Overwatch League: Season 2, Stage 4: Week 2, also Known as “What Just Happened?”

As it turns out, the 2-2-2 lock brought more surprises than anyone thought it would. One question that was waiting to be answered was how the Vancouver Titans, a team known for their GOATS despite their powerful DPS line, would fare outside of the GOATs meta. There were a lot of exciting events this week, so let’s get into it.

The London Spitfire was a strong team that did struggle a bit with the 3-3/GOATs meta. They found just enough success to stay in the playoff running, but they were expected to really take off when the 2-2-2 lock happened with their solid DPS duo in Birdring and Profit. Sure enough, they had a solid start to the stage. So when it was suggested that a strong looking, but still in last place Florida Mayhem could give them some trouble, the analysts laughed. Until it happened. While London did tie on one map, Mayhem still walked away with the win against London in a 3-0 match. Was the Spitfire just outplayed by Sayaplayer? Yes. This insane DPS player poppped off hard, taking out the Spitfire players easily. It shows that even though they are out of it, the Mayhem is still going to play hard until the end.

And what about the Spitfire? Did they just not prepare as hard because they underestimated the team? Did they just not play at 100% thinking they could get away with it? Or, is London just not as good as we think? I think they may not have given the match their full attention, but they also severely underestimated the skills of Sayaplayer, who is a versatile and deadly character that you can’t ignore.

The Washington Justice, also known as the second worst team in the league who’s also long out of the playoff running, went against the Vancouver Titans, who has been a solid team from the beginning and only lost 1 game during the season. It was a no brainer that the Titans would beat Washington Justice… well… until they didn’t. In fact, they lost in their first 4-0 match. They didn’t just lose… they got rolled hard. At least the other losses had the other team put up a fight. There was no fight to be had here. As someone who likes to see top teams lose, I was delighted by this. Corey was unstoppable and Stratus was just as solid. This is an amazing DPS duo that doesn’t get the attention that they deserve, but they certainly will now.

You’d think that would be the end of surprises, but then there was the NYXL vs. Chengdu Hunters. The Hunters… 4-0’ed NYXL. NYXL was expected to have an amazing stage with 2-2-2 but they keep falling short of expectations. Their DPS lineup just isn’t working for them and I think everyone is wondering why they aren’t putting Pine in. That’s the one thing they haven’t tried yet to dominate teams. Are they saving him for the playoffs? Are they trying to trade him? I’m not going to lie, I would be happy to see the Uprising pick him up.

Why are these solid teams struggling? You could use the excuse that they are sandbagging or that they just aren’t trying because they assumed they’d win anyways. But maybe there’s something more? The teams that are doing better seem to have mastered what is now likely going to be called the “Mei” meta. A great Mei, particularly with a great Hanzo or Reaper, can make or break these teams. I think that as long as Mei is meta, teams are going to suffer. We may have thought that the 2-2-2 lock was going to mean that dive was back, but we quickly see that this isn’t necessarily the case.

The rest of the stage is looking to be an exciting one and I hope that there are plenty more upsets to come. I’d like to see a team like the Justice or Mayhem go 7-0 this stage, because I want these underdog teams to show that they aren’t the jokes everyone made them out to be. Only a few more weeks until the stage playoffs and the Grand Finals stage, so these teams better shape up if they want to make the cut offs.

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Overwatch League: The Final Stage of the Season Begins and a Watch Party

Stage 4 and the 2-2-2 lock has officially begun and honestly, there were some surprises but mostly things have gone as people thought. A big surprise was that the analysts thought that the Boston Uprising would start destroying this stage, since their DPS duo had such great potential. I guess that’s what happens when analysts finally believe in the Uprising. Here is a brief summary of what happened with this massive change to the league this week, and my more in-depth Boston Uprising discussion.

The fact that Houston lost to Paris was a little shocking to me, but they took a win home against the Gladiators to go 1-1 this week. NYXL struggled this week and Shanghai is still on a tear, especially since pulling out what is now known as “Roadfrog” with Geguri making a solid tank line with her Roadhog and Gamsu’s Orisa. Honestly, she was spectacular and it was great to see her back on the stage. It was also great to see Fragi and Bischu make their first appearances on the stage this season. All that’s left really is to see Pine freed from GOATs jail and all will be right again. Most of the other games went pretty much exactly how you thought they would, such as Titans showing that they aren’t GOATs one-tricks and it paid off for Shock to stack their team with star DPS players.

