3 Things We Learned in Stage 1

Courtesy of London Spitfire

Stage one is in the books and this is what we’ve learned.

Stage one of the inaugural season of Overwatch League has come and gone. First off I would like to say congratulations to the London Spitfire on winning the stage one playoffs over the New York Excelsior. A lot transpired during the first stage and there’s plenty more to come but here are three things that stood out during stage one.

 

Don’t judge a team by its roster

Before the season started analysts, broadcasters, journalists, and content creators all put out their projected power rankings for the first stage. Boston Uprising were synonymous with the bottom of the barrel everywhere you looked. But, that was put to bed several weeks into the stage when Boston became the first team to beat an all Korean roster in the London Spitfire. Boston shocked so many people, myself included, and became energized by that win. Boston went on to miss the stage one playoffs after losing a hard fought game 3-2 against the Houston Outlaws but Boston showed that it’s not all about the names on the roster but about the heart and synergy among the players on the team.

This is only getting bigger

During the first stage of the Overwatch League a lot of things transpired. Some players were suspended and/or fined, expectations for teams changed, Overwatch League added more talented personnel to the broadcasting team but, what stood out the most was the sponsors that bought into the league. The season began with big name sponsors such as Intel and HP but given that those two companies are basically synonymous with esports no one batted an eye. After a few weeks though things began to change and new sponsors began jumping on this wagon including T-Mobile, Toyota, and Sour Patch Kids. Nate Nanzer, the commissioner of Overwatch League, said that they already are looking to expand the number of teams and are looking to get more teams from Europe and Asia as well. Overwatch League is doing a lot to help grow this community and I’m sure with the addition of these major companies others will follow their lead and hop on OWL or other esport competitions.

The style is helping to grow esports

This may be a personal opinion but the Overwatch League makes finding your favorite team and players significantly easier than other leagues. The way they set this all up is helping to not only grow, but legitimize esports to the world. Esports has grown a lot and is still far from being widely accepted but, the Overwatch League is a major step forward towards the ultimate goal. Having the games four nights a week also helps. Knowing when the games are on makes it much more like traditional sports.

You know that Sunday’s are for football. The way they managed to set this up, you know Wednesday through Saturday will be Overwatch League days. Keeping it scheduled well, providing excellent coverage and exposure, the social media accounts of teams are constantly interacting with the fans and each other. Blizzard has done great with the Overwatch League and we’re only a quarter of the way through the season!

How did your team do during the first stage? What are you looking forward to the most during stage two and beyond? Let us know and be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel! Links down below!

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Overwatch

Mystery heroes: A guide to improving in Overwatch

Mystery heroes is an arcade game mode that doesn’t get enough love by the Overwatch community. The game mode plays just like a normal map of Overwatch, with the exception that you have no control over who you play as. Most people are turned off by this mode for that simple reason. They want to select their hero, and better improve their “main” skills. This is why they should be choosing to play mystery heroes. The improvements the mode offers can easily translate to all other modes, as well as competitive.

Forcing You to Improve

Overwatch

Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Everyone has heroes they don’t particularly enjoy playing. Some love being the offensive catalyst for a team, while others love supporting them. With mystery heroes, you don’t have a choice. If you want to drive your team to victory, you’ll play heroes that you’re not good with. You’ll have to learn how to play them better, or more specifically have to understand their role better. This is incredible information that can translate to better teamwork in other modes. You’re an offensive hero main, but you’ve been stuck rolling supports in mystery heroes. You’re having to change your play to give your team the best chance at winning. You’re starting to learn the best way to position as support and how annoying those who “need healing” but won’t come towards the back-line for it are. Now, when you return to competitive or quick-play, you better understand where and why supports do what they do. This same understanding applies to the various roles of Overwatch’s heroes. You have to learn, you have to adapt, and by doing so your game sense and play can only get better.

A deeper understanding

Overwatch

Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment and Overwatch

Knowing each of the individual 26 heroes can be a daunting task. You may have a basic understanding of each of their abilities, but do you understand their mechanics? Being forced to play as one of the 26 throughout each death in mystery heroes builds upon this basic knowledge. You’re granted the abilities, but you have to learn how to implement them to the fullest. This helps build mechanical understanding of each hero. Through this, when playing competitive, you’ll be more pressed to predict how an enemy may use these abilities. More knowledge of a hero helps to better counter the hero. You may have played against countless Tracers, but having to play as her you’ll understand some of the things they do. As a support main, playing offense you’ll better learn the flanking routes. You’ll be more aware of them and how enemy players may utilize them to harass you. The value of learning every intricate move that can be made on a map, of any hero role, is invaluable.

A flex player in the making

We’ve all joined a competitive game where other players have already locked into your preferred role. So you have to try and pick up a win in a role you’re less comfortable with. The beauty of playing mystery heroes often is that you’ll be more experienced in playing other roles. Many professional Overwatch players are starting to embrace the beauty of a “flex” role. Flex means that you have a preferred style, but you’re more than capable of changing that to benefit the team. In fact, you excel at it. Commonly, most of these players are flex supports. This comes in handy when teams want to role with a single support and either utilize another DPS or tank hero to better push for the win. Mystery heroes will help train you on each hero so that you may confidently start calling yourself a flex player, ready to win with any role.

