Overwatch League Season 2, Stage 3 Playoffs

Holy cow. I’m still in shock over the events of the Stage 3 Playoff Weekend. I went in rooting for either Houston or Shanghai to take it all. Why? First of all, as a Boston fan I’m all for an underdog story. My private Facebook had me pulling for Shanghai especially, since they had Gamsu. As it turns out, this was a playoff for the books.

I was, as usual, actively rooting against the Titans. Arrogance bothers me and I like watching people be taken down a peg or two. I honestly didn’t care who won as long as it wasn’t the Vancouver Titans. The Titans easily went 3-0 over Houston. What was the real shock of the night was how Shanghai managed to go 3-1 against NYXL. I was rooting for them, without actually expecting them to win. I thought they would put up a great fight but I didn’t think they would actually win. When they did, I put all my eggs in the Shanghai basket even if they were going up against the Titans. Why? Because I wanted a team that was crapped on by everyone last season for not winning a single match the entire season to win. Because I wanted my beloved former tank Gamsu to finally get a Stage title since he was a great player and person and he deserved it. Because it was a new team rather than the typical teams to make a play for the finals. Because they were the last seed in the playoffs and the biggest underdogs.

After the Shanghai match against XL, the other matches in the Quarterfinals went exactly as you’d expect. Then, it was the Titans versus Shanghai. Everyone expected the Titans to trounce Shanghai. Except they didn’t. In fact, I would argue that it was the Shanghai Dragons that laid down the destruction over the Vancouver Titans, winning the match 4-1. That put Shanghai Dragons, the team who didn’t win a single game in the first stage, into the finals against the Shock. At first, the Shanghai was dominant over the Shock, leading by 3-0. Then the Shock came back, forcing a tiebreaker map in a potential reverse sweep situation. It was a nail biter tiebreaker, with each team winning a round. It went to Round 3…. and then Shanghai was able to celebrate their big win. Shanghai Dragons truly broke through, now proud owners of the Stage 3 Championship title.

It was an exciting weekend. I actually believe it was one of the most exciting playoff weekends ever in the Overwatch League at this point. It was peak competition. It was glorious entertainment. I can’t wait to see what’s next in the final stage before the Grand Finals. Will Uprising overcome their issues and make the cut off for the fight for a playoff spot? Who are the teams to watch next stage? We’ll take a look at these questions next week.

Advertisements

Overwatch League Atlanta Homestand and the Latest WoW Patch

That’s a mouthful of a title. This post will be broken up into 2 discussions: First a brief paragraph or so of the Overwatch League Atlanta Homestand weekend and the “Rise of Azshara” patch will get the most attention this post. So here we go.

Overwatch League Atlanta Homestand Weekend

The second homestand adventure was just as exciting as the Dallas homestand. This time, the Atlanta Reign hosted the event, which offered the same level of energy that makes you excited for when the teams start having home matches. While overall the matches weren’t too exciting or surprising, the atmosphere was incredible. Plus, I really love when the league does fun things like the 1v1’s as part of a pregame. This weekend, we were treated to 2 hilarious ones. Originally, the Bridowmaker Bren was supposed to go up against Dafran in a Widow 1v1. That was until Mangachu was picked up by Toronto Defiant. Then, the fans clamored over the OG Torb Mangachu to face off against Dafran in a Torb hammer-only 1v1. However, you couldn’t let the Bridowmaker down so Babybay stepped up and participated in the Widow 1v1.

The weekend kicked off with Babybay “coming in on his helicopter” and the Bridowmaker walking out to walk-out music with Widomaker leggings and no shirt. He was trolled a little bit by Babybay, who ended up winning 9-4. Then it was the Torb 1v1, which was close but the OG Torb Mangachu took home the win. Aside from that, the games went almost exactly as expected though some people may have been shocked that the Shanghai Dragons locked up the last Stage playoff spot. Even though they Shang9’ed again.

Rise of Azshara

I’m not going to lie: the only reason I wanted this patch was so that I could get flying to level alts and get some new mounts. I had some high hopes for the new zones, but I feel a little let down. While the grind isn’t as annoying as it could be, especially since you only need to get the rep to revered rather than exalted like previous achievements. My issue is navigating through these zones. Here’s a closer look at my impressions of the new patch.

On Mechagon, first of all I expected a cooler looking zone from how they were talking about it at Blizzcon. For some reason, the concept art looked so much cooler than what we actually got. It almost looks like they just recycled maybe Stormsong Valley and added junkpiles to it. There’s only 1 flight path, which is pretty annoying when you are trying to run around an island full of annoying mobs. The quests are simple enough to do. The going to the alternate reality/Mechagon’s future for quests seems cool enough, but there’s still something lacking here. I feel like there should be some more quests here and that rep grinding here isn’t quite as fast as in Nazjatar.

