Overwatch League: Season 2, Stage 4: Week 2, also Known as “What Just Happened?”

As it turns out, the 2-2-2 lock brought more surprises than anyone thought it would. One question that was waiting to be answered was how the Vancouver Titans, a team known for their GOATS despite their powerful DPS line, would fare outside of the GOATs meta. There were a lot of exciting events this week, so let’s get into it.

The London Spitfire was a strong team that did struggle a bit with the 3-3/GOATs meta. They found just enough success to stay in the playoff running, but they were expected to really take off when the 2-2-2 lock happened with their solid DPS duo in Birdring and Profit. Sure enough, they had a solid start to the stage. So when it was suggested that a strong looking, but still in last place Florida Mayhem could give them some trouble, the analysts laughed. Until it happened. While London did tie on one map, Mayhem still walked away with the win against London in a 3-0 match. Was the Spitfire just outplayed by Sayaplayer? Yes. This insane DPS player poppped off hard, taking out the Spitfire players easily. It shows that even though they are out of it, the Mayhem is still going to play hard until the end.

And what about the Spitfire? Did they just not prepare as hard because they underestimated the team? Did they just not play at 100% thinking they could get away with it? Or, is London just not as good as we think? I think they may not have given the match their full attention, but they also severely underestimated the skills of Sayaplayer, who is a versatile and deadly character that you can’t ignore.

The Washington Justice, also known as the second worst team in the league who’s also long out of the playoff running, went against the Vancouver Titans, who has been a solid team from the beginning and only lost 1 game during the season. It was a no brainer that the Titans would beat Washington Justice… well… until they didn’t. In fact, they lost in their first 4-0 match. They didn’t just lose… they got rolled hard. At least the other losses had the other team put up a fight. There was no fight to be had here. As someone who likes to see top teams lose, I was delighted by this. Corey was unstoppable and Stratus was just as solid. This is an amazing DPS duo that doesn’t get the attention that they deserve, but they certainly will now.

You’d think that would be the end of surprises, but then there was the NYXL vs. Chengdu Hunters. The Hunters… 4-0’ed NYXL. NYXL was expected to have an amazing stage with 2-2-2 but they keep falling short of expectations. Their DPS lineup just isn’t working for them and I think everyone is wondering why they aren’t putting Pine in. That’s the one thing they haven’t tried yet to dominate teams. Are they saving him for the playoffs? Are they trying to trade him? I’m not going to lie, I would be happy to see the Uprising pick him up.

Why are these solid teams struggling? You could use the excuse that they are sandbagging or that they just aren’t trying because they assumed they’d win anyways. But maybe there’s something more? The teams that are doing better seem to have mastered what is now likely going to be called the “Mei” meta. A great Mei, particularly with a great Hanzo or Reaper, can make or break these teams. I think that as long as Mei is meta, teams are going to suffer. We may have thought that the 2-2-2 lock was going to mean that dive was back, but we quickly see that this isn’t necessarily the case.

The rest of the stage is looking to be an exciting one and I hope that there are plenty more upsets to come. I’d like to see a team like the Justice or Mayhem go 7-0 this stage, because I want these underdog teams to show that they aren’t the jokes everyone made them out to be. Only a few more weeks until the stage playoffs and the Grand Finals stage, so these teams better shape up if they want to make the cut offs.

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Overwatch League: The Final Stage of the Season Begins and a Watch Party

Stage 4 and the 2-2-2 lock has officially begun and honestly, there were some surprises but mostly things have gone as people thought. A big surprise was that the analysts thought that the Boston Uprising would start destroying this stage, since their DPS duo had such great potential. I guess that’s what happens when analysts finally believe in the Uprising. Here is a brief summary of what happened with this massive change to the league this week, and my more in-depth Boston Uprising discussion.

The fact that Houston lost to Paris was a little shocking to me, but they took a win home against the Gladiators to go 1-1 this week. NYXL struggled this week and Shanghai is still on a tear, especially since pulling out what is now known as “Roadfrog” with Geguri making a solid tank line with her Roadhog and Gamsu’s Orisa. Honestly, she was spectacular and it was great to see her back on the stage. It was also great to see Fragi and Bischu make their first appearances on the stage this season. All that’s left really is to see Pine freed from GOATs jail and all will be right again. Most of the other games went pretty much exactly how you thought they would, such as Titans showing that they aren’t GOATs one-tricks and it paid off for Shock to stack their team with star DPS players.

