Overwatch League, Season 2, Stage 1 Playoffs

Playoff week is always exciting. This year, there were more teams allowed into the playoffs and the event was much more exciting. You may have even noticed that it got the broadcast network treatment, much to the dismay of everyone who doesn’t understand the community. Even my parents. I tried. It didn’t work. It’s hard for people outside of the gaming community to understand the competitive nature of eSports. I love watching a solid competition and I can’t say I was disappointed. Here’s a look at the playoffs in its new format.

8 teams were in and there would be a reseeding process as the playoffs went on. Some teams weren’t happy about it. Some viewers weren’t happy about how the lowest seed would face the highest seed. But that’s how it’s done in professional sports and Nanzer’s goal was to make this just like a “real” sports league. Unfortunately that meant Boston Uprising, as the lowest seed, would face against the top seeded and undefeated Vancouver Titans. I picked my bracket. (My husband is still mad at me for this.. not really, but he wasn’t happy. I wanted to be right though.) I picked the final 4 to be Seoul Dynasty, San Francisco Shock, Vancouver Titans, and Philadelphia Fusion with the Shock winning it all.

Why did I make such bold predictions? First, I wanted Seoul to win for personal reasons. This was a decent team that was expected to be the top team last season, only the fell far short of expectations especially as they failed to even make a stage playoff. Next, I really didn’t want NYXL to continue domination. Then there were the logical reasons. NYXL is known to choke. Michelle is a beast on Sombra. My upset pick was right. I wanted Boston to beat Vancouver, but I didn’t trust Colourhex to out-Zarya Seo because he couldn’t out Zarya anyone really. I knew Shock was going to make it to the end because Sinatraa was looking unstoppable to this point, plus the whole Neko-teabagging sitch made me just want to see him taken down a few notches. And I wanted the Fusion to beat the Reign because I honestly didn’t think that they deserved the place in the playoffs. I view them as only a meme team and I really don’t take them seriously. (Seriously, you guys get distracted by a Doomfist and totally C9 the point as Neptuno solo capped the 1/3rd of a point that they needed? I was in awe watching that unfold.)

The semi-finals were exactly how I thought they would be. My final 4 teams were in and the games were actually not very interesting at all. However, the finals more than made up for the lackluster semis. Moth predicted prior to the match that it would be a back and forth battle between the teams, with Shock going 4-2. While it was a back and forth battle that was really intense to watch, they just couldn’t pull off the win and fell 4-3 to Vancouver Titans. Sinatraa was solid and I have a new respect for his talent as a player after watching it. There were a lot of times where I wondered what they were thinking, but there were “WTF” moments from Vancouver too. Some of those ults were used seemingly just because a player just wanted to be the hero by clicking Q. It didn’t work and Vancouver won the final map pretty easily.

It was such a close match-up and easily one of the best matches in OWL to date. I look forward to the rest of the season, because this was ultimate hype-mode activation right there. Unfortunately, no Overwatch League for a week. But Boston is back and hopefully they’ll be stronger in a new meta. And that we get to see more Axxiom because he deserves a spot in the starting 6.

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The Overwatch League Season 2, Stage 1 Playoffs are Set! Who Made it and Other Interesting Boston Mentions.

For some reason, the other blog post didn’t post properly. But I can’t edit it or take it down. So this is the updated version.

As an Uprising fan, this weekend was especially important to me. Not only did Boston have their own fate in their hands in a must-win match that was preceded by some spice on both sides, there were other things that needed to happen for Boston to get a spot in the coveted “Top 8”. Jayne, being a little less spicy than normal, simply tweeted out “Good Morning to everyone but the Uprising”. (Something for which he would get toasted for later.) It was going to be a rough one, as rCk’s Sombra is beastly and aKm’s Zarya is far superior to Colourhex’s Zarya. (Notice, I still say “is”.) The ideal situation going into this match was a 4-0 for the Uprising, though a simple win would have been enough to keep them in it. (Spoiler: it wasn’t a 4-0)

For the first two maps of the Uprising/Fuel series, they were dominated by the Fuel. Sombra was still their weakness as was their Zarya play. AimGod and NotE could only really do so much to keep their team in it. Kellex was getting destroyed and Fusions was being the overly aggressive player that he is. And Colourhex was falling short in the Zarya match-up. Sombra was just tearing through the team. It was a rough few matches. As Boston fans, a group of fans who are notoriously superstitious, we tried to adjust. Maybe we weren’t wearing enough Uprising gear. Maybe we needed to put the rally cap on.

