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.

Advertisements

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.

Overwatch League: What was Boston Uprising Thinking?

I know. Today would be a post about parenting or current events and not gaming. However, on Tuesday a bombshell was dropped on the #RiseUp Nation that made (from what I could tell) most of us not want to #RiseUp. I scoured social media, procrastinating from work. (Isn’t that what it’s there for?) Then, I saw it. NotE, our beloved D.Va player and a “Goodbye” post from HuK. I immediately checked the calendar. It surely was still April Fool’s Day. Nope. It wasn’t. But wait, maybe the post was posted on April Fool’s Day and I just saw it. Nope. It was real. My heart dropped.

I immediately texted my husband. “Noooooo”, followed by every crying emoji I could find along with the link to the Tweet. No response. About an hour later, he called to let me know that he was coming home from work. The first thing that I said was “AMG, did you see my texts?!” No, he was busy in meetings. “Good thing you are driving, because you’re going to want to be sitting down for this….” Needless to say, he was just as upset as I was about the whole thing and we ended up eating our sadness in some General Tso’s chicken (spicy) and fried rice.

A while back, there were rumors of a trade that would upset the Boston Uprising fan base and shake them to the core. The rumor was a Fusions trade to Valiant. That wasn’t going to be earth-shattering. (A Rein joke, in case you’re wondering.) This must have been that trade because not only are Uprising fans shaken up, they are questioning their loyalty to the team. I get that. I’m a hometown fan, supporting my local teams through whatever. But you’re rooting for people, players that you have grown to be excited to see play. And Boston just keeps getting rid of them. Who are we supposed to be loyal to if you trade the players away like nothing? The only remaining player from the original roster is Kellex. Are we to expect our players getting traded every season? Why would we buy a player jersey if you’re just going to get rid of them? What’s the plan here?

Did we pick up a good player? Yes. Did we pick up a good D.Va player to replace NotE? There’s no way that rCk is better than NotE as D.Va, though I hope I can eat those words later. He’s a flex DPS, not a flex Tank. NotE, when you saw quick flashes of him on other characters, was good. We, as fans, have no way of telling if he was a flexible player because Boston seems to not ever let their players flex. Dallas fans think that they got robbed; Boston fans think that they got robbed. Are there any winners here?

Let’s put it in terms that football fans can understand, appropriate since this is one of the few pro sports I actually enjoy and Uprising is own by Robert Kraft. Take Edelman. He’s a great player. He’s got heart. In fact, you could argue he’s really the heart and morale of the team as far as fans are concerned. But he’s not the best player on paper. Now, imagine if they traded him off for an Odell Beckham. A better player on paper, but will he offer the same heart and morale that Edelman did? That’s what happened here.

I hope they have a plan because myself and other fans don’t see it yet. Much like I still don’t see Colourhex on Zarya over Axxiom. I do wish that NotE kills it out there and shows Boston what they are missing by losing him. The match today will certainly be interesting…

Those Highly Anticipated WoW Allied Races

There was no Overwatch League this week, so today’s gaming post goes to my WoW leveling adventures.

If you have been catching my stream prior to the release of the Zandalari trolls, you would have probably heard me lament about wanting to play a Zandalari. This was a race that I have wanted to play since they were announced, all that time ago. I excitedly picked up the alpha and beta of Battle for Azeroth, where I was hopeful that I could play one. It wasn’t ready yet. I was disappointed but I quickly became happy when I could play that Nightborne, a race I have wanted to play since the Suramar quests in Legion.

At launch, I was disappointed again. Still no Zandalari. I get it, they wanted it to fit in with the lore. Sure, great. I just wanted my troll! Those druid forms were amazing, especially the moonkin form that resembled the Arakkoa of Warlords of Draenor. (Which I also wanted as a class, but this came close enough.) Admittedly, I was less excited about the Kul Tiran race. They were just dopey looking, fatter Humans. They were nowhere near as cool looking as the Zandalari appeared.

