Noob Adventures of Guild Wars 2

There is no Overwatch League until June 6th, so instead of a recap you get my adventures playing a new to-me.

As a more casual player that struggles with wanting to suffer through LFR to get more gear and content, there seems to have run out of things for me to currently do in World of Warcraft. I refuse to level alts past 110 without flying and I want to finish my horde War Campaign, but that requires you to do LFR. Maybe I’ll get to it, though I suppose I’ll have to just to get the story finished. It’s dumb that they make the horde do LFR and not the alliance. Anyways…

A friend said “Try Guild Wars 2”. You can play it for free and you don’t have a subscription to play. Why not? I was failing hard at farming for the Deathwing mount. (I’m apparently so terrible that I can’t solo that or BWL’s first boss.) So I did. I picked out this cool looking character, a human necromancer with Winter Sky pigtails and a demonic doll face. What first struck me was how you were able to make decisions that affect the story. I like that custom experience because it offers more playability. The game itself was fun enough; it was easy to pick up and figure out. This could be because of my WoW obsession, since a lot of the playstyle was the same. With the exception of the manual parry ability, which was really freaking fun to do whenever I could.

It also works for someone who’s a completionist freak, as I tend to be. I like to finish zones in WoW when I’m doing my first play through because I want to see the story. Even if I have leveled past the zone, I like that I can just keep going to see how the story plays out. It seems as though Guild Wars forces you to do this, and rewards you rather nicely for it.

I haven’t figured out the talent or profession system. I never played the first one, despite having several friends who raved about it. Right now, I’m more concerned about learning mechanics and experiencing the story. The game impressed me enough where I did buy the expansion bundle pack, getting 2 level 80 boosts. I refuse to use them though, now anyways. I don’t want to be that noob that boosts a character without knowing how to really play. I want to have that experience of leveling to 80 and getting to do the storyline. I’m a lore freak, so I like the immersive story experience that you get from games like Guild Wars 2 or World of Warcraft.

Is it my favorite game? No. I still think World of Warcraft is the superior game. Is it good as a filler while there’s nothing left to farm but mounts and you’re still recovering from the Overwatch Storm Rising event burnout? Yes. Will I be playing it much this week due to the release of the Overwatch Anniversary event, where D.Va (my main) gets one of the coolest skins? Nope. As of Tuesday, I’m all Overwatch until I get all of the skins. But, it’s a decent game to play when you’re bored of other games and you aren’t forced to play it because you pay the sub fee.

Where could it improve? There’s something lacking in the social department, when compared to my WoW experience. Maybe it’s because I don’t know as many people who play. When streaming it, I did get some good advice and meet some cool people. I like that the story instances (at least so far) are solo instances that don’t require you to group up with people, especially since I’m self-conscious about my play being so new at the game. I feel it’s a little disjointed, maybe not quite as streamlined as WoW. But, games should try to do something different from WoW to give us entertaining options. Which this is a great option, just not a replacement to World of Warcraft.

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Overwatch League: Stage 2 Playoffs

I admit it, sort of: I’m a Vancouver Titans hater. I don’t have a problem with teams that are undefeated. I have a problem with a team that exudes such a high level of cockiness and arrogance that they should be knocked down a peg. When NYXL was hot, I didn’t actively root for their loss. Their players had a bit of playful cockiness to them. Jjonak is spicy, but as the league MVP from last year and arguably the world’s best Zenyatta, I think he can get away with it. However, when you tell people to let you know what you should play because you can beat any team with any hero, I think you have gotten way too big in your own mind. That’s when I actively started rooting against them.

Going into the playoffs, my picks when like this: Shock, Spitfire, Titans, NYXL. I then anticipated that it would be a Shock/Titans rematch, with San Francisco Shock taking the win. Did I think they were going to win because they were the better team? Maybe. Was it just because I wanted to be there when Shock beat Titans? Oh absolutely yes. I wanted that to happen so bad. I even prayed to the Mother’s Day gods that this would happen. So what happened in the playoffs.