Boston Uprising Watch Party in Foxborough

Normally they do the watch parties in Boston, so to have one that was easier to get to in Foxborough was really exciting. Naturally, we had to attend. We left earlier in the morning to ensure that even with Cape Cod traffic, we would make the event in time. I’m glad we did. We ended up with a great parking spot, got to enjoy walking around the facility without the mass amounts of people that were there during my first trip to Patriot Place. (Apparently there was an Irish festival going on.) We ventured to the ProShop, happy to see that they had a lot more Uprising gear there. Then after some waiting, we went to the place where the watch party was being held.

The restaurant was pretty big, but honestly the fact that they had such a small section for the watch party setup was a little disappointing. The fact that all of the chairs were a foot off the ground was also a little annoying. (Plus the food was meh at best.) Still, they had giveaways and free Uprising stuff so that made up for some of the annoyance. To my surprise, every other television in the bar was switched to Overwatch League. This was good considering that about 80% of the people in there were there for the Uprising match. There were some “oohs” and “aws” during the Valiant match, but the real excitement came when the Uprising were on.

Until.. there was nothing to cheer about. The match was a quick 4-0 domination by the Charge. It was awful. As a fan, it was painful. There have been some bad losses, but this felt different. This was the first time that I was actually really salty over the game. Primarily because I think that my points have been proven about this team. Obviously I have no insider information or even know how their scrims go, but they did so poorly that you have to wonder if they even scrimmed during the break. Fusions is only good at GOATs Rein. I said that he was a “GOATs Rein One-Trick” so many times that I feel like a broken record pointing that out again. The one reason we picked up rCk was his versatility to switch between a mediocre D.Va and a decent Sombra. We gave away NotE because he could only really D.Va and Roadhog. Well.. now we’re in a 2-2-2 lock so we can’t use rCk for his versatility. But NotE… now NotE gets to shine on D.Va and Roadhog. On another team. The tank line is definitely one of the weakest links so far in this stage. They have no synergy and they just can’t seem to get the job done. On one map it almost looked like Ameng got his Hammod alt 3 times before Fusions even got one. That shouldn’t happen. But it’s been a consistent problem for him… since he’s a GOATs Rein one-trick.

The DPS line did well enough. Colourhex seems much more comfortable now than when he played Zarya. There were some shots that I found myself screaming “You need to make those”, but overall he had a solid performance. People were mocking blasé but honestly I felt like he was doing the things that he was supposed to be doing. That’s always been the problem with blasé. He does what he’s supposed to do, maybe without Colourhex’s flash, but he gets the job done. I don’t think the DPS was the problem.

Then.. there is the support line. Kellex has been doing well, and I admit I have been very critical of him since the beginning. But he has shown to be a versatile support that makes the big plays when he needs to. But then there’s Persia. Admittedly, he did better this weekend than he has in the past. But even in this “better” state, he’s still not even close (in my opinion) to Aimgod. You can count on Aimgod to also make those big plays… and to survive most fights. Sure, Persia made some good sleeps and his Moira was fantastic. But I didn’t see a lot of purple enemy players when he played Ana. I saw Colourhex ask for heals to not get any from Persia as he was standing next to him. I saw his problems with positioning and staying alive. Persia may be doing better in scrims but that has not translated to him playing better on stage.

Saturday was a disaster, but at least Sunday wasn’t as awful. It’s still disheartening to see as an Uprising fan. This is supposed to be a meta where we were going to shine. Instead, management seems to want to throw the matches rather than win. Why isn’t Aimgod playing? Why hasn’t Axxiom scrimmed or been given a chance? You’ve given Persia plenty of chances on stage, but not Axxiom. Axxiom is supposed to be an amazing and versatile tank who probably only didn’t start because Fusions’ GOATs Rein was better. But we’re not in GOATs anymore. I hope during this bye-week that Uprising figures it out, because it’s one thing to lose because we’re being outplayed. It’s another thing to lose because you’re too stubborn to stick with what works or try something completely new. I think the fans deserve better from the management, or at least some answers.

Sigma: The Hero We Didn’t Know We Needed

But we do know that he needs shoes. Discuss.

As I correctly predicted in my last blog, the announcement for Sigma came at 2pm and he was then playable on the PTR. Since then, there has been a mass of people swearing to be Sigma mains when he goes live. While I admittedly haven’t gotten around to play him myself yet, there’s a lot of videos from everyone else that has given me plenty to think about.