Nazjatar does have a ton of flight paths, but this zone is even crazier to try navigating around. In fact, I would say that these 2 zones were designed more with flying in mind than ground mounts. There are so many levels to this zone that if you miss the quest area, it takes you an hour to get back to it. Then there are those drops that you get, which actually kill you if you hold onto it too long, making it really annoying if you are trying to find where they go. Today on my stream, I will make the journey to turn in these cursed items. Watch me die a lot.

At this point, I just want to see the end of the story. I want to see the loose ends tied up and move on from this expansion. When Legion dragged out this long, it was exciting because the story was so interesting and I found it exciting as I leveled each toon. There was playability factor here that is missing when compared to Legion. You level alts because you’re bored or because you want them all to be max level, not because you enjoy the story that much. I know that’s the case for me.

Maybe it’s because we’re all excited to relive the nightmare that was Vanilla WoW. Or maybe this expansion filled us all with an exciting storyline, but nothing else. And it takes forever to get the conclusion to the storyline. Do I think this Evil Sylvanas/Baine, Thrall, and Saurfang the Hero/What about Calia Menethil? storyline is great? Yes, when we get the pieces of it. I like trying to figure out where they are going and theorizing the endgame. But it’s so slowly paced that my interest is being quickly lost. At least there’s Guild Wars 2 to fill in the time?

Overwatch League Season 2, Stage 3, Week 3: Holy Insane Overwatch League Week

This week, started off like a normal week in the Overwatch League. There was nothing too shocking. The San Francisco Shock destroyed the Boston Uprising and Florida Mayhem. The only mildly shocking events that happened until Sunday was that the London Spitfire gave NYXL a run for their money and Chengdu Hunters took a map from the Vancouver Titans. But Sunday… Sunday is when everything went sideways.

What was labelled at an “Expected Win” for Paris Eternal ended up being a frustrating match-up against the Boston Uprising, who went on to break the record for most reverse sweeps in a season. (More on this match later.) Kruise was visibly upset by this, but the Uprising were celebrating the fact that they weren’t going to go 0-7 this stage. Then, Houston went on to lose against the struggling Florida Mayhem. Honestly, that was a rough one to watch because they pulled out the cheese Bastion for a GGEZ win. As a casual, it felt wrong to watch a win like that. I know that the Mayhem were desperate to get that second win, but like that? I wouldn’t feel good about that at all.

Those weren’t even the biggest surprises of the night. The biggest surprise was that the once struggling LA Valiant went up against the undefeated in the Vancouver Titans…. and won. Not even in a tie-breaker. In a 3-1 domination. It was amazing to watch, especially as I was admittedly actively rooting against them. Monte was right. They were full of hubris and needed to fall, like in every great Greek tragedy. It was strange to watch. My jaw dropped when it happened. It was insane and intense and incredible. I’m very glad I stayed watching the match when I was just going to flip on some DVR assuming it would be a stomp by Vancouver. But holy cow. It was an incredible match.

Now, let’s get to a closer look at the Uprising’s week. As an Uprising fan, I didn’t expect them to beat the dominant Shock. They do so well on GOATs because Sinatraa is so good at Zarya and this comp depends on a stellar Zarya. Like previous weeks, Uprising decided to avoid GOATs as that was their biggest weakness. Except without Aimgod and Kellex in the lineup, that wasn’t their only weakness. Their weakness was Persia is not even in the same league as Aimgod. In another edition of “Monte Was Right” before Sunday’s match, Monte said that Uprising owed the Boston fans an explanation why you are playing Persia (who has been severely under-performing) in place of the much more mechanically skilled Aimgod. He was right. We deserved an answer.

I looked back at Persia’s performance against Philadelphia Fusion, watching his point of view. So many missed shots, both healing and attempted damage. So many missed grenades and sleeps. He was out of position more often than not. You can’t heal if you die and you can’t live if you get caught out of position. He was as big of a weakness as Colourhex on Zarya or Fusions on anything other than Rein GOATs. He should have taken a stop off at the Uprising Academy rather than go straight to the main stage because either he had nerves getting on that stage or he just needs to gain more mechanical skill. We weren’t going to win with Persia in.

In a move of what seemed like defiance from the Uprising, Aimgod was put in the lineup with Kellex. Maybe they wanted to prove that it wasn’t Persia, that the team just wasn’t coming together. And at the first 2 maps against Paris, it looked like that was the case. Then, after the half, it all changed. They were dominant and looked strong. Aimgod fragged out. blasé, who has always seemed very consistent, popped off hard. (I agree. blasé got robbed of the MVP of the match, and apparently 57% of the people agreed on the Uprising poll.) rCk struggled the first half, but made some awesome plays to finish up the match. They came together, they won, and Boston fans couldn’t be happier.

