Overwatch League Team’s Approach to Blizzard World

Blizzard World is the newest map to be inserted into the Overwatch League map pool, and the hybrid map early on has facilitated strong defensive play and made it tough on attacking teams. Seven games have been played on Blizzard World and only three teams have reached the third point. Each team has similar strategies with slight differences, here’s how each team plays this map.

The first Point

The first point on Blizzard World is a long run for the attacking team, with many open sightlines and back alleys to avoid them. The majority of teams in the Overwatch League started off positioning themselves on the backside of the dock building, towards the mini health pack. Similarly to Hanamura, Kings Row, and Eichenwalde, teams will play near the back of each point.

One reason is to go anti-dive and make getting onto the backline a journey just to get into a position to dive that far. Secondly, it makes the attacking team come to them and stay organized. An attacking team lacking cohesion on the first point of Blizzard World will come to a swift and brutal end. Lastly, it makes healing easier, especially on this map where there are more doors and buildings to enter than just about any map.

Pro Play

As for how pro teams play this first point, it depends on the team, we will use a couple of teams as examples. On attack, the strongest strategy so far has been the triple-tank composition that pushes up through the right or left buildings and slow pushes aggressively onto the point. The Seoul Dynasty are the only team to run this, but unlike other strategies that rely on a Sombra hack or Widowmaker pick, the tank composition has more room for error.

Dock building where most teams set up for on defense for the first point. Photo via Overwatch Wiki

Moving closer to the standard, the three characters that often get picked on this long stretch of a first point is the best mobility characters (Sombra and Tracer) and the character that covers the most ground (Widowmaker). The San Francisco Shock ran Sombra throughout the entire map but were hard countered in some instances by the Dynasty’s tank lineup.

As for the most forward-thinking setup, that belongs to the Dynasty on defense as well. It was the same tank composition but switching Jin-hyuk “Miro” Gong from Winston to Orissa and shielding the small pathway on the attacking right side. On the attacking left side, Byung-sun “Fleta” Kim on Sombra hacked the big health pack and with Jin-mo “Tobi” Yang on Tracer forcing the attacking team to the attacking right side, right into Seong-beom “Munchkin” Byun waiting behind the Orissa shield with Roadhog’s hook.

The most efficient team throughout week two on the first point was, you guessed it, the New York Excelsior. Facing the London Spitfire, who sat behind the dock building, Jun-hwa “Janus” Song forced them off with direct dives, leaving Do-hyeon “Pine” Kim free shots on retreating support players. Widowmaker is not a must-pick on Blizzard World, but the tight shots with heavy cover make it hard to pass up.

Second Point

Pylon Terrace second point

The second point on Blizzard World was the doom bringer for offenses in week one. It’s a long point, with many doors to escape and a giant wall that helps defenses set up on the high ground with cover. The Pylon Terrace section is a great section for defenses and five of eight teams were stranded in this middle section.

Why is it so difficult? First off, it gives the close quarter heroes a serious advantage. The D.Va players last week tore up the second point. Matt “Coolmatt” Lorio used D.Va’s vertical maneuverability to control the against the dive and counter-dive while still maintaining the high ground advantage. That’s not to mention the success D.Va’s have found with angled self-destructs in week one. Coolmatt had couple play of the game plays, but he wasn’t the only one, Tae-hong “Meko” Kim and Gael “Poko” Gouzerch also landed major self-destruct multi-kills.

Additionally, Tracer and Junkrat can play a significant role in this section. Heroes like Tracer and Sombra work well because it’s easy to get to the backline considering all the passageways. Junkrat is great because all those passageways allow for Junkrat to send easy body shots onto anyone he catches. Jun-young “Profit” Park played this role as it should be played, but Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park did a great job trying to counter the Pylon Terrace setup.

Third Point

Five out of fourteen rounds ended in three points. It’s incredibly difficult to push into that final point and takes a well-concentrated ultimate fight win to take the point entirely. Heavy tanks have been one of the best strategies because they have the necessary help to power through. However, Junkrat’s proven to be a nuisance for attacking teams, as there are many paths for a rogue junktire to connect.

Diablo section of the third point. Photo via Overwatch Wiki

In essence, it’s about outlasting opponents and getting strong ultimates to end fights. It’s arguably the most difficult point to take in the map pool, but that will change over time. With only five rounds finishing on the last point, there’s not enough data to get a clear understanding of what teams are looking to run at this point.  From the few games last week, it took a skill shot and recognizing a retreating defense from  Kim “Zunba” Joon-hyuk to finally take the point with a triple-kill self-destruct. 

It’s safe to assume more strategies will be introduced this week. It’s nice to see the compositional picks are spread out amongst a large number of heroes. Sombra has been shown to work on both offenses and defenses. Same goes for Widowmaker and the tank-compositions. Those three have taken the spotlight, but expect more drastic changes to be implemented this week.

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Feature photo via Overwatch Wiki

The Unofficial Midway Point Overwatch League All-Star Rosters

The Overwatch League is around the midway point of the season, and with two stages and a playoff left to go, it’s important to recognize the players at the top of their positions making the biggest impact for their team.

Now, the rosters were selected for their specific role. For instances,  Byung-sun “Fleta” Kim is a projectile main but can go hitscan and often does. Regardless of this fact, Fleta is a projectile main because that’s his primary role. Only supports don’t make the distinction, but it’s important to recognize the divide between main healers and projectile healers (I didn’t make the distinction).

The 20 best players in the Overwatch League according to their roles. The decision-making process took some heavy analytical thought and pinned uber-talented players against each other. Ultimately, the 20 players on these rosters are as close as you’ll get to the actual all-star game, which takes place after the season in August.