Sweet Sweet Lootboxes

Overwatch

Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment and Overwatch

One of the better parts of playing in the arcade game modes every week is the three free lootboxes it gives out. For every three wins, up to three times a week, you’ll receive a lootbox. While that is only three lootboxes, it’s three free lootboxes for just playing the game. You get to improve your ability with every hero, and if you win three times you get a free lootbox thrown in. For seasonal events, like this year’s Lunar New Year, it’s a great way to try and get those special skins. Everyone deserves as many lootboxes as possible during the events, and mystery heroes continues to offer benefits on top of free lootboxes for wins.

While many players will continue to shun the unpredictability of mystery heroes, and how perfect rolls may lend teams a certain advantage, it’s still a great mode to have in the game. Not only will players you play often start to see their skills with every hero improve, but their understanding of the game as well. Mystery heroes is always worth a few games a week to keep some of your lesser played hero skills in line.

 

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Dallas Fuel

Will New Talent Help Ignite the Dallas Fuel’s Flame?

Dallas Fuel’s Situation:

As teams evaluated themselves throughout the early weeks of Stage 1, the free-agent signing period began. For some teams they assessed their roster size, for others, their player and hero pools. With raw talent available on the market and three more stages ahead, teams looked to gain a strategic advantage against their competitors. For the Dallas Fuel, who started Stage 1 with a 3-7 record and were below expectations, they a hit home run during the free-agent signing period. Not just one home run, but potentially two. The Dallas Fuel signed Dylan “aKm” Bignet to their roster and are also reportedly in the works to acquire Dong-Jun “Rascal” Kim from the London Spitfire. Both are exceptional DPS players when using their respective heroes and have a history of success in Overwatch.

The Addition of aKm

Prior to the start of the Overwatch League, players and fans were shocked that aKm didn’t appear on any of the teams’ rosters. Former Rogue teammates Terence “SoOn” Tarlier and Benjamin “Unkoe” Chevasson, who now play on the Los Angeles Valiant, noted that he was one of the best players not in the league. Known for his hitscan prowess, with his time on Team Rogue and Team France during the Overwatch World Cup, aKm is one of the mostly deadly Soldier 76 and McCree players in the game. His positioning and accuracy during team fights is uncanny, quickly picking enemies off with two or three headshots in a row. When adding aKm to their arsenal, the Dallas Fuel hope to gain some flexibility in the DPS role. Currently, only Hyeon “EFFECT” Hwang from the Dallas Fuel plays McCree on a consistent basis. With the addition of aKm, the Dallas Fuel hope to burn bright again and perhaps kindle a new rivalry against former teammates on the Los Angeles Valiant.

Acquiring Rascal

The second big roster move for the Dallas Fuel: the acquisition of Rascal from the London Spitfire.

Courtesy of Liquipedia

Even though Rascal rarely saw playtime during Stage 1, he is a highly talented and respected player. Before the Overwatch League, Rascal played in Korea for Cloud9 KongDoo and was known for his Sombra, Genji and Pharah play. Rascal’s consistency in the DPS role helped his team secure many Top-3 finishes. Rascal who used to play alongside Birdring on Cloud9 KongDoo, now finds himself in the backseat while on the London Spitfire roster. If the Dallas Fuel end up singing Rascal, more consistent play time could help him regain his prowess back. With the addition of Rascal, the Dallas Fuel would also gain a consistent Genji and Pharah player – something that the Dallas Fuel drastically need… consistency.

Looking Ahead

Stage 2 of the Overwatch League begins on February 21st; Dallas Fuel takes on the Shanghai Dragons in the second match of the day. With new roster moves and the free-agent signing period ending on the 21st; will the Dallas Fuel be able catch fire, turning their losing record from Stage 1 into a winning one during Stage 2?

 

For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to keep up with my posts or myself, come check out my twitter:@J02Armstrong. Thanks for reading!

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Los Angeles Gladiator’s trade for Fissure is best value based on need

The Los Angeles Gladiators were one of the more disappointing teams in stage one. The lack of progress prompted a move towards London Spitfire backup tank Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung. With this trade for Fissure, the Gladiators shore up struggling dive and will help on both the front and backline.

Before the Overwatch League, Fissure was looked at as one of the best Winston’s in Korea. His play on KongDoo Panthera throughout Apex was considered the highest level tank play league-wide. In fact, he was the linchpin to four successful seasons with KongDoo Panthera. Even with all his past accomplishments, the London Spitfire had other ideas.

Benched for Gesture

Consider this, the London Spitfire had two of the best main tanks in Overwatch on one roster. It was an embarrassment of riches for one team. Unfortunately, with both tank mains having identical hero pools only one could play at a time. Early in the season, Fissure got more playing time, but as the weeks advanced Hong “Gesture” Jae-hee got most of the playing time.

