It wasn’t easy to predict how Overwatch League would begin, but there was one thing pundits were certain of: Dallas Fuel were to be regarded as a contender. Across preseason power rankings, major publications gave their nod to the veteran squad formerly known as Team EnVyUs. ESPN kicked off their rankings with Dallas in fourth. PC Gaming ranked them third. As did the competitive Overwatch subreddit. To be fair, I did too.
What was not to like? EnVyUs were fresh off of an undefeated championship run in Season 1 of North America’s Overwatch Contenders. In most people’s minds, that made them far and away the best “Western” team looking to challenge the likes of Seoul and London.
What happened instead was a massive disappointment. After a narrow loss to Seoul in the opener, Fuel would drop seven straight maps en route to an 0-3 start. After being swept by the Houston Outlaws, Fuel tank Félix “xQc” Lengyel logged onto his personal stream. Most know what happened next.
This would prove to be a devastating turn for Dallas Fuel. In an Overwatch meta largely dominated by diving Winstons, Dallas were forced to suspend their best Winston player for the entirety of Stage One. Winston was the fourth-most played character in Stage One, seeing the field for nearly 77 percent of action. Mercy was the most played, followed by D.Va and Zenyatta, according to Winston’s Lab.
Dallas Fuel produce a video series featuring their team, and the most recent episode provided a glimpse into how the team dealt with the suspension. It also included a profuse apology from xQc, who came off exactly as he is: a fast talker with a penchant for letting his emotions take over.
Without a key piece of their roster, and down a main tank, Fuel sputtered to a 3-7 finish to Stage One. But heading into Stage Two, things are looking different for Dallas. xQc has returned, but Fuel have added additional pieces to help them climb the standings.
It didn’t make much sense seeing Dylan “aKm” Bignet go unsigned after the Overwatch League roster reveal. The former Rogue DPS didn’t have to wait long, however, as Fuel snatched him up soon after the transfer window opened. Bignet is a highly respected McCree and Solider: 76 player, which should free up current DPS Effect to play more Tracer.
But they weren’t done. Confirming earlier rumors, Fuel owner hastr0 confirmed that the time has indeed traded for London Spitfire DPS Rascal. That gives them a deep hero pool and strategic flexibility, something the team was sorely lacking in Stage One.
If the personnel changes aren’t worth getting excited about, the shifts in the Overwatch metagame are also turning in Fuel’s favor. Sebastian “Chipshajen” Widlund spent over 89 percent of his playtime on Mercy in Stage One, something wildly different than any time in his professional career. During both his time with EnVyUs as well as playing for Sweden in the World Cup, he excelled playing Ana, Zenyatta and occasionally Sombra.
With Mercy no longer a mandatory pick, Fuel can now play as they like. Chipsajen can move to his comfortable roles, and even Jonathan “HarryHook” Tejedor Rua can get back into the fray as Lucio. Teams might even start leaning towards triple-tank compositions, something Dallas could thrive in with xQc back in the lineup.
Sure, it was a rough start for Dallas Fuel. But one bad day doesn’t define a person, and one bad stage doesn’t define a franchise. It seems like plenty of things went in Dallas’ favor during the ten-day break. Now it’s time to see if they can translate that momentum in Overwatch League wins.