How to figure out whom to root for in the Overwatch League

Ben Pursell for Blizzard Entertainment

There are 20 teams in the Overwatch League, and if you're watching it for the first time (and there isn't a team in your hometown to cheer on, which quite frankly makes this whole process significantly easier), you might not know whom to root for.

We understand -- despite being a young esport, the Overwatch League has had more than its share of history and drama. You could look at the Dallas Fuel or Seoul Dynasty: all full of promise but with few results. Or the San Francisco Shock, who went from bottom-dwellers to champions in the span of a season. You could learn of the struggles of the Shanghai Dragons, who shook off a horrible losing streak to emerge as potential title contenders this season.

There's a lot to take in, but fortunately, there's a solution: For every team in the Overwatch League, there are several potential teams to compare them to in traditional sports. We've got a rooting guide to each team based on whom you're a fan of already and how well that team lines up with Overwatch League squads.

Atlantic Division

Being a fan of the ATLANTA REIGN is like being a fan of the:

San Jose Sharks
Cleveland Indians
LA Clippers (this season)

This is a team that surged in the latter half of last season, going undefeated in Stage 4 and stunning the eventual champion San Francisco Shock in Round 1 of the playoffs, sending them to the losers bracket. Atlanta then fizzled out of the playoffs with losses to New York and Hangzhou. So while they have shown regular-season dominance, the championship eludes them, much like the three teams above. If you're a fan of a team that has big potential, interesting players and is a lot of fun, then this is your team. They also have the capability to make a deep playoff run.

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Your new favorite player is: Andrej "babybay" Francisty. He's entertaining, charismatic, witty ... he's the life of the party. Even if he's not the best player on the team, he's a "locker room guy" and always gives good quotes to the media.

-- Arda Ocal

Being a fan of the BOSTON UPRISING is like being a fan of the:

Miami Marlins
Cleveland Browns
Minnesota Timberwolves

The Boston Uprising might be owned by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, but no Bill Belichick is walking through that door to save this team. Through the first two years of the Overwatch League, the Uprising has been its most infamous house-flipper, trading off prized assets at their peak to rebuild instead of vying for a league championship. Like the Marlins, the Uprising might bring you short-term joy, but it won't be long before your favorite new player is being traded off to greener pastures for cash considerations and a rookie you've never heard of.

The Uprising are Boston's ultimate karma for all the city's success in traditional sports over the past two decades. Oh, and there's no draft in Overwatch League, either, so you can't even root for the Uprising to tank for a top prospect coming out of high school or college. Abandon hope to all ye who enter this fandom.

Your favorite new player is: It doesn't really matter, they'll be traded by next Tuesday. None of the players in the photo above are still with the team.

--Tyler Erzberger

Being a fan of the FLORIDA MAYHEM is like being a fan of the:

Los Angeles Rams (if you went along with the St. Louis Rams, after Kurt Warner)
The new-look Arizona Cardinals

The St. Louis Rams were not great. And yet, with their move to Los Angeles, they improved! How about that 2019 Super Bowl appearance, huh? Well, if you were a fan of the St. Louis Rams and then followed the franchise across the country to L.A. -- and I know, I'm speaking to a small contingent here -- you'll enjoy the Florida Mayhem. On the inverse, if you loved the Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald Cardinals glory days, only to see them have disappointing seasons of late and uncertainty at quarterback, but now having Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins, you'll like the Mayhem, too.

The Mayhem weren't bad at Misfits, before the Overwatch League, but like the Fuel, their success or at least middle-of-the-pack performance did not translate when the league became international. Just a bit above the winless Shanghai Dragons in Season 1, the Mayhem looked atrocious -- nearly as bad as their red and yellow color scheme. Season 2 wasn't better, with the Dragons improving but the Mayhem not.

But now, the Mayhem have retooled the shed, embraced their inner Miami Vice as a brand and boom, they're a fun team with a bunch of young potential stars just waiting to make their mark. If you like teams who have successfully rebuilt from the toilet and now have a bright future ahead, stick with the Mayhem. Grab yourself a piña colada, a cubano sandwich and a beach chair, it's Florida time, baby!