Gesture and Fissure. Photo via London Spitfire Flickr

Comparatively, it’s hard to pick between the two players. Fissure is a more proven player, but Gesture came into the league leading the charge for the old GC Busan roster. Based on Lee “Bishop” Beom-joon’s coaching decisions, Gesture was the more consistent player and had the advantage of familiarity with the GC Busan lineup.

Keeping Fissure on the bench was not the best idea for the Spitfire anymore knowing he could start elsewhere. It’s tough sitting a supremely talented player like Fissure. Animosity in the locker room so the London management made the decision to move Fissure out to avoid controversy. It’s now the Gesture show in London. Similarly to moving backup Tracer player, Kim “Rascal” Dong-jun, who will likely start on the Dallas Fuel. Fissure will find more opportunity for the Gladiators.

Focusing now on Fissure’s future with the Gladiators, he comes in and fills a direct need and will fit in nicely next to Hyung-seok “Bischu” Kim on the flex tank. Combining the aggressive dive potential and precise movement of these two players will make it extra difficult on opposing defenses. Teams are in for a difficult time defending against this newly formed tank line. Allowing Fissure free reign will help alleviate some of the pressure put on the Gladiator’s DPS-mains.

Photo via LA Gladiators Twitter

In the meantime, Luis “iRemiix” Galarza Figueroa will move to a backup role. iRemiix’s new role suits him, and now he can specialize in certain situations or be used as a counter-pick Reinhardt. iRemiix was by no means bad on main-tank in stage one, but adding a player like Fissure immediately upgrades that tank line and helps in other areas as well.

Gladiators struggle to find consistent DPS lineup

Despite adding a real quality player in Fissure, questions still remain about their DPS-line. In two of three positions on this roster, the Gladiators are set. The two Finnish support players, Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara and Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni, were excellent in stage one; based on the newest updates to the meta and their hero pools, it’s likely they’ll improve in stage two.

However, with the tanks and supports looking strong, albeit, with little depth behind the starters, the damage mains will have to step up and make plays behind this new tank line. Fissure will be helpful in getting things opened up for Lane “Surefour” Roberts on Tracer or Soldier 76 or João “Hydration” Pedro Goes Telles on the Pharah. They’ll need more consistency from that group to contend though. 

The biggest problem regarding this Gladiators team is trying to figure out which two DPS-mains start on any given map. Stage one lineups were a mishmash of Hyrdation and Asher, followed up in the next game by Surefour and Asher. The substitutions lacked any real structure for the Gladiators and in most cases didn’t work out. Key for a Gladiators turnaround is getting everyone back on the same page. The rotations created a momentum issue and that unit never recovered. It’s for those guys to see if this team makes a stage two run. 

If this team wants to compete down the line, picking up another DPS isn’t such a terrible idea considering the need and DPS-heavy free agent market. The Gladiators already improved drastically by bringing in a straight up playmaker on the tank line and the same could happen on the damage side. Fissure, in terms of value, will be worth two or more wins. Freedom to create and playing time is going to make his Winston a sight to behold. Gladiators will be in contention for a playoff spot.

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Featured photo via LA Gladiators Twitter

Houston Outlaws steal the spotlight in stage one of the Overwatch League

The big story coming out of stage one was not the London Spitfire predictability winning the stage one finals. No, it was an upstart Houston Outlaws squad separating themselves as a playoff team. The only playoff team to not feature any players with Apex experience and is mainly American born players.

Seasoned Overwatch fans will recall at this years World Cup, two players from the United States made a loud statement in the match against Korea. Jacob “JAKE” Lyon and Matt “coolmatt” Iorio stood out amongst an American team that pushed Korea to the limit. It was foreshadowing what was soon to follow in the Overwatch League.

Houston Outlaws show continued improvement

First, the emergence of a mainly North American Overwatch team that’s challenging the best Korean players in the world is a first. The rigid training and playing schedule are seemingly leveling the playing field. That’s not to say the London Spitfire and New York Excelsior haven’t been a few steps ahead of even the Outlaws, but as we saw previously at the World Cup, the gap is closing.

The Houston Outlaws almost closed the gap entirely last week and showed the world that they’re a legit contender. Sweeping the London Spitfire to even stay alive in the playoff race, and then sneaking out a victory over the Boston Uprising to pull off the unthinkable and make the stage one playoffs.

Entering the season, any scenario where the Seoul Dynasty misses the playoffs and the Houston Outlaws jump both the Dynasty and Spitfire to earn the second overall seed would’ve been laughed at. The juggernaut Overwatch teams looked unstoppable early on in stage one. Dynasty jumped out to a 5-0 record and barely dropped any maps.