First of all, his Origin story. The minute I watched it, I called my husband and told him that it was easily the best one they have released. Their team that handles these shorts are fantastic and I always look forward to new short stories from them. They are so well done that I almost think that they could have their own Overwatch web series. Almost. Usually people screw those up to the point of turning your love to hatred. But, it could be good. The Origin story gave me chills, the music was flawless, and the lore behind the character was amazing. This made me excited to try the new character.

Why haven’t I tried him yet? One reason is because I always like to use the Training Bots to try out he character and for some reason the Training mode won’t work for me on the PTR right now. Another reason is because as interesting as the story is, I’m not sure I’m as interested in playing his character. The playstyle seems more like a Zenyatta with a throwable Rein shield. I’m a D.Va main. I like the excitement of flying around and blocking alts or plowing into the backline. He just doesn’t look as fun to me as I want him to be. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I actually get to play him. The only thing that makes his character really cool to me is his Ult, where he tosses people up in the air and throws them back down again.

How will he change the meta? I’m not entirely sure. From what I’ve seen, he can be an excellent counter to Pharah and Widow, which are 2 characters that are played heavily right now. Is he an off-tank or a main-tank? I think he may be more of an off-tank, maybe as part of a tank line with a Hammond main tank. His shield doesn’t seem to be as good as a Rein or Orisa, but it could be better than Winston’s. It’s really too soon to tell, though you know teams are already scrimming with him to see how he fits into their strategies. When the pros get to play him, we’ll all have a better idea of his utility and true potential.

I like how Overwatch seems to be moving forward and progressing. This seems like a team who wants to keep players as engaged by making changes that will improve their experience. Adding a unique character like Sigma is one way, but another way is the great addition of the 2-2-2 lock. I don’t know what their plan is for Overwatch 2, but the current game is still something I love to play.

Overwatch League, Season 2: Stage 4 Preview

By now, you have heard the biggest change coming to the Overwatch League this final stage of the season: the 2-2-2 lock. AKA, the GOATs killer. In case you need a recap, this is exactly what it sounds like. There must be 2 DPS, 2 support, and 2 tanks queued up to play, a change that’s coming to the next Competitive season as well. Once you queue up to a role, you are locked in that role until the end of the map. This means that there cannot be a 3-3/GOATs comp anymore.

This could potentially change everything. While Vancouver Titans are known for being a top GOATs team, they have not had much success outplaying the DPS comps. (Seriously still happy Shanghai took the Stage 3 title.) Teams like Spitfire and NYXL just didn’t quite get their footing trying to out-GOATs other teams. This could be a whole new stage for a lot of teams that have been struggling, and you can expect some interesting surprises for the next stage.

I’m going to take a closer look at the Boston Uprising here, a team that had seen some highs and lows in GOATs. What does this change mean for them? First of all, thankfully no more Colourhex on Zarya. I was never a fan of that and it almost caused me to doubt his capabilities as a player. Until I saw him play Widow. He’s a solid DPS player that can now shine. blasé has long been a solid player that performs well where they need him, even on Tracer, which leads me to wonder what their new pickup Stellar is there for. The Uprising aren’t exactly known for their tendency to sub players in and out… or really pretty much ever. What is he there for? To farm up the talent than sell him to the highest bidder? Are they getting rid of one of their other DPS? Will they actually sub him in for some maps? This will be interesting to find out.

Then there is the tank line. This 2-2-2 lock makes the trade for rCk with NotE worse for us: we lost a solid D.Va/Hog player. Will rCk now be stuck in a D.Va role, where he has made some decent plays but is overall mediocre in the role? Will Uprising give up their Sombra player for a better D.Va? Will Axxiom step into the off-tank role instead? But what about Fusions? He seems to only be a GOATs Rein one-trick? Will we see his true potential to erase this one-trick take on him? Or, will Axxiom step into the main tank role as he was supposed to prior to Gamsu’s departure? These are all great questions that will be interesting to see answered when the stage starts this week. I am looking forward to attending my first official Uprising watch party this weekend at one of my favorite places: Foxborough/Patriot’s Place. It’s going to be pretty great to cheer on the team with my boys, seeing what they can do in a 2-2-2 lock.

Shanghai might even be stronger now with this change, which is something that will be great to watch out for. The London Spitfire, Philadelphia Fusion, Houston Outlaws, and NYXL may also have a strong showing with these changes. This could potentially change everything, though it may be too late for some of the teams to really benefit from these changes. Either way, more exciting Overwatch League is on the way for fans.

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.

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.