Boston Uprising Watch Party in Foxborough

Normally they do the watch parties in Boston, so to have one that was easier to get to in Foxborough was really exciting. Naturally, we had to attend. We left earlier in the morning to ensure that even with Cape Cod traffic, we would make the event in time. I’m glad we did. We ended up with a great parking spot, got to enjoy walking around the facility without the mass amounts of people that were there during my first trip to Patriot Place. (Apparently there was an Irish festival going on.) We ventured to the ProShop, happy to see that they had a lot more Uprising gear there. Then after some waiting, we went to the place where the watch party was being held.

The restaurant was pretty big, but honestly the fact that they had such a small section for the watch party setup was a little disappointing. The fact that all of the chairs were a foot off the ground was also a little annoying. (Plus the food was meh at best.) Still, they had giveaways and free Uprising stuff so that made up for some of the annoyance. To my surprise, every other television in the bar was switched to Overwatch League. This was good considering that about 80% of the people in there were there for the Uprising match. There were some “oohs” and “aws” during the Valiant match, but the real excitement came when the Uprising were on.

Until.. there was nothing to cheer about. The match was a quick 4-0 domination by the Charge. It was awful. As a fan, it was painful. There have been some bad losses, but this felt different. This was the first time that I was actually really salty over the game. Primarily because I think that my points have been proven about this team. Obviously I have no insider information or even know how their scrims go, but they did so poorly that you have to wonder if they even scrimmed during the break. Fusions is only good at GOATs Rein. I said that he was a “GOATs Rein One-Trick” so many times that I feel like a broken record pointing that out again. The one reason we picked up rCk was his versatility to switch between a mediocre D.Va and a decent Sombra. We gave away NotE because he could only really D.Va and Roadhog. Well.. now we’re in a 2-2-2 lock so we can’t use rCk for his versatility. But NotE… now NotE gets to shine on D.Va and Roadhog. On another team. The tank line is definitely one of the weakest links so far in this stage. They have no synergy and they just can’t seem to get the job done. On one map it almost looked like Ameng got his Hammod alt 3 times before Fusions even got one. That shouldn’t happen. But it’s been a consistent problem for him… since he’s a GOATs Rein one-trick.

The DPS line did well enough. Colourhex seems much more comfortable now than when he played Zarya. There were some shots that I found myself screaming “You need to make those”, but overall he had a solid performance. People were mocking blasé but honestly I felt like he was doing the things that he was supposed to be doing. That’s always been the problem with blasé. He does what he’s supposed to do, maybe without Colourhex’s flash, but he gets the job done. I don’t think the DPS was the problem.

Then.. there is the support line. Kellex has been doing well, and I admit I have been very critical of him since the beginning. But he has shown to be a versatile support that makes the big plays when he needs to. But then there’s Persia. Admittedly, he did better this weekend than he has in the past. But even in this “better” state, he’s still not even close (in my opinion) to Aimgod. You can count on Aimgod to also make those big plays… and to survive most fights. Sure, Persia made some good sleeps and his Moira was fantastic. But I didn’t see a lot of purple enemy players when he played Ana. I saw Colourhex ask for heals to not get any from Persia as he was standing next to him. I saw his problems with positioning and staying alive. Persia may be doing better in scrims but that has not translated to him playing better on stage.

Saturday was a disaster, but at least Sunday wasn’t as awful. It’s still disheartening to see as an Uprising fan. This is supposed to be a meta where we were going to shine. Instead, management seems to want to throw the matches rather than win. Why isn’t Aimgod playing? Why hasn’t Axxiom scrimmed or been given a chance? You’ve given Persia plenty of chances on stage, but not Axxiom. Axxiom is supposed to be an amazing and versatile tank who probably only didn’t start because Fusions’ GOATs Rein was better. But we’re not in GOATs anymore. I hope during this bye-week that Uprising figures it out, because it’s one thing to lose because we’re being outplayed. It’s another thing to lose because you’re too stubborn to stick with what works or try something completely new. I think the fans deserve better from the management, or at least some answers.

Sigma: The Hero We Didn’t Know We Needed

But we do know that he needs shoes. Discuss.

As I correctly predicted in my last blog, the announcement for Sigma came at 2pm and he was then playable on the PTR. Since then, there has been a mass of people swearing to be Sigma mains when he goes live. While I admittedly haven’t gotten around to play him myself yet, there’s a lot of videos from everyone else that has given me plenty to think about.

