OWL Season 2: Changes and Predictions

The main point people seem to agree on? London, NYXL, and Fusion is expected to come out on top. The experts have their power rankings and information ready to go, despite the facts that teams are still not 100% locked in. Speaking of an entertainment point, they wanted to strike while the iron was still hot. From a journalistic point of view? Completely irresponsible to come up with power rankings for the first week. There are still so many factors to consider, such as what the meta is actually going to be when the Season 2 starts or the final roster moves. This will take a brief look into my thoughts on changes and predictions for the season.

The first thing to mention are the changes that have already been leaked ages ago. Teams are playing fewer games (just over half the games they played last season), the playoffs will have more breaks in between, and the All-Star Weekend will fall mid-season as it does in most other sports. Nate Nanzer said his goal was to make the Overwatch League more like the traditional sports out there, which he is accomplishing controversy and all. Controversy brings publicity and publicity brings viewers… right? (What controversy? Boosting, team dramas, talks of unions, etc.) The changes seem great from a viewer’s perspective, but I’m not sure it will reduce the stress on the players. We’ll see about that one. Also, we’ll see Reinforce again? Here’s to hoping because losing him was such a mistake.

I had an issue with the power rankings. Granted it was the first week and the Boston Uprising is up against NYXL, but they have beaten them before. Granted, we had Striker (my heart is breaking still), but that doesn’t mean it was impossible. Just improbable. We beat them twice last season and they fell far earlier in the Playoffs than they really should have. Fusion was good, but NYXL wasn’t their normal selves that game. Even a giant has a bad day, and this team is capable of loss. I say this as both an Uprising fan and someone who loves Pine and SBB. The Uprising didn’t even find themselves in the top 10 of the power rankings. Shanghai Dragons, a team that when a full 0-40, was ranked higher than they were. The fix is in. (Not really, but still.)

That’s something that I think will fuel the Uprising this year as much as it did last year. The underdog story should have died last year. But here they are again and I have confidence in this new group, especially with the budding blasé/Gamsu bromance that we fans love to watch. I’m confident in the team and the rest of their fans should be too. Also, London could very well go for the repeat and as they are my second favorite team I wouldn’t be so sad about it. It’s all too early to tell how things will shape up. We’ll have to address this closer to the season when the teams have really finalized their rosters.

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Standing by Your Team

I am a Boston Uprising fan. (Most Boston teams, in fact. Grats on the World Series Red Sox despite the act I hate baseball.) I backed the team when the whole “Pedo” incident happened, which was easy to do since they cut him not long after the allegations were made public. It was easy to do. They were my team and I was in it for the long haul. I wasn’t a pink hatter. I was going to root for them even if they Shanghai’d for the rest of the season. They didn’t; then went undefeated in Stage 3. They surprised everyone by making it into the Playoffs, finishing the season in 3rd place when everyone thought they would be in last.

There was a rumor about one team having an extreme amount of drama going on, a team that wasn’t the Dallas Fuel. It turns out, that team was my beloved Uprising. A report came out about the treatment of players on the team, specifically when it came to the Korean players. Going into the first season, fans feared HuK would be a problem. He didn’t have the most solid reputation in the gaming world. In fact, he had a pretty poor reputation in eSports.

As a Patriots fan, I’m used to the man Coach Bill Belichick. A man who has been known to have questionable morals when it comes to winning. A man who sometimes toes the line and more often than he should, crosses said line. He makes decisions that we view as harsh and criticize because we don’t understand. It usually works out, but sometimes it doesn’t (/cough Butler). He has a reputation for being aggressive and stubborn and harsh. But, he has built a championship team that has shown results that maybe his way works.

I’m not sure if HuK was inspired by Belichick’s ways or if Kraft wanted him to be like the championship coach. Or if the Kraft family hired him because they reminded him of the coach of their championship team. Whatever the case may be, the allegations against him are tough to read. While there is nothing there that is blatantly against the rules, it toes the line. The fact that we went undefeated in Stage 3 with all of this going on seems incredible to me. Maybe his way can be effective. The story about Striker raging so hard that he constantly broke peripherals was shocking to me, but if things were that bad you can’t blame him. Striker is a passionate player and I hope that he says despite the issues on the team.

