Overwatch League Season 3, Week 5: Hero Pools… and WTF Uprising

The biggest change to the Overwatch League came this week when hero pools were introduced. The pools were picked on the Sunday night prior to Week 5 started. The first banned heroes were Reinhardt, Moira, McCree, and Widowmaker. This totally turned the meta we had seen up until this point on its head. What would the week bring? There were a lot of unknowns how hero pools were going to affect the game, and now people know: you know nothing anymore.

Houston came out and caused utter destruction, as the DPS duo blasé and Danteh came to show that they aren’t the laughing stock of the league. Muma, who was getting a lot of crap for his Rein play, showed he was an alpha Winston ready to play. Despite Paris’ strong showing so far and Houston disappointing their fans, Houston seemed to easily 3-0 Paris. I was pretty excited to see this team finally take off.

The next biggest surprise was the upset of Paris defeating Fusion. Fusion’s attempt at a reverse sweep was denied in a close 99%-99% overtime in the 5th/tiebreaker map. It was intense but eventually SoOn got the best of Carpe and the rest of the Fusion to end up with the upset win.

Well, there was another upset, and I’m not referring to the actual matches. The upset is the Boston fans starting to turn on their team for apparently tanking the season. Remember how I said that Houston Outlaws were no longer the joke of the league? They handed that crown off to the Uprising, who seems to show no sign of not totally sucking. Was it the hero pools that messed them up? Poor management? Poor coaching? During the post-match interview on Saturday after their poor performance, Coach Mini said that they needed to better adjust. Abso-freaking-lutely they did. But that’s always been Boston’s problem, hasn’t it? Not the inability to adjust, just their refusal to.

I like Fusions. I really think he’s a cool dude. But, I’ve long said that he was pretty much a GOATs Rein one-trick. I haven’t seen anything that proved me wrong. You know what we did win with? Axxiom as Rein. Knowing that Fusions has an abysmal Winston, why not play Axxiom at least at Winston? Why not at least try? Why hit your heads against a wall repeatedly, watching your team fail at a comp because you’re compensating for one of the least flexible tanks in the league? Why are you running a Sigma? Mouffin’s D.Va has never been the problem. Instead, you pick the 2 least mobile of tanks to play against a very mobile comp? How can everyone else on the planet who watches the Overwatch League realize that this is a terrible idea and our coaches and management are like “Yeah, this is awesome guys. Great job everyone.”

Reading reddit, I came across a hilariously sad fact: the coaching/management has managed to turn a base that was loyal to the Red Sox and waited 86 years to see a World Series win into an angry mass of individuals. The Red Sox and Patriots took so long to win, but do you know why they eventually won? Because they didn’t sit there going “Well, this obviously isn’t working, so let’s keep doing it and hope for better results”. Why are they too stubborn to swap players in and out? Every other team manages to do substitutions no problem, why not us? Why not try going with the main tank that saw us get our only win of the season? Why not put Swimmer back in, who seems pretty comparable to Halo as far as I could tell? How about getting a DPS player that’s desperate to make OWL that they don’t care that they are playing for a trainwreck of a team that doesn’t care just so we have at least a backup DPS? How come I have just found a dozen solutions in this post of things to try and our coaches can’t seem to figure it out?

It was hard to stomach the prices for the homestand to begin with. The $40 a ticket, plus another almost $40 per ticket in Ticketmaster’s rip-off fees, making it like $500 to go to the match with my family. $500 to watch a team that doesn’t seem to care about winning. Plus the money it would take to park and take the train into Boston. It’s even harder to stomach that cost when you want to be there more than the coaches and management apparently does. HuK has been doing more and more Q&As, giving an illusion of more transparency. Sure, it made him a little more likeable in my eyes but why won’t he answer questions like “What’s your problem with substitutions?” “Why not try something new if what you’re doing is obviously not working?” “What’s the point of running the same comp and getting steamrolled, until you change the comp and win a fight, but then decide ‘Hey, let’s go back to that comp that wasn’t working?’ just because?”

I’ve been a Boston fan my entire life. We’re loyal. We don’t really have any expectations of winning, the true fans anyways. But we don’t like it when the team doesn’t even try to win. It’s not even that you don’t have talented players; it’s that you refuse to coach them to be better. It’s that you refuse to have a full roster so that you have more depth, not that it matters because you’re never going to switch around players as needed during the matches to get the most out of that depth for whatever reason.