First of all, his Origin story. The minute I watched it, I called my husband and told him that it was easily the best one they have released. Their team that handles these shorts are fantastic and I always look forward to new short stories from them. They are so well done that I almost think that they could have their own Overwatch web series. Almost. Usually people screw those up to the point of turning your love to hatred. But, it could be good. The Origin story gave me chills, the music was flawless, and the lore behind the character was amazing. This made me excited to try the new character.

Why haven’t I tried him yet? One reason is because I always like to use the Training Bots to try out he character and for some reason the Training mode won’t work for me on the PTR right now. Another reason is because as interesting as the story is, I’m not sure I’m as interested in playing his character. The playstyle seems more like a Zenyatta with a throwable Rein shield. I’m a D.Va main. I like the excitement of flying around and blocking alts or plowing into the backline. He just doesn’t look as fun to me as I want him to be. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I actually get to play him. The only thing that makes his character really cool to me is his Ult, where he tosses people up in the air and throws them back down again.

How will he change the meta? I’m not entirely sure. From what I’ve seen, he can be an excellent counter to Pharah and Widow, which are 2 characters that are played heavily right now. Is he an off-tank or a main-tank? I think he may be more of an off-tank, maybe as part of a tank line with a Hammond main tank. His shield doesn’t seem to be as good as a Rein or Orisa, but it could be better than Winston’s. It’s really too soon to tell, though you know teams are already scrimming with him to see how he fits into their strategies. When the pros get to play him, we’ll all have a better idea of his utility and true potential.

I like how Overwatch seems to be moving forward and progressing. This seems like a team who wants to keep players as engaged by making changes that will improve their experience. Adding a unique character like Sigma is one way, but another way is the great addition of the 2-2-2 lock. I don’t know what their plan is for Overwatch 2, but the current game is still something I love to play.

What’s Next for WoW?

After trying to figure out what today’s blog about, I realized that the news depressed me and all I can whine about here is how our beautiful television met its end after 5 years. It was a good run, though the picture quality on this new one is quite beautiful, I must say. Back to the main point. So I decided to focus on another gaming topic this week, making this entire week’s worth of blogs about gaming. I could hit a popular topic in Overwatch right now (Sigma, obviously), but I think I’ll hold that off until Thursday’s blog. My gut is telling me there will be a Developer Update released probably between 11:00am and 3pm Eastern to announce Sigma will be on the PTR today. I’d rather save my love of this new character and anticipation when I can talk about his gameplay.

Instead, I’d like to think about my predictions for the next expansion of World of Warcraft. I admit, I haven’t completed the latest raid yet. I like the new loner world of not having to deal with other people in WoW, saving my socializing skills for when Classic is released next month. I may be completely wrong about these predictions, but I was right about the demon hunters, Pandaren, and Nightborne. Just sayin’.

My theories come from what I’ve seen in the game and from the “Before the Storm” prequel novel. So spoilers ahead if you haven’t read it yet.

At the end of the novel, Calia Menethil wanted to save her people (the residents of Lordaeron, aka “The Forsaken”) from Sylvanas’ attack. A cause that led to her death at the hands of Sylvanas herself. Calia was later risen in the same manner as the other Forsaken, only she was raised by the light. While in the book she said she wasn’t ready to lead her people, that doesn’t mean that she won’t now with all of the other events that have taken place since then. After Sylvanas is inevitably overthrown from power, I think that Calia will become the new leader of the Forsaken. It makes sense since most of the Horde is against her and while I’m not sure of the Forsaken’s reaction to Sylvanas slaughtering her own, I have a feeling that they aren’t even on her side right now.

The story is heading towards a fight against Sylvanas for the end of the expansion, with her losing it. But since she’s such a fan favorite, I have a hard time believing that they will just kill her. Instead, we’re due for a new hero class. Which could very likely be a Dark Ranger. Which would be very very cool. Sylvanas will lead the Dark Rangers, with Nathanos by her side as usual. She won’t go the way of the Garrosh, but I don’t think most people will want to be associated with her insanity right now.

So, who will lead the Horde then? The two logical choices would be to have Thrall regain the title of Warchief or have Saurfang in charge. My feelings are causing me to lean towards Thrall. Let’s be realistic here: things really started going downhill for the Horde when Thrall left. Vol’jin was a good course correction from the failure of Garrosh, but obviously that’s not an ideal choice anymore. Saurfang is a seasoned veteran who seems to more enjoy his place on the battlefield than leading, but he has been shown to be an honorable and compassionate character. Him and Zappyboi could be a great team leading the Horde.