On the flip side, the Houston Outlaws started the season out 0-2. Falling in a close game to the Philadelphia Fusion, 3-2, and losing the following night to the New York Excelsior, 3-1. Fortunately, the next stretch of schedule after the opening losses was against all bottom feeder teams; and what happened in the coming weeks jump-started this climb to the second overall seed.

The 18 map winning streak

Photo via Houston Outlaws Twitter

Let’s take a look at point differential. In the five-game span in which the Outlaws won 18-straight maps, they outscored their opponents by 29 points. In those five games, the Outlaws held their opponents to a staggeringly low number of points: only 10 points surrendered in 18 maps. Incredibly dominant performances that spring-boarded their confidence into the tough part of the schedule.

Soon after the streak ended, the Outlaws matched up against the Seoul Dynasty. The Outlaws took the loss, but it most certainly instilled fear into the minds of the Dynasty core. The best of the Korean players all seem to have one common saying between them regarding the Houston Outlaws and that’s the need to shut down Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin.

The legend of LiNkzr

Starting in the preseason, the pinpoint aim from Linkzr was a must-see. The Outlaws garnered plenty of attention because of the sheer skill of Jake and Linkzr, but now this team is being recognized as an actual threat. In a short amount of time, the Outlaws have developed an impenetrable defense. The defense along with the destructive aim of LiNkzr, the spacing with JAKE on Junkrat, and the diving with coolmatt on D.Va is pushing this team over the top. 

Each of those three players is in the discussion for stage one MVP, and look to be building more and more chemistry as the schedule moves along. The only question now is if this team can live up to expectations now that they’re no longer flying under the radar. It’ll be a test for these players, but one that they seem capable of handling in stage two and beyond.

Lastly, should the Outlaws make any moves during the transfer period, an extra support is about the only current need for this team; but don’t be surprised if any of the top teams get aggressive to solidify rosters for the rest of the season.

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Featured photo via Houston Outlaws Twitter

OWL Stage 1 Playoffs

Spitfire Take Flight in Stage 1 Playoffs

The last games of the Overwatch League Week 5 were underway as teams looked to clinch their spot for the Stage 1 Playoffs and a share of $125,000. Only three teams could make the playoffs, but as the standings currently stood five teams were in the running – New York Excelsior, London Spitfire, Houston Outlaws, Los Angeles Valiant and Boston Uprising. Two major games on the last day of the Stage 1 regular season decided what teams would be in the playoffs and which ones wouldn’t.

Making the Playoffs

The first game of Week 5 Day 4 was none other than the New York Excelsior vs London Spitfire, followed by the Houston Outlaws vs Boston Uprising. With hopes and dreams of being crowned the Stage 1 champions, these games were nothing short of competitive, both series going the distance with a Map 5 tiebreaker on Lijang Tower. The New York Excelsior ended up securing a Map 5 win, a 3-2 series win over the Spitfire and sole possession of first place. Even with the loss, the Spitfire managed to clinch a playoff spot based on map win differential during the regular season.

With two teams in the playoffs only one more team could make it. That team being the Houston Outlaws, who won 3-2 over the Boston Uprising. With the Stage 1 playoffs set, the London Spitfire tried their hand against the Houston Outlaws – one of the few teams who beat them in the regular season. The winner then looked for their shot to beat the kings at the top of the table, the NYXL.

 

Stage 1 Playoffs Semifinal: London Spitfire vs Houston Outlaws

Map 1: Dorado

After the regular season matches finished up, and a short break for the playoff teams, the first playoff match between the London Spitfire and Houston Outlaws commenced. In the first ever Overwatch League playoffs teams had to win to a best of five maps to take the series, with a potential sixth map as a tiebreaker. With the series maps revealed, Map 1 between the Spitfire and Outlaws took place on Dorado. Commonly known for his Jakerat, Jake “Jake” Lyon’s Junkrat play defined the Outlaws defense against the Spitfire on the first two points of Dorado.

With grenades and mines all around, the Spitfire couldn’t seem to get past the minefield and into the backline of the Houston Outlaws. With a stellar defense on Dorado, the Outlaws held the Spitfire to only one point. The outlaws then carried their defensive momentum onto their attack round where they pushed the payload and finished the map, taking Map 1 on Dorado 2-1 against the spitfire.

Map 2: Ilios

Birdring: Courtesy of London Spitfire

With an unsuccessful Map 1 win, the Spitfire look to take Map 2 Control Point on Ilios. Dominate and deadly, the Spitfire DPS players Jun-Young “Profit” Park and Ji-Hyeok “Birdring” Kim had their way with the Houston Outlaws. Controlling team fights and finding kills, the Spitfire swiftly take both rounds on Ilios to secure a 2-0 Map 2 win. To the Spitfire’s credit, at the end of both rounds on Ilios, Profit had 24 eliminations and only died once – a commanding performance by the DPS from the Spitfire. Even though they got off to a slow start in Map 1, the Spitfire manage to tie the series back up 1-1.

