world right now.
Prior to their semifinals defeat, AF.Blue were on a fifteen map winstreak, blasting through the tier two talent in APEX and emphatically proving themselves a top team in Korea. They brushed aside Meta Athena and X6, two teams that gave EnVyUs a run for their money, without losing a map and then blasted through EnVyUs themselves in the Bronze final with ease.
It is a shame that we never got to see how AF.Blue would match up against Kongdoo Panthera. Neither team is the other’s stylistic counter and both teams have aggressive or counter-punching playstyles; it would have been a slobberknocker between two heavyweights of APEX, intense in its action and ferocity, but it was not on the cards this season as both ran into the more tactical, clinical jabs of Lunatic-Hai.
Even though Afreeca Freecs Blue did not make the final this season, their run and form was far more impressive than their podium finish in APEX Season 1. With proof that ArHaN and TaiRong’s system works, expect further refinement and improvements to this roster as long as the dive meta holds up.
4th: Rogue [+1]
- 1st BEAT Invitational Season 2
- 1st TaKeOver 2
- 9th/12th APEX Season 3
- 1st Rivalcade Rumble
- 1st Overwatch Monthly Melee April
- 1st PIT Championship NA
Overall record: 33W - 2L (Map record: 83W - 25L)
After the undeniable top three in the world, it becomes difficult to know where to place the next tier of teams which includes EnVyUs, Luxury Watch Blue, and Rogue. While the French side were knocked out early in APEX Season 3, it is obvious now - and indeed even was at the time - that their group contained three of the best teams in the tournament and a strong underdog in Mighty AOD. They were beaten by the two finalists, who now sit above all others waiting to face off in a fortnight, and made the games closer than many others that the big two have slaughtered en route.
A positive of being knocked out so early is that they have had the opportunity to prove themselves in tournaments outside APEX. Rogue competed in TaKeOver 2 immediately after returning from Korea and wiped the floor with the competition, proving themselves head and shoulders above Europe’s best. They then hopped over the Atlantic to compete in North American online competition, running close to being upset twice but nevertheless keeping up their incredibly consistent 44 match winstreak in the West.
EnVyUs and LW Blue have been hampered in this department; perhaps they would have had similar results if they were competing in the weaker Western regions, but one cannot simply assume both teams would have kept up such unbelievably consistent wins without supporting evidence. As neither team was also able to run the elite Korean teams closer than Rogue - and EnVyUs in fact struggled with X6 and to a lesser extent Meta Athena - the evidence of this time period requires that Rogue be ranked higher than the other two teams in their global tier.
What worked for Rogue in the early spring of 2017 is no longer guaranteeing the same success. Rogue have been forced to make adaptations, to distance themselves from the hyper-aggressive triple DPS compositions they made their name with and instead focus on integrating D.Va play from NiCO and aKm into their style. The added practice during the World Cup, and the fact that North America has improved in their absence, should continue to push Rogue’s improvements - but they will not have an opportunity to prove themselves as the world’s best again in APEX. That chance has passed them by.
5th: Luxury Watch Blue [-3]
- 5th/6th APEX Season 3
- 3rd APEX Season 2
Overall record: 4W - 2L (Map record: 13W - 9L)
Luxury Watch Blue have had a disappointing season, mostly due to factors outside of their control. Their group was one of the weakest in APEX, barring a modicum of upset potential in CONBOX Spirit, and so victories within it did not demonstrate much. They were then seeded into an insane group for the playoffs with CONBOX again, alongside Lunatic-Hai and Kongdoo Panthera. This was LW Blue’s opportunity to prove their ability and deflate the hype surrounding their elite Korean opponents.
Instead, janus’ lung was the first thing that deflated, followed by the playoff dreams of Luxury Watch Blue. Tragically, tank janus was struck for the second time in two seasons by a pneumothorax and had to be hospitalised just before their match against Kongdoo Panthera. It gave Panthera a walk in the park rather than the otherwise predicted tough slog through a muddy field, as Luxury Watch Blue were forced to field Luna on tank and have Pine play support instead.
janus returned to play Lunatic-Hai the day after returning from hospital, and the LW Blue coach decided to field Pine on support again, over Luna this time. It was clear they were not expecting Lunatic-Hai to be running almost constant Sombra into their frontline; their tanks were ripped apart, starting with MekO, and LW Blue fell to pieces.
