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.

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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.

The OWL Community Countdown

This weekend began the countdown for the Overwatch League Season 2. Of the listings, which have changed a few times since released to the public, it activated hype mode for me. My excitement of a fantasy league also happened, though I fear I’m too late and don’t have enough friends interested in OWL to do it this year. Next year, I want in on that. The most exciting events of the schedule were the Talent Showdown and the 2 1v1 matches. Surefour vs. Pine on Ashe? Yes, please.

I wanted to catch the Boston Uprising scrim, but honestly I thought it would be just like watching NFL preseason matches. You don’t watch expecting Brady, Gronk, and Edelman to play the entire time. You watch to get hyped that the football season is coming soon. So when I saw that Gamsu was Hanzo or NotE on Mercy, I got exactly what I expected. What I didn’t expect was the scathing response to the matches.

Of course they didn’t take it seriously. Last year when they offered a preseason, it was treated by the league as a real thing. They had the casters and analysts on stage. The matches took place well before the season happened. If the league didn’t take these seriously, why should the teams? Did I enjoy watching Jayne pull the analyst and commentator role? Yes. Did it look like an Overwatch League production? No, it looked like when he did one of those unofficial competitions. Great to watch, but something that you want to watch for fun.

Additionally, it took place less than 1 week before the start of the season. With the meta pretty much already set for the season’s first stage (::cough:: GOATS), teams didn’t want to give anything away with their strats. It’s one thing when the preseason start was in plenty of time for the meta to change, it’s another when the season is days away.

Then Nanzer changed it up, disappointed in the teams for not taking this more seriously. He gave us Mystery Heroes. Honestly, I watched more of the Mystery Heroes scrims than I did the “real ones”. It was fun and lighthearted and I wish they did the Mystery Heroes scrims to begin with. Consider it next year. And let’s be real, if you wanted it to be treated as a real thing maybe the league itself should have treated it like the real thing as they did last year.

The league experts and fans seemed torn on this. I think the outrage is nonsense. The argument that you can’t compare the two preseasons because “You wouldn’t see a QB play linebacker” is nonsense. You still don’t see their A game because it’s not in the team’s best interest from a strategic point of view. I’m more concerned with the new players and seeing what they are capable of. If you want your eSports league to mimic the major sports league, then that is exactly what happened this weekend.

I can’t wait until the Valentine’s Day matchup between NYXL and Uprising. It’s going to be great and I can’t wait for the Overwatch League to start back up again.

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.

 

 

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.

 

Overwatch League- Stage 4, Week 2

It is nearing closer to the end of the inaugural season of the Overwatch League. The playoffs are coming and it is going to be a race to the finish for some teams as this new meta seems to be a difficult one for some of our stronger competitors. NYXL has already clinched the top spot in the post-season, which comes as no surprise to anyone. This is a brief look at this week in the Overwatch League.

There are currently 4 teams that are winless in this stage: Seoul Dynasty, Boston Uprising, Shanghai Dragons, and the Florida Mayhem. Surprisingly though, Shanghai isn’t in dead last thanks to the win differentials in this stage, but they have yet to get a win overall this season. This is a bit surprising, especially since Geguri finally has the opportunity this stage to show off her amazing Zarya skills. However, this is proof that one person can’t win an Overwatch match. The team still has a lot of issues to work out, which I hope they do because I want to see Geguri succeed in the league.

Seoul is still struggling this stage, unable to get a win so far. This mighty team has certainly fallen since the early estimates of being a top contender for the championship prior to the league starting. This is a group of solid players that doesn’t seem to be holding up as well as their skill should be. Unrelated note, Fleta for Uprising?

Speaking of my favorite team, this stage is not going well for these underdogs. Despite shocking everyone by coming in 2nd place in Stage 3, they are struggling hard this stage. Last week was their most impressive showing, forcing LA Valiant into a tiebreaker. What happened to this team? Crusty being gone definitely hurt them, but there’s more to it than that. This is their weakest map pool and they still haven’t figured out how to beat Brigitte. I don’t take any of these as excuses though. A good coach would have helped them figure it out by now, rather than watching the team drown. We need a new coach badly. So badly. It’s hard watching this team that works so hard and puts everything out there just to watch them crash and burn. It’s especially demoralizing when the experts talk about how last stage was a fluke or at least now the team is where they expected them to be. They can still pull this out and hopefully get themselves a spot in the post-season.

Overwatch League: Boston Uprising vs. NYXL

A team that was expected to go nowhere in the league (my team the Boston Uprising) not only overcame any controversy and low expectations from the experts by making it into a stage playoff, they went in undefeated and in the 1st seed. They broke all types of records along the way including first team to go undefeated in a stage and the first team to win their playoff game 3-0. They had the longest win streak in the game. They were put on a pedestal by the casters, who still had no faith in them to win the playoffs but couldn’t help but to marvel over them.

The problem with being on a pedestal… is you generally always fall off. They had another strong showing against the LA Gladiators, but the NYXL is another beast entirely. The Boston Uprising put up a fight but always came up just a little bit short. They didn’t make it easy for the XL, but they are the top team in the league for a reason. I’m just happy that a team nobody expected anything from took the 2nd place spot and prize money.

I do need to clarify something, as a Patriots fan and an Uprising fan. You cannot compare the fact that the Patriots went undefeated only to lose the most important game, because that would be way out of context. For one thing, the Patriots were absolutely dominate and the favorites to win it all. The Uprising may have been dominate this stage, but up to this point they were an average team that people thought would be in last place not 6th. The NYXL was always one of the favorites to perform well and they were the favorite going into the match. Uprising was dismissed, and expected to be knocked out by the Gladiators. The Giants were the underdog that surpassed the beasts known as the Patriots. The comparison would make more sense had NYXL went undefeated and then lost in the final match to Boston as if some reverse karma had taken place. In fact, the only real comparison that you can say is that the Uprising is owned by the Kraft organization and NYXL is the New York team. They are still pushing the NY/Boston rivalry hard and you can’t force something that really isn’t there.

Boston played a solid match. If it were any other team than XL, I believe that they would have easily won. The errors that were made wouldn’t have mattered too much against other teams, but XL will punish every mistake. They are aggressive and just really hard to beat. I didn’t expect a win. I hoped for one and thought it would be awesome if they did. But I didn’t expect the win.

Still, I’m very proud of my team. I supported them when everyone thought that they would fail (buying their merch as soon as it was available). I can still say that I proudly wear it now. I’m going to save up, buy myself an away NotE jersey (D.va main here), and be happy that I have a team that I can believe in. I’m glad that they get to do their Boston tour, coming home with their $25,000 prize and their heads held high that they showed everyone what they can do.