In the wake of New York Excelsior's Overwatch League Stage 2 triumph last weekend -- and a slight break before Stage 3 begins -- Blizzard Entertainment released details of the upcoming 2018 Overwatch World Cup.
Players from the top 20 countries by skill rating will compete across four group stages in France, Thailand, South Korea and the United States. Those four host countries get automatic spots into the group stages, bringing the total up to 24 teams. Naturally, roster speculation has already begun, especially with the four host countries under the spotlight.
The updated ruleset for this year's OWWC promises up to 12-man rosters, which is fantastic for the US and South Korea, regions that can bring high level meta-specific substitutes and swap accordingly. However, for this exercise in hypothetical rosters, substitutes will be mentioned in the description, but the primary lineup is the proposed starting six. These lineups are also a bit skewed towards the current meta -- in other words, teams need a Tracer, among other heroes -- which will also affect their viability.
Team South Korea
South Koreans make up the largest demographic in the Overwatch League and there are a myriad of all-South Korean rosters that could represent their home country at the Overwatch World Cup. Narrowing it down to 12 will be a gargantuan task -- and narrowing it down to six for this exercise was nearly impossible.
Due to his popularity, sepia-tinged memories of his phenomenal Ana play, and his leadership skills, Ryu "ryujehong" Je-hong will likely end up on the South Korean team. Yet, it's hard to make a case to start him over JJoNak and break up the NYXL powerhouse duo of JJoNak and ArK. Similarly, the highlights of Hwang "Fl0w3R" Yeon-oh are still fresh in the minds of many fans from last year's OWWC -- just last night, he was lighting up opponents in North American Contenders, and his highly-anticipated OWL debut is likely just around the corner.
The DPS position alone is stacked, especially with rising players from Stage 2 like Kim "Libero" Hye-sung, Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok and Kwon "Striker" Nam-joo, the latter who plays a remarkable Tracer. The lineup above ends up being NYXL plus Fleta, an interesting experiment in its own right. Not to be forgotten, both Hong "Gesture" Jae-hee and Baek "Fissure" Chan-hyung are excellent choices. Here, Mano gets the nod due to his synergy with the rest of the team, especially Saebyeolbe.
Team United States
Last year's Team US roster was generally panned after being announced. As Overwatch League caster Erik "DoA" Lonnquist said, "They're also fighting for fans."
Yet, that same roster defied expectations and -- although they ran into South Korea again in the Round of 8 -- won the hearts of fans and gave the South Korean squad their toughest series at the tournament.
A year later, the US competitive landscape is almost completely different thanks to the OWL and there's little concern that the team will have to fight for its fans in a similar fashion this year. The 12-man roster gives the US a lot of flexibility, especially if they want to bring Jacob "JAKE" Lyon not only for his touted leadership skills but to substitute in as the team's Junkrat. For this exercise, we're sticking to the starting six, which would include sinatraa (an initially contentious pick on last year's roster) on Tracer with coolmatt, Adam and Rawkus also revising their 2017 roles.
French talent headlines a few Overwatch League rosters and French team Eagle Gaming has looked strong in European Contenders thus far -- but when you think of French Overwatch, one team comes to mind: Rogue.
Last year's Team France was comprised of Rogue players and the Overwatch World Cup gives us the unique opportunity -- especially when creating fictional rosters by country -- to reunite a roster that many wished had been picked up by an Overwatch League team. And that's what this roster is going to be, with one notable exception: Philadelphia Fusion's Poko.
As a flex player, Poko was one of the reasons the Fusion were able to sneak into the Stage 2 playoffs. This means no offense to former Rogue flex player Nicolas "NiCO" Moret, who has showcased some strong Tracer play in EU Contenders on Eagle Gaming, and could easily still be an option for a 12-man lineup. However, for this six-man French lineup, SoOn would take on Tracer duties with Poko in the flex position on D'Va. Maybe it's not ideal, but it would be an interesting experiment.
Dallas Fuel's Mickie is easily the most recognizable Thai player in the world, and a shoo-in to captain yet another Thai team at the Overwatch World Cup. The nod could also go to MEGA's oPuTo, who has taken on coaching duties in addition to remaining a mainstay for the MEGA organization alongside tank Loco (formerly Teetawat). MEGA is Thailand's strongest team and boasts experienced players who have played together not only in the prior World Cups but in the now-defunct Overwatch Pacific Championship.
With two-time Team Thailand support Vatunyoo "keRLos" Suwannapisit stepping away from professional play and working as a talent scout for MEGA, the support position is a bit more open and the balance between MEGA's rising talent in Yut and PannyS, who is captain of Bazaar, would work in favor of this figurative Team Thailand.