Map 3 & 4: Temple of Anubis/Eichenwalde

After a dominate performance by the Spitfire on Map 2 they carried that momentum into the next two maps. The DPS for the London Spitfire shined againas they took both points on Map 3 Temple of Anubis and managed to full hold the Houston Outlaws on their defense – not giving them a single tick of the control point meter – resulting in a 2-0 Map 3 win on Temple of Anubis. With the Spitfire flying high and the Outlaws batter and bruised, the Spitfire look to finish the series with a Map 4 win on Eichenwalde. Able to capture the point and push the payload, the Spitfire take a point on their offensive round.

However, the story of Map 4 was the Spitfire’s defense, they again manage to hold the Outlaws and not give them the first point. A 1-0 victory on Map 4 means that London Spitfire win the series 3-1 against the Houston Outlaws, guarantees them at least $25,000, and a rematch in the Stage 1 Finals against the New Excelsior who they lost against at the beginning of the day. With the finals set, who will be crowned the first ever Overwatch League stage champion: New York Excelsior or the London Spitfire?

Stage 1 Playoffs Finals: London Spitfire vs New York Excelsior

Map 1: Junkertown

Map 1 took place on Junkertown and it was battle of the snipers. Birdring from the Spitfire and NYXL’s Do-Hyeon “Pine” Kim both contented for sight-lines, trading picks back and forth. At one-point Pine flanks behind the Spitfire with his Widowmaker and gets a casual four kills, nearly wiping the entire Spitfire team by himself. After the Spitfire regroup they manage to push the payload and capture all three points on Junkertown, with no time left. On NYXL’s attack they run triple tank with Seong-Hyun “JJonak” Bang on Roadhog, who normally plays Zenyatta in the support role, to mitigate the damage that Birdring could do. The NYXL quickly take all three points on Junkertown with just over four minutes left in their time bank to force an overtime round. With a very advantageous time bank left, the New York Excelsior take Map 1 on Junkertown with a score of 4-3.

Map 2: Oasis

Map 2 went to Oasis where the teams battled to control the point. The London Spitfire started off strong on both rounds of Oasis, getting the control point meter to 99 percent before having it flipped by the NYXL. To New York’s credit they fully held the point from 0 to 100 percent, locking out the Spitfire from both rounds and the map. After a Map 2 on Oasis that slipped out of the London Spitfire’s reach, the New York Excelsior were only one map away from being crowned as Stage 1 champs. And then they began to do it.

Maps 3, 4, 5: Horizon Lunar Colony, Numbani, Dorado

Map 3 Horizon Lunar Colony is where the London Spitfire began their reverse sweep. Unable to take down Birdring and the Spitfire’s overtime defense, the New York Excelsior fell to the London Spitfire. London Spitfire take Map 3 Capture the Point on Horizon Lunar Colony with a score of 3-2. Map 4 went to Hybrid on Numbani where the Spitfire displayed one of the most impressive defensive holds in all of the Overwatch League. Birdring was nearly untouched by the opposition during the match, dealing free damage and finishing off kills. With little success and unable to break the Spitfire’s defense the NYXL were full held, unable to take the point on Numbani.

The Spitfire walk away with a Map 4 victory on Numbani 1-0, series tied 2-2. Map 5 Escort the Payload on Dorado was the final map of the series and someone was walking away as the victors. That team was the London Spitfire. They completed the reverse sweep against the NYXL, winning Map 5 Dorado with a score of 2-1. What turned out to be a marathon of a day and a run through the playoff gauntlet, the London Spitfire took flight as they were named the first ever Overwatch League Stage 1 Champions.

 

For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to keep up with my posts or myself, come check out my twitter:@J02Armstrong. Thanks for reading!

Featured Image Credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch

Overwatch Week 2/13 News

On the off week between the Overewatch League stages one and two, there’s still plenty of news and reports coming in. With game director Jeff Kaplan talking about upcoming hero changes, to reports of new players joining different teams, there’s something for everybody. After the exhilarating five weeks of Overwatch, many teams look poised to change-up strategies. Some teams like New York Excelsior and the London Spitfire are oozing confidence coming into the second stage. Others, like the Shanghai Dragons and Florida Mayhem will look to turn their season around.

Play Symmetra you cowards!

Currently Overwatch has 26 heroes available to play. Their roles vary between offense, defense, Overwatchtank, and support. Symmetra is placed within the support role. Many who play supports have a problem with this, as currently her only viable way to support is to use her ultimate. With this, she may either place a teleporter or shield generator. She has no ability to heal, and only a minor moving shield she can deploy. This is the main problem with her role as a support. She is not viable when compared with others like Ana or Mercy. These heroes can heal and sustain their teammates. Symmetra, for this reason, is incredibly difficult to fit into a team composition.

Because of all this, Symmetra was the only hero that did not see any playing time during stage one of the Overwatch League. This led to many humorous posts and posters clamoring for someone to show her some love, much like the photo to the right. The good news is that Jeff Kaplan knows Symmetra isn’t on par with the other heroes. In a recent forum post, Kaplan stated that, “Symmetra will require more work to get into a better place and therefore take longer to address”. Ideas for the hero have not been revealed, but it is a good sign that the development team knows there is more to be done to do her justice.

