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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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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The NYXL proving that the Overwatch League is wide open

When the Seoul Dynasty announced they were acquiring the most successful Overwatch team in the game’s short history, Lunatic-Hai, the Overwatch world crowned their season one champion. How could a team with such a prominent history falter? Well, after their first matchup with a top-three roster, the tune around the league has changed dramatically.

The New York Excelsior entered their match against the Dynasty following a hard-fought loss to an underrated Philadelphia Fusion squad. It was the Excelsior’s first loss of the season, and the first time they looked vulnerable. Heading into a fist fight with the consensus best team meant this team would have to make serious mental and in-game adjustments to get a win.

Mind you, this match was on the heels of the two most heart-throbbing and intense matches of the season. With the Excelsior falling to the Fusion and the London Spitfire losing on the fifth map to the Boston Uprising, beating the top Korean teams wasn’t inconceivable anymore. Now, with the pressure of ending week three at 0-2, The Excelsior showed the league that the Dynasty is mortal.

The game plan for NYXL

NYXL talking some strategy before facing the Seoul Dynasty. Photo via twitter.com/NYXL

If a team wants to have a chance against the Dynasty, it not only is going to take a full cohesive team effort, but it will require players outperforming their counterpart in key positions. Let’s start with the talk of the league in Kim “Fleta” Byung-sun. Shutting him down is imperative to any sort of strategy against the Dynasty.

For example, Fleta deals the most damage on a litany of heroes for Dynasty. On top of his absolutely filthy Widowmaker play, his Genji and Pharah are world class, and early in the season, he’d completely shut teams down with his damage output. The NYXL made this a priority, and fortunately having a force like Park “Saeyeolbe” Jong-yeol and Kim “Libero” Hye-sung to counter Fleta actually worked out.

NYXL’s Support Duo continues to dominate

However, it wasn’t just putting Libero on Pharah and both NYXL DPS players out dueling Fleta on the Widowmaker. No, the most important factor to the Excelsiors’ win was a player who I believed separated himself from the other support mains in the Overwatch League. Bang “JJoNak” Sung-hyeon is now firmly in the conversation for MVP with his DPS-like Zenyatta play.

The combination of JJoNak’s survivability on the back-line, damage output and healing output, coupled with Hong “Ark” Yeon-joon getting the brunt of the healing duties on Mercy, has made that support line extremely difficult to break. It was the main difference between the two squads last Saturday. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ryu “Ryujehong” Je-hong struggle that hard.

Is the NYXL the best team in the Overwatch League? 

It’s a long season. It might be tempting to crown the Excelsior as the best team now, but there are too many games left to believe anything’s figured out. We still have yet to see the London Spitfire matchup with either of these two teams. And based on the roster makeup of the Dynasty and Excelsior, NYXL has the means to counter the Dynasty better than anyone.

Furthermore, there’s still plenty of time left for all these teams to develop more chemistry and gain more momentum.The top-three front-runners are clear, but the standing of the teams right behind them is unclear. Teams like the Los Angeles Valiant, Fusion and Uprising have displayed plenty of game knowledge and talent.

The emergence of the Excelsior support players and the deep bench leads me to believe this team can pull it off. But, with the transfer window approaching, and the fact that most teams have already drastically improved, it feels unlikely to stay that way.

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Featured photo via NYXL Twitter

 

OWL leading to map fatigue

Only two weeks in the community is getting tired.

Courtesy: Blizzard Ent

If you’re like me you’ve been following the Overwatch League since the preseason. The games for the most part have been very fun to watch and watching the crowd reaction in stadium, as well as online, has been great. But one issue has emerged. Map Fatigue. After week one people on Reddit and the Blizzard forums were starting to mumble about being sick of seeing the same maps.

The two maps in particular that have dominated stage one have been Junkertown and Horizon Lunar Colony. Now if you don’t know this, the Overwatch League is broken into four stages that are six weeks long. Each stage has a predetermined selection of maps. The first stages maps are Horizon Lunar Colony/Anubis, Oasis/Ilios, Numbani/Eichenwalde, and Junkertown/Dorado.