I hope that we have Gamsu as our MT still. I don’t want them gone. I don’t want to have that gut punch of Neko appearing in the Toronto Defiant reveal. I knew it was coming, but seeing it stung a little. The rumor is that HuK is trying to get rid of all of the Korean players, which would be a huge mistake. Striker, aside from SBB, is easily a top Tracer. He has shown to be awesome on pretty much every other player they put him on as well. He’s solid, aggressive, and he puts every ounce of his soul into the matches. Papa Gamsu is, in my opinion, the face and leader of the team. The main tank who may not be as strong on Reinhardt, but is arguably a top main tank anyways. I hope they stay and #RiseUp from this behind the scenes drama.

I stand by my team. Do I stand by HuK? If all of these allegations are true, absolutely not. My hope is that this whole thing either makes the Uprising reconsider his position on the team or makes HuK re-evaluate the way he does things. I would love it if we could start season 2 without this dark cloud hanging over our team. I hope that the housing situation gets better for the team. Maybe with the $225,000 prize money, they could invest in better facilities for the team or offer them better benefits. Or, give them a raise or bonus. I also want to see Neko succeed in Toronto because he was definitely an incredible Zenyatta that deserves a lot more credit than he received.

Overwatch: OWL and OWWC

I admit, as a biased Boston Uprising fan, I’ve been rooting for Team Canada because NotE is my D.va hero these days. I bought my youngest a NotE jersey only to be jealous I didn’t get myself one. (He also wanted a Sleepy from San Francisco Shock, but children have their own individual personalities.)

I was upset at the announcement that NotE was merely a sub. That was until he showed his true skills and ended up being seen on the world stage as we see him. Since then, we saw a lot of “this sub” and he continued to rock it out there, making Uprising fans proud that he is ours at least for now. He will be back at the World Cup playoffs and hopefully finals at Blizzcon in November. There were a lot of other notable performances, including ZachaREE’s bastion play on Hanamura. This stage wasn’t as intense as the Korean stage, but it was certainly a joy to watch.

USA ended up in 1st for the stage, with both USA and Canada joining South Korea and Finland in the playoffs so far. The next 2 stages of the qualifiers will take place over the next 2 weekends.

Now to the discussion of Boston Uprising and their roster. The only announcements that have been made so far was the release of Snow, Avast (noooo, meme king!), and Kalios. Later on, Mistakes joined the group of the released Uprising players. The fact that they released Snow, Avast, and Kalios wasn’t shocking. Snow only played once on the big stage in the regular season. Kalio only played a handful of times. Avast was never out there. Kalios seemed a bit salty about it, calling the team “pollution”, but quickly apologized saying that he shouldn’t have taken his feelings about the management out on the fans. It’s too late, at least for this fan. I found it to be a slap in the face as a fan, especially one who did root for him to succeed on the team. Avast was a good morale booster, but I get letting him go. Snow, in the little play I’ve seen from him seemed more solid than Kellex, but there must be a reason why Kellex got the spot over him. In Patriots Nation, we say “In Bill We Trust” so here I will just say “In HuK We Trust”. Hopefully.

There haven’t been any new announcements, which is a bit scary when you consider the opening up of free agency. Gamsu, NotE, Neko, and Striker are solid players that need to stay. They have to. Please don’t let them go. Aimgod seems to have excellent skills, but I feel as though the team just does better with Neko. Mistakes was another excellent player. However, he had mostly the same character pool as Striker without as much skill (not to say he was skill-less, he is a very talented player who I could see doing great things). Letting him go to play as a main DPS on another team that needs a good Tracer was a smart move. NotE and Gamsu are totally underrated tanks that seem to be the core of this team. If they leave, it could be pretty bad.