Hanzo, what could have been

Another hero that has been receiving tweaks and ideas for improvement is Hanzo. The main problem players have with Hanzo is that his ability scatter arrow rewards players for aiming at an enemies feet. This was not the intention of the ability. As a sniper, Hanzo and his abilities should focus on a player’s aim. Geoff Goodman took to the forums to share some of the ideas the Blizzard development team had been working on.

Overwatch

Source: Play Overwatch and Blizzard Entertainment

The first attempt they tried was giving Hanzo a fast-moving, shield piercing arrow. While it required aim, the team felt that it’s piercing nature was still frustrating to those utilizing the utmost positioning of barriers. They then focused on keeping scatter arrow but changing its properties. Instead of splitting into multiple arrows as it currently does, they tried making it a ricochet mechanic. With one or even two bounces, the arrow was deemed fair, although incredibly hard to use. It would require extreme knowledge of every map, and how the arrow would bounce off each area. While fun to use, it wasn’t a consistent enough ability that would lead to players feeling let down.

A final rework was a new ability. It would be a reload of his cooldowns, and would require around two or three seconds of animation to effectively use. While it seemed like a good fit for his scatter arrow, the recon ability of sonic arrow became to powerful with such fast resets. Ultimately, Goodman ends the post saying that while none of these have worked, they’ve narrowed what can be done to make Hanzo more rewarding to play.

 

Overwatch League receiving Girl Power

Rumors and reports are abound that the Shanghai Dragons are looking to add some more players to their roster in an attempt to perform better during stage two. One of the most intriguing of these are reports of the team signing professional Overwatch player Geguri. Geguri is actually Kim Se-yeon, a South Korean pro player. If these reports turn out to be true and the Dragons do sign Geguri, they will add the first female player to the Overwatch League. This is exciting news as it would allow a breaking of the gender barrier. Geguri is an extremely talented player who can add a new energy and dynamic to a struggling team. Her play as Zarya is actually so well executed, many professional players reported her for cheating. Geguri was cleared of any cheating by Blizzard, and many who accused her issued apologies for doubting her ability.

(Update: She has officially been signed according to reports)

Check out a few highlights of her play on Zarya here.

The Dragons are also reportedly in the mix to sign a few other Korean players. Both  Lee “Fearless” Eui-Seok and Cheon “Ado” Ki-hyun are set to join Geguri in signing. If this is true, that would mean that Shanghai is not ready to call it on their Overwatch season and that they’ll continue to tweak their roster to find the best fit. With three more stages to go, there is plenty of time.

A Shift in the Meta?

Overwatch

(Photo Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment)

Stage one of the Overwatch League featured the latest patch applied before the stage began. Now, the teams will have to adjust to a different patch. Two of the key heroes of stage one have been nerfed.

Mercy is the most notable, as her Valkyrie will no longer be the focus of every team fight. With a fixed one resurrect charge, her time in the meta may fall out of favor for other supports. This could allow Ana and Moira to shine. Their abilities fit a more up-tempo style of play that could see teams like the Dallas Fuel having a better record. Junkrat is also receiving a nerf to his concussion mine damage. Instead of doing a flat-rate of damage, the damage will now fall-off with distance from the mine. While this does make Junkrat technically weaker in general, the aiming abilities of many of the top players should still be able to utilize his mine’s effectively.

Sombra has also had some new tweaks placed on the public test realm. Her hacked medpacks will no longer give her ultimate charge. To balance this, her hacking and EMP would now effect more abilities. While this is a balancing act, many feel that it will allow Sombra to flourish more in a competitive scene. With a key support in Mercy receiving major changes from stage one to stage two, many teams may switch their play styles. This is what Overwatch is all about, constantly shifting the meta. The dive meta will most likely reign supreme, but Mercy may find herself sitting on the sidelines.

 

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London Spitfire Win OWL Stage One: Defense is name of the game

The players that make up the London Spitfire have enjoyed a wealth of success in their short careers. Following the royal road to an Apex title, earning the title as the best team in Korea, and now winning the stage one championship in dramatic fashion over the New York Excelsior. A pattern is forming and it involves the heart of the Spitfire roster and winning everything.

BDosin happy after winning the stage one championship. Photo via https://www.flickr.com/photos/londonspitfire/with/39319450275/

London went down two games to a New York Excelsior team with a nearly unblemished record, on the biggest stage. The Spitfire needed to rally to become the first Overwatch League champion. This was a team that struggled to find their footing and lost winnable games due to lack of teamwork in stage one. It was a process, one that required serious trial and error.

Fortunately for London, they employ the strongest defensive unit in Overwatch history. A suffocating, relentless defense that’s been the main driver behind the success of GC Busan and now the London Spitfire. In fact, throughout all of stage one, the Spitfire had the most shutouts on non-control maps.