Repetition has it’s ups and downs.

After watching week one we were seeing that since these maps were so common it was forcing teams to change strategies and routes. Seoul at one point ran a triple tank composition on Junkertown which is incredibly rare. The same maps at the same time also create an “even ground”.

But this does give mid-tier teams an opportunity to focus of specific map strategies and further attempt to hone their skills as a unit. Teams are being forced to come up with new ways to attack payloads. At the start of the season Junkertown’s first point was absolutely dominated by the “Pirate Ship” composition. If you’re unfamiliar with the comp itself you park a Bastion in turret mode on top of the payload and have Orisa lay down a protective barrier in front of him. At first this strategy was working but with familiarity teams are finding ways to slow down or stop that entire composition.

SO what changes after stage 1?

After stage one concludes on February 10th teams are allowed to add players to their rosters. One thing I’m sure Florida will be heavily in favor of. The stage two map selection has not been released yet but guessing by the fact there’s a ten day break in between stages, that will give Blizzard time to select the maps and let the teams know.

The main issue here is that map fatigue is a difficult problem to solve. The Championship Series allowed teams to pick/ban maps which led to teams constantly playing the same maps even more then. Shrinking the map pool is not something that would help this league at all.

All we can do is sit and hope that Blizzard is listening to our concerns as fans of the league. But seeing as Blizzard has invested incredible amounts of money, time, and talent into making this league something fun for people of all ages I’m convinced that they will do their absolute best to keep the fans, as well as the players, happy.

Are you getting map fatigue? Do you have any ideas on how to fix the fatigue problem? Let us know! Also be sure to follow The Game Haus on Twitter, Like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Overwatch League news!

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Impressions from the Philadelphia Fusions First Week at Blizzard Arena

The Philadelphia Fusion, unfortunately, got less prepare time than other teams due to VISA issues stopping them from participating in the preseason. The 10-man roster is all foreign-born players from across the globe. A team assembled from numerous different teams with little crossover from player-to-player, entered the regular season with, as the casters preached, “the element of surprise.”

In any case, first impressions of the Fusion are a mixed-bag after a 1-1 start. It was good to see the Fusion come out and get a win over the Houston Outlaws in their first game on the big stage, but unluckily the Fusion drew the Spitfire in game two and ended week one with a 3-6 game record.

The Strength of the Fusion

Carpe and Shadowburn. Photo via Philadelphia Fusion twitter

However, fielding a starting damage-duo of Lee “Carpe” Jae-hyeok and George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha will give the Fusion two reliable players that will keep them in games. That was clear heading into this season. However, the one aspect of this roster that came to the surface in week one was the strength of this teams tank line.

Arguably one of the biggest surprises of the week was the play of flex player Gael “Poko” Gouzerch. Alongside Finnish tank-main Joona “Fragi” Laine, the two paved the way up front for Carpe and ShaDowBurn, while showing up in the kill feed often. Poko was in on nearly every engagement and was finishing off players at a hectic pace.

In their very first game under the bright lights, the world got a first-hand look at the potential of Carpe on Tracer and the hard-hitting ShaDowBurn on Genji and neither disappointed. Taking a look at how each player wants to play, the styles match up quite well. Both players excel in one thing above all else and that’s building ultimate charge and we saw that against the Outlaws.

In a similar fashion, Poko’s ability to stay alive on the payload and build ultimate charge also plays into this teams strengths. Each fight seemingly ended with a fully-charged ultimate from one of those three Fusion players. It’s rather impressive watching this team find shots to build.

The Weak Spots

Boombox practicing. Photo via Philadelphia Fusion twitter

It wasn’t all good for the Philadelphia Fusion last week. Playing a team as talented as the London Spitfire will expose a team’s weaknesses without a doubt. For as strong of the front line of the dive-composition is for the Fusion, the backside support doesn’t exactly inspire the same level of fear in opponents.