What Boston needs is a flex DPS that doesn’t overlap so much into Striker’s pool. If they had someone who could be a good Widow/Genji/Pharah, this would be ideal. The speculation that Colourhex could fill that role is something that I wish could happen.I would even be happy to take Agilities or pick up ZachaREE, who may overlap a little with Striker, but has shown to be solid on quite a few different characters. Also a better Kellex. There were so many times I screamed at the screen “what are you doing?!” You can’t heal if you’re dead all the time. I’m not sure if this means Kellex working to improve his survivability or finding a support that lives more. I think Kellex is a cool dude and a good fit for the team. I think he’s talented… when he’s alive long enough to show his skill. But another solid flex dps and a reliable support is all Boston really needs to make it and even win the Grand Finals this year.

As a Patriots fan, I worry about these things though. The Patriots have told amazing players to go because of money issues. Who’s to say that Uprising won’t take this same model? They currently have only 6 out of the 8 player minimum for their roster. These players haven’t been officially re-signed yet, which is scary. I stalk the pages for news religiously, hoping for some good news. A lot of things are going to be happening soon and I have a feeling that the news is going to come all at once.

 

 

The Overwatch League: All-Star Weekend Edition

As much as I loved Overwatch, when they announced plans to do a professional league that they hoped would be as big as the NFL I was skeptical that they could accomplish that. Still, I was going to watch because I loved the game. I loved reading about Fury, a D.Va I really tried to learn from who ended up on the Spitfire. (Which is why, for those who complain about my having both Spitfire and Uprising gear, I support them whenever they are not playing the Uprising.) I was even more excited when Kraft decided to purchase a team in this new league, allowing my love of the Patriots to merge with my love of Overwatch. And NotE just might have taken over as my favorite D.Va. And Striker makes me want to hug him every time he cries. My mom instincts just kick in, I can’t help it. Avast is the meme king. These are a fantastic group of guys and I really hope to see them all back next season.

The year was an amazing ride and I loved being a part of it every second. I also loved being able to write about it and have people enjoy the posts. I’m sad I have no more OWL to post about for the next few months, but at least I can still enjoy my mediocre play and the fact that my beloved football starts soon. The league exceeded my expectations. It was well-produced, the casters and analysts were entertaining and knowledgeable. My only complaint is that Uber and Mr. X weren’t casting Uprising matches all the time. I bet next season is going to be even bigger and I can’t want.

Now that I’ve wasted your time reading about my overall happiness of how the league played out, it’s time to talk about the highly anticipated All-Star Weekend. I was disappointed that no Uprising members made the main squad, but Neko, Gamsu, and Striker all ended up on the roster as backups. Unfortunately Neko was unable to make it due to visa issues, but Gamsu and Striker made us proud.

The first match of the All-Star weekend was Lucioball, one of the game modes I never tried and refuse to. This 3v3 special map is only available during the Summer Games. After some savage trash talk before the match from the Pacific side, namely Fissure, the Atlantic team beat them in this first head-to-head of All-Star weekend. Next up, was one of the matches that I was the most excited to see: Mystery Heroes. Mystery Heroes is hands-down my favorite arcade mode in the game. In fact, I probably spend more time on Mystery Heroes than anything else in the game. Again, the Atlantic team came out on top in a hilarious show that even pros struggle against the ridiculous comps that come out of Mystery Heroes’ RNG. Then you have the Lockout Elimination round, which I was super excited the it featured Gamsu. The Atlantic team won this, giving them a 3-0 head start against the Pacific.

The Widowmaker 1v1 was something I wasn’t entirely excited about. I mean, how entertaining could this have possibly been? I watched, to write this blog and because I wanted to see Striker show everyone how underrated he really is. I predicted the Sayaplayer was going to be Carpe, because Carpe had the tendency of being very streaky. I was wrong. I then predicted the SoOn was going to come up on top over Architect, which also happened. At this point, it was more thrilling than I thought it was going to be.  Then, the match I was really excited about: Pine vs. Striker. My husband picked Pine, because as much as he loves Striker, Pine plays a lot more Widow than Striker. An accurate call, but I chose Striker anyways because I had faith in him. If he lost, at least it would be to Pine and that’s still respectable. This was one of the most entertaining of the matches, if only because of the hilarious dance-off that they decided to do mid-match. You put 2 pranksters in a map together, you are bound to get hilarity. In a close match, Striker came out on top and Pine could not be happier for his competitor. Surefour, another underrated player who I thought was going to make it to the finals, also came up on top over Fleta. Striker eventually fell to the unstoppable Carpe and Surefour took out SoOn for a matchup that no one saw coming: Surefour overpowering the man who declared himself the best Widow in the league (Carpe), to end up the winner.

