The battle for Texas has shown the heights the Overwatch League is headed for in the years to come. The Overwatch League finished its first traveling event taking place in Texas. It wrapped up in a battle between the Houston Outlaws and Dallas Fuel over who rules Texas. This serves as the demo for the next year to have each team move to their respective arenas around the world and play true home and away games.
Earlier this year we saw the reveal of the Philadelphia Fusions arena and have witnessed the Blizzard Arena expand and redesign itself to accommodate the Overwatch League through both season 1 and 2. The event in Texas was larger than that of a normal weekly league game but it showed how ready the audience was to celebrate. Living in Burbank spoils me since i’m a stone’s throw away from the Blizzard Arena for OWL games.
This was a great experience for the Overwatch League as a proving grounds for their localized audiences. As the year goes on we will see 2 more major away events in Atlanta and Los Angeles. These will play to similar crowds who miss out on their teams and matches due to their distance. I hope these turn out just as amazing as the Dallas event was.
GOATS is here and here to remain for the time being as the big bad prevalent META but there’s one massive spanner that’s been thrown into the META madness. Well to be more accurate there’s one big spanner and then several smaller spanners that have gummed up this engine. The big up-setter is the arising and returning triple DPS compositions that a few teams have picked up in more scenarios. The smaller ones are of varying cheese variety such as the bunker composition, the Symmetra teleporter assault compositions, and the return of the long lost pirate ship strategies. The GOATS steamroll is trying to roll these down but even it is getting sluggish. With any hope GOATS will still be a viable team composition but no longer remain as the sole strategy teams employ.
You can thank many teams, players, and coaches for all of this evolution. There is on team to mention in honor though; the Chengdu Hunters. Match after match the Chengdu Hunters have brought increasingly absurd compositions to light. This has had varying success but has garnered them the favoritism of the crowd cheering on the game. Some games their tactics throw the enemy team into confusion through crowd control effects or simply by their absurdity. The real king of this change is their main tank player Ding “Ameng“ Menghan who’s playtime consists of greater than 60% of its time on Hammond. The next playtime is held by Reinhardt at a measly 22%. More teams have started to relinquish their GOATS chains and break free under the inspiration of Ameng and the Chengdu Hunters success.
The tentative adoption and exploration of new team compositions has come with a release of the now long restrained DPS players back onto the arena stage. While the GOATS, triple tank triple support, META has existed many of the best players from across the league have been relegated to playing Brigitte if possible or being benched in their entirety. Some players like Brady “Agilities“ Girardi and Hyojong “Haksal“ Kim made do by learning Brigitte and taking over that role. Other players such as Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe“ Park and Do-hyeon “Pine“ Kim have played in barely a single game. Going forward I hope to see these players and their teams return to form but this time in a more diverse META.
Fans and I are all on our short in-between stage break for the Overwatch League awaiting team shifting announcements. I figured this would be the most opportune time to take a minute to look back on stage one and some of the photographs I got during it.
Stage one has completed its matches and came to a long drawn out near upset conclusion. The expected victors the Vancouver Titans have walked away with the cash and the trophy for stage one. San Francisco shock however walk away with second place but do leave a resounding mark upon the league by taking the Titans to all seven games in the stage one finals showing that they have what it takes to go toe to toe with the former Korean contender league Titans.
Given the predictions from fans as shown above the finals of stage one was a very near upset from the bottom to the top. On day one the predictions of the New York Excelsior VS Vancouver Titans finals were shattered as Seoul Dynasty destroyed the NYXL in a three to one game.
Out of all the players who need some appreciation this week is Matthew, “super”, DeLisi from the Shock. Super racked up 40 earthshatter stuns in only three maps compared to his opponent, Sang-beom “Bumper” Park, with only 25. Super was dominating in the Reinhardt game and Bumper went so far as to say he was superior than him.
Stage two of the Overwatch League season two starts on April 4th. We’ll see how the META may change and which players will dominate after just a week’s hiatus.
In the coming season 3 of the Overwatch League we will finally see the Overwatch League act on its creationary ideals. When the Overwatch League was created it was built with the goal of taking the best of current mainstream sports and combining it with the bests from Esports productions around the world as well. These being things such as the NFL and other large sports organizations and from South Korea which is the world’s Esports juggernaut. This year teams will finally take to local stadiums and arenas all around the world to represent their teams and provide their teams with physical locations to rep their support.