Facing the Spitfire displayed an inability for the Fusion to defend against diving on Mercy and the failure to avoid attacks from the backline. Against the Outlaws, it was unlimited dragon blade’s and pulse bombs, but facing the Spitfire it came down to simply outshooting the opponent. With more support deaths Carpe and ShaDowBurn weren’t able to play to their strengths.

In light of this, the onus falls to Poko and Fragi to play better up front. The lack of impact from Isaac “Boombox” Charles and the mixing of Mercy’s between Alberto “neptuNo” González and Park “Dayfly” Jeong-hwan seems to be a problem. The Fusion have a talented group of support players with Joe “Joemeister” Gramano coming off the bench, but each player wants to play a different way.

Furthermore, the inopportune timing of the support ultimates against the Spitfire was a big reason why this team lost. It’s not the time for this team to make a change, as Boombox is essentially the only Zenyatta on the roster, but there might come a time where this team needs to reexamine the supports.

In spite of a loss to the Spitfire, this team showed that there’s a good chance they end up in the top-six at the end of the season.

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Featured photo via Philadelphia Fusion twitter

Do the London Spitfire have a roster problem?

In this week of completely logical, and non-overreaction reactions, one (successful) team seems to have an eventual roster issue if things stay as they were in week one. The London Spitfire did come out and dominate to no one’s surprise, but the lack of substitutions raised some questions.

Birdring and Profit coming to stage in Burbank, CA. Photo via of London Spitfire Twitter

The first question, and the most important question moving forward, is if this starting roster will continue to play the majority of games? There’s a good chance that the starting six will stay: Kim “birdring” Ji-hyuk and Park “Profit” Joon-yeong on the damage heroes, Kim “Fury” Jun-ho and Hong “Gesture” Jae-hee on the tanks and Choi “BDosin” Seung-tae and Kim “NUS” Jong-seok as support mains.

In all eight games, the Spitfire stuck to this group. No substitutions throughout the week. Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung, who’s notably one of the best Winston mains in Korea, sat on the bench behind Gesture all weekend. In the same vein, players such as Jo “HaGoPeun” Hyeon-woo on support, Jung “Closer” Won-sik sitting back NUS on Mercy and another well-known player in Kim “Rascal”  Dong-jun all sat on the bench.

Will it change in week two?

Based on interviews, it feels as if the Spitfire is running with two separate groups. In case anyone didn’t know, the Spitfire is made up of primarily one of two of the best Korean teams at the time of the signing period for the Overwatch League. It seems as if there’s internal competition, and while the starting lineup is made up of some GC Busan players, it still feels lacking.

Now, a scenario could arise where the Spitfire go with an entirely different unit than in week one. It doesn’t seem likely, but it’s a possibility. Remember, this team has the maximum number of players on one roster so there’s the option to start a different six than before. It feels even less likely that Fissure or Rascal will continue to ride the bench.  

Here’s another scenario, the Spitfire coaches are carefully watching to see how each unit works against what teams and comps. It’s early in the season and the Spitfire knew they matched up with a bottom six team in the Florida Mayhem and the Philadelphia Fusion who missed the preseason entirely. It’s a good chance to see what they are up against.

Is this the best starting six?

Coach Park Chang-geun setting the starting lineup. photo via London Spitfire twitter

Lastly, the question needs to be asked if this coaching staff will role with this six considering the hero pools of each player and skill level. Yes, the lineup they went with in week one is considerably better than almost any combination from any other team in the league.

Looking at these names, Profit is arguably the best Tracer and birdring the best Widowmaker/Soldier 76. Gesture and Fissure are as equally gifted Winston players, but Gesture’s only role is on the dive-Winston. In any scenario where that’s the play, Gesture will outshine Fissure. Same goes for Fury on the D.va instead of taking Sung “WOOHYAL” Seung-hyun.

It goes without saying, but BDosin has a long-standing history of incredible Zenyatta play. It will take quite a turn from BDosin to be forced out in favor of HagoPeun, especially after week one. I expect Closer to get some run at Mercy over NUS.