The first round nearly went as everyone anticipated. Shock easily beat Shanghai, though Shock’s map win streak is now over. NYXL easily beat the LA Gladiators. Dallas Fuel didn’t stand a chance against the Titans. The only shock was how the Spark beat out London Spitfire. The next round had Shock versus the Spark, which again was an easy match that went exactly how everyone thought it would go. The real surprise of this round was how easily the Titans beat out NYXL. This was the match that everyone was waiting for: the first time NYXL and Vancouver Titans went head-to-head. Instead of it being a close match, NYXL ended up losing 1-4. It didn’t even seem close. It was really a disappointment, at least for me. I can’t speak for everyone else.

Then it was the rematch everyone wanted: the Shock and the Titans were once again facing off in the Stage finals. It was definitely an exciting match to watch. The Vancouver Titans put up a fight, but ultimately lost 2-4 to the San Francisco Shock. So how did these Titans finally fall? Did the Shock just want it more? Did they just want revenge? Or did the Titans just get too cocky and thought that they could walk all over any team?

My thoughts? It was a little bit of everything. They went in so full of themselves, so certain that no one could take them down, that they didn’t seem to do anything to improve themselves as players. Why should they improve if they are already the best? No one can beat them. They thought they could just steamroll based on their skill alone. Except, the Shock did practice hard to get stronger. They didn’t accept that they had a perfect stage; they wanted to win it all. They wanted that story of going from an underperforming, mediocre team to the best. They wanted the win more.

Bumper played his normal aggressive style, thinking that he could just charge through and destroy his opponents as he always did. Only this time, he got punished for his hubris. Super, who has a similarly aggressive style, did a great job of tempering himself more. Sinatraa, who should’ve gotten the “Player of the Match”, was melting everyone. Plus, did you see that hold he pulled off on Blizzard World? He may have ultimately had to give up the first point, but he ate up a lot of time on the clock. Which ended up helping them walk away with the win.

I’m happy with the way the stage finals played out. It was such an exciting match and it was definitely great to see the Shock that excited for the win. They earned it. I’ll also admit that the look of defeat on the Titans face was just as sweet. They needed to be taken down a little. The question is “Do they learn from this?” Will they start taking their matches more seriously instead of just assuming they are going to win? Will they be out for blood and destroy everyone in their path? Or, will this have tilted them so much that they struggle to find their footing again in Stage 3? With the All-Star Break giving them some time to shake it off, it will be interesting to see what the new Titans look like. Maybe, they will look a little bit more humble.

Overwatch League Season 2: Stage 2, Week 5

What happened this week in the Overwatch League? Who got the final spots in the playoffs? How did the Uprising do and what’s next for them? Let’s take a look at these answers and more.

One of the most notable stories is that Atlanta Reign once again beat out NYXL. When the first loss happened, it was assumed that it was a fluke. By the second win, they proved that maybe they have more talent than they get credit for. Was it that Babybay not only filled the void of Dafran, but exceeded his play? The answer is probably yes. While Babybay may not be as versatile or have such a niche character pool, the characters he does play he is highly skilled at. He could help this team do very well over the course of the rest of the season.

Another notable moment, which some would argue is the most notable, is that Shanghai made it to their first Stage playoffs. Unfortunately for them, they are going up against the San Francisco Shock in the first round of the playoffs. It is also worth mentioning that the Shock has pulled off the first ever perfect stage, meaning that they didn’t even lose a map. It’s a great group of players, so I’m glad that this honor went to them, over say the Vancouver Titans. The Hangzhou Spark are also making their first playoff appearance. Other teams are playoff veterans the London Spitfire, NYXL, LA Gladiators, and Vancouver Titans.

As you can see, the Boston Uprising isn’t on the list of teams who made it to the playoffs. They were officially eliminated on Saturday, despite a very strong showing against the LA Gladiators, a team that was undefeated for the stage and looking to finish out that way. They didn’t, as Boston has a habit of raining on other teams’ parades. You would think that defeating such a strong team would show the fans that they were going to finish off the stage strong, especially against the then 1-12 Washington Justice. Despite adding 2 god-tier supports in Ark and Sleepy, they still struggled to mesh together. Well, I suppose that was until they reversed swept the Kings of the Reverse Sweep (the Boston Uprising). That’s right. We beat a 6-0 for the stage team to lose to a team that was looking for their first win of the stage. Well… they got it. Against us.