These are just my thoughts. I think most people are in agreement that the next expansion is going to be focused on the Old Gods, which will be really cool if done well. But feel free to let me know your thoughts on the future of these characters.

Overwatch League, Season 2: Stage 4 Preview

By now, you have heard the biggest change coming to the Overwatch League this final stage of the season: the 2-2-2 lock. AKA, the GOATs killer. In case you need a recap, this is exactly what it sounds like. There must be 2 DPS, 2 support, and 2 tanks queued up to play, a change that’s coming to the next Competitive season as well. Once you queue up to a role, you are locked in that role until the end of the map. This means that there cannot be a 3-3/GOATs comp anymore.

This could potentially change everything. While Vancouver Titans are known for being a top GOATs team, they have not had much success outplaying the DPS comps. (Seriously still happy Shanghai took the Stage 3 title.) Teams like Spitfire and NYXL just didn’t quite get their footing trying to out-GOATs other teams. This could be a whole new stage for a lot of teams that have been struggling, and you can expect some interesting surprises for the next stage.

I’m going to take a closer look at the Boston Uprising here, a team that had seen some highs and lows in GOATs. What does this change mean for them? First of all, thankfully no more Colourhex on Zarya. I was never a fan of that and it almost caused me to doubt his capabilities as a player. Until I saw him play Widow. He’s a solid DPS player that can now shine. blasé has long been a solid player that performs well where they need him, even on Tracer, which leads me to wonder what their new pickup Stellar is there for. The Uprising aren’t exactly known for their tendency to sub players in and out… or really pretty much ever. What is he there for? To farm up the talent than sell him to the highest bidder? Are they getting rid of one of their other DPS? Will they actually sub him in for some maps? This will be interesting to find out.

Then there is the tank line. This 2-2-2 lock makes the trade for rCk with NotE worse for us: we lost a solid D.Va/Hog player. Will rCk now be stuck in a D.Va role, where he has made some decent plays but is overall mediocre in the role? Will Uprising give up their Sombra player for a better D.Va? Will Axxiom step into the off-tank role instead? But what about Fusions? He seems to only be a GOATs Rein one-trick? Will we see his true potential to erase this one-trick take on him? Or, will Axxiom step into the main tank role as he was supposed to prior to Gamsu’s departure? These are all great questions that will be interesting to see answered when the stage starts this week. I am looking forward to attending my first official Uprising watch party this weekend at one of my favorite places: Foxborough/Patriot’s Place. It’s going to be pretty great to cheer on the team with my boys, seeing what they can do in a 2-2-2 lock.

Shanghai might even be stronger now with this change, which is something that will be great to watch out for. The London Spitfire, Philadelphia Fusion, Houston Outlaws, and NYXL may also have a strong showing with these changes. This could potentially change everything, though it may be too late for some of the teams to really benefit from these changes. Either way, more exciting Overwatch League is on the way for fans.

Overwatch League Season 2, Stage 3 Playoffs

Holy cow. I’m still in shock over the events of the Stage 3 Playoff Weekend. I went in rooting for either Houston or Shanghai to take it all. Why? First of all, as a Boston fan I’m all for an underdog story. My private Facebook had me pulling for Shanghai especially, since they had Gamsu. As it turns out, this was a playoff for the books.

I was, as usual, actively rooting against the Titans. Arrogance bothers me and I like watching people be taken down a peg or two. I honestly didn’t care who won as long as it wasn’t the Vancouver Titans. The Titans easily went 3-0 over Houston. What was the real shock of the night was how Shanghai managed to go 3-1 against NYXL. I was rooting for them, without actually expecting them to win. I thought they would put up a great fight but I didn’t think they would actually win. When they did, I put all my eggs in the Shanghai basket even if they were going up against the Titans. Why? Because I wanted a team that was crapped on by everyone last season for not winning a single match the entire season to win. Because I wanted my beloved former tank Gamsu to finally get a Stage title since he was a great player and person and he deserved it. Because it was a new team rather than the typical teams to make a play for the finals. Because they were the last seed in the playoffs and the biggest underdogs.

After the Shanghai match against XL, the other matches in the Quarterfinals went exactly as you’d expect. Then, it was the Titans versus Shanghai. Everyone expected the Titans to trounce Shanghai. Except they didn’t. In fact, I would argue that it was the Shanghai Dragons that laid down the destruction over the Vancouver Titans, winning the match 4-1. That put Shanghai Dragons, the team who didn’t win a single game in the first stage, into the finals against the Shock. At first, the Shanghai was dominant over the Shock, leading by 3-0. Then the Shock came back, forcing a tiebreaker map in a potential reverse sweep situation. It was a nail biter tiebreaker, with each team winning a round. It went to Round 3…. and then Shanghai was able to celebrate their big win. Shanghai Dragons truly broke through, now proud owners of the Stage 3 Championship title.