So, in essence, this is likely the best starting six possible based on the composition and game planning strategy this team runs with. Regardless, don’t expect this lineup to stick forever. There’s plenty of talent on the bench to give this team a needed push when called upon.

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Featured photos via London Spitfire twitter

And the Overwatch League Week One MVP is…

The opening week of the Overwatch League has now come and gone, and after two games a piece the teams are already starting to separate themselves. In similar fashion, certain players stood out amongst the talented group and flashed early on.

It is no surprise, the best teams in the league are the heavy-Korean teams such as the Seoul Dynasty, London Spitfire, and New York Excelsior. All of whom ended the first week at 2-0. The other undefeated team is the one surprise from this week, the Los Angeles Valiant sweept their matches ending the week up 7-0 in games.

Who was the week one MVP?

After the dust settled, four players stood out among the rest of the player pool. The first player to be mentioned is Kim “Fleta” Byung-sun for the Seoul Dynasty. Unlike any other player this weekend, Fleta went above and beyond with his hero pool. Seven unique characters all combining to do massive amounts of damage and help carry the Dynasty to a 6-1 weekend.

Pine signing autographs after the win. Photo via the Overwatch League

As for the unsung heroes of the opening week, how about Terence “SoOn” Tarlier and the Valiant taking the league by storm? Led by SoOn and his backline Tracer play the Valiant rolled through the San Francisco Shock and came out victorious even though they were the underdog against the Dallas Fuel. SoOn’s presence made the difference with his constant pressure that worked wonders alongside Valiant’s dive composition.

Looking at the New York Excelsior roster, there are a few names that took a big step this weekend. Kim “Pine” Do-hyeon’s flashiness on the Widowmaker and McCree or Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-yeol rolling on Tracer made it a tough decision to make. One Excelsior separated himself from some of the other support mains in the league

Bang “Jjonak” Sung-hyeon was responsible for huge picks, a great deal of healing, fight winning transcendents, and a ridiculous amount of healing on Zenyatta. It truly was an all-around great performance. In terms of best Mercy play, one half of the Dynasty dynamic support-duo, Jin-mo “tobi” Yang, was nasty with Valkyrie, moving in-and-out of danger in a flash.

It’s hard to pick a favorite of the London Spitfire roster considering that roster still feels very much in the air. Keep an eye on the Spitfire to have a more fluid starting roster in the future.

Drumroll Please

As for the best of the weekend, it’s quite simple, Fleta was the workhorse for the Seoul Dynasty. Anytime the Dynasty needed a hero switch and a big push, Fleta would switch and the Dynasty would win. It’s nice to see a wide variety of top-end talents at multiple heroes and position making a name for themselves. Now let’s see if they do it again in week two.

 

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Featured photo via Overwatch League

Players to Watch on Every Overwatch League Team

The era of franchised esports leagues begins with the opening of the Overwatch League at Blizzard’s Arena in Burbank, California. The team-based, first-person shooter, with millions of players and fans worldwide, throws its hat into the competitive arena, but I’m not here to talk the business side anymore.

It’s finally time for the players to suit up and actually find out who the best is on the battlefield. 120 of the top Overwatch players from across the globe are competing for that title at the end of the season. Each team is crammed with firepower, but here are THE players to watch on each Overwatch team.

Shanghai Dragons: Diya, Hitscan main

Lu “Diya” Weida, a Chinese DPS-main, took the preseason by storm. The Dragons, while talented, had a relatively unknown roster for Western Overwatch fans heading into season one. Diya quickly made an impression with incredible precision on McCree. On a Dragons team lacking solid supports, Diya will have to carry the offense. He’s certainly talented enough to do so.

Boston Uprising: Gamsu, Tank

See? It’s not all damage-mains. The bulk of talent actually seems to bleed into the tank line. Yeong-jin “Gamsu” Noh, the famous League of Legends player, now headlines on the Uprising as their consistent tank. In the preseason, Gamsu played a major role in the attack. He sets up for the Uprising damage-duo to do work on the backend.