Then it happened. The reverse sweep came through. This team started to play together. AimGod was annihilating the Sombra and really anyone else who crossed his path. NotE was being cheeky and awesome despite his hilarious fat finger on King’s Row. Fusions was popping off. Even Colourhex, who I finally said he did awesome on Widow for the 2 seconds he was on Widow (Seriously, can we get the sniper meta now?) It was amazing to watch. They got their win over the Dallas Fuel and now it was the waiting game for Sunday’s matches.

Going into Sunday, to get in the playoffs all that the Boston Uprising needed was either Houston, Paris, or Vancouver to win. Just 1 of those teams needed to win. First, Paris was up then lost. Then Houston was up and in a heartbreaking match, lost. (Poor Dante and Muma though.) All that was left was the 6-0 Vancouver versus the Charge. Which not surprisingly, Vancouver won. We clinched our 8th seed, and to the playoffs we go. Where we will likely have to face the team that put us there first. It’s going to be a rough one.

Afterwards, I picked up Sideshow’s stream (which is completely fantastic) to see what was going on. Then I saw the hilarious Twitter exchange between Dante and a couple of the Uprising. (Which I think Colourhex’s spice was the winner there.) Which led an interesting but not really shocking discussion with former player Avast. While he didn’t comment on how much he got paid, Boston fans know that you don’t get paid the big bucks to play for these teams. It is very likely that they were paid just above the bare minimum (or more likely than not, at the bare minimum). What was interesting is what he had to say about his signing and what happened afterwards. He stated that he was basically told that Kellex was the starter and they didn’t believe in “subs”.

This statement alone shows why Colourhex stayed in despite his under-performance. They just stick to their starters and if they fail, they fail. That is a terrible terrible terrible approach. How many games would they have actually won had they been more flexible? Why would someone feel the need to get better as a player if there were no repercussions for a lackluster performance, such as someone else getting your spot. There’s no fear because as long as you have been anointed the “Starting 6”, you’re golden no matter how awful you’re doing. Maybe this approach should be reconsidered because it’s barely working for them.

The playoffs are going to be an uphill climb, but the Boston Uprising are in a “rebuilding” year. By that I mean, they only have 2 players from their main roster and a backup from last year. This is a new year and a new team that people once again counted out on the bottom of the rankings. Boston teams are comfortable as underdogs. We are a stubborn people. We are a determined people who like the challenge. I just hope that this team learns a little more flexibility otherwise they won’t be as successful in the big picture.

Overwatch League: Season 2, Stage 1, Week 4

As much as I really really want to dive right into discussing the Uprising’s match, holy cow at the Titans vs. Hunters match up. Myself, like a lot of other people, expected a trouncing but instead we got an insane match that was unbelievable to watch. The Hunters not only put up a fight, they forced the match into a tiebreaker map. They ultimately fell to the still undefeated Titans, but they made it an exciting battle to watch. If they had kept Baconjack in, they may have pulled off the upset. But the Titans are a strong team, so they should be proud of their performance.

Another interesting match was the one against the London Spitfire and the Shanghai Dragons. The fact that last year’s champions were defeated by the Dragons made me feel a little better about the Uprising loss to them. Interesting fact though: Dragons are currently 2-0 against my favorite teams. Maybe I’m the problem here. Diem was insane during the match, as was Gamsu. I was especially happy that Geguri got her first win on the big stage. It was a well-fought battle, but the Spitfire just didn’t bring it like they needed to. The Dragons are a completely different team this year and they should get a lot more respect. Now, if only they could beat NYXL. I’m dreaming, but it would be pretty sweet if they did.

