Overwatch League: Season 2, Stage 1, Week 3

I wish that I could say that this was an exciting week, but there was really nothing too shocking as far as outcomes go. Fortunately on top of discussing some of the more interesting stories of the weekend, I can rant about everything that the Boston Uprising failed on during their truly disastrous match against the Defiant. So let’s get to it.

First of all, Dafran’s amazing grav play on Hollywood was spectacular. I’ve never seen anyone do that. I’ve never even considered trying it. Unfortunately, as Soe points out, now you are going to see everyone else try this when they can. Which will more likely than not fail rather than achieve the massive success Dafran saw with that move. That was real skill right there and should be evidence to any doubters that he belongs in the big leagues.

Then, there was the C9 that may cause everyone to refer to it as the “Shangnine” (Joke, courtesy of blasé) or just calling it the “Shanghai”. Why he would ever walk off the point like that is beyond everyone. Even the commentators had no clue what was going on when the “Round Complete” flashed on the screen. After a quick look, it was easy to see that Youngjin just walked off the payload, probably as a knee-jerk reaction to his dying teammate. Maybe he thought it capped. This was easily the most memorable moment of the week.

Another hot topic this week was the trash talk, specifically a focus on Dogman. In the mix was Neko’s constant trolling of the Uprising, using their sprays and kicking it, as well as his attempts to teabag Aimgod. A little competitive spirit is fine as long as it doesn’t get to a high level of toxicity. There’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed, but as long as it’s all in good fun there shouldn’t be any real issue with it. They wanted Overwatch to be similar to other professional sports leagues and the spice is all part of that.

Now it’s time to focus in on the Uprising matches. With Fusions back in their match against Seoul, Uprising had such a strong showing. Kellex and those boops were solid and Fusions was terrifyingly aggressive. I still wasn’t sold on Colourhex has Zarya, but he wasn’t too awful so I only complained about half the match about how Axxiom was better. They won against Seoul and found the momentum to keep the wins coming. That was until they faced off against former teammate Neko and the Toronto Defiant. The first 2 maps were rough going, but Uprising finally got a win on Anubis. Then they went to Rialto, where despite a strong few pushes they couldn’t quite pull out the win. It was a rough loss.

Colourhex was one of the biggest problems of the match. Ivy easily outperformed him in every way. This was most evident on Rialto where Ivy had 3 gravs before Colourhex even got one. He died early every fight in the entire match. It was a mess and I stand by the fact that Axxiom should have been in there as Zarya. But Brianne, he’s in there to flex as needed. Except when it was Rialto and he would’ve been more useful as Sombra and he ended up staying on his failed Zarya. NotE didn’t waste his ults; he likely just assumed that by the time Colourhex got his ult, that he would have enough self-destruct. NotE didn’t have the combos and just tossed his ult where it made the most sense to him. He did his job.

It was a mess. They didn’t adjust. They kept doing exactly the same. They did what they always do: stubbornly stay the same and hope the other team does something to fail. They are good at exploiting mistakes. They didn’t sub anyone in or out. They just kept hoping that something magically would click. It wouldn’t change because goats is so dependent on a good Zarya. I stand by what I said last week, almost. The starting six should be Fusions as MT, Axxiom as Zarya, NotE and blasé doing their thing, Aimgod as Zen, and Kellex as Lucio. That was their strongest showing. If you want flexibility, sub Colourhex in. But he has proven that he shouldn’t be the starting Zarya.

While stage playoffs might be out of the question, there’s still the bigger picture of the end of the year playoffs. Every match matters towards that, so Uprising really need to figure it out. Maybe they are hoping that come next patch, goats will be dead and they can thrive back as they did when dive was the meta. Maybe HuK is a genius and we should just trust him. But unless this team learns to adapt on the fly, they will not relive the success of last year.