Your new favorite player is: Ha "Sayaplayer" Jeong-woo. If you're new to Overwatch, DPS players will be the most fun to watch. Seeing them make big fancy plays with Widowmaker or Tracer will hype you up. Sayaplayer is a young player who was a part of the Mayhem dumpster-fire era, but was one of the better ones amid the dumpster fire. Now, with a good roster around him, he's got more potential than ever.

-- Jacob Wolf

Being a fan of the HOUSTON OUTLAWS is like being a fan of the:

Buffalo Bills (minus the weather)
Chicago Cubs before they won in 2016

Like Bills fans, Houston Outlaws fans might not have had a taste of winning, but boy are they loyal. Honestly, their loyalty fills my heart with feelings I didn't know I still had.

Over the past two seasons of the Overwatch League, the Houston Outlaws have always seemingly been on the cusp of dragging themselves out of mediocrity (or worse) only to find themselves inevitably falling back into the quagmire of average to slightly-below-average teams. Their players are beloved and have inspired a shocking amount of loyalty, but it hasn't been due to their overwhelming success.

The Cubs comparison is because the Outlaws, particularly this year's iteration, seem well and truly cursed. First there was the incident where they were evicted from their would-be home in The Woodlands, Texas, because the local community felt like a house of gamers would "disrupt the peace and quiet." Then there was the fact that the entire team apparently fell ill during Week 1. And then there was an untimely boil-water order for the Houston area during the team's first homestand (before homestands were cancelled two weeks later). Unlucky is an understatement.

Your new favorite player is: Jacob "Jake" Lyon. You can talk about him like older Bills fans talk about Jim Kelly. Because he is retired and reminds you of "better days."

-- Emily Rand

Being a fan of the LONDON SPITFIRE is like being a fan of the:

Tom Brady-less New England Patriots
2019-20 Golden State Warriors
Boston Red Sox

You think we're done, huh? You don't think we can win without Tom Brady? You don't think we can win without Kevin Durant? You don't think we can win without Mookie Betts?

The London Spitfire are the team for any fan of a former dynasty now coping with opposing fan bases trying to prey on them like hyenas. The first champions of the Overwatch League, no players from their championship team remain, the team opting for a full rebuild following a 2019 season during which it never regained the momentum that propelled it to a world championship.

But hey, that's not going to stop you. These new players you've never heard of before? They're part of YOUR team. A dynasty doesn't die with one or two players. A dynasty is forever, and these new players are here to carry on the legacies of the greats before them. It doesn't matter if the Spitfire don't make the playoffs this season, they'll be back in 2021.

And if not 2021, they'll be back in 2022.

And if not 2022, it doesn't matter, titles are forever.

Your favorite new player is: The London Spitfire. No one player is greater than an iconic franchise. The players might change but the banner remains. They were the first world champions, never forget that.

-- Erzberger

Being a fan of the NEW YORK EXCELSIOR is like being a fan of the:

New York sports teams
Toronto Maple Leafs

It's ridiculous how well NYXL fit into the New York sports landscape. The potential is there for this team to win, NYXL always crush the regular season (even though last season they seemed to play second fiddle to the two-headed monster of Vancouver and San Francisco), but they have yet to get that world championship ... and no matter how they do, the perception is there that they are among the most valuable teams in the league. Maybe it's because it's New York, the financial capital, the biggest city in the United States, who knows. But it's definitely there. They always have among the best players in the league on their roster, but whether they show up on the biggest stage and jell well as a team all of the time is another story. They have the pieces, just not the results in the postseason. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Your new favorite player is: Bang "JJoNak" Sung-hyeon. A star internationally and the inaugural-season MVP, he is a force. Aggressive, someone who can take on an entire team by himself and win. One of the most mechanically gifted players in OWL. He was snubbed by South Korea at the Overwatch World Cup last year, and the team didn't win gold for the first time ever. JJoNak might have something to prove this season, including charging toward the chip.