Next week’s hero pools are: Winston, Soldier: 76, Sombra, and Lucio. This means there will be some more interesting comps next week to watch out for.

Overwatch League: Season3, Week 4

The Houston homestand was this past weekend, offering some of the most passionate crowds that you can see. Which makes sense considering the Houston fans are known as the most rabid of the fanbases. The team went into this weekend without a win and hoped that they could secure the win for their fans on their home turf? Did they finally get their win? Or did the leave the weekend with disappointment? And how did the Boston Uprising perform?

The first thing to talk about was the Houston matches. Houston needed a win. I wanted to see them get a win. This is a group of wholesome and marketable kids who seem more like a family than teammates. It’s hard not to root for them, well except when they face off against the Uprising. The first night of the homestand saw the Outlaws go against the London Spitfire. After the first 2 soul crushing maps, blasé came out and popped off on the Temple of Anubis where he just destroyed on Doomfist. Danteh showed he’s still one of the best Sombras in the league. It was a solid map. They went on to also win the next map on Junkertown, primarily due to LiNkzr popping off and doing what he does. It looked like a reverse sweep was possible. Until they lost in a very close tiebreaker map.

The next night they faced off against the Toronto Defiant, where the Defiant just looked more dominant on Nepal. But then the amazing happened: they won the next 3 maps to secure their first win of the season. The crowd believed in them. The energy was intense from my couch, I can’t imagine how awesome it would be in the crowd. The Outlaws decided to say “screw the meta” and did whatever they want. And it worked so well. I was excited for them. blasé was insane. Danteh was insane. Meko was insane. It was great.

I was less excited for my own team. I don’t think any Uprising fan went into the match against the undefeated Philadelphia Fusion thinking we would win. The scrappy boys in blue might have put up a fight, but they weren’t likely going to win. Especially not with my favorite D.Va Fury in the match, showing off why he should still be considered the best D.Va in the world. But I was hoping for a lot more than I got. Fusions got walled off without heals or just caught out in weird positions. He got knocked around by Sado. Myunbong seemed out of position a lot too, which got him killed early far too often. Jerry seemed to hold his own well enough, considering Carpe is the top DPS in the league and Jerry is a rookie still trying to work things out. Mouffin was still decently impressive, but they looked off. They looked like they knew they weren’t going to win so they just wanted to get it over with.

Would they have done better with Axxiom? I could see why they went Fusions here, since he has the more aggressive playstyle but I’m still not convinced there’s any reason to have him in over Axxiom. Especially next week when Reinhardt is the first tank up in the hero bans. Also, with McCree and Widowmaker banned, there goes Jerry’s hero pool? The loss of Moira isn’t that important since we mostly run an Ana/Lucio comp. I think the shot calling needed to be better, making me wonder if Axxiom is not only the more technically skilled tank, but the better shot caller due to having better game sense. Axxiom seems like a thinky thinky tank whereas Fusions is more of a swingy swingy one.

Next week, we have 2 matches both against relatively streaky but potentially dangerous teams. I hope that they work out whatever happened last week because that was just embarrassing to watch.

Overwatch League Season 3: Is This the Uprising’s Year?

This weekend, the Overwatch League opens for Season 3. The Uprising play on Sunday, with their first match at the New York Excelsior homestand. Because for some reason, the league is still pushing a NY/Boston rivalry. It’s not happening. You’d be more likely to get a Houston rivalry due to Danteh’s trolling of HuK than you would an NYXL/Uprising rivalry.

Back to the main point. Is this the Year of the Boston Uprising? Every year, this team ends up at the bottom of the power rankings. Their first year, they ended up in 3rd place. Last year… well, let’s not really talk about that dumpster fire. After again nearly gutting their entire team, we end up with a roster of 3 people from last year, and some major unknowns. Will this group come together to pull off another miracle season, or will they crash and burn?

I honestly feel more confident going into this season than I had in the past. First of all, our support line seems stellar as far as I can tell from watching their streams. Swimmer is just incredible to watch and Myunbong is a silent but deadly force. Colourhex was impressive last season when he finally got to play in a DPS role, and adding Munchkin to the mix was amazing. This Jerry guy though… who was that? Apparently a sleeper DPS god because holy cow watching his stream is amazing. Plus, he’s got a fun personality that reminds me of the mischievous but unassuming Striker. The DPS and support line is amazing and I’m very confident that they will do very well this year.