The last match that I’m going to talk about is the Uprising match up. They needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. They needed a big win. After last week’s rough loss, they needed to come together and pick themselves up to learn from their mistakes. Fusions, was stellar as always. NotE is consistent and solid as is AimGod. Though, I think that NotE not getting the Player of the Match was insane. Yes, Fusions pulled off some great plays, but I feel as though D.Va players don’t get the credit that they deserve sometimes. He did his job. Everyone was solid, though I still really don’t like the choice of Colourhex on Zarya. Sure, he made some great plays. However, he’s mediocre at best. He’s inconsistent. He’s just not on the same level as the other Zarya’s in the league. I don’t know what they’re thinking, but Axxiom stepped up as Zarya and easily outperformed him. He seemed more consistent. I spent less time going “what was he thinking with that?!” when Axxiom was on Zarya. In HuK we trust? Colourhex needs to start performing a lot better, otherwise we are going to stay a weak team. Who knows when the meta is going to change, so we need to make sure we have a good Zarya to get us those wins.

A final note, trolling Bren like that was hilarious. It was hilarious every time I watched it. It was hilarious when Sideshow was dying of hysterics on his stream about it. It was the first Watchpoint Post-Game show that I was able to watch and I was not disappointed.

Overwatch League: Season 2, Stage 1, Week 3

I wish that I could say that this was an exciting week, but there was really nothing too shocking as far as outcomes go. Fortunately on top of discussing some of the more interesting stories of the weekend, I can rant about everything that the Boston Uprising failed on during their truly disastrous match against the Defiant. So let’s get to it.

First of all, Dafran’s amazing grav play on Hollywood was spectacular. I’ve never seen anyone do that. I’ve never even considered trying it. Unfortunately, as Soe points out, now you are going to see everyone else try this when they can. Which will more likely than not fail rather than achieve the massive success Dafran saw with that move. That was real skill right there and should be evidence to any doubters that he belongs in the big leagues.

Then, there was the C9 that may cause everyone to refer to it as the “Shangnine” (Joke, courtesy of blasé) or just calling it the “Shanghai”. Why he would ever walk off the point like that is beyond everyone. Even the commentators had no clue what was going on when the “Round Complete” flashed on the screen. After a quick look, it was easy to see that Youngjin just walked off the payload, probably as a knee-jerk reaction to his dying teammate. Maybe he thought it capped. This was easily the most memorable moment of the week.

Another hot topic this week was the trash talk, specifically a focus on Dogman. In the mix was Neko’s constant trolling of the Uprising, using their sprays and kicking it, as well as his attempts to teabag Aimgod. A little competitive spirit is fine as long as it doesn’t get to a high level of toxicity. There’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed, but as long as it’s all in good fun there shouldn’t be any real issue with it. They wanted Overwatch to be similar to other professional sports leagues and the spice is all part of that.

Now it’s time to focus in on the Uprising matches. With Fusions back in their match against Seoul, Uprising had such a strong showing. Kellex and those boops were solid and Fusions was terrifyingly aggressive. I still wasn’t sold on Colourhex has Zarya, but he wasn’t too awful so I only complained about half the match about how Axxiom was better. They won against Seoul and found the momentum to keep the wins coming. That was until they faced off against former teammate Neko and the Toronto Defiant. The first 2 maps were rough going, but Uprising finally got a win on Anubis. Then they went to Rialto, where despite a strong few pushes they couldn’t quite pull out the win. It was a rough loss.

Colourhex was one of the biggest problems of the match. Ivy easily outperformed him in every way. This was most evident on Rialto where Ivy had 3 gravs before Colourhex even got one. He died early every fight in the entire match. It was a mess and I stand by the fact that Axxiom should have been in there as Zarya. But Brianne, he’s in there to flex as needed. Except when it was Rialto and he would’ve been more useful as Sombra and he ended up staying on his failed Zarya. NotE didn’t waste his ults; he likely just assumed that by the time Colourhex got his ult, that he would have enough self-destruct. NotE didn’t have the combos and just tossed his ult where it made the most sense to him. He did his job.

It was a mess. They didn’t adjust. They kept doing exactly the same. They did what they always do: stubbornly stay the same and hope the other team does something to fail. They are good at exploiting mistakes. They didn’t sub anyone in or out. They just kept hoping that something magically would click. It wouldn’t change because goats is so dependent on a good Zarya. I stand by what I said last week, almost. The starting six should be Fusions as MT, Axxiom as Zarya, NotE and blasé doing their thing, Aimgod as Zen, and Kellex as Lucio. That was their strongest showing. If you want flexibility, sub Colourhex in. But he has proven that he shouldn’t be the starting Zarya.