Photo Courtesy of Overwatch League

San Francisco Shock: Babybay, Hitscan/Flex

The Shock will be getting much-needed reinforcements with Jay “Sinatraa” Won, but in the meantime, Andrej “Babybay” Francisty will be carrying the Shock offense. This is similar to what he had to do in the preseason. A strong force as a hitscan player that can also flex onto tank roles. Babybay’s damage output could decide games.

Florida Mayhem: Manneten, Tank

Throwing out a curveball here. Everyone knows Kevyn “TviQ” Lindstrom can ball, but analyzing this team, Tim “Manneten” Bylund comes away as the most important player on the roster. In a rather lackluster preseason showing from the Mayhem, Manneten was the only player putting up any sort of fight. His hero pool, as a tank main, is more versatile than most.

Houston Outlaws: LiNkzr, Damage

The Outlaws are a team stacked with DPS-depth, but one player looks on the verge of a breakthrough: Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin. Sure, Matt “Coolmatt” Lorio might set the tone for this team, but LiNkzr is the player who’s going to separate the Outlaws. If Widowmaker is as popular in the meta as it was in the preseason, LiNkzr could be even more dangerous.

London Spitfire: Fissure, Tank

The most stupidly, ridiculously stacked team in the Overwatch League is the combination of two of the best Korean teams. Every position is filled with 2-3 players that would be possibly the best player on another team. So, who stands above as the essential personnel? Well, that would be arguably the best tank main in Korea, Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung. He will spearhead the entire Spitfire attack.

New York Excelsior: Saebyeolbe, Hitscan

Possibly the most exciting team to watch in the preseason, a combination of explosiveness and solid team-fighting. Until Hwang “Flow3r” Yeon-oh arrives, Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-yeol will have to carry the reigns of this spectacular DPS-duo. His Tracer play is near the top for one of the most talented characters in all of Overwatch.

Dallas Fuel: Taimou, Damage/Flex

It’s simple for the Dallas Fuel, get Timo “Taimou”  Kettunen sightlines or pave the way for this player. Yes, Félix “xQc Lengyel and Christian “Cocco” Jonsson are a phenomenal tank-line, but Taimou will make or break maps. In terms of aim, Taimou can destroy pushes with Widowmaker. His hero pool allows plenty of versatility as well, I mean did you see that Roadhog?

Los Angeles Gladiators: Shaz, Support

A support main? What?

Yes, Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara will be the key to the Gladiators success this season. Only a few other players impressed me more in the preseason than Shaz. He was involved in every situation and worked in tandem with Benjamin “iBigG00se” Isohanni. Shaz finds a way to stay alive and gives the Gladiators DPS-mains the push needed to take points. The support main to watch this season? Shaz.

Los Angeles Valiant: uNKoe, Flex-Support

Benjamin “uNKoe” Chevasson isn’t the most talented player on this team, but a player who can switch off Ana, Zenyatta, and Mercy is invaluable in any meta-game. Valiant have a load of work to do before this team is a real contender, based on the preseason, uNKoe will be one of the few consistencies on this team. The French player has the most experience on this team.

Photo Courtesy of Overwatch League

Seoul Dynasty: Zunba, Flex-Tank

For my money, Kim “Zunba” Joon-hyuk is going to be the player that pushes this team over the top. The Dynasty have 10 players to keep an eye on, but it feels as if their biggest advantage is in the Flex-Tank spot, and Zunba being a versatile and strong option in that regard.

Philadelphia Fusion: Carpe, Damage

The remains of the FaZe clan team of Lee “Carpe” Jae-hyeok, George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha, and Joe “Joemeister” Gramano will be the core of the Fusion. The experience from these three will be important, but the dynamic DPS-duo of Carpe and Shadowburn will be what this team will lean on.