What about the tank line? Well… that’s the problem. Last year, I was very much pro-Axxiom being out there instead of Fusions. This year, my feelings are the same. Especially with a mixed roster, putting Axxiom out there is a great idea. But it’s not just because he can speak Korean and English. I still think that he’s a superior tank to Fusions. In fact, after watching some streams, he’s not only a superior tank but his game sense is infinitely better. He seemed like a solid shot caller. I would feel much more confident with him as our main tank than Fusions. Will that happen? Only time will tell. But they should at least play him a lot more because he is so talented that I think he might be the key to winning.

Then there is the off-tanks. Mouffin and brussen seem pretty solid. Mouffin is definitely capable of making those big plays and brussen just seems like a reliable OT that we could really use. I think that having both players is the best thing that we could do. I don’t think you could really go wrong with either player, but the only problem with Mouffin is that he really hasn’t had a lot of stage time. He might need a bit more experience to be really great.

So is it our year? I have a great feeling that we are going to do decently well this season, as long as the team does a couple of things. First of all, they shouldn’t be afraid to sub people in and out as needed instead of stubbornly sticking to strats and players that obviously aren’t working for them. Secondly, I definitely think that trying Axxiom as the main tank for a while should be a thing. He might surprise everyone and surpass Fusions in skill.

This is still my team and hype-mode is activated here. Overwatch League is coming back, but not soon enough.

Some Interesting Changes at the Overwatch League

As it turns out, the teams are not the only ones making crazy moves in this off-season. Just in recent days, some significant changes have happened with the talent for the Overwatch League. While we were already excited to see Custa take up his new role as an analyst and Jake as a caster, there were still a lot of questions as far as who we can expect to see as talent. With a little over a month away from the start of Season 3, let’s take a look at what we do know about the talent.

During a holiday cooking stream, Sideshow leaked some great juice: him and Bren had signed their contracts and visa’s willing, they would be back for Season 3. Honestly, the league would be a little more boring without those two characters that can offer such great insight on the desk. Would we see a Puckett/Sideshow/Bren/Custa desk? That would have been an amazing desk to see.

That seemed to be the last bit of good news that we would get. Monte announced that he would not be returning in a somewhat scathing post, implying that the league was dying. Was he being spiteful because he no longer had as much value as he thought? Did he really just want to move on? You can speculate all you want, but there were probably a combination of factors. Later, DoA would comment about uncertainty in his Overwatch League future, which it would be hard to imagine DoA without Monte.

Then, Puckett made the announcement that he was moving to freelancing instead so that he could go with his wife as she pursued a great job opportunity. What could the desk possibly look like? Soe/Custa/Bren/Sideshow? That didn’t seem too bad.

Except… Bren in a post baiting fans announced that him and Sideshow would not be returning to the desk. They were switching over to casting roles. Which was equally exciting and depressing. Sideshow was an incredible analyst. He was insightful, hilarious, and just fun to watch. Those are also the things that make him an awesome caster.

So where does that leave us? We don’t know about DoA or Soe officially. Jake doesn’t have a casting partner announced yet. We have only Custa on the desk. We can assume Uber and MrX aren’t going anywhere, since they are easily the best casters in the league. Achilios and Wolf will probably stay in Asia, casting Overwatch League games there while putting their wealth of knowledge of the Korean Overwatch scene to good use. (Speculation, no official word on this duo either.)

What could happen? Soe could take over hosting the desk. She was much better as an interviewer/host than an analyst, so this would be perfect for her. Plus, who doesn’t love Soe? She is fully of personality and positivity, and you just need that in your life. I could see them putting Reinforce back on the desk with Custa. Mostly because he should never have been taken off of the desk. A final analyst to work on the desk? Some people think Avast will take over, but I think he may end up as a caster instead. Whether he ends up with DoA, Jake, or they finally get ZP over to the league, I think casting may be better suited for him.

There’s still plenty of time to see where to go from here. I’m just getting hyped up about the upcoming season, especially after watching Swimmer’s stream and realizing that he is a massive support upgrade that we absolutely needed on our team. We’ll see how this all goes. But what I do think is that this league is not dying, at least not right now.

Overwatch League Season 3: Talent Edition

With the hype about the players winding down as deadlines started to close, most teams have already announced their official roster for the upcoming season. While the players are an important part of the broadcast, much like regular sports the on-screen talent is also very important. For instance, when I see Collinsworth is casting the Patriots game I want to stab my eardrums. You need casters and analysts that offer incredible insight while also being entertaining. You need a team that is full of hype and that people like. I would argue that the talent team that the Overwatch League has it part of the reason why this eSport has been so successful.

