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.

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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.

Overwatch: OWL and OWWC

I admit, as a biased Boston Uprising fan, I’ve been rooting for Team Canada because NotE is my D.va hero these days. I bought my youngest a NotE jersey only to be jealous I didn’t get myself one. (He also wanted a Sleepy from San Francisco Shock, but children have their own individual personalities.)

I was upset at the announcement that NotE was merely a sub. That was until he showed his true skills and ended up being seen on the world stage as we see him. Since then, we saw a lot of “this sub” and he continued to rock it out there, making Uprising fans proud that he is ours at least for now. He will be back at the World Cup playoffs and hopefully finals at Blizzcon in November. There were a lot of other notable performances, including ZachaREE’s bastion play on Hanamura. This stage wasn’t as intense as the Korean stage, but it was certainly a joy to watch.

USA ended up in 1st for the stage, with both USA and Canada joining South Korea and Finland in the playoffs so far. The next 2 stages of the qualifiers will take place over the next 2 weekends.

Now to the discussion of Boston Uprising and their roster. The only announcements that have been made so far was the release of Snow, Avast (noooo, meme king!), and Kalios. Later on, Mistakes joined the group of the released Uprising players. The fact that they released Snow, Avast, and Kalios wasn’t shocking. Snow only played once on the big stage in the regular season. Kalio only played a handful of times. Avast was never out there. Kalios seemed a bit salty about it, calling the team “pollution”, but quickly apologized saying that he shouldn’t have taken his feelings about the management out on the fans. It’s too late, at least for this fan. I found it to be a slap in the face as a fan, especially one who did root for him to succeed on the team. Avast was a good morale booster, but I get letting him go. Snow, in the little play I’ve seen from him seemed more solid than Kellex, but there must be a reason why Kellex got the spot over him. In Patriots Nation, we say “In Bill We Trust” so here I will just say “In HuK We Trust”. Hopefully.

There haven’t been any new announcements, which is a bit scary when you consider the opening up of free agency. Gamsu, NotE, Neko, and Striker are solid players that need to stay. They have to. Please don’t let them go. Aimgod seems to have excellent skills, but I feel as though the team just does better with Neko. Mistakes was another excellent player. However, he had mostly the same character pool as Striker without as much skill (not to say he was skill-less, he is a very talented player who I could see doing great things). Letting him go to play as a main DPS on another team that needs a good Tracer was a smart move. NotE and Gamsu are totally underrated tanks that seem to be the core of this team. If they leave, it could be pretty bad.

What Boston needs is a flex DPS that doesn’t overlap so much into Striker’s pool. If they had someone who could be a good Widow/Genji/Pharah, this would be ideal. The speculation that Colourhex could fill that role is something that I wish could happen.I would even be happy to take Agilities or pick up ZachaREE, who may overlap a little with Striker, but has shown to be solid on quite a few different characters. Also a better Kellex. There were so many times I screamed at the screen “what are you doing?!” You can’t heal if you’re dead all the time. I’m not sure if this means Kellex working to improve his survivability or finding a support that lives more. I think Kellex is a cool dude and a good fit for the team. I think he’s talented… when he’s alive long enough to show his skill. But another solid flex dps and a reliable support is all Boston really needs to make it and even win the Grand Finals this year.

As a Patriots fan, I worry about these things though. The Patriots have told amazing players to go because of money issues. Who’s to say that Uprising won’t take this same model? They currently have only 6 out of the 8 player minimum for their roster. These players haven’t been officially re-signed yet, which is scary. I stalk the pages for news religiously, hoping for some good news. A lot of things are going to be happening soon and I have a feeling that the news is going to come all at once.

 

 

The Overwatch League Finals

The OWL Grand Finals have come and gone, but it was such an incredible ride to experience. Who walked away the champions? How salty were the NY fans that the favorite to win didn’t even make it to the finals? (I won’t even address this; they probably were very salty.) This recaps the event for you.

Due to the sale on Overwatch League merch, I invested in a simple t-shirt to show my support for the Spitfire. Sure, I was bummed that the Uprising didn’t make it. But they couldn’t have done that bad considering Fusion destroy NYXL as well. That led people to believe that the Spitfire would follow the same fate. The London Spitfire had a rough go for a while after winning the inaugural season’s first Stage championship. No one expected anything from them but what they got was an incredible show that no one saw coming.

Carpe and Eqo are amazing players… when they are hot. The problem is that they can be a streaky pair. Fortunately for them, they were hot during every other round of the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, the streakiness showed in the one set of matches that actually mattered: the finals. The problem may not have been entirely their fault: the Spitfire knew that to win, they needed to shut down this DPS pair and show Neptuno that aggressive Mercy play doesn’t always pay off. In the finals, it certainly didn’t.

This should not diminish the excellent games that the Spitfire played. After just the first round in the first match, I called Profit the MVP for the finals. On Friday, he was there for his team. On Saturday, he showed up again and caused utter destruction. In fact, calling it destruction doesn’t even do what he did any service. Between him and Birdring, the DPS was really unstoppable. But what really was impressive during the matches was the amazing abilities that the Spitfire has to play as a team. This can be seen in the Dragonstrike play heard ’round the world. Gesture Halted, Profit used his Dragonstrike. If anyone thought that they could jump down to avoid it, Fury jumped up and pushed them back into it. Profit may have gotten the kills, but it was a team effort on that play and the entire match.

Also, not surprisingly, Profit did walk away with the Grand Finals MVP trophy and the Spitfire climbed back to the top as Grand Finals champions.