-- Ocal

Being a fan of the PARIS ETERNAL is like being a fan of the:

Portland Trail Blazers
Minnesota Vikings
2019 Cleveland Browns

When the Paris Eternal came into the Overwatch League in late 2018, they reassembled pieces of Rogue -- once the most popular Overwatch team in France -- and brought in a lot of the other popular players from Europe to complement them. Their 2019 performance wasn't great, failing to make stage playoffs a single time, but netting wins over the Shanghai Dragons and Philadelphia Fusion at one point. The team was widely inconsistent, similar to the Trail Blazers, Vikings and the new-era Browns, the last of whom were thought to be fantastic with Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr. and Myles Garrett, only to disappoint Cleveland fans again.

Yet the Eternal have retooled, stepped away from the mostly European roster build and are competitive so far this season. They most recently beat the Philadelphia Fusion, a team many regard as pretty good, and have victories over the Atlanta Reign and rising Washington Justice. But they've also lost to the Houston Outlaws and the Toronto Defiant, which are not so great.

Your new favorite player is: Terence "SoOn" Tarlier. SoOn's a veteran in the Overwatch scene and he's pretty darn good. He's a Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum type -- an above-average player who has his moments but hasn't won anything in the Overwatch League era. But he'll have those moments that'll make you a believer.

-- Wolf

Becoming a fan of the PHILADELPHIA FUSION is like being a fan of the:

LA Clippers
Philadelphia Phillies
Toronto Maple Leafs

What do the Clippers, Phillies and Maple Leafs all have in common? Ridiculously high expectations with rosters packed with high-end talent.

"We're going into this expecting to spend money. And maybe even be a little bit stupid about it," Phillies owner John Middleton said a year ago before the baseball offseason during which his team signed superstar former MVP Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million contract.

Steve Ballmer, the Clippers' owner, has a net worth of over $58 billion and is looking to create his own basketball arena in Los Angeles so he doesn't have to share a venue with the Lakers.

If you want a team that isn't afraid to spend money and will always want to deliver a winning, exciting product to the fans, then the Fusion are the team for you. Owned by Comcast, this organization has money and has been aggressive in pursuing both established players and young talent in making sure it has a team capable of hoisting the league trophy.

Although they made the Overwatch League final in the inaugural season and came up just short to the London Spitfire, this might be the best overall team the Fusion has ever put together, signing one of the best defensive players in the league, Kim "Fury" Jun-ho, in the offseason to bolster their superteam status.

Your favorite new player is: Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok. The Stephen Curry of the Overwatch League with his sniping ability, there's never a game in which Carpe doesn't put up one highlight-reel moment.

-- Erzberger

Being a fan of the TORONTO DEFIANT is like being a fan of the:

Any Toronto sports team over the decades

Being a Toronto sports fan has been rough through the years. From 1993 (when the Blue Jays most recently won the World Series) to 2019 (when the Raptors won the NBA title), no major sports team (NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB) had even made the finals of its respective sport, let alone won a title. I jokingly put NFL in there, because of course Toronto has a CFL team, and the Buffalo Bills played a bunch of games in Toronto (which got Toronto sports fans excited about a team coming one day, but nope!). ESPN even once called Toronto North America's worst sports city.

Continuing with this time-honored tradition are the Toronto Defiant, who have regularly dwelled in the basement of the standings. They do have a trio of top Canadian players -- Surefour, Mangachu and Agilities -- all of whom represented Canada at the Overwatch World Cup, so they are definitely "Canada's team" even if for that reason (the Vancouver Titans, with an all-South Korean squad, have had the most success, making it to the grand finals last season). They are currently 1-4, but much like the Raptors giving a rejuvenated sports hope to a city, the Defiant can certainly turn it around, with the trio of Canadians leading the way. Will they compete for a title? That remains to be seen. Can they be competitive and give Torontonians (and you) something to cheer for? That's more of a possibility.

Your new favorite player is: Up for grabs. Whoever impresses you the most. You might lean Brady "Agilities" Girardi and Lane "Surefour" Roberts because they are the Canadians who have been in the league the longest, maybe even Liam "Mangachu" Campbell, who is currently a two-way player, to see him battle back up, but the team went through a rebuild last November before the 2020 season, with new faces in the roster. Longtime fan favorite Park "RoKy" Joo-seong is a two-way player, and we might see some rotation with the way the league is structured.