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Overwatch League: Season 2, Stage 1, Week 1

It’s that time again: my Overwatch League recap. I have been waiting for this moment for a very long time, stalking every story in the off-season to keep me hyped about my favorite eSports league. He’s a recap of Boston’s performance and some notable mentions about Opening Weekend.

To start with, my focus will be with the Boston Uprising. As they are my team, I was far more attentive to their games. Word of Gamsu’s trade right before the season started was crushing. Sure, his Rein may not have been the strongest, but he was the team captain. He was the face of the team. I went into the first match skeptical. Then Fusions popped off like a madman. A game that I thought we were lose by a long shot was a lot closer than most people probably expected. With Fusions at the helm, they made New York work for it.

Unfortunately, the Sombra was the Uprising’s downfall. They had no answer to Meko’s Sombra. He disabled NotE and just wrecked the team. If they were going to stand a chance against Houston, they would need an answer for it especially since Danteh has a very deadly Sombra. And they did. Aimgod opted for a Moira pick instead of his typical Zenyatta. While Danteh’s Sombra did pose some issues on the first map, Jake’s Pharah was also very deadly. They lost on Nepal as a result. On Dorado, they figured out a solid strat against Sombra: blasé on Ana. They ended up losing the map, but I personally blame this on mistakes that Uprising shouldn’t have made. They ended up on a tie-breaker map in a nail biting faceoff on Ilios. Which they won. Aimgod and NotE were definitely the heroes of the match.

When it’s a pure goats comp versus a mirror comp, Uprising is solid. They went toe to toe with NYXL. Fusions, when he isn’t off in his hammer zone, is a stellar pickup. When you put them up with a weird comp, they get confused. For some reason, they stubbornly stick to goats even when it’s obviously not working. Is it because they don’t have that flexibility that a 2nd DPS offers with Colourhex suspended? Do they just not have any other strats? They will continue to struggle if they don’t start adjusting.

Other notable mentions for this first week. Dafran showed that he belongs on the big stage. Shanghai is still winless, but Gamsu’s hamster was solid. The duo of Gamsu and Geguri definitely worked. Bren and Sideshow were missed. The Spitfire struggled, while Philadelphia Fusion is starting off strong on their Redemption season. NYXL is showing that they are even better now. Are they the team to beat? Does the Shock just have too much DPS? The season just started, so it’s still way too early to tell what is going to happen.

Overwatch League Season 2: It’s Finally Here!

The only sport that I wait this anxiously for other than Overwatch League is football. And my Patriots already won the Super Bowl. Now it’s time to watch my Boston Uprising overcome another underdog tale to show off the resilience of Boston and everyone else in the area. We do love our underdog tales in Massachusetts. Especially when it comes to showing people what we are made of. Never count us out. Let’s take a look at what I think will happen today and some ideas for the season.

The first game up tonight is the rematch between the London Spitfire and Philadelphia Fusion. The Spitfire beat the Fusion in last year’s Grand Finals, which I was happy about since they are my second favorite team. (Fury!!!) I think that while Fusion will want redemption, the Spitfire will want to show everyone why they are the champions. I expect this team to be even stronger this year and may even make it a repeat championship win. This will be an amazing match to watch.

The next match is between the rivalry OWL keeps trying to make happen: NYXL vs. Boston Uprising. Do I hope the Uprising will win? Absolutely. Do I think that this is their night? Unfortunately not. With the main tank shakeup of the Gamsu trade, you’re losing a lot of tank synergy with our offtank NotE. I predict that Axxiom will end up in the main tank role, but the 6th spot is up in the air since Colourhex is suspended for 2 games. Will Fusions get the start or will we see Alemao? It will be interesting to watch and not the game I want to figure it all out in. At least this New York team is likeable and I’m a big fan of Pine, SBB, and Ark. Still, I’m hoping for a major Up-set. (Har har)

After this, you can see the Seoul Dynasty take on the Los Angeles Gladiators. The Dynasty was the league favorite last year, only to not live up to the expectations that this solid team had. Adding the controversial but extremely talented Fissure to their roster, the team hopes that they solved their problems from last year. Expect Ryu and Fleta to still be powerhouses. Los Angeles Gladiators put up a solid fight last year, impressing a lot of people with how far they made it. I think that they might beat Dynasty, but I hope I’m surprised.