Now that it’s all over, what’s next? Free agency and hopefully some new teams coming into the mix. Reports are saying that a team in Atlanta is being backed by Cox Communications, but nothing official has been announced by OWL at this point. It would be great to have some new teams mix it up. I also hope they change the format of the playoffs. Teams were fatigued, playing back to back matches. It should be broken up or at least give them a much longer break in between matches.

As for the Boston Uprising, they really need to pick up some DPS. We have plenty of supports and Mistakes and Striker could use a break here and there. Someone with a larger character pool can also be very helpful for us. I hope that the entire team comes back. I hope that if they keep Kellex, they figure out how to keep him alive better (or what he could do to stay alive better). The core team that they have are laid-back and talented. I have high hopes that they can pull it together and be even more successful next year.

Overwatch League: The Quarterfinals

It was an interesting and quite surprising week in the Overwatch League, with the inaugural season’s playoffs starting this week. It was the Philadelphia Fusion versus the Boston Uprising and the London Spitfire up against the LA Gladiators. It was an extremely exciting week that I can’t wait to break down for you. So here we go.

The first day of matches was the 11th, with all of the teams starting off. The first match of the game was the Fusion vs. the Uprising. The Uprising got utterly destroyed in the first match of the game, which was set on Dorado. The Fusion just walked all over their defense and Uprising’s offense didn’t do much better. Uprising took the second map in a strong showing on Oasis. The next map, Eichenwalde, was a nail-biter but Fusion ultimately took the map away for a 2-1 lead over Uprising going into the 4th map. Boston must’ve felt very confident going into Volskaya Industries, a map they have never lost on. Well… until they did against the Fusion. The Fusion walked all over them, getting both points while holding Uprising to 0 points, winning the match 3-1. The next match of the day was the LA Gladiators and the London Spitfire. I can quickly sum this match up for you: Gladiators destroyed London 3-0 for the day.

As a fan of both of these teams, I was pretty bummed out about the matches. Still, I keep a positive attitude that my beloved Uprising would #RiseUp going into Friday’s matches. For the weekend, each sets of team would play the entire day. So the 2 matches on Friday were Fusion vs. Uprising and Saturday had LA vs. London. On Friday, Boston did #RiseUp in the second match, but it was a rough ride. Both teams played amazingly but Mistakes certainly stepped up and helped give his team the edge. I don’t care what he thinks, but his performance was much better than the 5.6/10 he gave himself. Also, Note was amazing and he deserves a lot more credit than he gives himself and other people give him. Back to the matches. In the first set of matches, I was pleasantly surprised how well they handled Hanamura, their worst map, which they won in the first match. The second set of matches gave us a different look at the team. Again, Boston destroyed on Junkertown as they did in the first match. However, after that things started going downhill. Uprising was wrecked in Lijiang Tower. Hybrid maps are pretty tough for them and they just couldn’t quite get Eichenwalde down for the win, a map that they chose. The probably the worst mistake HuK could have made happened. I see where he was going with it, but statistics matter. I don’t know if it was arrogance or he figured that they won on Hanamura once today so they could easily do it again. Either way, the safer choice would have been Volskaya, a map they have a much higher win percentage on. Boston lost, and Fusion advanced to the semi-finals against NYXL. More on my thoughts on this match after the recap.

I did lose a bit of hope in the Spitfire, a team that after winning the first ever Stage Championship went into a slump. I watched without too much confidence, expecting a Battle of the LAs in the semifinals. (Imagine the ratings for that.) However, London Swept both matches and advance to go against the LA Valiant in the semifinals. As for the semi-finals, I expect the Fusion to give XL a run for their money but I think XL will walk away the big winners of everything. Spitfire and Valiant could go either way but the way Spitfire played this weekend gives me hope that they could make it to the finals. I’m rooting for an XL vs. Spitfire finals. Then at least my 2nd choice team could win and I can walk away happy.

As for the Uprising, what happened? I’m not too disappointed; they made it much further than anyone expected. However, they had the potential of making it to the next round. They had the potential to make it all the way. They had the potential to win, being the only team to beat the XL as much as they did. So what happened? First of all when you run a single support, that support needs to stay alive longer than 2 minutes in every fight. Because you can’t really see what’s going on, it’s hard to say why he died so much but it was definitely a combination of factors. Maybe at some point they should have just tried Snow in his place (or even Avast) because if they were going to lose, mixing it up to see if that worked could have changed the entire outcome of the match. There is also the issue of being tired. The Uprising only has a few extra players to help relieve the core if they get tired. Unlike the Fusion, who seemed to keep swapping players in and out. They had a team with a break. We didn’t. That’s our fault. We also need to pickup some DPS player with a massive character pool. Mistakes can only do so much and Striker seems like a waste to be anywhere but on his signature Tracer. They have a strong core but this core needs to have a break at some point to keep them fresh. Also, what was HuK thinking when he chose Hanamura? That was a Belichick move: Genius if it worked, awful for him if it didn’t. Unfortunately this time that gamble didn’t pay off. I understand the thought behind it. Fusion put in Hotba, someone who played a surprisingly great Tracer that threw Uprising off on Volskaya and stomped them into the ground. To screw with them, pick the unlikely map to mess with their head. However, we were 3-8 on that map at this point in time. It was dumb. It really was a dumb call. Adjust to Hotba not screw yourselves over.

Adaptability and not resting their players is the biggest issue this roster seems to have. There is a strong core of players that you can work with, you just need to build up the roster even further to give the team more of the tools that they need to adapt to a variety of different situations. Good job though, Boston Uprising. I am proud to be a hardcore fan to such an amazing group of people. I hope they come back even stronger next time.