So what happened and what should we take away from this? When they looked the strongest, they had their DPS playing their signature roles. When they went GOATs, they didn’t do so well. Like, worse than normal. Like worse than normal enough to lose to, an albeit it getting-stronger-by-the-game team, but still a 1-12 team. Fusions was off. Colourhex was his normal less than stellar Zarya. (But dear Lord, can he click heads as Widow.) When you have GOATS, your MT and Zarya need to be great. And they weren’t great. And then, we got reverse swept.

What can Boston take away from this? When they are on the ball, they have such incredible potential to be great. However, as you can see they have quite the potential to be terrible. Has Fusions peaked? Do we just have to pray for the end of GOATS to get back into the playoffs? Whatever it is, we need our team to be way more consistent than it is right now. Maybe even start switching up players when people are under-performing. I mean, what’s the incentive to be consistent if you know that you get to play even if you’re playing terribly? You don’t think Belichik would pull Brady if Brady tanked a game? Of course he’d pull him. This model of “we don’t change starters” is going to kill this team and the fan’s morale. I’ve been a Boston fan my entire life, so I know what it’s like to watch your team struggle for years before coming up big. But this team won’t succeed if they don’t start changing their approach. You know what they say: The definition of “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Overwatch League: The Dallas Homestand

From the beginning of the Overwatch League, Nate Nanzer stated that his goal was to make Overwatch League as big as a traditional sports league. He wanted it to be the NFL of eSports. He had big plans for traveling games, so that the fans can see their home teams as they would in any other sport. The Dallas Homestand was a test of how well this traveling plan would work. Did it pass?

Yes. Absolutely yes. It was insane to see and hear the energy in the space, especially when the home team the Dallas Fuel took the stage. This crowd was behind their team and they were very loud about it. So loud that it was even hard to hear the casters and analysts. The production crew was amazing, showing off the crowd and made me feel even more hyped than ever to watch these matches and my #1 team wasn’t even playing. My backup team the London Spitfire did play, with Guard even getting into the McCree roll while in full cowboy-esque gear. It was so amazing to watch.

The games itself weren’t too shocking, except for the Spitfire loss to the Chengdu Hunters. The biggest match of the weekend was the Battle for Texas, where the Houston Outlaws faced off against the home team to see if they could continue their Battle for Texas win streak or if the Fuel would finally get a win on their home turf. The Fuel ultimately took the win, but the Outlaws certainly didn’t make it easy for them.

The test was a success. Fans came out in full force, even if the Fuel wasn’t their team of choice. There was such high energy and the production was as amazing as ever. Not counting the power outage, but that was a city issue not a Blizzard one. Maybe they couldn’t handle the awesomeness that the Overwatch League brought to their city. As a fan of the league, I can’t wait until I can see my Boston Uprising out there. Hopefully in Foxborough, as this would be much easier for us Western Mass-ers to get to these matches rather than fighting with Boston traffic or the train every time. My money is that Kraft would save some money and just use a space in Patriot Place for the Uprising or just add onto his facility to save from spending money in Boston. Here’s to hoping.

Overwatch League: Season 2, Stage 2, Week 3

In all honesty, looking at the matches we saw in Week 3, there were very few shocking moments. The most shocking thing that we witnessed was the way that Atlanta Reign completely manhandled the NYXL, giving XL their first loss of the season. How did that happen? Was it a fluke? Some would say that it was just a fluke, considering the Reign lost 1-3 against the Guangzhou Charge. Aside from that, everything went pretty much as everyone expected things to go.