Now, this type of defensive effort goes back to the Apex days. GC Busan made a living off strong defensive holds. Even with an uncoordinated offensive attack, GC Busan would always find a way to hold offenses on the first point. The GC Busan spirit is embedded into this team. Add in the helping hands of Kim “Birdring” Ji-hyuk and Choi Seung-tae (to name a few), who have helped elevate an already ridiculously talented GC Busan roster. 

Shutting Down the NYXL

In game four on Numbani, the Spitfire got off to a rough start on offense, barely capping the first point and failing to reach the second point. At the end of that attack, it felt like the momentum had suddenly shifted back to the Excelsior. The lack of ultimate kills despite good ultimate economy was the difference, but Kim “Rascal” Dong-jun out positioning the Excelsior on the high-ground with Soldier 76 turned the last and most important fight.

The Spitfire’s Numbani offense only lasted a few meters longer before getting shut down. The reverse-sweep hanging in the balance on a map that’s notorious for easy offense was London’s most dangerous situation. Only a world-class hold against a team fielding Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-yeol and Kim “Libero”  Hye-sung would do the job. Luckily, Birdring is one of the most dangerous Widowmaker players on the planet and stepped up in the moment.

The Excelsior continued to dive at Rascal on Junkrat, who was isolated on the high-ground near the first point on Numbani, spraying down the street. The dive exposed Rascal, but it gave Birdring easy shots onto he NYXL healers. JJoNaK struggled to avoid Birdring using Widowmaker’s grappling hook to get the extreme height and tracking BDosin on the low-ground targeting him on Zenyatta. It was scary a one-two punch.

By the same token, Hong “Gesture” Jae-hee played a fantastic zoning Winston. In the event of a disadvantaged fight, the Spitfire would disengage around the backside of Numbani first point and re-engage with a dive, led by Gesture pushing the Excelsior into bad spots. The use of ultimates on defense for the Spitfire is much more organic and valuable. Gesture’s primal rages were game changers.

Dorado

Heading into game five, the Spitfire were riding a wave of momentum entering a map they’d beaten the NYXL on earlier in the day. The pressure was also flipped over to the Excelsior who were scrambling to avoid the reverse-sweep. The Excelsior stuck it out with Saebyeolbe and Libero on the dive and the Spitfire moved back to Profit on Junkrat over Rascal.

However, the formula for the Spitfire closing out the series was similar to their Numbani and Horizon defense.  Give Birdring Widowmaker sightlines and protect him by using the tanks aggressively. Kim “Fury” Jun-ho on D.Va combined with Birdring to dive on every player Birdring weakened from the backlines. It was a beautifully choreographed play from the Spitfire defense.  

Together with the strength of Birdring and the tank play, Profit’s laser focus on taking out the Excelsior supports stunted many NYXL attacks. On multiple occasions, Profit’s delayed rip tire got to the backline and took out Hong “ArK” Yeon-joon on Mercy and JJoNaK on Zenyatta to ruin the Excelsior’s day. Profit’s play was incredible, single-handedly forcing the opposition to back up and stay aware of Profit’s positioning.

In the final analysis, it’s clear the Spitfire still haven’t completely gelled as a team offensively. However, the players on that roster have a talent for zoning defense and ultimate usage. It’s scary because this squad is only going to get better from here on out. The players of the London Spitfire keep winning. No matter the situation, they pull it out. That’s a strong trait for a team to display early on.

Seoul Dynasty decisions raise questions after missing out on stage one playoffs

Halfway through stage one of Overwatch League the geniuses of the world seemed to have it all figured out. The Seoul Dynasty were the clear favorite. Teams such as the Boston Uprising and Houston Outlaws weren’t considered actual threats yet. The London Spitfire were the dysfunctional Korean team.

Fast forward only two weeks later, the world of Overwatch has flipped on its head. The Seoul Dynasty are on the outside looking in. The most prestigious organization in the game completely fell apart. Losing to the London Spitfire and New York Excelsior is one thing, but getting swept by the Los Angeles Valiant and coming close with the Outlaws and San Francisco Shock is something entirely different.

Underperforming Players

The onus of the struggle doesn’t fall on one certain aspect, but the collection of decisions and underperformances. The coaching staff has even resorted to trying new lineups and testing different combinations. Overall, the roster decisions have proven to be costly. Sitting Ryu “Ryujehong” Je-hong and keeping Kim “KuKi” Dae-kuk on the bench in favor of Gong “Miro” Jin-hyuk.

The regular cohesiveness isn’t quite there for the Dynasty lately. Outside of having Kim “Fleta” Byung-sun hard-carry with a litany of destructive heroes, the rest of the team is struggling to work together. Fleta’s picks seem to be the one thing keeping this team moving forward.