Hitscan Main

Photo via OWL Twitter

Atlantic: New York Excelsior Saebyeolbe

Sub: Philadelphia Fusion Carpe

Pacific: Los Angeles Valiant Soon

Sub: Los Angeles Gladiators Asher

Saebyeolbe is undoubtedly the best Tracer in the Overwatch League, but Terence “SoOn” Tarlier has been a force for the Los Angeles Valiant in the inaugural season. Unfortunately for the Pacific, the Atlantic is riddled with top-level Tracer play. Facing Saebyeolbe is one thing, but having Carpe on the bench is just cruel.

However, Choi “Asher” Joon-seong is starting to establish himself as the premiere Tracer main in the Pacific and is showing a greater ability to win heads up against other Tracer’s. Regardless of SoOn and Asher’s continued advancement in the Tracer-heavy meta, there’s no better player than Saebyeolbe and Carpe comes as a close second.

Projectile Main

Photo via Overwatch League Twitter

Atlantic: New York Excelsior Libero

Sub: Philadelphia Fusion EQO

Pacific: Seoul Dynasty Fleta

Let me preface this by saying that the league’s best projectile main was just suspended indefinitely which drastically shakes up, not only the Boston Uprising roster but the rest of the Atlantic in terms of playoff placings. In his absence, the New York Excelsior add yet another name to the unofficial all-star game starting lineup as Hae-song “Libero” Kim slots in as the next best choice. The other quick rising name on the list is Fusion’s Josue “EQO” Corona who helped totally transform Philadelphia into a dangerous playoff team.  

As for the Pacific, Byung-sun “Fleta” Kim was a natural choice, but outside of his expert level Genji and versatility on many offensive minded heroes, there’s really no other players that came close throughout the Pacific. In recent months, Fleta’s been flat, as has most of the Dynasty roster, but there’s no doubting that a more cohesive team could set Fleta off on a number of different heroes. If an all-star game ever does happen, watch for Fleta to win MVP.

Main Tank

Photo via Overwatch League Twitter

Atlantic: London Spitfire Gesture

Sub: Houston Outlaws Muma

Pacific: Los Angeles Gladiators Fissure

Sub: Los Angeles Valiant Fate

The most intriguing matchup of the entire match will undoubtedly be seeing the former Spitfire main tank against their current starter. Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung vs. Hong “Gesture” Jae-hee alone would sell tickets. Looking through all the roles, no other matchup seems as balanced as the main tanks. Gesture and Fissure have proven to be the most lethal Winston’s with their high damage totals and thus belong on these squads.

Austin “Muma” Wilmot and Koo “Fate” Pan-seung are no slouches either. The two of the better spacing Winston’s leave such a huge mark on their teams and are very deserving of all-star spot despite the lack of gaudy damage numbers. In fairness, these players don’t have the plays that show up in the kill feed, but their presence is felt even more than the best damage dealers.

Flex Tank

Courtesy of: owl report

Atlantic: Houston Outlaws Coolmatt

Sub: new York Excelsior Meko

Pacific: Seoul Dynasty Zunba

Sub: Los Angeles Valiant Envy

Flex tank is always the kid at the party having the most fun. This statement applies to all these tank players, and each one should be looked at as the unsung heroes on their teams. Now, Matt “Coolmatt” Lorio has the best survivability of any D.Va player, and is incredible at turning disadvantageous fights with D.Va’s maneuverability. However, Kim “Meko” Tae-hong is equally good at controlling fights and does a great job distracting for his dynamite damage mains to get in.

The Pacific throws Kim “Zunba” Joon-hyuk, who historically have been the strongest flex player in the world dating back to Apex. This hasn’t changed much since that time, Zunba is the player putting the Dynasty in the best position to win with his methodical and space controlling push style. As for the subs, Kang “Envy” Jae-lee currently is unemployed but based on stats alone, Envy was the most damage intensive D.va in all of the Pacific. Looking forward, expect Indy “Space” Halpern being the next strong D.Va main in the Overwatch League.

Support Mains

2018-03-25 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Atlantic: New York Excelsior JJoNak

Atlantic 2: New York Excelsior Ark

Sub: London Sitfire BDosin

Pacific: Seoul Dynasty Tobi

Pacific 2: Los Angeles Gladiators Shaz

Sub: San Francisco Shock Sleepy

The Atlantic has an undeniable advantage in the support department from the stacked Zenyatta’s to the strong Mercy and Lucio play. Bang “JJoNak” Seong-hyun is changing the game as a hybrid-support player with Zenyatta allowing for players to have an impact on all aspects of the game. Choi “BDosin” Seung-tae is no slouch, coming in at second overall in damage output, but no one compares to JJoNak.

The Pacific would have the old Lunatic-Hai duo of Jin-mo “Tobi” Yang and Je-hong “Ryujehong” Ryu, but both have underperformed this season and fell well below their standards of healing. Tobi is still considered one of the best straight healers, but his ability to survive isn’t as efficient as it used to be before this season. It was also tough only choosing one from the Los Angeles Gladiators Finnish-duo, but since the Mercy patch, Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara has separated himself in the Pacific.

For what it’s worth, Ark is still the best overall Mercy and continues to play her and other supports at the highest level possible. Nikola “Sleepy” Andrews is one of the bigger surprises, as his confidence has grown tremendously through this first season. Sleepy’s starting to become a premiere Zenyatta damage dealer.

Take a look at these rosters and tell me this isn’t something that audiences would watch.

Atlantic Roster

  • Saebyeolbe
  • Libero
  • JJoNak
  • Coolmatt
  • Gesture
  • Ark

Bench

  • Meko
  • Muma
  • BDosin
  • Fate
  • EQO

Pacific Roster

Starters

  • Soon
  • Fleta
  • Fissure
  • Tobi
  • Shaz
  • Zunba

Bench

  • Asher
  • Fate
  • Envy
  • Sleepy

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Feature photo via Overwatch League Twitter!