Which leads me to Boston’s matches this week. Last week was a heartbreaking loss in the tiebreaker map against the Spark. In last week’s blog, I did complain that Boston looks very strong when they are on their DPS comps, but GOATs has been something that they have particularly struggled with. Part of that is the inconsistency of Colourhex on Zarya. Some of this has to do with “WTF is Fusions doing?!” Which wasn’t as much of an issue when you had NotE babysitting everyone. Without NotE, our GOATs game is much weaker. Except when we have Sombra. Normally. And no, I’m not on the bandwagon of rCk blew King’s Landing with his EMP “failure”. It wasn’t his fault. It was the team’s fault for failing to close every point that they should have.

The first game was more of the the same against the Spitfire. Despite their success on DPS comps, they opted for GOATs every single match. And they lost. Because of the huge skill difference of our Zarya players. Plus, Gesture is an insane Winston in comparison to Fusions decent(?) passable Winston. Were they afraid of Colourhex losing the sniper duel? Were they afraid of the insane DPS combo of Profit and Birdring? Joke was on Boston: Birdring and Profit are insane Brig/Zaryas.

The next match against Vancouver was much more exciting. They put up a fight. They were alive. It was incredible to watch Colourhex and blasé come out and wreaking havoc on their iconic characters. blasé coming out with his Doomfist. Colourhex clicking heads with his Widow. It was exciting to watch. Seeing them almost full hold on Paris? Had they been able to close that out, they would have had more confidence for the rest of the match. But do you know what? They looked strong, they played well, and they looked incredibly happy. They had fun. No one expected that they were going to win against the currently undefeated Titans, though winning against the Titans and keeping themselves as the record holders for longest win-streak would have been the BostonUp thing to do.

The moral of these matches is that they not only have more fun, but they perform much better when they are allowed to excel on the characters that they love to play. Releasing blasé from Brig jail is always the best thing for them to do. And as much as I love Colourhex as a DPS player, he just hasn’t picked up Zarya as well as other DPS players have. (::cough:: Sinatraa) We do a lot better without him on Zarya. Boston does better when they flex. They need to start using the Hunters’ strat of “Character Roulette”, because Boston certainly has the talent to pull it off. The problem is that with these strats, you require a tank that is much more flexible than a Rein one-trick. As much as Fusions is amazing on Rein, Axxiom is much stronger on the other main tanks.

I would really like to see them give Axxiom a shot to lead the team to see if this helps make them work more cohesively. Or, force him back on Zarya because they destroyed with it was an Axxiom and Fusions duo. Did they only run DPS comp because they wanted to have fun knowing that they’d lose to the Titans but hope that an upset happened anyways? I don’t care, but they need to do more of that.

Overwatch League Season 2: Stage 2, Week 2

Was that a Boston choke or an outright failure? Should the Outlaws have stayed DPS or did they make the right call in swapping to GOATs? Who was the victor of the Battle for LA? The holiday today made today’s blog late, but better late than never. Maybe.

The most exciting news of the week had to be the fact that Valiant finally got their first win. It was exciting to see Custa free from the bench and for the first time all season, the team looked good together. That was, until they didn’t when it was time for the Battle for LA. That’s always an exciting match and unfortunately this time it wasn’t as exciting as normal. The Gladiators won, but the Valiant still looks a lot more confident than they did last stage. They can only go up from here though. There was some spice leading up to the game and afterwards, but that was all in good fun. Maybe. Or the Overwatch League finally got the heated rivalry that they were looking for without having to force the NY vs. Boston agenda.

Speaking of Boston, this week they only had 1 game. A game that they should have easily won. Only, they didn’t. Fortunately, us fans didn’t have to have a heart attack waiting for a reverse sweep. Unfortunately, we still went to a Map 5 where we didn’t do well at all. What happened? First of all, they just didn’t look like the same strong team that they had when the stage began. They didn’t flex too much. They didn’t change things when things were obviously not working for them. And it didn’t work for them. It was a bit rough to watch, but at least rCk was solid. Though, Dallas had NotE flexing a lot more than Boston normally would have and wouldn’t you know: NotE isn’t a D.Va one trick. I miss him even more now.

Lastly, there was the Outlaws vs. Monte vs. Everyone else in a disagreement about whether or not Outlaws should have stuck to the DPS or if going GOATS was what caused them the game. My take? If they had out-GOATed the Titans and won, this would have been an entirely different conversation. It’s always easy to say what a team should have done, but there are so many factors that play into it that you can never really know.

