Every major sports league has a Cleveland Browns—a team that's looked at as a complete pushover. For Overwatch League, that's the Shanghai Dragons. Currently sitting at an unbelievable zero wins after thirty matches, they've become a fan-favorite underdog, even if their fans haven't had a whole lot to cheer about this season. However, things might not be as bleak as they seem.
Stage three saw things turn around for Shanghai. They had seven matches in a row where they won at least one map, even taking the Philadelphia Fusion to a tie-breaker map before dropping the series. Though it's far from where they want to be, their recent performances have had people talking. As analyst Josh "Sideshow" Wilkinson said on stream, "Now this is a team you have to respect...If they're able to put up results like this, they're going to start taking wins."
Their new roster is starting to gel
It was no secret that Shanghai's previous starting lineup needed quite a bit of help. Their pushes were always anemic and plagued with poor decisions, not to mention the fact that they didn't even have a decent Genji player. Though they're obviously still in the process of improving their game, the addition of quality Korean talent has been an immense help—even "scary" according to Los Angeles Gladiators coach, David Pei.
The most famous addition was Seyeon "Geguri" Kim, one of the world's best Zarya players and a very good D.Va. She has added quite a bit of longevity to Shanghai's team fights by playing an economical off-tank that's often difficult to deal with. Because of her smart playstyle, Shanghai has been able to build momentum in situations where they used to get stuck in the mud.
Gihyeon "Ado" Chon has been another crucial piece to the puzzle for Shanghai. His Genji play has been pivotal to their recent improvements. As with most Genji players, it's not just the mobility and flanking capabilities he brings to the table—the but potential to turn fights around with a massive Dragonblade. Since this aspect of the DPS game has been lacking for Shanghai for so long, it's almost been shocking seeing his brilliance shine in clutch situations.
Finally, there's Eui-Seok "Fearless" Lee, Shanghai's new Winston player. Fearless lives up to his handle, often leaping into action regardless of the situation. He is an upgrade from Wenhao "Roshan" Jing, but his aggression is very similar. Former professional Overwatch tank and current Overwatch League commentator, Jonathan "Reinforce" Larsson, has said that Fearless' rapid pacing comes from his pre-Overwatch League days with Element Mystic.
Where they still need to improve
Support has been a huge disappointment for Shanghai since the start of the season. Yage "Altering" Chen has been one of the League's most inconsistent Mercys who has had ongoing positioning issues that usually lead to failure. Whether it's not being able to keep teammates up in close fights or even keeping himself alive, Altering frequently makes questionable decisions where other Mercy players are able to come up big.
Peixuan "Freefeel" Xu has been less of an issue, but he's still nowhere near the quality of Zenyattas that other teams have. He doesn't come up with big kills that often, and his dueling skills are mediocre at best. Still, with Shanghai's improvements to tanking and DPS, Freefeel has at least felt adequate as of late.
Despite Ado's recent heroics on Genji, Shanghai might want to work on adding some depth to their hero pools so they can run something other than Winston-Genji. Reinforce said on stream that Winston-Genji is pretty much all they have since Fearless can't seem to adapt to any other tanks—and it shows. Most other teams at least have a decent Orisa setup for a couple of maps, allowing them to anchor down in places like point A of Temple of Anubis. Right now, Shanghai basically lives or dies by the dive except in the most obvious of situations.
When will Shanghai get its first win?
The Shanghai Dragons have now taken maps away from all of Overwatch League's best teams. Their last match was perhaps the most shocking as they showed the world that they have what it takes to potentially beat the top-ranked New York Excelsior. And going into stage three, they're looking better than both the Dallas Fuel and the Florida Mayhem—the League's other two teams struggling at the bottom of the ladder.
One clear sign things are looking up is that it's been a while since Shanghai was beaten 4-0. They've improved enough to get those morale-building map wins. Now it's just a full match victory that eludes them.
This puts Shanghai in a must-win scenario against Dallas later today, especially if Hyeong "EFFECT" Hwang isn't playing. It's their last chance to pick off the next-weakest team in the League—the Fuel's only win in the stage three was an early victory over Shanghai. Not winning this game would likely result in total devastation both for the team and its fans. Shanghai players and Overwatch League analysts have said on numerous occasions that the Dallas matchup is their best chance at breaking this losing streak, and that's more true now than it's ever been.
Shanghai's record isn't indicative of their skill, but they're carrying a massive burden heading into the final stage. Not having any wins isn't just bad for their team, but it's bad for the League. There shouldn't be a winless team at this point in the season. If they can overcome the gravity of that and play a confident game against Dallas, we should see Shanghai improve to 1-30 very soon.