Boston Uprising win the preparation game after a 2-0 Stage Three start

The Boston Uprising end the week as the hottest team in the Overwatch league. A complete team effort gets them through one of the roughest weeks in the stage three schedule and sets them up nicely down the line. It also helps in terms of overall seeding, as the Uprising go from sixth to fourth and are close behind the Seoul Dynasty and London Spitfire.

Continually, beating two divisional opponents in a tight race is always important. The 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Fusion was an enormous win considering the Fusion just came off a successful trip to the end of the stage playoffs. On Saturday, the Uprising completely and utterly dismantled the Houston Outlaws, winning in one of the most one-sided games of the season.

Two MVP Candidates on the Uprising DPS-Line

The Uprising has a lot going for them at this moment. This team had little expectations outside of their own building at the start of the season, most saw them as a bottom-four team. With that in mind, pushing the best teams midway through stage three is an excellent sign, and even more important is the emergence of both Jonathon “DreamKazper” Sanchez and Nam-joo “Striker” Kwon at the damage positions.

Both players were known as talented players entering the Overwatch League, but to say both players would be considered MVP-candidates past the midway point is insane. But here we are, Uprising constantly upping their game and finding new ways to use their terrifying damage duo to throw off opposing teams, and after shutting down Jiri “LiNzkr” Masalin and Jacob “JAKE” Lyon, it’s safe to say both players belong in the conversation for best player.

Consider this, among all OWL players Striker currently has the best kill-death ratio of any player and is the top three in all major statistical categories. DreamKazper, on the other hand, leads most categories among the league leaders for projectile players and is the one player who is in the top five for total damage from a non-hitscan player.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the Uprising victory today and how each player was used. First, the acknowledgment of all the heroes played in today’s match were staggering. A combined six heroes between the two, and in most instances, those switches worked. Looking at Striker’s day, he played a great deal of Junkrat when he’s normally primarily stuck on Tracer. However, on maps like Temple of Anubis, a map the Uprising are 6-0 on this season, he couldn’t be touched from the high-ground. Same goes for Junkertown, and the few times Striker switched off Tracer.

On to DreamKazper, who surprisingly took on Widowmaker duels from Linkzr and came away with an overwhelming lead in head-to-head kills. Putting that in perspective, LiNzkr doesn’t lose in that department. It’s one area the Outlaws always have the advantage on, but DreamKazper made sure that wasn’t the case Saturday. In fact, DreamKazper was having so much success specifically finding LiNzkr, that it brought down the entire Outlaws gameplan. No one could get started on offense and this is the reason why.

Coach Crusty driving force behind Uprising

Coach Crusty before a match. Photo via twitter.com/BostonUprising

Here’s something that simply doesn’t get discussed enough and that’s coaching. Da-hee “Crusty” Park will never get the recognition he deserves for what he’s been able to get out of this team, but on the outside looking in, the Uprising is the best-coached team in the Overwatch League. It’s not only getting the best out of each player, it’s the traits they’ve instilled into these players. The fact that this team rarely overextends and always have Noh “Gamsu” Young-jin always in the right position to dive forward in attack or backward to defend allowing for everyone to play with a safety net.

Additionally, the compositional picks are also making it easier for the players. The Outlaws didn’t have answers for DreamKazper’s Pharah. The Outlaws don’t have a great answer for Pharah on the roster, but that’s the benefit of having DreamKazper ad the main projectile player. The versatility of the DPS-mains and their large hero pools gives Crusty plenty to work with. 

It’s quite remarkable to see the growth on this Boston Uprising team. There’s no player more on highlight alert than DreamKazper, who is just unconsciously good on most days. This team’s main problem is consistency, either win-or-lose, this team goes on streaks. Right now, they’re on a winning streak, but only time will tell if this type of play keeps up. Regardless, this team is hitting on all cylinders, and improving at a faster rate than most of the other teams in contention. Good coaching, talent, and the willpower to improve will keep them to their winning ways.

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Feature photo via Boston Uprising Twitter

The five best players in stage two of the Overwatch League

Photo via Overwatch League Twitter

Two stages down with two stages to go and at the halfway point of the regular season the picture of best teams and players is becoming clearer. The New York Excelsior have separated themselves as the best team with their staggering amount of map wins and their stage two win over the Philadelphia Fusion. NYXL is the best team, but do they feature the league’s best player?

Honorable Mentions

Stage two featured many breakthrough performances as the skill gap continues to close between former Apex players and the rest of the world. It’s been made abundantly clear that the talent pool is not centrally located, and after Josh “EQO” Corona bust onto the scene in stage two and dramatically improved the Fusion dive, no player can be underestimated.

Additionally, stage two featured plenty of established Apex players making their patented big plays. Kim “Libero” Hye-sung for the stage two champs showed his versatility by filling and producing with many different heroes. Similarly, Kim “Birdring” Ji-hyeok played that same role for the Spitfire, and continues to terrorize teams with his ridiculous skill and big play potential.

Other names who deserved consideration, the Outlaws Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin single-handedly won games in stage two. Hong “Gesture” Jae-hee didn’t make this list because of his deaths per 10 minutes, but in terms of damage from the main tank, there’s no one better. Let’s not forget Austin “Muma” Wilmot proving himself as one of the three best main tanks or Kim “Fleta” Byung-sun who’d be in the top five with more consistency.

  1. Philadelphia Fusion Carpe

On championship Sunday, Lee “Carpe” Jae-hyeok was unconscious on Tracer and Widowmaker against the NYXL. This performance was more-or-less what Carpe will do on a daily basis. Outside of adding another playmaker like EQO and having an aggressive tank with Joona “Fragi” Laine play disruptor, Carpe’s freakish aim and game sense was the main reason the Fusion almost took the stage two title.

In terms of survivability as a Tracer, Carpe’s one of the best with a kill-death of 4.21 per 10 minutes which is good for fourth among active players. It’s not only his survivability on the opponent’s backline, but his ability to find those priority targets. Carpe’s arguably the next best Widowmaker behind Linzkr. If you need proof, watch the Widow’s in the stage two playoffs fail miserably in the sniper battles.