-- Ocal

Being a fan of the WASHINGTON JUSTICE is like being a fan of the:

Phoenix Suns

Washington has a superstar in the making on its roster, but the team just doesn't seem to be able to succeed or make it to the postseason. In 2019, Corey "Corey" Nigra was coming into his own, but the Justice finished 8-20 and were unable to make the postseason. Corey impressed so much, however, that he was selected to the Team USA roster at the Overwatch World Cup and drew effusive praise for his performances. Washington is middle of the pack so far this season at 4-6. Corey, however, remains with a jetpack strapped to him, as the player with perhaps the best aim in the entire league, and one of the most exciting. Kind of like Devin Booker, one of the best scorers in the league, on a poor-performing Suns team

Your new favorite player is: If not Corey, the Justice players are actually all pretty likable. Ethan "Stratus" Yankel is another one who will gain fans pretty easily. When you see them all together, they just genuinely enjoy each other's company and it's contagious.

-- Ocal

Pacific Division

Being a fan of the CHENGDU HUNTERS is like being a fan of the:

Honestly there's no true comparison. The Chengdu Hunters are truly special.

I wracked my brain for individual examples (the 2013 Seattle Seahawks when they made the option work? The 2008 Miami Dolphins for embracing the Wildcat trend?) and came up with nothing but specific iterations of teams.

Do you like innovation? Do you love a team that does what it thinks is best regardless of things like efficiency or unspoken rules or how the game is "supposed to be" played? Are you simply bored with your current sports team because it's bad and not in a way that's fun to watch but in a depressing way that makes you question your very existence? Then the Chengdu Hunters are for you.

Chengdu entered a league that was dominated by one playstyle, GOATs: a triple-tank, triple-support coordinated defensive setup that had fans revolting after Week 1. Due to the fact that their main tank player, Ding "Ameng" Menghan, was really good at one specific type of tank (Wrecking Ball, a hamster in a giant metal robot) and their other main tank player had visa issues, Chengdu eschewed GOATs and decided to play their own chaotic style, earning them a large fan base for daring to be actually interesting. Is their playstyle the best in every situation? No. But they'll always be true to themselves, which is more than can be said of a lot of other Overwatch League teams.

Your new favorite player is: Ameng. Ameng plays a hamster who rides around in a giant round mech. If that's not chaotic enough for you, then I've got nothing.

-- Rand

Being a fan of the DALLAS FUEL is like being a fan of the:

Atlanta Hawks

As a diehard Atlanta Hawks fan, I experienced the promise that was the 2014-15 season. The Hawks were the Eastern Conference trailblazers, even earning themselves a top spot in the regular season over the LeBron James-reloaded Cleveland Cavaliers. Man, what a time. Al Horford. Paul Millsap. Jeff Teague. There wasn't much you couldn't love about the Hawks, similar to the Dallas Fuel before they competed in the Overwatch League as Team EnVyUs.

Yet, just like in the 2015 Eastern Conference finals and then in subsequent seasons, the Hawks' aspirations were thwarted by James and the Cavaliers, whom I'd compare to the South Korean teams of the likes of the first London Spitfire roster and even the Seoul Dynasty.

The Hawks and the Fuel are different teams, but somewhat promising ones. They're not going to be the worst teams in their league, but they're nowhere near the best ... yet. Give it time. It could happen. Maybe.

Your new favorite player is: Dylan "aKm" Bignet. If you like flashy players and coin flips, then aKm is your guy. Yeah, he might not be the best player on the Fuel but he's certainly among the most fun to watch when he's in a game. Give him a shot. I'm sure you'll enjoy.

-- Wolf

Being a fan of the GUANGZHOU CHARGE is like being a fan of the:

Indiana Pacers
Philadelphia Flyers

The Pacers and the Flyers are fun watches in the NBA and the NHL, respectively. But let's be real. These squads can be competitive, sure, but at the end of the day, they're often middle-of-the-pack teams. There are times they punch above their weight, advance to deeper rounds in the playoffs, but you can count on them qualifying or being pretty close to it every single game.

That's the Guangzhou Charge. They're an average, higher middle-of-the-pack team, and if you like some Overwatch, they're a team that'll give you consistent play. Just that consistency will be about average, not as good as reigning champs the Shock, rising in gradual improvement like the Dragons or significant uptick like the Mayhem. The Charge are just average. Good enough to compete with the best, but not good enough to take home a trophy.

