OWL Team Skins

Why the Atlantic Division in OWL is better than Pacific… by far

With almost three-quarters of the Overwatch League already done, teams are working hard to make the playoffs and separate themselves from the rest of the pack. However, when it comes to divisional differences, there is a huge discrepancy in success, one division is simply way more competitive. Teams in the Atlantic division are way more successful than their Pacific division counterparts. The overall standings are direct proof of these major divisional differences.

Standings

Courtesy of Overwatch League

Atlantic Division

Atlantic

Courtesy of Overwatch League

The Atlantic division consists of six teams, relative to the east side of the United States: Boston Uprising, Philadelphia Fusion, London Spitfire, New York Excelsior, Houston Outlaws, Florida Mayhem. If you have been keeping up with the Overwatch League, you would recognize that five out of these six teams have been in the top half of the standings every stage; not to mention that two of these teams are stage champions. So, what makes this division so much better?

One reason that teams in the Atlantic Division are so much better is because teams in the same division play each other more. With division rivalries such as Houston Outlaws vs London Spitfire or New York Excelsior vs Philadelphia Fusion; games are bound to be more competitive. One could argue that this could also apply for teams in the Pacific Division. However, the reality is that team play in the Atlantic division is way better. Simply, better team play within divisional matches increase teams’ skill capacity and makes the whole division better. It is no surprise that the only teams who have reached the playoffs, in all stages, are Atlantic teams.

Pacific Division

Pacific

Courtesy of Overwatch League

The Pacific division also consists of six teams, in relation to the west side of the United States: Los Angeles Valiant, Los Angeles Gladiators, San Francisco Shock, Dallas Fuel, Seoul Dynasty, Shanghai Dragons. Most of these teams have been struggling in the Overwatch League. Seoul Dynasty are not playing up to their expectations, Dallas Fuel are struggling to find their footing, and the Shanghai Dragons are still win-less in 24 matches. The only teams that have looked somewhat promising are both Los Angeles teams and San Francisco Shock, even then Seoul would still be more favorable than the Shock.

The real challenge for Pacific teams is when it comes to cross divisional play, almost all of them struggle. The only two teams that are consistent enough to beat some of the Atlantic teams are the Los Angeles Valiant and Seoul Dynasty. Both teams have enough individual talent and coordinated team play to rival the Atlantic division powerhouses. Yet as a whole the Pacific division is drastically weaker than its Atlantic counterpart.

Looking Ahead

The question isn’t about talent; there is more than enough talent in the Overwatch League. The question comes down to team play and coordination. Are teams willing to adapt to an enemy’s playstyle and are players looking to improve? Likewise, will teams from both divisions perform more consistently to deliver high level play? With the final playoffs coming in the next couple of months, division leaders and overall standings become much more important. Only six teams get into the playoffs and the Atlantic and Pacific division leaders getting an automatic bid. From the way teams are playing right now, there is a very high chance that we could see five Atlantic teams and only one Pacific team in the final playoffs. To see if the Pacific teams will step up or if the Atlantic teams will continue to dominate, tune into the Overwatch League.

 

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Featured Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment | Overwatch League

 

Los Angeles Valiant

Los Angeles Valiant roster overhaul paying off

Before stage three of the Overwatch League started, the Los Angeles Valiant made a flurry of moves. Bunny, Custa and Space joined the team while mainstays like Unkoe, Envy and Silkthread departed. The drastic change has worked wonders and has made the Valiant look incredibly strong this stage.

Los Angeles Valiant Roster Recap

Los Angeles Valiant

Space and Soe courtesy of Robert Paul

Quick recap of exactly what happened to the Valiant roster. To kick things off, they announced they had acquired Bunny from the Seoul Dynasty. Next, they made a trade with the Dallas Fuel and swapped support Unkoe for Custa. Their next move remains clouded in mystery to exactly what the reasoning behind it is, but they “mutually” terminated Envy’s contract. Following this announcement was that backup DPS GrimReality was moving into an assistant coaching position, removing him from the roster. During the off-stage break, flex-tank player Space turned 18, and became an active player for the Valiant. Their final move was to trade with their rivals, the Los Angeles Gladiators, by unloading Silkthread from their roster.