  1. London Spitfire Profit

Similarly to the NYXL, the Spitfire have many players who are on the brink of breaking into the top five, but no player had the impact that Park “Profit” Joon-yeong had throughout stage two. Sure, Libero gives them that much-needed utility, but in terms of damage dealer, Profit’s been invaluable. Profit is the backbone to a feverishly aggressive team, spearheading it all.

Looking at the most kills throughout the league, Profit sits in second with 515 total kills and is in the top three in most statistical categories. Profit’s not the best Tracer in a Tracer driven league, but he’s really close to taking that top spot and has more versatility as a hitscan than some of his counterparts.

  1. Los Angeles Gladiators Fissure

In terms of sheer impact on his team, Baek “Fissure” chun-hyung outshines nearly every player in the league. All the evidence is in the record before and after stage two for the Los Angeles Gladiators. Fissure’s presence changed everything for this team, and the rest of the roster is benefiting from a smart main tank who puts them in good positions.

Now, Fissure’s not the best tank in terms of overall damage; that designation belongs to Gesture. His survivability reigns supreme though. His job is to make it easier for the damage mains, and it’s hard to argue that any other tank has done that better while still dealing plenty of damage. Fissure is an incredibly smart player and the Gladiators are now starting to build around him which is scary for the rest of the league.

  1. New York Excelsior JJoNak

Let me preface this decision by saying it’s not easy picking between two teammates who both severely outplayed the rest of the players in their particular role. Seong-hyun “JJoNak” Bang is another player similar to EQO that was pulled off the ladder, and after two stages, he’s proved in a short amount of time that he’s the best support main in Overwatch by a pretty good margin.

There are many reasons why JJoNak is so coveted as a Zenyatta main. It’s not only that he essentially plays the role of another damage main, but that even when a team dives on top of him, he’s so good in micro-situations that it’s no guaranteed kill. He’s in on every play in one way or another and constantly finding final blows. JJoNak leads all support mains in kills per 10 minutes by a few kills. It’s almost unfair to compare other support mains to this monster.

  1. New York Excelsior Saebyeolbe

The best Tracer, and currently the world’s best player in New York Excelsior’s Park “Sabyeolbe” Jong-ryeol, who’s been the face of consistency in a league that demands that to be the best. Saebyeolbe is a wrecking ball of destruction, and that’s proven by his impressive statistics. First in total kills, damage, and he has the best kill-death and has a pretty healthy lead in all of those categories.

The NYXL sit at 18-2 on the season and are now the clear favorite to be holding the trophy at the end of the season. Saebyeolbe’s imposing Tracer play is the main reason this team finds themselves in this spot. It’s not just the unbelievable positioning, constantly outsmarting opponents, and one-clip prowess. It’s a constant struggle to find and kill Saebyeolbe, and that’s shown through his utter ridiculous kill streaks. He does it all and is the best Tracer in the most competitive role in the Overwatch League.

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Feature photo via Overwatch League Twitter

Chicago Bears 2018 Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is just under a month away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the Chicago Bears 2018 NFL Draft profile.

Summary

The Chicago Bears enter draft season with an entirely different outlook after free agency. Despite a 2017 season that ultimately ended John Fox’s time with the Bears, there are some promising signs for this team moving forward. However, that only happens if general manager Ryan Pace is able to land impact players in the 2018 draft. The Bears are teetering on relevancy for another season, picking in the top 10.

First and foremost, the development of Mitch Trubisky is vital to any future success the Bears might have. Pace ensured this by trading up last April to grab his favorite quarterback in that draft, and after a rather typical freshman season, it’s time for Trubisky to take a jump in year two.

Fortunately, the Bears went out and grabbed a number of offensive free agents to help ease Trubisky into new coach Matt Nagy’s system. Acquiring Allen Robinson was a huge step in the right direction for a wide receiver group that caught four touchdown passes all of last season. Add speed demon Taylor Gabriel and the versatile Trey Burton to the list of signings, and the Bears have the start of something.

As for the rest of the team, it’s still going to be a work in progress. It’s no secret the Bears have little to offer at outside linebacker, and if one position of need sticks out, it’s an edge rusher. The offensive line also needs some help due to the ongoing health-related problems with Kyle Long and the release of Josh Sitton. If the Bears wish to compete in 2018, Pace has to hit on impactful players in the draft.

Picks and Needs

The Bears have seven picks in the 2018 draft.

First round (1 pick): 8

Second round (1): 39

Third round (0):

Fourth round (2): 105, 115

Fifth round (1): 145

Sixth round (1): 181

Seventh round (1): 224

Offensive needs:

Offensive line One unit that had plenty of promise heading into last season that did not live up to expectations was the Bears offensive line. Injuries and regression plagued the line last season, and despite a solid pairing of Long and Cody Whitehair inside, the Bears need to touch up the tackle position and secure Whitehair’s spot at center. Jordan Morgan is still a question mark, and Charles Leno Jr. is already signed through 2020 and looks to have another effective season. If the Bears have a shot at the golden boy prospect, Quenton Nelson, it’s hard to see Pace passing even with a need on the edge.

Slot receiver Yes, the Bears brought in two wide receivers and a pass-catching tight end this free agency, but there is still a missing piece in the slot. Looking at this draft, a particularly strong area is the slot receivers, especially value picks that will go on day two and three. The Bears needed an overhaul to the worst wide receiver group in all of the NFL in 2017, and a player like Christian Kirk or Anthony Miller would do the trick.

Defensive needs:

Outside linebacker As alluded to earlier, outside of Leonard Floyd, the Bears have little to no pass rush on the edge. Pernell McPhee and Willie Young were promptly cut, saving the Bears some money to buy free agents, but leaving a gaping hole at linebacker. Luckily, Akiem Hicks alleviates some of that concern, but the Bears need some new pass rushing blood more than ever.