Your new favorite player is: Lee "Happy" Jung-woo. Yet another DPS player, Happy is flashy and fun. We've not seen the Charge play yet in the 2020 season, because of the various cancellations of Asian events in the Overwatch League due to the coronavirus. But we anticipate they'll be about the same as they were in Season 2. Happy will give you some good moments and lead the Charge to some dubs, but he's not a megastar.

-- Wolf

Being a fan of the HANGZHOU SPARK is like being a fan of the:

Post-Boston Three Party Celtics
Post-Super Bowl XLIV New Orleans Saints

The Celtics and the Saints have consistently been playoff contenders in the NBA and NFL, respectively. They'll make it there, they'll frequently challenge top teams, but they won't advance all the way to the NBA Finals or Super Bowl, at least not since the early 2010s for a Drew Brees-prime Saints team and the beloved Boston Three Party of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

The Spark came into the Overwatch League in 2019 and were playoff contenders in Stages 2 and 3, then the overall league playoffs. They are a fun watch and they'll give even some of the best teams runs for their money. Expect them to continue that into this year. But championship aspirations for the Spark seemed far-fetched. There isn't a Kyrie Irving on this team, nor has any one player identified themself as a Kemba Walker-type figure, either. But the team's been consistent upper middle-of-the-pack.

Your new favorite player is: Kim "GodsB" Kyeong-bo. GodsB's character diversity makes him a lot of fun. He's not an MVP-level player, but he can mix it up with the best of them and, depending on what the meta calls for, play a number of characters at an above average level. Call him a Rajon Rondo. Has his moments of brilliance, gets a lot of praise, but wasn't as recognized as other players in some seasons.

-- Wolf

Becoming a fan of the LOS ANGELES GLADIATORS is like being a fan of the:

Los Angeles Chargers
Houston Rockets
San Jose Sharks

Are you a fan of a perennially successful regular-season team chock-full of talent capable of winning a championship but never really being a factor in the end? Then you're in luck, the Los Angeles Gladiators are the team for you!

Every season thus far for the Gladiators has been a successful one, during which they sit as somewhat of a gatekeeper between the playoff contenders and the true elite fighting for a league title. As hometown neighbors to the Chargers, both teams know how it feels to be considered a top team in the league ... just not the top team in the league. As a Gladiators fan, you'll enjoy consistent trips to the playoffs, but they'll probably bring you to tears -- and not the joyful variety.

Your favorite new player is: Indy "SPACE" Halpern. Fun fact, at 19 years old, Space already has his own clothing line with friend and San Francisco Shock star Jay "sinatraa" Won.

-- Erzberger

Becoming a fan of the LOS ANGELES VALIANT is like being a fan of the:

Toronto Raptors
Tennessee Titans
Tampa Bay Rays

Do you enjoy being a fan of woefully underestimated underdogs who loves nothing more than knocking out teams with far larger payrolls? If so, then the Valiant could be the Overwatch League team for you. For the first two years of the franchise's existence, the Valiant were one of the better teams in the league, but this offseason the team decided to cut costs, shedding payroll and investing in younger, unproven talent to try and contend on a budget.

While the early reactions were similar to when Kawhi Leonard left the Raptors, with doubts that they could ever be the same without their ace players, the Valiant so far in 2020 appear to be a willing David to the Overwatch League's Goliaths. Rumors are swirling that the Valiant could be strong enough to make playoffs with their young roster, so if you want to jump on the bandwagon, now is the time.

Your favorite new player is: Caleb "McGravy" McGarvey. His name is McGravy and a pun based on his last name. How can you not root for this man?

-- Erzberger

Being a fan of the SAN FRANCISCO SHOCK is like being a fan of the:

Recent Kansas City Chiefs

Here's the thing about the Shock: They weren't supposed to be this good until they were, and then you couldn't think of them being bad, ever. Matthew "Super" DeLisi and Jay "sinatraa" Won take the place of Patrick Mahomes as dual faces of the franchise who were instrumental in their recent championship victory.