It was an exciting weekend. I actually believe it was one of the most exciting playoff weekends ever in the Overwatch League at this point. It was peak competition. It was glorious entertainment. I can’t wait to see what’s next in the final stage before the Grand Finals. Will Uprising overcome their issues and make the cut off for the fight for a playoff spot? Who are the teams to watch next stage? We’ll take a look at these questions next week.

Overwatch League Atlanta Homestand and the Latest WoW Patch

That’s a mouthful of a title. This post will be broken up into 2 discussions: First a brief paragraph or so of the Overwatch League Atlanta Homestand weekend and the “Rise of Azshara” patch will get the most attention this post. So here we go.

Overwatch League Atlanta Homestand Weekend

The second homestand adventure was just as exciting as the Dallas homestand. This time, the Atlanta Reign hosted the event, which offered the same level of energy that makes you excited for when the teams start having home matches. While overall the matches weren’t too exciting or surprising, the atmosphere was incredible. Plus, I really love when the league does fun things like the 1v1’s as part of a pregame. This weekend, we were treated to 2 hilarious ones. Originally, the Bridowmaker Bren was supposed to go up against Dafran in a Widow 1v1. That was until Mangachu was picked up by Toronto Defiant. Then, the fans clamored over the OG Torb Mangachu to face off against Dafran in a Torb hammer-only 1v1. However, you couldn’t let the Bridowmaker down so Babybay stepped up and participated in the Widow 1v1.

The weekend kicked off with Babybay “coming in on his helicopter” and the Bridowmaker walking out to walk-out music with Widomaker leggings and no shirt. He was trolled a little bit by Babybay, who ended up winning 9-4. Then it was the Torb 1v1, which was close but the OG Torb Mangachu took home the win. Aside from that, the games went almost exactly as expected though some people may have been shocked that the Shanghai Dragons locked up the last Stage playoff spot. Even though they Shang9’ed again.

Rise of Azshara

I’m not going to lie: the only reason I wanted this patch was so that I could get flying to level alts and get some new mounts. I had some high hopes for the new zones, but I feel a little let down. While the grind isn’t as annoying as it could be, especially since you only need to get the rep to revered rather than exalted like previous achievements. My issue is navigating through these zones. Here’s a closer look at my impressions of the new patch.

On Mechagon, first of all I expected a cooler looking zone from how they were talking about it at Blizzcon. For some reason, the concept art looked so much cooler than what we actually got. It almost looks like they just recycled maybe Stormsong Valley and added junkpiles to it. There’s only 1 flight path, which is pretty annoying when you are trying to run around an island full of annoying mobs. The quests are simple enough to do. The going to the alternate reality/Mechagon’s future for quests seems cool enough, but there’s still something lacking here. I feel like there should be some more quests here and that rep grinding here isn’t quite as fast as in Nazjatar.

Nazjatar does have a ton of flight paths, but this zone is even crazier to try navigating around. In fact, I would say that these 2 zones were designed more with flying in mind than ground mounts. There are so many levels to this zone that if you miss the quest area, it takes you an hour to get back to it. Then there are those drops that you get, which actually kill you if you hold onto it too long, making it really annoying if you are trying to find where they go. Today on my stream, I will make the journey to turn in these cursed items. Watch me die a lot.

At this point, I just want to see the end of the story. I want to see the loose ends tied up and move on from this expansion. When Legion dragged out this long, it was exciting because the story was so interesting and I found it exciting as I leveled each toon. There was playability factor here that is missing when compared to Legion. You level alts because you’re bored or because you want them all to be max level, not because you enjoy the story that much. I know that’s the case for me.

Maybe it’s because we’re all excited to relive the nightmare that was Vanilla WoW. Or maybe this expansion filled us all with an exciting storyline, but nothing else. And it takes forever to get the conclusion to the storyline. Do I think this Evil Sylvanas/Baine, Thrall, and Saurfang the Hero/What about Calia Menethil? storyline is great? Yes, when we get the pieces of it. I like trying to figure out where they are going and theorizing the endgame. But it’s so slowly paced that my interest is being quickly lost. At least there’s Guild Wars 2 to fill in the time?