Cornerback The Bears cornerbacks were one of the most underrated units in all of football last season. The resurgence of Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara fueled a total turnaround for a young Bears secondary. However, with Fuller signing an offer sheet and Amukamara back for a couple more years, it would be a good time to add depth and find the next potential starter.

Targets

First round:

Pick No. 8: Tremaine Edmunds, OLB, Virginia Tech

The Bears won’t likely win the Quenton Nelson or Bradley Chubb lottery, even if there is a run of quarterbacks. But Edmunds would be an underrated, value pick at eighth overall. Looking back at what Pace’s prototypical prospect is, Edmunds fits almost perfectly. Edmunds has elite, athletic ability at 6-foot-5 and is still learning the game. He will continue to grow into whatever position he plays at the NFL level.

Edmunds is not that Week 1 impact player. He will take plenty of time to learn the game, but there is not a better coach to utilize his talents than defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Two things are clear: he is raw and undefined as a defender. But with his frame and speed, there is a chance he develops into one of the most imposing defenders in football. Edmunds arguably has a higher ceiling than even Chubb and is considered one of the best raw talents in this draft.

However, this pick is going to be volatile towards draft day. It is a quarterback-driven top of the draft, and with so many moving pieces, Quenton Nelson could end up being the pick. It is likely that Nelson is the first player on Pace’s draft board, but based on previous drafts and characteristics, Edmunds might be second.

Second round:

Pick No. 39: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Pace has made it abundantly clear that this offseason’s sole purpose is to give Trubisky all the tools he needs to succeed as an NFL quarterback. Christian Kirk would cap off an addition to a now talented group of skill position players. The Bears need a slot receiver, and unless Nagy has ideas for Tarik Cohen in the slot, a player like Kirk would be a great addition.

Now, spending early draft capital on a position the Bears spent lavishly on in free agency might seem counterproductive and could lose out on more needy positions. However, Kirk would be an excellent value in the early second and would make an immediate impact on the field. On top of good football instincts, Kirk runs a fast 40-time and has excellent ball skills. Another dangerous weapon to add could help push this team into contention.

Conclusion

The Bears might be just out of the picture of getting Nelson, but Edmunds is nothing to be upset about and brings much-needed help to the pass rush. Kirk would cap off a great supporting cast for Trubisky to work with.

Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the San Francisco 49ers 2018 Draft profile.

 

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Deju Vu for the Seoul Dynasty entering week five on the outside of the playoffs

Stage one and stage two have had an eerily similar feel for the Seoul Dynasty. In both stages, the Dynasty get off to a hot start only to be fighting from the outside-looking-in heading into the final week of the stage. The two losses in week four insured the Dynasty another uphill battle, one that ended poorly for them in stage one.

The Dynasty flopping against the top teams

A heartbreaking 3-2 loss to the New York Excelsior and a rather sloppy performance against the London Spitfire put them back in an almost identical situation to stage one. With the same score lines, the Dynasty has a serious issue with not showing up against the consensus best teams. And after their latest upsetting performance, their playoff fate no longer rests in their own hands. It’s now dependent on the Los Angeles Gladiators or the Spitfire losing a few games by a somewhat wide margin.

Let’s look back at the matches, Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park has proven to be a serious problem for the Dynasty backline and for the bulk of that roster. In the two regular-season matchups, the Tracer-expert has made a living off disrupting the Dynasty gameplan. Sang-beom “Munchkin” Byeon is having a nice stage two, but the lack of Tracer duel wins is a problem, and Byung-sung “Fleta” Kim hasn’t looked as dominant in stage two. Down the line, the Dynasty struggled to contain any of the Excelsior playmakers.

Switching over to the London Spitfire, a combination of an assertive game plan and simply outperforming their counterparts on the other side have given the Spitfire an astounding eight-game winning streak over the Dynasty. As main Zenyatta player Sung-tae “BDosin” Choi likes to say, “Seoul Dynasty’s weakness is (the) London Spitfire,” and after two dominating efforts, it’s hard to disagree. No other team has been able to disrupt the cerebral style that the Dynasty brings into matches. It’s clear that bringing the fight to the Dynasty will give them trouble.

Not to mention the fact that these struggles against GC Busan pre-date the Overwatch League if you look back on how Lunatic-Hai ended their Apex run. What’s the cause of this? A regression of skill amongst the most noteworthy names on this roster or is this a coaching issue? The bulk of the responsibility isn’t on one player, but the lack of coordination and underperforming from the entire roster.

What’s going on with Ryujehong?

Je-hong “Ryujehong” Ryu is one of the more accomplished players in the Overwatch League. The first player on a grand stage to really separate himself from the rest of the pack. His skill has always been flashy, but sensible and measured.Ever since the benching in stage one, life’s been tough on Ryujehong. His struggles are bleeding into Jin-hyuk “Miro” Gong’s effectiveness and are overall hurting the dive.

As Overwatchers contenders commentator James “Jamerson” Lee pointed out to me, tracking Ryujehong’s discord orbs have not been easy. In the loss to the Spitfire and Excelsior, the emphasis on Ryujehong specifically made it really tough on him. The combination of focus fire and having to deal with Syung-heon “JJoNak” Bang and BDosin Zenyatta volleys lead to some rather un-Ryujehong like performances. It’s been a growing issue within the Dynasty’s attack and could be a point of contention moving forward.

Tobi at a press conference. Photo via Seoul Dynasty Twitter

Moreover, Ryujehong isn’t exactly known for his play on Zenyatta. Yes, he’s proven to play Zenyatta at an incredibly high level and is absolutely considered one of the best in the Overwatch League, but most of his notoriety as the supreme support main comes from his play on Ana. In no way do I think keeping Ryujehong on the bench is a smart move, but inserting Gi-do “Gido” Moon into some situations might be a switch the Dynasty need.