Finally, Shanghai Dragons will go against the Hangzhou Spark. The Dragons will be searching for their first win (inside of the league play), and the Spark will want to show that a cute color scheme doesn’t mean that they will be easy prey. As much as I want to root against Shanghai for taking our Papa Gamsu, I really want to see Gamsu and Geguri show that they can carry their team to victory. Especially with how strong Diya can be as a DPS when he’s on fire. If Diya is streaky, they’ll lose.

These are my early predictions. Monday, we’ll recap the games. I’m extremely excited to see how the All-Access Pass improves the viewing, especially as a person who writes about the league.

Overwatch League Community Countdown: Part 2

Normally I don’t spend more than 1 day on the “Gaming” part of my blog. Due to the special event this week in the Overwatch League, it seemed appropriate to spend the week discussing things. Last night was the exciting 1v1 matches. I was excited to see that I went 5 out of 5 on my Ashe 1v1 picks. Surefour and Pine had an interesting match. As much as I like Pine, I had a feeling that Surefour was going to win again. Everything else went exactly how I thought it was, though I was worried for a bit during the Danye/Diya match, where I had pegged Diya as the winner. He did win, by the way. It was pretty intense.

The Ana 1v1 matches were not in my favor, but I still went 8/10 for the night. I really thought Neptuno would be the victor, and he wasn’t. I also had a lot of faith in Zunba, but that also didn’t pan out. Honestly, I though the Ana matches were far more entertaining, maybe it was because at some point they just started sleeping each other for the win. It was cheeky and fun and I loved every second of it.

Tonight’s adventure is the Capture the Flag matches, which I also think will be great. I’m really waiting for the Showmatch on Wednesday because I love watching the OWL talent play. I’m going to have to go for The Away Team because they have most of my favorite talent on there: Soe, Puckett, Mr. X, Emongg. It’s going to be a great match and I love watching them troll each other the entire time. I really hope that this one is live with video because it will be hilarious. Though, I will miss Reinforce carrying everyone. Both figuratively and literally.

The last thing I’d like to discuss today is about the Boston Uprising. This morning, rumors started circling that our beloved Papa Gamsu and his adorable puppers Uni has been traded off to Shanghai Dragons. The Dragons just recently lost their maintain Fearless to health issues. I can see how this would work. The off-tank Geguri is Korean, so having a Korean main tank would be a great asset to Shanghai since the language barrier wouldn’t be an issue. Both of them, already dubbed “GG” by fans, are solid hardworking players that have similar attitudes. This would be an amazing pickup for Shanghai.

At the cost of a huge hit to Boston. What does Boston get out of this deal, besides the heartbreak of losing the face of the Uprising? The morale hit would be huge and he had awesome synergy with NotE. Would we potentially get Diya in return? Diya is a solid player, though he does have the tendency to be a bit streaky. This may not be as much of an issue, considering that we mostly just need a DPS for 2 games while Colourhex is suspended. Honestly, I’m not sure that Diya and Gamsu is a fair trade. Gamsu is the face of the team. He’s Papa Gamsu. He was a leader that Uprising needed and he stepped up and lead the team. Boston will be losing more than just their main tank that we grew to love, we’d be losing the heart of the team. Axxiom is an awesome player, but he has some big shoes to fill to hold up to the standards we have for our main tank in the professional and emotional sense.