Going back to Miro’s play, it’s obvious that he’s not on the same page with his supports right now. Miro’s getting caught out with bad positioning at a high rate. He’s failing to make the normal plays we see out of his Winston and it all stems back to the lack of synergy between Miro and Yang “tobi” Jin-mo. Tobi’s known as one of the premier support players in Overwatch history, but being forced into the Mercy role has limited his value.

Tobi is an excellent Mercy, but it’s just not his top choice in his hero pool. Considering this along with Ryujehong and Miro’s struggles is the most probable cause for this team missing out on the playoffs.

The Munchkin/Bunny/Wekeed Dilemma

As I previously stated, Fleta is a wrecking ball crashing through your window. In many ways, he’s able to single-handedly pick up the slack for his team with his mind-boggling playmaking ability. It’s not only that but his timeliness on hero picks to get the best possible matchup.

The problem isn’t Fleta, it’s the revolving door of half-Tracer mains that can’t seem to earn that second DPS spot. The best teams in the Overwatch League are incredibly deep at the DPS position. The Dynasty don’t have the same luxury when they’re still trying to find the right spot for each player.

Chae “Bunny” Joon-hyuk is presumably the most talented of the group, but he has no versatility whatsoever. If The Dynasty to play strictly dive, like the Boston Uprising or Philadelphia Fusion, Bunny would be a mainstay on the starting lineup, but that’s not always the case. Byeon “Munchkin” Sang-beom is the most experienced, but is limited similarly to Bunny in terms of hero pool.

If the Dynasty look to improve the roster heading into stage two, look for that spot next to Fleta to be a priority. For the time being, the same rotation of players will continue. Fleta is the focal point of any Dynasty game plan so being able to work to his strengths will benefit the entire team. In many instances, Bunny seemed to be the one that meshed the best.

Benching Ryujehong not out of the question

No one is safe on this team after a disappointing stage one, not even the highly regarded Ryujehong. There’s a scenario where talented Zenyatta player, Mun “Gido” Gi-do, gets more starts over Ryujehong. Even Tobi could potentially be subbed out for a better Mercy. Everything is on the table if this continues.

One thing to consider is the new meta plays similar to the olden days when Lunatic-Hai was the best team in Korea. Mercy getting nerfed will open up the door for more creative support picks and giving the Dynasty more weapons at their disposal. In any case, the Seoul Dynasty will be just fine. Even if it takes some minor or major tweaking, this team is too talented to stay down for long.  

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Featured photo via Seoul Dynasty Twitter

Overwatch League stage one playoff scenarios

Stage one of the Overwatch League is coming to a close this week and the scramble for the playoffs begin. The New York Excelsior and London Spitfire currently sit at the top of the league, but the fight for the final spot is still very much in play.

Bubble teams

Currently, four teams sit at 5-3 and one game behind the Seoul Dynasty (6-2). Los Angeles Valiant, Houston Outlaws, Boston uprising and Philadelphia Fusion have an outside shot of sneaking into the playoffs. Each of these teams are not only 5-3, but are at least in striking distance in the game differential.

For one of these teams to pass the Dynasty, it’s going to take some serious help from the San Francisco Shock and Valiant. Fortunately for the Valiant, their chances at a playoff spot are in their hands. The Valiant and Dynasty will match up in the most important match of week five. The Valiant will not only have to win, but win several games.

If the Valiant find a way to beat the Dynasty, losing more than one game is not an option. A win will get them close, but it will require a dominant effort. Avoiding a game five is imperative, especially with Seoul facing a bottom four team to end out the season. All of the teams sitting one game outside of the playoffs will be huge Valiant fans on Friday.

Based on the schedule, the Valiant have the best shot of any team to make a playoff spot. The rest of the teams will either play each other or face the top-two teams in the Overwatch League. However, the Fusion and Valiant end stage one against the Shanghai Dragons (0-8) and Florida Mayhem (1-7).

Photo via Overwatch League Twitter

In the Houston Outlaw’s case, they went on an 18 game winning streak, and are now in the best position to overtake that third spot. Despite a tough ending to stage one, their +14 almost secures them a tiebreak victory if both teams end with the same record. It will take some crazy bounces of good luck, but there’s a chance the Dynasty miss the stage one playoffs. It all comes down to Friday.

Battle for the one seed

Yes, the battle for that final spot is intriguing, but even more important is the battle for the one seed and the first-round bye. The London Spitfire and New York Excelsior took care of business against the Seoul Dynasty, but a loss here would force the loser right back into a rematch with the Dynasty.

Obviously, that’s not a death sentence. Both teams are capable of dispatching the Dynasty, as they did in week three and four, but earning a free walk to the title game and avoiding a potential upset at the hands of the Dynasty is important. Even the Outlaws and Valiant look dangerous enough to sneak out a few playoff wins.

The first round bye most likely decides the winner of stage one. At this moment the London Spitfire sit atop the leaderboard at 7-1. A win on Saturday will clinch the title, as it will for the Excelsior. Nothing is set in stone for the final week of what’s been an incredibly exciting stage one of the Overwatch League.

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Featured photo via Overwatch League Twitter