Identically, Jin-mo “Tobi” Yang hasn’t been playing at his best this season either. The same could be said for Fleta, who started stage one as the frontrunner for MVP. Randomly, the one position that’s been getting strong performances has been Munchkin or Joon-hyuk “Bunny” Chae on Tracer, who have both stepped up in stage two. On top of that, the contributions of Joon-hyuk “Zunba” Kim on D.va have been outstanding for a team struggling on dives.

Looking ahead for Seoul

Luckily for the Dynasty, the schedule ends with two bottom-six opponents, even if one of those is the struggling stage on playoff team Houston Outlaws. The other would be the Florida Mayhem who has shown great improvement in stage two. It will take a combination of the Los Angeles Gladiators (or Spitfire) ending the week 0-2 while losing both games by more than a few maps.

Unfortunately for the Dynasty, based on the way the Gladiators have been playing recently it, feels unlikely that will happen. If the Dynasty gets no help this week, they will find themselves watching their second consecutive playoff round from the couch, and based off expectations heading into the Overwatch League would be a colossal underachievement for them. Regardless of stage playoffs, the Dynasty sit at 13-5 atop the Pacific division and have their eyes set on the ultimate prize at the end of the inaugural season. 

 

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Featured photo via Seoul Dynasty twitter

Gladiators hit the jackpot on the Fissure trade

It’s been four weeks since the Los Angeles Gladiators made the blockbuster trade for Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek, and in that time one thing has been made perfectly clear: the Gladiators are massive winners here. Let’s take a look at the sort of impact Fissure has made on this Gladiators team.

Gladiators look like a playoff team in stage two

Looking back on stage one, it was clear that this team had potential but a piece was missing. The lack of certainty on dives from the now backup main-tank, Luiz “iRemiix” Galarza Figueroa, presented problems for their damage mains and made it tougher on the dynamic support duo of Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara and Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni. Gladiators had trouble on payload maps and stages that are typically associated with strong tank play.

The matchups against the best teams in the league were all extremely one-sided. Consider this, against the top five teams in stage one the Gladiators ended up only winning two maps. 2-15 against the likes of the Excelsior, Dynasty, Outlaws, Valiant and even the Uprising. Even with top-notch performances from BigGoose and Shaz nightly, the tank and damage lines were getting badly outplayed.

Fast forward to stage two, the Gladiators currently sit at 5-2 and are a combined 10-7 against a number of those teams that beat them badly in stage one. The major difference? Fissure’s insane aggression on dives and his hunting capabilities have opened the door for every player on that team. Since Fissure has arrived, the Gladiators have looked like a completely different team in every sense. The game plan is different and each player is getting praise for stepping up their play.

Fissure helping the DPS-mains

The one phrase that gets passed around a lot when it comes to Overwatch League tanks is “creating space.” what exactly does that mean? Well, I’d like to direct your attention to any of the Gladiators most recent games and how far up Fissure and D.Va main Aaron “Bischu” Kim position themselves on attacks. It’s never a doubt who’s going to be the aggressor in any given situation, with BigGoose insuring speed-boost, the Gladiators almost always dive first.

Back to creating space, Fissure’s constant forward progress means one of two things. Firstly, all the attention of the opposing team will be forced on Fissure and Bischu. Secondly, with the attention on the tanks, and a retreating backline for the opposition, this allows Joon-seong “Asher” Choi sneaking around to the backline or Joao Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles free shots onto supports with Pharah. It’s a domino effect.

Since Fissure was signed, no other unit in the league has seen as much improvement as the Gladiator DPS-line. Asher is starting to play at an MVP-type level on Tracer. Hydration can play uncontested on Pharah and Lane “Surefour” Roberts is back looking like himself again, getting plenty of time to line up shots with Widowmaker or Soldier: 76. The early deaths in team fights aren’t a problem anymore, and Fissure is allowing this unit to play how they want to play, which is aggressive.

London Spitfire might have made a mistake

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that what the Spitfire did was not the logical move. It most certainly was and is still is at this point in time. Jae-hee “Gesture” Hong is a premier Winston player, and he comes from GC Busan which the Spitfire roster is primarily made up of. Keeping Gesture over Fissure had more to do with familiarity and trust that’s been built over time.

As for whether or not it was a mistake of a player evaluation, this is up for debate. Fissure entered the league with the perception as arguably the best main-tank in Korea. On one of the most consistent teams in Apex, Fissure was the playmaker and main shot caller. He was unbelievable during that time and was definitely in the conversation for the world’s best players.

However, entering the OWL on a team featuring Gesture, who just came off a flashy and dominating Apex season, was going to be an uphill battle for Fissure. Despite the perception surrounding him, he was benched. One of the worlds best sat on the sidelines. And when the time came, the Spitfire chose to keep rolling with Gesture and the two parties had a mutually beneficial breakup.

Four weeks later, it’s hard not to think that the Spitfire might have released one of the most impactful players in the league. The proof is in the record and they’re head-to-head, which the Gladiators ended up taking 3-2. The Spitfire roster has unquestionably more talent overall, but Fissure’s bringing out the best of each player on the Gladiators roster. It’s incredible the transformation this team has made in seven games.

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Featured photo via Los Angeles Gladiators twitter

Major Overwatch League headlines heading into week 4

Stage two has already reached week four and the grind for the playoffs begin now. This week of matches will make-or-break certain teams chances in a razor-thin race. Seven teams sit in contention of the last and final playoff spot with the Los Angeles Gladiators currently holding that three seed with a 4-2 record (17-0-7 set). The Seoul Dynasty enter the week undefeated but have a daunting week of matches ahead of them.

Seoul Dynasty Enter Death Week Undefeated

Fleta doing work. photo via Seoul Dynasty twitter

The Dynasty has a major opportunity (or the misfortune, based on who you ask) to secure their spot as the number one seed in stage two in week four. The two, stage one finalists, match up with the Dynasty this week and after a lackluster stage one for the Dynasty, it’s their chance to get back in the conversation of the best overall team.