Los Angeles Valiant

Custa by the Los Angeles Valiant

So for those keeping track, two players from the Los Angeles Valiant’s starting roster, Unkoe and Envy, were removed. Two DPS that weren’t being given a chance anymore, Silkthread and GrimReality, get moved off the roster. With Envy gone, Space takes the D.va role. Bunny starts to challenge Agilities for the second DPS spot behind Soon, and Kariv goes back to being a support alongside Custa.

Has it Worked?

Fans looked on at what the Valiant were doing to their team, and wondered how exactly things would play out. Many weren’t expecting these kind of results however. At the end of stage three, week two, the Valiant have gone 4-0. They played two teams many don’t give much of a chance to, Shanghai Dragons and Dallas Fuel, but they also played up-and-coming San Francisco Shock as well as near-dominant Seoul Dynasty. They rolled through every team 4-0 except for the Dallas Fuel, who looked vastly improved with OGE in the lineup. With a total map score of 14-1 throughout two weeks of play, the roster moves have worked out incredibly well.

Working as a team

Los Angeles Valiant

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

One of the main differences that the Los Angeles Valiant have shown through this stage is their team communication. Custa was constantly touted as a leader in Dallas, and he seems to have brought those skills to the Valiant. Alongside with Kariv, they’ve barely missed a beat together. Space has jumped in and performed as well if not better than Envy, and if the rumors about personal issues were true, the team mindset may be cleared with him off the team. Bunny and Agilities have also been great swapping in-and-out depending on the map. Bunny specifically has given Soon the ability to flex on some different heroes, as his McCree and Reaper have been producing great results lately.

With a new looking roster missing zero beats throughout stage three, the Valiant could easily be contending for the stage three championship. They’re producing great results against both challenging and “easy” teams, showing that they have the drive to win no matter the team. If anything, it’s a great time to be a Los Angeles Valiant fan, and the future looks bright.

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Boston Uprising

Boston Uprising terminate DreamKazper, Mistakes’ turn to shine

Jonathan “DreamKazper” Sanchez was a day removed from suspension when the Boston Uprising terminated his contract. Sanchez was suspended indefinitely while the Overwatch League and Boston Uprising reviewed and investigated allegations regarding inappropriate interactions with minors. On Monday, another minor spoke up with further allegations and the Uprising swiftly terminated the contract. With only two DPS on the Uprising roster remaining, Mistakes will slot into the role vacated by DreamKazper’s sudden departure.

Mistakes Starting for the Boston Uprising

Boston Uprising

Mistakes from Robert Paul

Overwatch League stage two is two days away, and therefore Mistakes will be a starting DPS alongside Striker. Mistakes hasn’t been superb in his limited stage time, but he definitely hasn’t been bad. Mistakes has a huge hole to fill, and it won’t be an easy transition for the team. Striker and Mistakes share similar hero pools, and that’s where the real weaknesses will begin to show. DreamKazper made Genji and Pharah look easy to play as, which both of these players will have difficulty with. With rosters locked in for the season, the Boston Uprising will be facing a steep uphill battle to continue contending for the playoffs.

Mistakes subbed for Dreamkazper previously

DreamKazper sat as Mistakes came in against the Florida Mayhem back on March 2nd. On Route 66, Striker and Mistakes ran the gauntlet. Florida wasn’t even able to take the first point. Mistakes showed that he can play heroes like Junkrat and Sombra, heroes not in Striker or DreamKazper’s pools. Sombra has seen an increase in play on the OWL stage as the map pool rotates to favor her, whereas Junkrat has fallen off a bit. The staple heroes have been those of the dive meta, Genji paired with Tracer. Tracer and Widowmaker, or Tracer and Soldier 76 has also been run in many maps. These are the heroes that Mistakes and Striker can switch off on playing reliably, and can work in the current meta. Genji and his Dragonblade are great tools to use on Temple of Anubis however, and that map is in stage three’s rotation.