The moral of that story is: keep Aimgod in. Not having him in feels like the team is throwing. I still feel like Colourhex on Zarya is one of the weakest points and as the Uprising moves further away from GOATs, Fusions is going to have to learn how to do something other than a Rein GOATs one-trick. But I feel more confident going into the rest of the season if they continue to play like they did the second half of Sunday’s match. Next week is their last match of the stage, so here’s to hoping for a strong finish to the stage.

Overwatch League, Season 2, Stage 3, Week 2: Seriously Boston?!

As much as I want to talk about how great the Houston streak has been, especially since I have a lot of respect for the team and Danteh has been on fire, this is probably going to just end up as a rant against Boston Uprising. Which I guess can be easy when you consider that the only real surprise this week is how on fire Houston has been. Seriously, I’m glad they found their stride and it’s exciting to watch even though I’m a Boston Uprising/London Spitfire fan.

Biggest and only Overwatch League shock of the week? Houston getting the win over the best team in the League right now: The San Francisco Shock. Really, that’s the only surprise. Danteh beat his former team. In fact, that match should have been the Overwatch World Cup tryouts for Team USA. Just fill the roster with Sinatraa, Danteh, Jake, Muma, Super, Moth and Rawkus on Ana and call it a day. Maybe add in Sleepy and Harbleu. Not the point. The point is that Houston has found their stride for now and things are looking up for them.

The team that things aren’t looking up for is the Boston Uprising. Uprising is still doing some crazy things. First of all, they didn’t put in Aimgod again. Which was probably their first mistake of the week. The first matchup against the on fire Houston was rough to watch, but at least it wasn’t a team I hated. The big desk slam from Fusions was the reaction that us fans had at home. Persia kept getting caught out of position, dying first way too many times. Persia’s ults were always either way too late or felt like he repeatedly fat fingered it. Or, it was just like when you first start playing and you see the “Q” button light up and you immediately get twitchy, too excited not to hit it. He’s a pro; that shouldn’t be your big problem. Making a mistake happens; consistently screwing it up shouldn’t.

I had mixed feelings about the switch of Colourhex on Brig and blasé on Zarya. blasé is definitely one of my favorites on the team right now and I feel like he steps up and does whatever he’s told to at least an adequate level, if not an amazing level. Having him play Zarya definitely crossed my mind as half the time I spend saying “Colourhex sucks on Zarya”. He’s inconsistent and GOATs is so heavily reliant on a solid Zarya that it was one of our biggest weaknesses. Did that experiment work? No. blasé is definitely a solid Brig, but with Persia not being the greatest healer it was hard to tell if blasé sucks as Zarya or if he just didn’t get enough heals to be viable on that role. The team lost horribly to Houston.

Sunday, I think Boston fans (at least I did) had some hope that we learned some valuable lessons. Maybe we’d try something new. Maybe put Axxiom in as either Zarya (where he did well that first week) or as the main tank since he has more flexibility and seems to be more technically skilled than Fusions. (I stand by my belief that Fusions is a GOATs main tank 1 trick and if GOATs goes out of meta, he’d be useless to us.) Maybe put Aimgod in since Persia is severely under-performing. Or, if Aimgod is injured as some of the rumors say, put Alemao in instead of Persia. I can’t imagine he’d be much worse as Zen and from what I’ve seen, his Ana isn’t terrible.

But Sunday, they went with the same roster. Then something magical happened: blasé on Doomfist, pulling off the Hackfist with rCk. It was amazing to watch. blasé was definitely in his comfort zone and he looked really happy on stage. They won that map, despite Persia only being noticed in the killfeed. 2nd map, Paris. Again, went DPS. Looked solid, but that caused a draw. Not a loss. 2 maps left. They could win it. Then… they went GOATs. It seemed like it all went to hell when they went GOATs. blasé was back on Brig and Colourhex on Zarya. Hollywood should have not been as awful as it was, but Persia was caught out too often and his ults were still so horribly mistimed that I’m not even sure scrimming is helping the synergy with him. rCk did his normal thing of EMP and run, which seems to hurt us more than help us. That map was lost.

Then… to Gibraltar. Did I mention that Fusions is a very lackluster Winston? In case you didn’t catch that when he ulted off into a pit on Nepal, he is. You could easily pick out his mistakes like jumping into his shield with an enemy when he should have jumped out for healing. Persia was… his usual self. And those gravs Zarya…. why? That map was a disaster.