Then it was the second match I was the most excited about: The Talent Takedown, where the casters and analysts had their fun playing on the big stage. Aside from Reinforce, none of the talent qualifies as pro OWL players. Reinforce is representing Team Sweden in the World Cup, but despite the walkout and jokes he didn’t actually entirely carry the team. Soe represented well and Semm made me jealous at his D.Va play. This was still easily the most entertaining of all the matches. The Pacific took away their first win with their Talent Roster of Puckett, Soe, Reinforce, Semmler, Hex, Crumbz, and Monte. This was followed by the aforementioned 1v1 Widow final where Surefour brought home the second Pacific win.

The Final match was the actual All-Star game, which saw everyone on both rosters play, including Gamsu and Striker. Gamsu was stoic, with a rare smirk the entire time while Striker, SBB, and Pine were having the time of their life on stage. (Including SBB dancing during the pre-match interviews.) Mickie was also the life of the party, as always. After a easy 3-1 takeaway from Pacific, they played a 5th match anyways that was just as entertaining as the whole event. I would love an All-Star weekend every weekend until OWL starts up again.

Final notes to wrap up. Mickie was the obvious choice for getting the Dennis “INTERNETHULK” Hawelka Award, which was awarded to the person who had the most positive impact on the OWL community. He’s always so positive and hilarious to be around  (it seems) that it was definitely earned by him. If he didn’t walk away with it, his former teammate and retired OWL player Seagull would have deserved it as well. Even in his speech, where he said he didn’t want his fans to be sad if he was sad, showed off what a remarkable person he is. He makes me proud to be a fan of OWL.

The fact that OWL ended up broadcast on cable channels live shows that this is growing faster than people anticipated. With the new teams they are hoping to acquire next season and the growing list of sponsors, this could actually make eSports tournaments more mainstream. This makes me happy. If boring sports like baseball, golf, tennis, poker, and bowling can get as much screen time as they do then OWL should get more attention.

 

The Overwatch League Finals

The OWL Grand Finals have come and gone, but it was such an incredible ride to experience. Who walked away the champions? How salty were the NY fans that the favorite to win didn’t even make it to the finals? (I won’t even address this; they probably were very salty.) This recaps the event for you.

Due to the sale on Overwatch League merch, I invested in a simple t-shirt to show my support for the Spitfire. Sure, I was bummed that the Uprising didn’t make it. But they couldn’t have done that bad considering Fusion destroy NYXL as well. That led people to believe that the Spitfire would follow the same fate. The London Spitfire had a rough go for a while after winning the inaugural season’s first Stage championship. No one expected anything from them but what they got was an incredible show that no one saw coming.

Carpe and Eqo are amazing players… when they are hot. The problem is that they can be a streaky pair. Fortunately for them, they were hot during every other round of the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, the streakiness showed in the one set of matches that actually mattered: the finals. The problem may not have been entirely their fault: the Spitfire knew that to win, they needed to shut down this DPS pair and show Neptuno that aggressive Mercy play doesn’t always pay off. In the finals, it certainly didn’t.

This should not diminish the excellent games that the Spitfire played. After just the first round in the first match, I called Profit the MVP for the finals. On Friday, he was there for his team. On Saturday, he showed up again and caused utter destruction. In fact, calling it destruction doesn’t even do what he did any service. Between him and Birdring, the DPS was really unstoppable. But what really was impressive during the matches was the amazing abilities that the Spitfire has to play as a team. This can be seen in the Dragonstrike play heard ’round the world. Gesture Halted, Profit used his Dragonstrike. If anyone thought that they could jump down to avoid it, Fury jumped up and pushed them back into it. Profit may have gotten the kills, but it was a team effort on that play and the entire match.