Important to realize is the fact that the two losses to both the London Spitfire (4-0) and New York Excelsior (3-2), derailed the Dynasty’s stage one hopes and gave both teams momentum heading into the last few weeks. The Spitfire sweeping the Seoul Dynasty felt like a death blow at the time and could be something still hanging over their heads heading into week four. However, the Dynasty has returned to form and look stronger than ever. They’ve yet to be challenged.

In the same vein, the NYXL have the opportunity to overtake the Dynasty and regain their spot on the top of the standings. Both teams head into the week four matches with an impressive positive in-game differential. In stage two, the Dynasty and Excelsior have looked a few steps ahead of every other team. The classic match between these two teams in stage one sets the stage for another highly anticipated set.

Furthermore, the stage one champions, London Spitfire, need to keep pace with these teams and the three seed LA Gladiators. A win over the Dynasty would set them up nicely and keep them in the race for a one seed. The stage one shellacking of the Seoul Dynasty at the hands Hong “Gesture” Jae-hee and the Spitfire’s swarming team defense might give the advantage on paper, but let’s not pretend that was a one-off loss. GC Busan’s success over Lunatic-Hai dates back to Apex season four, but in light of Ryu “Ryujehong” Je-hong looking scary in the new meta, it feels like anyone’s game.

Los Angeles Gladiators vs. Houston Outlaws

Outside of the Dynasty, the matchup between the two upstart teams in stage two will be the marquee match of week four. The Gladiators have quickly redefined their play in stage two and the contributions of Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung have completely changed every aspect of the Gladiators attack. In a short time playing in a starting lineup, Fissure is back to playing at an MVP type level and helping everyone around him. The Gladiators are playing with confidence and poise and it’s showing.

On the flip side, the Houston Outlaws have been sputtering. After a strong start to stage two, three straight losses before taking out the Florida Mayhem throws up some warning flags. Currently sitting at 3-3, matching their stage one loss total, a win over the Gladiators is essential. A loss here would knock them out of contention for a playoff spot and continue their fall down the overall standings. The addition of Russell “FCTFCTN” Campbell

Photo via LA Gladiators Twitter

It’s a total team effort during the losing streak for the Outlaws. The revolving door of support mains and the lack of explosiveness from both Jacob “JAKE” Lyon and Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin is hurting the team. This team hasn’t had the same wrecking ball mentality since the start of stage two. It’s imperative that the Outlaws shut down a team like the Gladiators that is considered a real threat to take their playoff spot. The addition of Russell “FCTFCTN” Campbell will help give this team depth, but it, more importantly, needs its best players to be at their best here.

Philadelphia Fusion and Los Angeles Valiant Eye a 2-0 week

It’s no secret that the Dallas Fuel is going through a tumultuous time with the recent release of Felix “xQc” Lengyl and the wave of suspensions being handed down. It’s hard to think those players will have the same level of focus as they head into their week four matches. Fortunately for the Fusion, they face the Fuel to end week four and also play the winless Shanghai Dragons. At 3-3, the Fusion can sneak into that third seed with two sound wins this week.

Looking ahead, the Fusion who have caught their stride in stage two and found another solid projectile main in Josh “EQO” Corona, can position themselves nicely for the gauntlet in week five. Even two victories this week will only give them a small advantage against both Los Angeles teams to end-stage two. Any type of loss this week would essentially eliminate them from playoff contention.

Provided that the Fusion went 2-0 over these two teams in stage one, soundly beating the Dallas Fuel (4-0), but running into serious trouble with the Shanghai Dragons (3-2), it bodes well for them heading into matchup number two. It comes as no shock to see the Fusion back pushing for that third seed. No other player is making the constant improvements and tweaks to their game more than Jae-hyeok “Carpe” Lee. Carpe is turning in some of the most efficient Tracer performances on a nightly basis. He’s separated himself into the upper echelon. It’s even more important against lesser teams for Carpe to show up and make plays, as he’s done all of stage two.

As for the Valiant, they find themselves in a similar situation with even more of an upper hand before their week five matchup with the Fusion. The dominant effort last Thursday toppling the Outlaws 4-0, holding them to four total points throughout the match, set the Valiant back up to be in the hunt for that last spot. It hasn’t been the most majestic effort from the Valiant in stage two, struggling mightily against the Gladiators and Dynasty, but regardless they find themselves at 4-2 with four games to play.

Facing the lowly Mayhem (who got their first win last week over Dallas) and the Boston Uprising, who have had a real tough time adjusting in stage two. It’s a chance for the Valiant to have the ability to decide their own fate and not having to rely on game differential (as they did in stage one) going into week five. Even with the rough remaining schedule, the Valiant will need to win these two games against bottom four teams to give themselves the highest probability of getting the last playoff spot, barring a few Gladiator losses.

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Featured photo via Seoul Dynasty Twitter

 

The San Francisco Shock pull out most impressive performance in win over Dallas Fuel

The San Francisco Shock are starting to find their stride in stage two of the Overwatch League. Even at a 2-3 record, the Shock are showing steady improvements and the dominant win over the Dallas Fuel Wednesday is proof. A total team effort caps the most impressive performance from this Shock team all season.

The Emergence of Danteh

One player who’s shown the most steady improvement from stage one to stage two is Dante “Danteh” Cruz. Danteh entered the league as a talented player with a rather unproven track record. The Tracer main spent the better half of 2017 on different North American squads (Arc 6, Denial esports, etc).After Danteh’s silly good performance against the Fuel, it seems as if he’s arrived.

Photo via Overwatch League

Situational Awareness

Danteh’s been improving in many areas, but the one area that sticks out is his presence of mind or situational awareness. The bad engagements have ceased and Danteh’s starting to find himself in better situations. Opposing teams are finding it difficult to keep track of Danteh and put quality shots onto him.