This year in season 2 the league began these steps by doing several away from home game events. Teams also began running their own more collaborative local events as well such as the Los Angeles Valiant and San Francisco Shock hosting a northern California VS southern Californian event earlier this year. This brings all of us awesome Overwatch Fans from across the world watching online together to local arenas where we can duke it out just like all those other sports fans we love. We can bring out flags, clothing swag and awesome artwork signs to events to inspire and encourage our favorite teams.
Already in the Blizzard arena in LA we see fans from all over the world coming to support their favorite teams or just their favorite players. With the recent expansion we have seen some of this love grow a perfect example being the new star player of the Atlanta Reign Daniel “Dafran” Francesca. Dafran was a popular online twitch streamer with a warm and lovable comedic personality which fans have clearly embraced in their support of the new expansion team.
With the progression in production value, sponsorship acquisitions and team expansions we have seen in the first 2 years of the Overwatch League I can’t wait to see what will take the show up another notch this time. In the upcoming posts I’ll be doing some analysis about the stage 1 playoff battles. I will also be doing some discussion on tactics in the current meta which should hopefully be changing soon. On my blog you may also find from time to time some info about the contenders or collegiate scenes of competitive Overwatch. This stems from my participation in the Tespa collegiate league now.
Week three of the Overwatch League has come and gone and teams seem to be settling into their positions. Don’t count anyone out just yet though as some teams have completed more matches than others at the moment so we may see some last minute titans rise to the top. The top teams saw their win streaks continue this week as well with the Vancouver Titans and New York Excelsior brush off any and all competition.
Also this week we saw the season one champions the London Spitfire finally break the curse that’s been following them since the inaugural season. In a tooth and nail battle between the London Spitfire and the Los Angeles Gladiators, that went to four games, we saw London take the match two to one.
As we head into the final weeks of stage one; the teams who have mostly lost their chance at a stage playoffs will start to experiment more with their team and player compositions. Maybe one of them will figure out the next big thing and dominate stage 2. At the moment it appears we will be looking at a Titans VS NYXL stage finals which will be quite the show.
The answer to life the universe and everything was how many losses the Shanghai Dragons would accrue before finally winning their first match. In a stunning three to one match, the Dragons surpassed everyone’s expectations and clutched that victory tightly. People were screaming and shouting; cheering them on almost begging for the win. When the final point was captured the massive wall-sized screens at the Blizzard Arena lit up saying Shanghai Dragons wins. People were crying stunned at what we had all been there to witness.
Selecting only one player to focus on from this series is impossible so we’ll focus on two. Jin-hyeok “DDing” Yang and Young-jin “Gamsu” Noh are two core members of the newly rebuilt Shanghai Dragons. DDing is a DPS starting player who showed excellence as Sombra in their matches. Gamsu is the Dragons starting main tank player who showed a mastery of every main tank in the game. DDing ran circles around the Boston Uprising while Gamsu ran headfirst into the enemies to defend his teammates with his body and health pool. The entire team moved fluidly and were nearly incomparable to last seasons roster. At times in the audience fans were anxious and being as wary as ever so as not to jinx the potential victory. If you want to watch the game you can find the full vod on the Overwatch League site.
While the Shanghai Dragons that were on full display on Friday are a drastically changed and expanded roster compared to their season one counterparts Gamsu was one of their newest players as he was traded last minute from their opponents, the Boston Uprising, to the Shanghai Dragons to take control of their main tank and shot-caller role. During an interview before the series, Gamsu had stated that it came as a shock that he had been traded but that he would work his hardest to make these dragons soar. The whole team was incredibly emotional after the match and deservedly so especially considering how dominant they were in maps one and two.
The dragons still have a long way to go before they can make they can reach their goal of stage and season playoffs but after Friday’s game, it looks like they’ve definitely got the spirit in them. I can’t wait to see the performance fo the Dragons going forward though no one should get too frightened if they don’t pick up a win in week three. The season and this roster are both young and they’ve got plenty of room to grow.