Now that localization begins this season in the Overwatch League, this ambitious task does cause some questions like “What does this mean for the talent?” This means that they are going to need more people, to deploy around to every game as they currently do. The analysts are probably going to remain in LA to do their thing, just like it’s done in the NFL. Nothing has been mentioned to the fans. All we have to go by is that Custa has joined the desk crew as an analyst and unsurprisingly, JAKE has joined as a new caster.

There have been some cryptic posts from names like Puckett and Bren that hints to some major changes. But what? Are there going to be more casters? Are we losing desk people? What about #justice4reinforce? My theory? They’d be dumb to break up Bren/Sideshow especially with the addition of Custa, who they get along so well with. Puckett is a staple at the desk and it would be really hard to see him go. As much as I love Soe, I loved her more during the interviews than on the desk. So would the analyst desk consist of Puckett, Sideshow, Bren, and Custa? Are the theories right that Puckett will make the switch to COD and puts Soe as the host? I could see her doing well as the host, but I’m still team Puckett here.

There’s no announcement yet for additional casters. My theory is that the casting duos remain unchanged, except for the additions of new ones. My predictions? I feel as though Achilios and Wolf will stick around, only they will stay in Korea/Asia for the Asian homestands. Uber and Mr X. may relocated to the east coast to focus on homestands on that side of the country. Monte and Doa may be floaters that are primarily centered in the south. Then, JAKE and his unnamed partner will remain in LA for the west coast matches. I think separating the teams like this could make the most sense, from a logistics standpoint. But who will JAKE’s partner be? Some have suggested LemonKiwi, his world cup casting partner. Other’s have said Avast. I think Avast may work well moving up from Contenders casting to Overwatch League, but I’m not sure how well he’d work with JAKE. I think they are both pretty high energy guys who need a calmer presence on stage with them.

We still have some time for the Overwatch Season 3 to begin, so a lot can happen between then. It will be interesting to see who on the cast and crew are sticking around and who will be leaving. It may even be a little heartbreaking to see. I can’t wait though. Season 3 hype-mode: activated.

The Crazy Rollercoaster of an Off-Season

It has been such a crazy off-season for the Overwatch League. From teams gutting their rosters, reuniting bromances, and the retirement announcements, this has definitely been an interesting off-season to watch. Even the Uprising has made some surprising changes. It has definitely activated major hype mode for me, filling a void that needs to be occupied until Overwatch League season 3 starts.

The biggest announcement from the weekend, and a surprising one at that until you think about it one at that, was JAKE’s retirement. He was one of the primary faces of the Overwatch League, groomed to be a representative of the league to turn it mainstream. He is also one of the most easily recognizable with Rawkus, until Sinatraa and Super started making their rounds. Last year, he started taking on casting roles for the Overwatch World Cup where he turned his passion for the game into intelligent and interesting insight. He was sort of like the Tony Romo of casting: He may not have been the best player in the league, but dude knows his stuff. And that translates well into casting.

As shocking as this move may have been, it kind of wasn’t. He was doing well as a caster. With localization happening in the league, a potentially ambitious but amazing way to put eSports on a more mainstream level, there would be a need for more casters or desk analysts. I honestly applaud him for choosing to walk away rather than not give it his all. Some other players should take notes. I can’t wait to see what’s next for him. The same thing goes for the “shock” announcement of Pine’s retirement. It was sad, but not surprising. I can’t wait to catch his streams as well.

Another mention is the announcement of the Boston Uprising’s President HuK’s annoucement of another Q&A. Every time he does one, I expect a train wreck and end up pleasantly surprised. He seems to be interested in changing perception of him and offering an illusion of transparency. He has been primarily successful in that, but there’s one thing to be completely transparent in an off-season than it is to explain things during the season. Like why didn’t you make a swap in the map with a different player when things are clearly not working? Why are you sticking with a tank that has not proven consistently that he’s more than a GOATs Reinhardt one-trick? If he does a weekly Q&A during the season, I’ll consider that transparency. Until then, you know he’s just going to make an announcement. Likely the venues for the homestands. Which should be in Foxborough though they say they are picking Boston venues.