Also, not surprisingly, Profit did walk away with the Grand Finals MVP trophy and the Spitfire climbed back to the top as Grand Finals champions.

Now that it’s all over, what’s next? Free agency and hopefully some new teams coming into the mix. Reports are saying that a team in Atlanta is being backed by Cox Communications, but nothing official has been announced by OWL at this point. It would be great to have some new teams mix it up. I also hope they change the format of the playoffs. Teams were fatigued, playing back to back matches. It should be broken up or at least give them a much longer break in between matches.

As for the Boston Uprising, they really need to pick up some DPS. We have plenty of supports and Mistakes and Striker could use a break here and there. Someone with a larger character pool can also be very helpful for us. I hope that the entire team comes back. I hope that if they keep Kellex, they figure out how to keep him alive better (or what he could do to stay alive better). The core team that they have are laid-back and talented. I have high hopes that they can pull it together and be even more successful next year.

Overwatch League: The Quarterfinals

It was an interesting and quite surprising week in the Overwatch League, with the inaugural season’s playoffs starting this week. It was the Philadelphia Fusion versus the Boston Uprising and the London Spitfire up against the LA Gladiators. It was an extremely exciting week that I can’t wait to break down for you. So here we go.

The first day of matches was the 11th, with all of the teams starting off. The first match of the game was the Fusion vs. the Uprising. The Uprising got utterly destroyed in the first match of the game, which was set on Dorado. The Fusion just walked all over their defense and Uprising’s offense didn’t do much better. Uprising took the second map in a strong showing on Oasis. The next map, Eichenwalde, was a nail-biter but Fusion ultimately took the map away for a 2-1 lead over Uprising going into the 4th map. Boston must’ve felt very confident going into Volskaya Industries, a map they have never lost on. Well… until they did against the Fusion. The Fusion walked all over them, getting both points while holding Uprising to 0 points, winning the match 3-1. The next match of the day was the LA Gladiators and the London Spitfire. I can quickly sum this match up for you: Gladiators destroyed London 3-0 for the day.

As a fan of both of these teams, I was pretty bummed out about the matches. Still, I keep a positive attitude that my beloved Uprising would #RiseUp going into Friday’s matches. For the weekend, each sets of team would play the entire day. So the 2 matches on Friday were Fusion vs. Uprising and Saturday had LA vs. London. On Friday, Boston did #RiseUp in the second match, but it was a rough ride. Both teams played amazingly but Mistakes certainly stepped up and helped give his team the edge. I don’t care what he thinks, but his performance was much better than the 5.6/10 he gave himself. Also, Note was amazing and he deserves a lot more credit than he gives himself and other people give him. Back to the matches. In the first set of matches, I was pleasantly surprised how well they handled Hanamura, their worst map, which they won in the first match. The second set of matches gave us a different look at the team. Again, Boston destroyed on Junkertown as they did in the first match. However, after that things started going downhill. Uprising was wrecked in Lijiang Tower. Hybrid maps are pretty tough for them and they just couldn’t quite get Eichenwalde down for the win, a map that they chose. The probably the worst mistake HuK could have made happened. I see where he was going with it, but statistics matter. I don’t know if it was arrogance or he figured that they won on Hanamura once today so they could easily do it again. Either way, the safer choice would have been Volskaya, a map they have a much higher win percentage on. Boston lost, and Fusion advanced to the semi-finals against NYXL. More on my thoughts on this match after the recap.

I did lose a bit of hope in the Spitfire, a team that after winning the first ever Stage Championship went into a slump. I watched without too much confidence, expecting a Battle of the LAs in the semifinals. (Imagine the ratings for that.) However, London Swept both matches and advance to go against the LA Valiant in the semifinals. As for the semi-finals, I expect the Fusion to give XL a run for their money but I think XL will walk away the big winners of everything. Spitfire and Valiant could go either way but the way Spitfire played this weekend gives me hope that they could make it to the finals. I’m rooting for an XL vs. Spitfire finals. Then at least my 2nd choice team could win and I can walk away happy.