Next week, I hope Boston gets their stuff back together. They have some tough opponents this week in the Spitfire and the Titans, so they don’t really have the time to act like fools this week. Maybe they can do what they did last year and topple the Titans as they did NYXL later on in the stage. I would love to be their first loss, though I’m willing to bet that Boston just doesn’t do anything different and expect a good outcome. Which won’t work for them this week.

Overwatch League, Season 2: Stage 2, Week 1

Overwatch League was back last week, finally filling that void that was created during the break. While I was excited to get back to watching one of my favorite competitions, I was anxious as a Boston fan since the loss of NotE right before the stage was set to begin. I wasn’t over it before the Boston Uprising had their first match against the reign. And I’m not going to lie, I’m still not over it. But I’m okay with it. Because holy crap did something happen to the Uprising during this first week back. Here is a brief recap of this week in the Overwatch League and a discussion of the Uprising.

The games weren’t really too exciting outside of the Uprising matches, not just because that’s my favorite team but because there were no shocking wins. Of course NYXL was going to slaughter the Fusion, especially after their loss in to them in the Grand Finals playoffs. NYXL reasserted their dominance and effectively put Philadelphia in their place with a 4-0 win. The only thing remotely shocking was the fact that they tied a map with Shanghai. Some people may also be shocked that Fissure finally lost to a team that traded him away, but that was a close enough match where it was just going to go either way.

One awesome thing to note is the way that Paris broke through the bunker comp (basically, a comp with Bastion being protected with Baptiste/Orisa combo) on Hanamura. People finally got to see some big brain Symmetra play as they carefully ported around the line of site of Bastion, essentially rendering him useless. Then they set up turrets on the first point, blocking entry from the defense, and easily rolling that point. Then they ported to the flank side during the Hunters respawn to capitalize on the momentum. The Hunters were on the high ground and by the time they realized what was going on, they were destroyed. It was amazing to watch that and the fact that they fell for the same exact play the second go around.

Then there was the Uprising match. I didn’t go into high hopes. The only way that this new lineup was going to work is if they finally started to be a little flexible. Use the fact that rCk can flex to Sombra. Maybe even get our stellar dps to actually play dps. I didn’t want to just see GOATS for the sake of seeing GOATS because the Uprising can’t be flexible. But then, a freaking miracle happened… they were flexible! Colourhex was able to pop off as Widow, which made me so happy to not see him as Zarya. (I really…. really hate his Zarya play.) But then, even his Zarya wasn’t as terrible as normal. And blasé? I still stand by his play deserved the Player of the Match or at least the Uprising MVP of the day. Was there a character that he wasn’t stellar on? Then rCk, a player that I really didn’t want to like. He may not have been as great of a D.Va as NotE, but he made some solid D.Va plays including the one(s) that gave us the win on Watchpoint Gibraltar and put us in the tiebreaker match against the Atlanta Reign. The Uprising went on to reverse sweep in their 1st match of the stage, finally bringing joy back to a fan base that was lost without our fan favorite. No surprise, the newcomer got the Player of the Match. Patriot fans were also amused at how again they came back against an Atlanta team.

The second match was against the Toronto Defiant, a team that I really wanted to beat after what happened last time they faced off with Neko’s “tactical crouching”. Again, Boston looked shaky, but once again after the half, they came back looking like an entirely different team. Once again they pulled off the reverse sweep, making them the first team to win 3 reverse sweeps in a row. Boston is all about breaking records, if nothing else. I’d prefer not going through the heart attack every match though. HuK may have proved that he has Belichik’s eye for talent, and us fans were wrong.

The casters admitted defeat. They learned a lesson that they should have learned last year when the team that they predicted would finish in 12th actually finished in 3rd: Don’t count Boston out. They will surprise you. They feed off of the underdog energy. Plus, us Boston fans can tell you something else about our teams: they have always been second half teams. I just hope next week we can win without the anxiety of a reverse sweep.