Additionally, in recent weeks, Danteh’s started to become a sniper of support mains with Tracer’s pulse bomb. It’s not only the degree in which he acquires the necessary ultimate charge but the sheer aim, targeting the support and positioning on the back line to constantly pull out two-kill pulse bombs.

Against the Dallas Fuell, Sebastian “Chipshajen”  Widlund had a hard time accounting for the illusive Tracer main because he was the victim of many sticks with the pulse bomb. Danteh put on a clinic. Absolutely one of the more impressive Tracer plays in this win.

A Total Team Effort

However, the success of the Shock Wednesday wasn’t solely due to Danteh’s Tracer. No, the entire lineup found success against the Dallas Fuel, who quite frankly, didn’t look right.The actual player of the match was  Nikola “Sleepy” Andrews. Sleepy filled in nicely behind the two tanks and gave nice support to Andrej “Babybay” Francisty, as Danteh caused havoc on the backline.

Nomy and Nevix best performance

David “Nomy” Ramirez and  Andreas “Nevix” Karlsson have had their fair share of issues in the Overwatch League. Aside from inconsistent support play, the lack of cohesion on the dive tends to put extra pressure on Babybay and Danteh to find kills. That wasn’t the case against the Fuel.

On a side note, the Dallas Fuel looks utterly lost with Timo “Taimou” Kettunen and where and when to use his new Winston. The constant subbing for Felix “xQc” Lengyel, an adjustment period with him learning better about positioning and dive timings is causing problems. Nevix and Nomy, a tank pairing that’s struggled mightily at times, was able to bully the Fuel tank-line. In many situations, the Shock tanks were able to take much more real estate because the Fuel kept waiting for the dive.

In turn, this made life much easier for Sleepy and Babybay, who sat on the backline with no one pressuring them. The Shock goes from a below average team to an almost playoff contender with good play from the tanks and supports. The damage mains have proved their merit, and the next step is becoming consistent.

Lack of consistency

The reason the Shock find themselves sitting at 5-10 is inconsistency. Now, I can talk about the skill of Babybay and Danteh, but both of these talented players have bad days that cost the team. Unfortunately for San Francisco, today’s performance wasn’t exactly the norm. It’s usually quite the opposite with Nevix and Nomy fighting an uphill battle.

The win today is meaningless if the Shock keel over and lose the next few. The real test of these teams newfound strength will be the next stretch of brutal games on the schedule. It starts with the Shock facing the New York Excelsior, followed by a matchup with the stage on champs, London Spitfire, and ending week three against the Houston Outlaws.

It’s a rough stretch, but heading into Saturday, the Shock knows they have a chance to disrupt the standings. A win might seem unlikely, but as the play continues to improve, bigger wins will come. Regardless of the schedule, the San Francisco Shock are showing serious improvement and look to be moving up the ladder one week at a time.

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Featured photo via San Francisco Shock twitter

 

Boston Urpising map loss streak extends to 12 in loss to New York Excelsior

The Boston Uprising is in the midst of a season-derailing losing streak. Three straight losses while dropping 12 straight maps are putting their playoff life in jeopardy. Facing the top half of the standings hasn’t made life easy on the Uprising, but winning zero games is a steep drop-off from stage one.

Boston game plan is faltering

The lack thereof adjustments made since the Mercy-meta met a swift and painful end, is giving the Uprising some issues. So far, the Uprising is the one team who’s shown that the lack of constant resurrection is an issue for their tanks and especially their damage mains. The patented Uprising dive hasn’t nearly been as effective.

Moving forward, the onus will fall on their ability to channel that play style in this new meta-game.It’s been a work in progress for Kristian “Kellex” Keller and Park “Neko” Se-hyeon, as the two have been out-of-sync, in terms of ultimate timings and positioning. It’s hurting the production of Jonathan “DreamKazper” Sanchez and the tank lines aren’t able to get the right dive-timings when the shot calling is all over the place.

Not to mention the confusing Uprising game plan, and lack of serious cohesion in target switching off opponents. For instance, on Kings Row, the Excelsior like to position the tanks on the low-ground as the rest of the team runs through the apartment. On multiple occasions, Lucas “NotE” Meissner made a dive onto the NYXL supports, only to be called back to engage the tank line. The team looked lost in certain areas, and shot calling is to blame.

The Slow Starting Boston Uprising

It’s not all bad for the Uprising. Yes, they’ve put themselves in quite the hole. Luckily, even with four consecutive losses dating back to the final game in stage one against the Outlaws, this team has shown the capabilities of turning around the season. Let’s not forget this team started 1-3 in stage one before a win over the eventual stage one champions jump started their season.

Photo via Boston Uprising Twitter

To say nothing of DreamKazper’s struggles, which have made it stressful on the tanks who are tasked with doing more damage on the front-lines, and put more emphasis on Kwon “Striker” Nam-joo to win Tracer-duels against the best Tracer’s in Overwatch. DreamKazper found success on Widowmaker against the Fusion, but his constant hero switching is showing a deeper problem. The team is pressing, and when DreamKazper’s not pulling out his huge dragon blades or stopping opposing teams Widowmaker’s, it’s trouble.

However, the Uprisng have the luxury of playing the latter half of the season against most of the bottom six teams. It starts Friday against the Florida Mayhem, who have shown improvement, and the Shanghai Dragons to start week three. It’s a chance to get their footing back and gain some momentum, before heading into their week three matchup against the London Spitfire. A win over the Mayhem puts them in the same situation as stage one.

In spite of 12 straight dropped maps and quite honestly well-below average performances, there’s still hope, but this team will need to dig themselves out. It’s also important to remember that regardless of how stage two plays out, the Uprising is still in contention for the playoffs at the end of the year. One more loss could send this squad spiraling. A win over the bottom two teams is imperative to making a playoff push.

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Featured photo via Boston Uprising Twitter