It's difficult to remember now because they took the league in dominant fashion last year, but they looked shaky at the start of their first stage and nearly didn't make stage playoffs. Then they became the only team able to go toe-to-toe with the then-dominant Vancouver Titans. Then they rewrote their own history by sweeping the Titans for the 2019 championship, making it seem as though they had never been bad, and that there was no way they could be bad in the future. They're one of the only teams with a lineup flexible enough that anyone can step forward and be the star. In their first match of this year, one of their main offensive players, Park "Architect" Min-ho, played out of position in a supportive role.

Who knows? Maybe in a few years we'll compare them more to the New York Yankees or the New England Patriots because of an even longer stretch of winning seasons.

Your new favorite player is: It has to be the Super/Sinatraa combination. You can pick Super, or Sinatraa, or both.

-- Rand

Being a fan of the SEOUL DYNASTY is like being a fan of the:

Dallas Cowboys

Do you love having a lineup that is supposed to be great every year only to falter in ways that will crush your heart and spirit (at least until the next season)? There's no Jerry Jones making weird management decisions atop the Dynasty organization, but there is a lot of money, a lot of expectations, a large and passionate fan base, and some big signings who became busts within less than a year of competitive play.

The Seoul Dynasty entered the Overwatch League with the most popular and decorated Overwatch roster in the world and a name that promised championships. Formed from a South Korean lineup called Lunatic-Hai, with talented additions such as Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun ,who tried to carry a bad team so hard that he now has a carry statistic named after him called the "Fleta deadlift." Also he's no longer on the team, so don't get too attached. This year, the Dynasty shook up the offseason by signing two big names in Park "Profit" Joon-yeong and Hong "Gesture" Jae-hee, which again looks great on paper. Maybe this is your year.

Your new favorite player is: Legendary former Lunatic-Hai support player Ryu "Ryujehong" Je-hong. Wait, what do you mean he left for the Vancouver Titans this season?

-- Rand

Being a fan of the SHANGHAI DRAGONS is like being a fan of the:

Minnesota Twins
Cleveland Cavaliers
Any team that was REALLY, TRULY AWFUL and then not

Quiz time, which professional sports team holds the all-time loss streak record?

If you guessed the Shanghai Dragons, you are absolutely correct.

From their Jan 10, 2018, debut in the inaugural Overwatch League season to Feb. 21, 2019 (the second week of the 2019 season), the Dragons were winless. This was due to myriad reasons, including a shifting lineup that changed drastically in the latter half of their debut year, which then led to communication issues as the team struggled with a hybrid roster. The Dragons arguably weren't the worst team in Stages 3 and 4 of 2018, but they still did not win a single match, and were a bit unlucky in terms of their opponents. It wasn't until 2019, with a completely revamped lineup based around the core of former South Korean team Kongdoo Panthera, that the Dragons won a match. They then became one of the stronger teams in the latter part of the 2019 season, even winning a stage title.

Oddly enough, the Dragons' loss streak was instrumental in building a remarkably loyal fan base that likely feels as thought it has supported the team for far longer than it actually has, due to the exhaustion of the loss streak. If you support them, you definitely won't be alone.

Your new favorite player is: Bae "Diem" Min-seong. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, we haven't yet seen Diem play this year, but this hitscan player was a driving force behind the team's success last year.

-- Rand

Being a fan of the VANCOUVER TITANS is like being a fan of:

The 2010-11 Vancouver Canucks
The mid-90s Buffalo Bills

The inaugural year for the Titans was dominance in the regular season, followed by heartbreak in the grand final. The 2010-11 Canucks and 1990s Bills know all about that heartbreak -- ending at the top of the standings in the regular season, making it to the dance then not being able to cross the finish line.

The Vancouver Titans ended the regular season in 2019 with a 25-3 record, top of the tables. A Presidents' Trophy-worthy performance, much like their NHL counterparts in 2010-11, the Canucks, who reached the Stanley Cup Final. The Titans, however, still have a lot of promise and are still considered one of the favorites in the league.

Your new favorite player is: Kim "Haksal" Hyo-jong. The 2019 rookie of the year impressed so many people in his inaugural campaign that South Korea, even with a rich pool of players to choose from, decided to pick him among the starters at the Overwatch World Cup in the offseason. He continues to be a dominant force in the league, picking up many fans along the way.

-- Ocal