There is still some time before the season starts, giving plenty of time for more shocking turns and bets on “How long Fissure lasts this season”. I say mid-season break. Until then, we’ll see what happens.

Boston Uprising, Season 3

I was hoping by the time today happened, we’d get some sort of roster announcement finalizing our team for the upcoming season. Teams needed to have a minimum of 8 players signed to the roster last week. Considering we haven’t heard any punishments placed on teams for not meeting this deadline, we can assume the Uprising have met this deadline. Or they didn’t and got an extension or this just isn’t something that is going to be enforced.

In case you’re not in the loop, the Uprising again practically gut their team. All that’s left from their Season 2 roster is Axxiom, Colourhex, and Fusions. I was originally excited about the potential of blasé staying since both him and Colourhex had been under contract. Until they traded blasé to the Houston Outlaws for “cash considerations”. (They sold him off.) At the end of last season, I mentioned that they should keep blasé for his versatility. Colourhex because he clicks heads well. Axxiom because he’s a better tank in my opinion than Fusions. Fusions because even though he’s a Rein GOATs one-trick, he was good at it. He’d be a good backup. I wanted Nevix to pick up the off-tank role (spoiler: he went to Toronto), Swimmer as a main support (who we signed) and I got hopeful for maybe a Sleepy flex support. We got an amazing flex support out of Myungbong and I don’t know anything about our DPS pick up Jerry. Mouffin was signed on a two-way as a flex tank, which means that he’s probably not going to be their main. But he seems like a solid player.

Which means we need a main off-tank for the last spot. We also should be smart like other teams and fill up with a max 12 person roster, so that we have some backups to prevent burnout and such as travel starts in Season 3. There has to be a reason why Mouffin has a two-way contract. Maybe they want to try him out on the big stage before committing to him. I’m not sure. No other big off-tank names stand out as who would be a good fit for us. As for the other positions? Let’s just get some good bench players to actually sub in during matches/play when the starters are sick or otherwise unwell. (Fran to Uprising?)

As for my hopes for Season 3? I do think Swimmer is a massive upgrade to Kellex. Except now I have to buy my son a Swimmer jersey because he’s a swimmer (butterfly), he loves the Uprising as much as I do, and because Uprising blue and yellow looks very close to my son’s blue and gold colors. I liked how solid Colourhex was when he wasn’t on Zarya. I’m still not sold on Fusions and I was even less sold watching him during the World Cup. I do think they should take the off-season to move to Axxiom as the starter. It was there fault for putting all of their eggs in the Fusions basket and when GOATs died, we failed miserably.

I also hope that maybe, just maybe, this is the year that the Uprising learn the value of subbing players in and out. Some players just do better on certain characters on certain maps. We had 0 flexibility, primarily due to the fact that we never swapped players. San Francisco Shock had stacked their DPS (4 or 5 if I recall), swapping around as needed for the best results. You know what happened to them? They won the Grand Finals. People were concerned on maps when Muma didn’t play, thinking there was a problem and Muma was being traded. His response? “I’m just not good on that map”. I have maps I’m terrible on. Many players do. Forcing players to play characters they aren’t great at (Colourhex on Zarya) or on maps that they aren’t great at (Muma and said map. I believe it was King’s Row, but I can’t find the quote) is the same as throwing.

This doesn’t mean that everything is final. They can still trade up until June. But what this does mean is that I’m scared we aren’t going to play it smart and have a full 12 for our roster. I’m scared that they won’t learn their lesson and just stick stubbornly to the same 6 people throughout the entire match and just hope for the best. Fans deserve better. They deserve more transparency.

I don’t want to be a laughing stock of the league again. I want to go back to the time when we were an underdog that overcame everyone’s expectations. I want to be excited about matches again. I was so disappointed that this was one of the many reasons I didn’t buy tickets for the homestands. Plus, I didn’t like the fact I was expected to shell out a fortune to see players that I have no attachment to since they keep gutting the roster every year. I won’t even buy a named jersey for that reason. I don’t like the idea of paying money to a venue that doesn’t exist yet. I don’t want to go to watch my team flunk out because the coaching/management consistently fails the fans. I’d rather do that at home in my sweatpants without dealing with the long drive to Boston or the anxiety of being around that many people. I’m a full-fledged Boston fan and will cheer them on with as much excitement as I did last year. But I really hope the team surprises us this year. I won’t hope too much though because I’m a lifelong Boston fan that has been burned too many times by my teams.