Their positioning and coordination looked off in both playoff games as well, probably exacerbated by the roster issues they were facing, but LW Blue still made the games relatively close against Kongdoo Panthera and had strong moments during their match against Lunatic-Hai.
Had LW Blue been at the peak of good health we may have seen a better performance from the team, but circumstances conspired along with the low number of matches in APEX to make their run substantially weaker than possible this season. Though it may have been as a result of their group underperformance, individually LW Blue’s players did not shine either - particularly Fl0w3r and Saebyeolbe who dropped off as the pressure and opposition mounted.
That’s not to say that one should overrate LW Blue based on the excuses available to them. They have not demonstrated the ability to hang with the elite teams this season and failed to make a deep run or particularly impress with their form.
Luxury Watch Blue still barely rank ahead EnVyUs this month due to their performance against Kongdoo Panthera and Lunatic-Hai, their consistent performance against strong tier two team CONBOX Spirit, and the last vestiges of their bronze finish in APEX Season 2. Unlike APEX Season 2, which saw all the top teams playing each other directly, this season has had a frustratingly low number of unique head-to-head matches among the top teams.
6th: EnVyUs [-]
- 4th APEX Season 3
- 2nd Rivalcade Rumble
- 7th/8th APEX Season 2
Overall record: 11W - 5L (Map record: 32W - 21L)
EFFECT, ever since joining the team at the beginning of APEX Season 3, has performed at an excellent level. He has demonstrated an ability to turn fights around, carry engagements, and provide solid damage output for an EnVyUs roster that was lacking a playmaker in this meta.
EnVyUs do not have the ability to run Genji/Tracer compositions and kept Taimou on Soldier: 76 for the majority of the tournament, but they have supplemented that predictable compositional element with new strategy and tactics. EnVy look like they’ve put time and effort into breaking down each map, and the team knows what they want to achieve in each fight.
EnVyUs had another deep run in APEX this season, finishing in fourth place, but that achievement breaks down a little when you inspect it. They were with only one tier two Korean team in Group D, Meta Athena, who pushed them to five maps before EnVyUs were able to take the win, albeit in EFFECT’s first tournament game with the team. After that, EnVyUs lost to X6 Gaming, underperforming in their first playoffs game, and then beat Meta Athena again to rematch X6 and take an easy win this time. They were then dismantled by both Kongdoo Panthera and AF.Blue, despite taking a couple of maps close in both series.
It was not a dominant run by any means, but it did show that EnVyUs are above the tier two of Korean teams and almost able to hang with the big boys on a good day. They appear to be in a very similar position to Rogue but with more variance to their level on any given day.
EnVyUs may end up being better than Rogue in head-to-head matches in the future, but they haven't shown it yet. Again, EnVy’s rank is in some sense a victim of the few matches available for APEX participants. There is strong potential that they are underrated here as sixth, especially when one considers how close their match was with Rogue prior to APEX without EFFECT, but there is currently not enough evidence against other intermediary teams to tell and they were blown apart by Kongdoo Panthera and Afreeca Freecs Blue.
7th: Immortals [NEW]
- 2nd BEAT Invitational Season 2
- 1st Contenders Season Zero NA
- 1st Contenders Season Zero NA Qualifiers Day 2
- 9th/16th Contenders Season Zero NA Qualifiers Day 1
- 7th/8th Overwatch Monthly Melee May
- 5th/8th CyberPowerPC Spring $5K Invitational
- 5th/6th Rivalcade Rumble
- 4th Overwatch Monthly Melee April
Overall record: 32W - 1D - 11L (87W - 36L)
Immortals have improved enormously since adding Kariv, Fate, and to a lesser extent Envy, to their roster. They have been large upgrades in individual talent and appear to have unlocked aggressive, coordinated ability within the team as a whole. GrimReality has also grown into a good Tracer, a role he was previously struggling with, which gives Immortals a powerful individual presence across the board.
Their coordination and execution of macro game elements has been their largest improvement though; Immortals now have the ability to out-manoeuvre and out-position even top teams to win fights. They rarely get caught out and keep good track of ultimate economy to allow the team to formulate clear plans for engagements.
Immortals slammed their way through Contenders qualifiers and Season Zero, losing one match 0-2 to ARC 6 in the qualifiers and then drawing with them once again in groups, but otherwise annihilating opponents. Their overall map record in Contenders was 54 wins to 7 losses.
