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.

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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: Stage 2 Playoffs

I admit it, sort of: I’m a Vancouver Titans hater. I don’t have a problem with teams that are undefeated. I have a problem with a team that exudes such a high level of cockiness and arrogance that they should be knocked down a peg. When NYXL was hot, I didn’t actively root for their loss. Their players had a bit of playful cockiness to them. Jjonak is spicy, but as the league MVP from last year and arguably the world’s best Zenyatta, I think he can get away with it. However, when you tell people to let you know what you should play because you can beat any team with any hero, I think you have gotten way too big in your own mind. That’s when I actively started rooting against them.

Going into the playoffs, my picks when like this: Shock, Spitfire, Titans, NYXL. I then anticipated that it would be a Shock/Titans rematch, with San Francisco Shock taking the win. Did I think they were going to win because they were the better team? Maybe. Was it just because I wanted to be there when Shock beat Titans? Oh absolutely yes. I wanted that to happen so bad. I even prayed to the Mother’s Day gods that this would happen. So what happened in the playoffs.

The first round nearly went as everyone anticipated. Shock easily beat Shanghai, though Shock’s map win streak is now over. NYXL easily beat the LA Gladiators. Dallas Fuel didn’t stand a chance against the Titans. The only shock was how the Spark beat out London Spitfire. The next round had Shock versus the Spark, which again was an easy match that went exactly how everyone thought it would go. The real surprise of this round was how easily the Titans beat out NYXL. This was the match that everyone was waiting for: the first time NYXL and Vancouver Titans went head-to-head. Instead of it being a close match, NYXL ended up losing 1-4. It didn’t even seem close. It was really a disappointment, at least for me. I can’t speak for everyone else.

Then it was the rematch everyone wanted: the Shock and the Titans were once again facing off in the Stage finals. It was definitely an exciting match to watch. The Vancouver Titans put up a fight, but ultimately lost 2-4 to the San Francisco Shock. So how did these Titans finally fall? Did the Shock just want it more? Did they just want revenge? Or did the Titans just get too cocky and thought that they could walk all over any team?

My thoughts? It was a little bit of everything. They went in so full of themselves, so certain that no one could take them down, that they didn’t seem to do anything to improve themselves as players. Why should they improve if they are already the best? No one can beat them. They thought they could just steamroll based on their skill alone. Except, the Shock did practice hard to get stronger. They didn’t accept that they had a perfect stage; they wanted to win it all. They wanted that story of going from an underperforming, mediocre team to the best. They wanted the win more.

Bumper played his normal aggressive style, thinking that he could just charge through and destroy his opponents as he always did. Only this time, he got punished for his hubris. Super, who has a similarly aggressive style, did a great job of tempering himself more. Sinatraa, who should’ve gotten the “Player of the Match”, was melting everyone. Plus, did you see that hold he pulled off on Blizzard World? He may have ultimately had to give up the first point, but he ate up a lot of time on the clock. Which ended up helping them walk away with the win.

I’m happy with the way the stage finals played out. It was such an exciting match and it was definitely great to see the Shock that excited for the win. They earned it. I’ll also admit that the look of defeat on the Titans face was just as sweet. They needed to be taken down a little. The question is “Do they learn from this?” Will they start taking their matches more seriously instead of just assuming they are going to win? Will they be out for blood and destroy everyone in their path? Or, will this have tilted them so much that they struggle to find their footing again in Stage 3? With the All-Star Break giving them some time to shake it off, it will be interesting to see what the new Titans look like. Maybe, they will look a little bit more humble.

Overwatch League: The Dallas Homestand

From the beginning of the Overwatch League, Nate Nanzer stated that his goal was to make Overwatch League as big as a traditional sports league. He wanted it to be the NFL of eSports. He had big plans for traveling games, so that the fans can see their home teams as they would in any other sport. The Dallas Homestand was a test of how well this traveling plan would work. Did it pass?

Yes. Absolutely yes. It was insane to see and hear the energy in the space, especially when the home team the Dallas Fuel took the stage. This crowd was behind their team and they were very loud about it. So loud that it was even hard to hear the casters and analysts. The production crew was amazing, showing off the crowd and made me feel even more hyped than ever to watch these matches and my #1 team wasn’t even playing. My backup team the London Spitfire did play, with Guard even getting into the McCree roll while in full cowboy-esque gear. It was so amazing to watch.

The games itself weren’t too shocking, except for the Spitfire loss to the Chengdu Hunters. The biggest match of the weekend was the Battle for Texas, where the Houston Outlaws faced off against the home team to see if they could continue their Battle for Texas win streak or if the Fuel would finally get a win on their home turf. The Fuel ultimately took the win, but the Outlaws certainly didn’t make it easy for them.

The test was a success. Fans came out in full force, even if the Fuel wasn’t their team of choice. There was such high energy and the production was as amazing as ever. Not counting the power outage, but that was a city issue not a Blizzard one. Maybe they couldn’t handle the awesomeness that the Overwatch League brought to their city. As a fan of the league, I can’t wait until I can see my Boston Uprising out there. Hopefully in Foxborough, as this would be much easier for us Western Mass-ers to get to these matches rather than fighting with Boston traffic or the train every time. My money is that Kraft would save some money and just use a space in Patriot Place for the Uprising or just add onto his facility to save from spending money in Boston. Here’s to hoping.

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 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.