All last week, I worked hard to level up my Zandalari to 100. It was worth every second, even though their moonkin form doesn’t have a dance. They were cool looking. The voices were less annoying than the Troll’s voice. They even have a different dance. I had a lot more fun customizing it. It was everything that I had wanted them to be. Did I mention that druid form? Those druid forms are amazing. The WoW team did an amazing job with this race and honestly, this one was well worth the wait. I may even level another one, a pally. Because those pally mounts look awesome.

But what about the Kul Tiran? I got as far as making a KT druid. I couldn’t decide which class to do, but those druid forms were much cooler looking than I thought they would be. The race is about as awful looking as you would expect, but I did manage to make one that I was pleased with. Today, I will probably get started on leveling my Kul Tiran, though I will likely switch back and forth depending on Legion Invasions, which are still the best way to level up through Legion.

I should be getting other characters up to 120, but I refuse to waste the effort until I can fly again. If you’re interested in some Allied Races fun, check out my stream this week.

Overwatch League, Season 2, Stage 1 Playoffs

Playoff week is always exciting. This year, there were more teams allowed into the playoffs and the event was much more exciting. You may have even noticed that it got the broadcast network treatment, much to the dismay of everyone who doesn’t understand the community. Even my parents. I tried. It didn’t work. It’s hard for people outside of the gaming community to understand the competitive nature of eSports. I love watching a solid competition and I can’t say I was disappointed. Here’s a look at the playoffs in its new format.

8 teams were in and there would be a reseeding process as the playoffs went on. Some teams weren’t happy about it. Some viewers weren’t happy about how the lowest seed would face the highest seed. But that’s how it’s done in professional sports and Nanzer’s goal was to make this just like a “real” sports league. Unfortunately that meant Boston Uprising, as the lowest seed, would face against the top seeded and undefeated Vancouver Titans. I picked my bracket. (My husband is still mad at me for this.. not really, but he wasn’t happy. I wanted to be right though.) I picked the final 4 to be Seoul Dynasty, San Francisco Shock, Vancouver Titans, and Philadelphia Fusion with the Shock winning it all.

Why did I make such bold predictions? First, I wanted Seoul to win for personal reasons. This was a decent team that was expected to be the top team last season, only the fell far short of expectations especially as they failed to even make a stage playoff. Next, I really didn’t want NYXL to continue domination. Then there were the logical reasons. NYXL is known to choke. Michelle is a beast on Sombra. My upset pick was right. I wanted Boston to beat Vancouver, but I didn’t trust Colourhex to out-Zarya Seo because he couldn’t out Zarya anyone really. I knew Shock was going to make it to the end because Sinatraa was looking unstoppable to this point, plus the whole Neko-teabagging sitch made me just want to see him taken down a few notches. And I wanted the Fusion to beat the Reign because I honestly didn’t think that they deserved the place in the playoffs. I view them as only a meme team and I really don’t take them seriously. (Seriously, you guys get distracted by a Doomfist and totally C9 the point as Neptuno solo capped the 1/3rd of a point that they needed? I was in awe watching that unfold.)

The semi-finals were exactly how I thought they would be. My final 4 teams were in and the games were actually not very interesting at all. However, the finals more than made up for the lackluster semis. Moth predicted prior to the match that it would be a back and forth battle between the teams, with Shock going 4-2. While it was a back and forth battle that was really intense to watch, they just couldn’t pull off the win and fell 4-3 to Vancouver Titans. Sinatraa was solid and I have a new respect for his talent as a player after watching it. There were a lot of times where I wondered what they were thinking, but there were “WTF” moments from Vancouver too. Some of those ults were used seemingly just because a player just wanted to be the hero by clicking Q. It didn’t work and Vancouver won the final map pretty easily.

It was such a close match-up and easily one of the best matches in OWL to date. I look forward to the rest of the season, because this was ultimate hype-mode activation right there. Unfortunately, no Overwatch League for a week. But Boston is back and hopefully they’ll be stronger in a new meta. And that we get to see more Axxiom because he deserves a spot in the starting 6.