The Fear of the Uprising

Last year, prior to the inaugural season of the Overwatch League starting, the Boston Uprising was pegged as the underdog. Being a lifelong Boston fan like most other Uprising fans, this wasn’t unfamiliar territory. We have tempered expectations until we see even a flicker of hope, which we cling onto in hopes for victory. (Like in the Super Bowl… against the Rams… Go Pats!) The preseason venture didn’t help Boston’s case: they just didn’t look like a promising team. Still, they were my team and true Boston fans are nothing if not loyal to a fault.

While the 1st Stage wasn’t overly impressive, it wasn’t entirely depressing. They were a team that could hold their own out there. You win some, you lose some. At the end of Stage 2, they had a 4 game winning streak that offered the momentum that they desperately needed. This momentum led them to a historic undefeated season, the only team in the Overwatch League to accomplish this. Despite losing a talented DPS that I won’t mention. They may have fallen in the Stage Finals against NYXL, but it was the principle: they went into the inaugural season as a 10 seed at best, but most people pegged them at the 12th spot. But there they were, putting up a fight for a Stage Championship. This was a place that some people didn’t think would happen, even their fans. They broke records and made history that stage.

Stage 4 was a rough one. They finished in 8th. The dive meta was dead thanks to Brigitte and the Uprising just couldn’t keep up, especially since their DPS team centered around an insane Tracer. (Tracer + Brigitte = Instant Tracer Doom.) Still, their solid performance in Stage 3 gave them a spot in the overall Playoffs. They fell to the Fusion, but they did still get a 3rd place finish. That was far more impressive than where the experts placed them in the rankings before the season began.

Now we’re at season 2 and back in an underdog position. It’s no mystery why. The debates about HuK and how he runs his team. The fact that we lost our star DPS Striker to Crusty and the San Francisco Shock. The fact that we no longer had Neko, an insane Zenyatta. The fact that one of our DPS players (Colourhex) is suspended for 2 games for boosting and we only have 1 other DPS signed at this point. (Which may not be all that bad, if GOATS is still the way to go and we have extra tanks and supports to fill in.) Will there be a last minute signing? Is HuK just planning to let things play out with GOATS and hope that they win those 2 matches without an extra DPS player? In HuK we trust?

The February 14th start day is fast approaching and I’m like every other Uprising fan who is looking for some big signing soon. We know it’s not going to be some big name like Mangachu, but there’s still hope right? Either way, 3rd place was a respectable place to be when everyone thought you would be all the way in the 12th spot. I’m just happy to support my team.

OWL Season 2: Changes and Predictions

The main point people seem to agree on? London, NYXL, and Fusion is expected to come out on top. The experts have their power rankings and information ready to go, despite the facts that teams are still not 100% locked in. Speaking of an entertainment point, they wanted to strike while the iron was still hot. From a journalistic point of view? Completely irresponsible to come up with power rankings for the first week. There are still so many factors to consider, such as what the meta is actually going to be when the Season 2 starts or the final roster moves. This will take a brief look into my thoughts on changes and predictions for the season.

The first thing to mention are the changes that have already been leaked ages ago. Teams are playing fewer games (just over half the games they played last season), the playoffs will have more breaks in between, and the All-Star Weekend will fall mid-season as it does in most other sports. Nate Nanzer said his goal was to make the Overwatch League more like the traditional sports out there, which he is accomplishing controversy and all. Controversy brings publicity and publicity brings viewers… right? (What controversy? Boosting, team dramas, talks of unions, etc.) The changes seem great from a viewer’s perspective, but I’m not sure it will reduce the stress on the players. We’ll see about that one. Also, we’ll see Reinforce again? Here’s to hoping because losing him was such a mistake.

I had an issue with the power rankings. Granted it was the first week and the Boston Uprising is up against NYXL, but they have beaten them before. Granted, we had Striker (my heart is breaking still), but that doesn’t mean it was impossible. Just improbable. We beat them twice last season and they fell far earlier in the Playoffs than they really should have. Fusion was good, but NYXL wasn’t their normal selves that game. Even a giant has a bad day, and this team is capable of loss. I say this as both an Uprising fan and someone who loves Pine and SBB. The Uprising didn’t even find themselves in the top 10 of the power rankings. Shanghai Dragons, a team that when a full 0-40, was ranked higher than they were. The fix is in. (Not really, but still.)