As for the Uprising, what happened? I’m not too disappointed; they made it much further than anyone expected. However, they had the potential of making it to the next round. They had the potential to make it all the way. They had the potential to win, being the only team to beat the XL as much as they did. So what happened? First of all when you run a single support, that support needs to stay alive longer than 2 minutes in every fight. Because you can’t really see what’s going on, it’s hard to say why he died so much but it was definitely a combination of factors. Maybe at some point they should have just tried Snow in his place (or even Avast) because if they were going to lose, mixing it up to see if that worked could have changed the entire outcome of the match. There is also the issue of being tired. The Uprising only has a few extra players to help relieve the core if they get tired. Unlike the Fusion, who seemed to keep swapping players in and out. They had a team with a break. We didn’t. That’s our fault. We also need to pickup some DPS player with a massive character pool. Mistakes can only do so much and Striker seems like a waste to be anywhere but on his signature Tracer. They have a strong core but this core needs to have a break at some point to keep them fresh. Also, what was HuK thinking when he chose Hanamura? That was a Belichick move: Genius if it worked, awful for him if it didn’t. Unfortunately this time that gamble didn’t pay off. I understand the thought behind it. Fusion put in Hotba, someone who played a surprisingly great Tracer that threw Uprising off on Volskaya and stomped them into the ground. To screw with them, pick the unlikely map to mess with their head. However, we were 3-8 on that map at this point in time. It was dumb. It really was a dumb call. Adjust to Hotba not screw yourselves over.

Adaptability and not resting their players is the biggest issue this roster seems to have. There is a strong core of players that you can work with, you just need to build up the roster even further to give the team more of the tools that they need to adapt to a variety of different situations. Good job though, Boston Uprising. I am proud to be a hardcore fan to such an amazing group of people. I hope they come back even stronger next time.

 

Overwatch League- Stage 1 Week 4

First of all, can I say “holy cow, the Uprising is in a Wildcard Position”? From a scrappy team that no one expected much of, they are doing far better than people predicted. This adds an extra level of excitement for me as a fan of the team.

Before the recap, I would like to mention that if all goes well, I will be posting to the gaming part of this blog twice a week starting this week. On Friday, I will be pre-ordering the new WoW expansion and I can’t wait to start talking about that as well (and any other game worth mentioning.) Here’s to hoping things go as planned.

Unlike last week, there weren’t too many surprises that fans witnessed as the games were played. For the most part, things went as I had expected. London Spitfire took down Seoul Dynasty, but it was still a really exciting match to watch especially since I was rooting for the Spitfire to win. It was odd to not have Ryujehong in the game, which some could argue is what made the difference in the game. Spitfire is a strong team, so I’m sure it may have been closer with Ryu in the game, but I just think that Spitfire may arguably be the stronger team. There’s still time for me to be wrong on that, but I stand by that statement. Fleta was still unstoppable this week and it was awesome to watch him and Jake face off in the next night of matches. Outlaws put up a strong fight against Dynasty, but ended up losing in the tiebreaker map.

Uprising is proving themselves to be quite the team to go against. They took down both of the “home teams”, the Los Angeles Gladiators and the Los Angeles Valiant. While they expected the Gladiators to go down to Boston, the casters seemed to think that Boston didn’t stand a chance. In true Boston fashion, they went on to sweep the Valiant to the shock of the commentators. They went 4-0 in both matches, something they really needed to find themselves in the wildcard. From underdogs to real contenders, next week is the last chance for them to climb up or stay strong in their spot for the playoffs.

The final week of Stage 1 is going to be an exciting one. I say this also as a Patriots fan, who would love to see the Uprising avenge the Pats by beating Philadelphia Fusion next week. Their games this week are going to be hard as Outlaws are a strong team and Fusion seems to have some power to them when they click. Crossing my fingers for you, Uprising.