They followed that performance up with an incredible run in the BEAT Invitational Season 2, which saw them crush CLG, EnVision, and ARC 6 to face Rogue twice in the Upper Bracket Final and Grand Final. The first time around, Immortals played Rogue close but took a 1-3 loss. For the final, Immortals threatened a reverse sweep in the best-of-seven by outplaying Rogue on Lijiang, Route 66, and Temple of Anubis, drawing the series level at 3-3 for the final map. It was strong proof for those wondering whether the ‘best of the rest’ in North America could compete with Rogue.
Immortals are easily the strongest contender for the next tier-one Western team, and both Rogue and EnVyUs must not underestimate the threat posed by this new roster.
8th: eUnited [-]
- 1st Contenders Season Zero EU
- 1st Contenders Season Zero EU Qualifier Day 1
- 2nd TaKeOver 2
- 2nd PIT Championship EU
Overall record: 22W - 2D - 5L (70W - 24L)
eUnited are the only other team in the West currently who could compete with Immortals for the title of 'next tier-one Western team', but have had more limitations on their recent results.
Firstly they are based in a less competitive region right now; Europe is struggling to match the ferocious advance of the North American scene with its improved infrastructure, tournament opportunities, and imported talent. Secondly, they have a style that is going out of vogue and forced them to go man-to-man against Rogue in a triple DPS matchup, making them look weaker in their three losses at TaKeOver 2.
It is clear that eUnited are far ahead of the other European teams right now. Their run at TaKeOver 2 saw them drop no maps to domestic European teams - or Cloud9 - and in Contenders, after a shaky start, they cruised to victory. With previous rivals Cyclowns and Movistar Riders falling by the wayside, only 123 and Laser Kittenz really remain in Europe to give them any trouble and both teams are below eUnited’s level.
eUnited have less of a versatile style than a lot of the other elite teams around the world but are working that into their play slowly. In terms of individual skill they are also outpaced by the elite teams, potentially including Immortals at this point.
It was never the style of eUnited to simply rely on individual ability though, despite having a lot of it on their roster. eUnited’s strength comes from their comfort and confidence in their style, along with the many hours they’ve put into grinding positioning and synergy. They bully other teams into compliance with their aggressive play and high tempo, and attempt to minimise mistakes themselves.
But without strong domestic competition or the opportunity to prove themselves equal to the top teams in North America, eUnited risk falling behind. For the first time in Overwatch history since launch, there seems to be more potential in the North American scene than the European. For eUnited, the next few months will be a test of how fast they can improve without others necessarily driving them on.
9th: X6 Gaming [NEW]
- 5th/6th APEX Season 3
- 1st/2nd APEX Season 3 Super Week
Overall record: 5W - 3L (Map record: 15W - 16L)
X6 Gaming are among the best of the tier-two teams in Korea, alongside CONBOX Spirit, Meta Athena, and Mighty AOD.
While CONBOX arguably had the best form of these teams and the highest potential for upset, they were unable to produce results against the top teams in APEX - mostly due to their incredibly difficult playoff group, a feeling that Mighty AOD can empathise with.
It was instead X6 that delivered consistent performances over the teams with potential, overcoming Mighty AOD 3-2 in Super Week, beating RunAway and Kongdoo Uncia in groups, and then striking gold with their upset over EnVyUs in the first round of playoffs.
They surprised EnVyUs with off-meta strategy and caught them on a rough day, securing a 3-2 win and advancing to play AF.Blue. Predictably, AF.Blue smashed them just as hard as they had in groups previously and EnVyUs came back to deliver revenge with a 0-3 drubbing.
Nevertheless, for a team new to APEX, playing in the strongest league in the world, X6 had a good season and can be proud of what they have achieved so far.
10th: ARC 6 [NEW]
- 3rd BEAT Invitational Season 2
- 9th/12th Contenders Season Zero NA
- 5th/8th Contenders Season Zero NA Qualifiers Day 1
- 5th/8th Rivalcade Memorial Day Rumble
- 1st Overwatch Monthly Melee May
- 3rd Overwatch Monthly Melee April
- 1st Overwatch Monthly Melee April Qualifier
Overall record: 24W - 2D - 10L (Map record: 62W - 42L)
Yes, you read it correctly. ARC 6 have made it into our worldwide top ten this month after proficient performances throughout the last two months in North America.