Boston needs to fix it. I’ve been a Boston fan my entire life, so I get it. The new generations have been spoiled by the Patriots domination. They don’t know what it’s like during the Missin’ Sisson days of Patriots fandom. The Uprising seems more like a Contenders team than a pro one. Anytime a player shows any skill, they get sold off to the highest bidder. Is that why Aimgod hasn’t been playing? Because he’s the next one up on the auction block? Or are the rumors true and he’s injured? Or did Boston just give up and wanted to test things out on the main stage? Aimgod is a far superior choice, I feel. Even if Colourhex dies on Zarya, which he does way too often, you know that Aimgod can frag out and compensate. What about Axxiom? If you’re so willing to mess with the support line, why not mess around with the tank line? Next week we’re up against the Shock and Paris. Paris has been really owning it right now and they are going to be a rough on. We’ll see what happens.

I don’t know if I think the fans deserve some answers, but the team should be saying something. Even a “yeah, we’re total dog crap right now” is better than seemingly ignoring fans. Even King Bill offers us something. But no, we get dead silence and artwork with a simple caption of “We go again.” Maybe come out and say why Aimgod isn’t playing. They keep talking about transparency, but what transparency? You mean Reddit leaks and conspiracy theories? It’s nuts. If you’re going to sandbag the year, just us know so that we’re not completely crushed by the obvious heartbreak our players have there on stage.

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.

Overwatch League: Preview of Stage 3

Unfortunately, with Stage 3, we are one stage away from the Grand Finals. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun to speculate about what to expect this stage, which starts tomorrow. While a lot of my focus is going to be on my team, the Boston Uprising, I will discuss my thoughts and theories on a few of the other teams as well.

The first team up will be the Vancouver Titans. Yes, I’m still actively rooting against them as I just have an issue with people who tend to be overly arrogant. (Bumper’s “I can beat any team with any hero” really, really rubbed me the wrong way.) It was easy for them to stomp all over teams with their early schedules. In fact, they haven’t even faced the NYXL in the regular season yet. Though, I’d be awful at this if I didn’t point out that in the Stage 2 playoffs, these hyped up teams did go against each other and the Titans walked away with a 4-1 win. I was excited to see the Shock beat them in the Stage 2 playoffs. First of all, the Shock seem like genuinely cool dudes. Secondly, because let’s face it everyone wants to see an undefeated team lose.

But how will the Titans handle this loss? Has it shaken their confidence? Will they be easier for teams to beat now that Shock has let everyone see their weaknesses? It’s hard to say. A lot of teams seem to struggle after getting taken down a peg, but the exceeding levels of confidence that the Titans have may compensate for this. They could be angry and out to reclaim the top spot. Only time will tell, though I hope that the crack has had a lasting effect on them as their schedule will be getting more difficult the next 2 stages.

The London Spitfire, my second favorite team, is also struggling. Despite being the Season 1 champions, they have had some difficulty finding their footing in this GOATs meta with any real consistency. I hope that they pick it up because they also seem like a cool group of players. They are a strong team, but they just need to find their way in this crazy meta. If a DPS comp becomes meta again, this is going to be a team to watch out for.

Lastly, my precious Uprising. Like many Boston teams, you get the highs and the lows with them. In Season 1, they defied all expectations and ended up in 3rd place overall. Not bad for a team everyone predicted would be in last place. Again, this year, the team was predicted to be one of the lowest ranked teams. Sure, a lot of this had to do with the team being pretty much gutted from last season. (NotE leaving still hurts.) Instead, they find themselves right at the 12th spot overall, which isn’t great but it isn’t completely terrible either.

Stage 3 was the turn around for them in Season 1. This year, I think if they really pull together, they could start turning this around. They are another team that is struggling with GOATs. There are a few reasons for that. One, Colourhex is not a great Zarya. I know. I say this every time that I post about the matches. I’m not sure if there are struggles with communication. I’m not sure if he’s just not in sync with Fusions like he needs to be as a Zarya player. It’s just not working. Put him on a DPS player, and he’s so impressive. Having him on Zarya? Not so great. Is this their only issue? No, but a team is only as strong as their Zarya player in this meta. Look at Sinatraa, who just melts other players while still being totally in sync with Super. There’s a reason why the San Francisco Shock are probably going to win it all, and it’s that tank duo of Super/Sinatraa. That’s also going to be the Boston Uprising’s downfall.

Overall, I predict that the Titans and Shock will end up facing off in the Stage 3 playoff finals again. And I predict the Shock will win it all again. Their only real competition would be the NYXL or Spitfire, if they could just come together and work out their issues.

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.”