With the Overwatch League going on this week you can decide who you think the player to watch on each team will be. Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

 

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Why Trump rates cards wrong

Jeffrey ‘Trump’ Shih is one of Hearthstone’s most popular content creators, and with good reason. But not all of his efforts are universally appreciated. His card reviews have gained praise for their bold nature, but also infamy for their inaccuracy. Frequently, he has rated swathes of cards incredibly pessimistically, and been shown to be catastrophically wrong. These unfortunate errors gained meme status. Is this fair? And why do Trump’s supposedly unique methods fail so spectacularly?

Too Brave?

trump

Accuracy is hard in any card review

Trump has responded to his critics with good grace. As he has reiterated many times, he is aware that he sometimes looks silly. But to Trump, this is a small price to pay. He’s deliberately attempting to avoid what he characterises as the overly safe predictions of other streamers.

The root of the problem, in Trump’s eyes, is that other streamers view cards in a vacuum and then make vague assertions. This, according to him, leads to the non-committal assessments and lack of real insight. In the end, what matters for a cards viability is how often and how successfully it is used, not how good it is in an impossible, hypothetical Hearthstone that somehow assesses its raw individual power level.

Trump’s solution is to not just try and predict cards; he tries to predict the entire meta. When he rates a card 1 star, it does not reflect upon its potential; merely that it won’t see play. This could be down to meta, class viability, or availability of supporting cards. This is a far more interesting approach, as it is a holistic analysis rather than focusing on a single piece of the puzzle. But it’s not without its serious flaws.

“1 star: Warlock won’t see play”

Take the example of Warlock in the Knights of the Frozen Throne. Trump rated all but one Warlock class card at 1 star out of 5. This included what we now know as huge power cards for Warlock, like Bloodreaver Gul’dan and Defile. The only exception, Despicable Dreadlord, which was only given 2 stars. This massive blunder is part of the reason many mock his assessments.

Crucially, Trump called many of these cards ‘good’ or ‘great’, just considered Warlock as a whole to be unplayable. This is a major problem with Trump’s methods; he makes bold assertions about the the meta, which is arguably far far harder to predict than simply rating cards. And if his meta assessment is off, all of his ratings are massively off.

Predicting the meta, an impossible task?

Trump

Seeing the meta to come is beyond everyone

In theory, what Trump seeks to do sounds doable. Trump’s attempt at meta prediction is similar to that done about the arena at ADWCTA and Merp’s lightforge.com. Unfortunately for Trump, Constructed is almost impossible to predict compared to the arena. The endless complexity of deckbuilds interacting, countering and developing with each other is as chaotic as the weather. And if a single powerful card or deck flies under the radar, it can completely throw out all calculations.

In short, Trump is attempting the impossible. If his predictions are reliant on accurately foreseeing the meta, then they will never be right, and if they are, it will likely be by coincidence.

But surely this is still better than the ‘in-a-vacuum’ card reviews of other streamers? Well not quite.

Trump’s secret ratings

The style of card rating Trump disapproves of, ‘in-a-vaccuum’ power-level assessment, is actually still necessary for Trump’s reviews. In order to try and predict, say, how powerful a given class is, he needs to look at the power level of the cards it is given. So Trump is essentially pre-rating cards using the exact method he criticizes, only not telling his viewers!

Of course, you can try and glean his thoughts from what he says about the cards, but the lack of a clear rating obfuscates his both his assessment and any mistakes he makes in the process that affects his final rating.

Ambitious but not visionary

Trump’s method is definitely interesting and different. But it’s not anything more innovative than a standard meta prediction spread out among cards, an its flaws deeply limit Trump’s usefulness as a card reviewer. His meta predictions are never accurate, and because he does not fully explain the background ratings that result in the final ratings, his viewers are left confused and his mistakes seem more egregious.

Perhaps a better option would be to keep his ambitious card review method and add another rating system to represent the ‘in-a-vacuum’ power level decision he makes in the background to both help explain his mistakes and temper his more extreme decisions.

 

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com. Title image from Trump’s youtube channel

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