North America is a strong region at the moment with many good teams, right behind Korea in terms of depth of tier two and three talent. ARC 6 are the domestic team with both the best tournament placings recently and the highest peaks to their performances, behind Immortals.
Their domestic opposition has, at times, outperformed them in tournaments - Kungarna is growing into their bogey team, having beaten ARC 6 twice in recent tournaments, while Renegades have beaten them once in the May Rumble and FNRGFE knocked them out of Contenders groups - but otherwise ARC 6 have the most consistently good results of any NA team underneath Immortals, and appear stronger than their equivalents in Europe (123) and Korea.
ARC 6 were right behind Rogue and Selfless in the Monthly Melee for April, a breakout tournament for the team known at the time as Denial. They overtook Selfless once Rogue had left for Korea, claiming their first tournament win in the Overwatch Monthly Melee May. ARC 6 then had a strong run through Contenders qualifiers, beating Immortals 2-0 before losing to Kungarna, and had a good run in groups despite being eliminated.
Even though the team will not appear in Contenders Season One, ARC 6 actually performed well in Season Zero. They were the only team to draw with Immortals, with everybody else blown out of the water, and had one match win and one loss with FNRGFE who eventually pipped them to the post. Their draw with Tempo Storm was ARC 6's real undoing, a team that they have beaten four times in a row previously.
ARC 6 have positive win records against FNRGFE, knocking them down to the lower bracket and then out of the BEAT Invitational, and took Rogue to the limit in a crazy game in the second round of the upper bracket.
After adding Custa to the team and moving Gingerpop to Lucio, ARC 6 have shown a powerful support line to work alongside their coordinated dive and PharMercy compositions. It’s a well-rounded roster that doesn’t have elite individual talent all across the roster but is greater than the sum of its parts as a team, and the strong support line helps significantly with that style.
On LAN, it's likely that FaZe's new lineup would outpace them. With more development and competition in Contenders Season 1, perhaps FNRGFE, Liquid, and Renegades will grow to overtake them. With a little more consistency against other opponents, Kungarna could easily prove themselves to be the overall stronger team. For now, though, ARC 6 are the best of the rising teams in North America.
Special mentions this month are necessary because there are so many teams on the fringe of the top ten. With the rise of North American talent, FaZe, FNRGFE, Liquid, Kungarna, and Renegades could all challenge for the tenth spot at times, while LG Evil are dropping off and CLG have been overtaken by other more promising teams.
FaZe were unable to replicate their success in the Contenders qualifiers during Season Zero though, and as a new team have no other results with which to gauge their level. FNRGFE are almost at the level of ARC 6 but have worse results against the better teams and a negative head-to-head record, while Kungarna have a better head-to-head but don’t quite have enough clear, strong results to put them ahead overall. Liquid and Renegades are inconsistent, occasionally peaking as with their performances in playoffs and groups of Season Zero respectively, but often falling off a cliff.
In Europe, 123 and Laser Kittenz are the two teams at a similar level to the NA teams, below both Immortals and eUnited. They have strong potential to improve, especially 123 as the new kids on the block, but so far have not shown much beyond Contenders Season Zero to prove their ability to hang at the top.
Fitting the Korean tier two in there of CONBOX, Meta Athena, and Mighty AOD is a difficult job. CONBOX and Mighty AOD have rebuilt their rosters so discussing the future is a moot point, but both had upset potential and unique styles this season of APEX. The talent of Mighty AOD once they swapped roles to feature Kariv on support rather than DPS was strong, but again the amount of games played in APEX makes it difficult to draw clear lines.
For Meta Athena, the team appears to be struggling with the tempo and aggression in this meta, and they have yet to find a method of bending the meta to their will. All three teams are very likely to be behind eUnited and Immortals, more so on the level of the teams mentioned in this section instead. Whether they deserve bonus points based on simply being Korean and playing in a more competitive system rather than on their results alone is a matter for debate.
With no foreign teams competing in APEX for the future, it will become harder to tell where regions match up with each other. Hopefully Overwatch is treated to some fantastic standalone global tournaments in the future, reminiscent of IEM GyeongGi, but for now it appears that World Cup and OWL will fill the schedule for the rest of 2017.
During this period the new results were from:
- BEAT Invitational Season 2
- APEX Season 3
- Overwatch Contenders Season Zero
Special thanks to urns for creating our series banner!