While stage playoffs might be out of the question, there’s still the bigger picture of the end of the year playoffs. Every match matters towards that, so Uprising really need to figure it out. Maybe they are hoping that come next patch, goats will be dead and they can thrive back as they did when dive was the meta. Maybe HuK is a genius and we should just trust him. But unless this team learns to adapt on the fly, they will not relive the success of last year.

Overwatch League Season 2: Stage 1, Week 2

It’s hard to believe that we have already reached week 2 in the 2nd season of the Overwatch League. While there were a lot of exciting matches, these matches seemed to be overlooked by a league technicality that allegedly a lot of people didn’t know about. Which wasn’t a problem when the Boston Uprising had a problem with it, but the minute other teams started complaining about it a discussion began to happen. More on this and other worthwhile mentions.

Goats seems to be killing a lot of previously solid teams. Houston, a team that shows they have a good DPS lineup seems to have its own struggles in this meta. While they won on Saturday against the Spark, they had struggled against NYXL. Such a passionate struggle that the talk of the game was the producer’s cut to Jake hitting the desk in frustration. To me, it’s no big deal. He’s a passionate player who takes his job seriously. Other teams should wish that they were so lucky to have such a dedicated player. Goats is only temporary, as was every other meta. Things change all the time as patches get released.

Another notable game that was hyped up this week was the Dallas Fuel/Philadelphia Fusion game. This occurred because Jayne, who’s honestly an Overwatch competitive genius, mentioned that Fusion had a “trash goats” comp. To which a “war” of words took place between Carpe and Jayne, with Carpe eventually saying “if they lose, it will be to trash goats”. Shockingly, they didn’t lose. Then Jayne got his last say and that was that.

Arguably the biggest event worth mentioning this week was Fusions of the Boston Uprising being deemed “ineligible to play” by the league as he was setting up on stage moments before the match against Shanghai. Due to his 2-way contract, he’s only allowed to play 2 games in a stage after competing in the most recent season of Overwatch League Contenders. This was a crucial match against the Shanghai Dragons, a team with former player Gamsu and who was hungry to break their 43-game losing streak. They wanted their first win and they got it against a disjointed Boston Uprising. After some shaky plays, awful comp decisions, and Sombra being their biggest weakness, the Uprising fell 3-1 against Shanghai. Shanghai got their first win with our beloved Gamsu as their main tank. This was a story that trended on Twitter. It was beautiful publicity for the Overwatch League.

While I don’t subscribe to the believe that the league did this just to get the publicity, it was an awful situation. Per league rules, the roster was submitted at least 2 hours prior to the match. But yet they didn’t inform the team of their main tank’s ineligibility until just minutes before the match began? That was a disaster that they could have avoided 2 hours earlier. Other teams, like the Philadelphia Fusion also seemed a little confused by this rule. Does this taint the Dragon’s first win? Yes and no. Yes if you believe that Shanghai had no chance of beating the Uprising, though realistically they did. DDing was a great Sombra. Even a mediocre Sombra would have torn Boston to shreds because they have no clue what to do about it. But Brianne, they needed a DPS player that could play Sombra. Then I would argue: what about one of our DPS, namely Colourhex? If they can drop our star D.Va onto a Reaper, then they could take our DPS and actually put him on DPS. But they didn’t. Yet again, they just let Sombra walk all over them.

What should Boston do moving forward? I liked their setup of Axxiom on Zarya, Fusions on MT (except his awful Winston), NotE on D.Va, blasé doing what he’s been doing, and Alemao on Lucio. I think this could be the best chance against Sombra. Alemao attracted attention for some solid plays against Sombra. I feel as though Colourhex wasn’t as strong of a Zarya as Axxiom was and I think that there was more synergy between him and Fusions than with Colourhex. Granted, we didn’t see Colourhex with Fusions, so this could be an unfair analysis. Still, I wasn’t impressed by Colourhex’s performance. Maybe he needs time, but I think Axxiom is a solid player that deserves to play.

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.

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.