That’s something that I think will fuel the Uprising this year as much as it did last year. The underdog story should have died last year. But here they are again and I have confidence in this new group, especially with the budding blasé/Gamsu bromance that we fans love to watch. I’m confident in the team and the rest of their fans should be too. Also, London could very well go for the repeat and as they are my second favorite team I wouldn’t be so sad about it. It’s all too early to tell how things will shape up. We’ll have to address this closer to the season when the teams have really finalized their rosters.

Standing by Your Team

I am a Boston Uprising fan. (Most Boston teams, in fact. Grats on the World Series Red Sox despite the act I hate baseball.) I backed the team when the whole “Pedo” incident happened, which was easy to do since they cut him not long after the allegations were made public. It was easy to do. They were my team and I was in it for the long haul. I wasn’t a pink hatter. I was going to root for them even if they Shanghai’d for the rest of the season. They didn’t; then went undefeated in Stage 3. They surprised everyone by making it into the Playoffs, finishing the season in 3rd place when everyone thought they would be in last.

There was a rumor about one team having an extreme amount of drama going on, a team that wasn’t the Dallas Fuel. It turns out, that team was my beloved Uprising. A report came out about the treatment of players on the team, specifically when it came to the Korean players. Going into the first season, fans feared HuK would be a problem. He didn’t have the most solid reputation in the gaming world. In fact, he had a pretty poor reputation in eSports.

As a Patriots fan, I’m used to the man Coach Bill Belichick. A man who has been known to have questionable morals when it comes to winning. A man who sometimes toes the line and more often than he should, crosses said line. He makes decisions that we view as harsh and criticize because we don’t understand. It usually works out, but sometimes it doesn’t (/cough Butler). He has a reputation for being aggressive and stubborn and harsh. But, he has built a championship team that has shown results that maybe his way works.

I’m not sure if HuK was inspired by Belichick’s ways or if Kraft wanted him to be like the championship coach. Or if the Kraft family hired him because they reminded him of the coach of their championship team. Whatever the case may be, the allegations against him are tough to read. While there is nothing there that is blatantly against the rules, it toes the line. The fact that we went undefeated in Stage 3 with all of this going on seems incredible to me. Maybe his way can be effective. The story about Striker raging so hard that he constantly broke peripherals was shocking to me, but if things were that bad you can’t blame him. Striker is a passionate player and I hope that he says despite the issues on the team.

I hope that we have Gamsu as our MT still. I don’t want them gone. I don’t want to have that gut punch of Neko appearing in the Toronto Defiant reveal. I knew it was coming, but seeing it stung a little. The rumor is that HuK is trying to get rid of all of the Korean players, which would be a huge mistake. Striker, aside from SBB, is easily a top Tracer. He has shown to be awesome on pretty much every other player they put him on as well. He’s solid, aggressive, and he puts every ounce of his soul into the matches. Papa Gamsu is, in my opinion, the face and leader of the team. The main tank who may not be as strong on Reinhardt, but is arguably a top main tank anyways. I hope they stay and #RiseUp from this behind the scenes drama.

I stand by my team. Do I stand by HuK? If all of these allegations are true, absolutely not. My hope is that this whole thing either makes the Uprising reconsider his position on the team or makes HuK re-evaluate the way he does things. I would love it if we could start season 2 without this dark cloud hanging over our team. I hope that the housing situation gets better for the team. Maybe with the $225,000 prize money, they could invest in better facilities for the team or offer them better benefits. Or, give them a raise or bonus. I also want to see Neko succeed in Toronto because he was definitely an incredible Zenyatta that deserves a lot more credit than he received.