Overwatch League, Season 2 Stage 3, Week 1: AKA, WTH Boston?

The first week of Stage 3 has concluded and there were a lot of interesting things that went on. Including some shocking movements from Boston. What were the biggest surprises? What on Earth happened to Boston? This was quite a week for matches, so let’s get into this.

First match of the week was Stage 2 champions San Francisco Shock up against the tragically underwhelming Atlanta Reign. Though, honestly what should have been a 4-0 match where the Shock easily trounced the Reign, the Reign actually put up quite the fight bringing the match into the tiebreaker map. Did the Reign get better or were the Shock having an off-game? Considering the Reign took a map off of the Titans, both situations could have been the case. Do I think they are a playoff contender team? Still, no.

Another amazing moment this week was when the Houston Outlaws decided to take a different approach to their match against the NYXL. The casters and analysts have long been calling for them to play to their strengths and not stick to GOATs, their obvious weakness. This week, they may have lost against NYXL, but they made the match go into a tiebreaker, proving that maybe the analysts were onto something. It was great to see them smiling on stage again, looking like they were having fun.

NYXL also had a fun surprise up their sleeves in probably their strongest showings this entire season. On the stage, appeared the one and only SBB. Saebyeolbe. In what seems like forever when we saw him last. Like, back when Tracer was in the meta, SBB showed a different side: Sombra. And he was utter destruction. I feel like the team played stronger with him out there and that he was a huge part of their 2 wins this week.

Finally, the Boston Uprising. My beloved team. They did some out of character things for them this week. They didn’t play the typical 6 men that they have played 90% of the year. Against the Spitfire, they started Alemao over Kellex and Persia over Aimgod. While I never felt like Kellex was the strongest support out there, Boston has never been known to “try something new” in terms of the players they start every week. Persia, as much as I hear he is a beast, never seemed like a stronger player than Aimgod. This was proven when on the second day, they put Aimgod back in for the matches. Boston lost both matches in a very disappointing way.

On Friday’s game (which I enjoyed at the first Western Mass Uprising watch party), they were easily 4-0’ed by the Spitfire. Why? The support line lacked support, Colourhex had his normal level of performance on Zarya, and Fusions seemed to not be getting any real big plays. It was a mess. It was hard to watch. They got stomped. Granted, Spitfire looked the strongest they have looked all season. But it was not a great match. Paris, which should have been a much better match, wasn’t. Aimgod was back to his amazing self, Alemao was decent but different from Kellex’s playstyle, but the problems were still with Fusions and Colourhex. Colourhex dying all the time doesn’t help. Him seeming like he never has energy doesn’t help. When he’s on DPS characters, he’s great. But he’s forced into a role that he’s obviously not comfortable with and definitely not consistent at. Fusions still has a terrible Winston. He wasn’t getting those big shatters he was known for. It was a mess to watch.

What does Boston need to do to get back on track? First of all, fail less would be a huge start. Was the performance that bad because Kellex is just really good at calling the other team’s alts? Maybe that would have helped the couple times that rCk seemed to be flanking while his team was getting grav’ed. I think that the time has possibly come to put in Axxiom over either Colourhex or Fusions, because we know from the first week that his performance on Zarya was far superior to Colourhex. Statistically speaking, he’s a more technically skilled main tank than Fusions. Giving him another shot could be a great thing to try. I think in their first match, their starting 6 should be: blasé, Axxiom, Colourhex, Aimgod, and Alemao. If that doesn’t work, then they should try the same 6, only replacing Colourhex with Fusions and Alemao with Kellex. At this point, trying everything can make a difference. Oh, and maybe if you’re going to get rid of NotE because he “can’t Sombra”, maybe try pulling out the Sombra. I feel like it wasn’t productive to get rid of an amazing D.Va if you’re not going to use the flexibility that you traded for.

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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: 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…

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.