The Overwatch League is trying something new this weekend, kicking off a tournament with seeding determined by team performances in the month of May and cash prizes to be won. Here's what we're thinking about leading up to the May Melee.
What are your thoughts on the May Melee tournament format?
Emily Rand: This will ultimately depend on what happens this weekend and how smoothly it runs, but from an outside perspective I love it. Part of this is personal bias, but I always prefer a circuit of tournaments as opposed to league play, which can become repetitive and monotonous very quickly (yes, even in beloved traditional sports). The Call of Duty League tournaments have been fun to watch and I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that these Overwatch League tournaments will likely be the most fun I've had watching Overwatch this year. It's unfortunate that they're single-elimination, but given the number of teams involved, I can understand why that format was chosen.
Arda Ocal: Good try, good effort. Better than regular season games that are inconsequential. OWL isn't as established as a traditional sport that could get away with two non-playoff teams having a game and still attracting an audience. I'm not saying it would be impossible to get to that point, I'm saying this approach seems like it could have more legs, especially short term. It gives matches relevance every week, which is a good thing. Does it make people want to tune in more? We will find out. I will always say it: if a fan believes that the game is not fun to watch, no amount of sizzle will compel them to watch it.
Which team is your pick to win the North America tournament?
Rand: The Philadelphia Fusion, full stop. They are the best team in North America right now and even with the San Francisco Shock's recent win streak, I still think the Fusion are the best team in NA by a fairly significant margin. I'm sad that we don't get to see them go up against the likes of the Shanghai Dragons in these tournaments.
Ocal: +1 with Emily here. They are too good. And gimme more ChipSa!
Which team is your pick to win the Asia tournament?
Rand: Another boring answer here given the current standings, but the Shanghai Dragons. Like the Fusion, I think the Dragons have been able to stave off a lot of the inherent problems caused by hero pools with their remarkable DPS flexibility. Between Lee "LIP" Jae-won, Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun, Yang "DDing" Jin-hyeok, and Bae "Diem" Min-seong, the Dragons have had all DPS angles covered. Even with a rising Guangzhou Charge, I'm going to have to go with the Dragons.
Ocal: Yeah, hard to go against Shanghai. Hey, remember when they were 0-42? That seems like forever ago. What a difference a few wins make.
Who are the biggest sleeper picks in both tournaments?
Rand: I hinted at this in my answer above, but for the Asia tournament I'm definitely looking at the Guangzhou Charge. They're 4-0 on the month, including wins over the New York Excelsior and Seoul Dynasty (although the strength of the latter win depends on where you think Seoul falls in all of this). The Charge have been performing so well lately that I'm not sure if they qualify as a sleeper anymore, but they have shown a lot of versatility in a volatile year and if a team can overcome the Dragons, I think it will be the Charge.
North America is tougher for me. Alongside a rising San Francisco Shock -- who maybe shouldn't be called a "sleeper pick" necessarily but certainly aren't a favorite here -- there are the Florida Mayhem. The Mayhem have benefitted from an easy schedule in May (reorganize this sentence to whatever May pun you want to), so I'm very curious to see how they stack up against stronger teams. I'm also looking at the Valiant, Reign, or even the Fuel or Eternal to possibly make waves, although I still don't see any of them beating Philadelphia. The only team I really see doing that is still the Shock.
Ocal: Let's go with Paris. They've been catching a lot of dubs lately, they are fifth in the league and could certainly make a dent in the tournament.
Who's your MVP at this point in the season?
Rand: This is so tough to call since hero pools have really messed with players and teams from week to week. I'll go once again with the boring answer (since he's ahead in MVP points) and say Florida Mayhem's Kim "Yaki" Joon-ki. I don't think Florida would have done nearly as well without his standout DPS play. Shout-outs to Lee "LIP" Jae-won of the Shanghai Dragons, who would be my Rookie of the Year pick.
Ocal: ChipSa. All the way.