Possible Off-Season Acquisitions

Boston Uprising

iddqd from San Francisco Shock

With no trades or signings available until the off-season, the Uprising will have plenty of time to decide on who they want to target. If Mistakes shows well during his time, they could shop him and his Tracer play to grab a player with different hero pools. This could involve them making a deal with the San Francisco Shock for someone like Architect, Babybay or iddqd. These players have taken a backseat to Danteh and Sinatraa at the beginning of stage three. The Houston Outlaws also have a Tracer problem, and trading Mistakes to them at the end for someone like Mendokusaii could benefit them even with limited playing time. Another option for the Uprising is to promote from within, using their Contenders team. Toronto Esports features two DPS at the moment, Dalton and nero.

Overall, the Uprising are facing a difficult path to remain in contention losing a great DPS like DreamKazper. While his play was outstanding, it does not excuse any potential inappropriate behavior he may have engaged in. While at the time it is still being investigated, the texts and screenshots seem damaging enough to Sanchez’s career. As the Overwatch League and Boston Uprising continue, they’ll try and put DreamKazper behind them.

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Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul

New Faces: Overwatch League Pacific Division

The signing window for the Overwatch League is coming to a close on Tuesday. Many teams have been busy reinforcing their rosters with trades and free-agent pickups, or are finally reaping the benefits of their younger players as they come of age. Certain teams in the Overwatch League Pacific Division will definitely benefit from some fresh talent, and I’ve taken the liberty of assembling the best of those new players and going a little more in depth on what they’ll be bringing to the table.

 

5. Gambler

On February 26th, the Seoul Dynasty announced the signing of Heo “Gambler” Jin-woo, a former support player from LW Blue. While much of his old roster went on to form the core of the NYXL, Gambler was decidedly absent in the early days of the Overwatch League. Gambler was well known for his strong in-game leadership and shot-calling ability, but flew under most teams’ radars until Seoul finally made the move to pick him up.

Those strengths could be just what the Dynasty need to get a hold of their inconsistent communications in-game. While his synergy is unavoidably behind that of long-time support stars Jin-Mo “Tobi” Yang and Je-hong “ryujehong” ryu, Gambler’s extensive experience could help provide fresh perspectives on the weaknesses of the Dynasty. His mechanical skills are top-notch, too.

 

4. Super

Image Courtesy of breakthegame.net. Super stands 5th from the left, between Jay “Sinatraa” Won and Dante “Danteh” Cruz.

Matthew “Super” DeLisi is one of many additions to the San Francisco Shock’s young roster, and he could easily be the most impactful. While the Shock are known for their long list of DPS players like Jay “Sinatraa” Won and Andrej “BABYBAY” Francisty, the tank line has lacked that same depth. Fielding only David “Nomy” Lizarraga Ramirez Osmar and Andreas “Nevix” Karlsson through the first two stages of the league, San Fran has a chance to surprise their enemies with this high-powered addition.

The Former LG Evil star also has plenty of experience with other members of the Overwatch League, including former teammates Jacob “Jake” Lyon of the Houston Outlaws and Connor “Avast” Prince from the Boston Uprising. While I expect he’s spilled the beans on his old comrades in internal training sessions, making plays with that knowledge in mind is an entirely different (and more advantageous) possibility.

Most importantly, Super just plays main tank differently than Nomy does. His positioning, communications, and responsiveness will all be different than his counterpart from Tijuana, and that can drastically change how the entire team performs.

 

3. Space

Indy “Space” Halpern is another player coming of age in the league’s third stage, and he’s apparently made some ripples in the team already. Rod “Slasher” Breslau reports that the Valiant are looking to trade their off-tank Kang-Jae “Envy” Lee, most likely to make room for the younger player in the starting six. Players from the Valiant have refuted this news, including Envy himself– so that’s definitely going to be something to keep an eye on as the stage gets underway.

Slasher has also reported that the Valiant are deep in talks with the Dallas Fuel to trade French support star Benjamin “Unkoe” Chevasson for resident Aussie Scott “Custa” Kennedy, once of Space’s former teammates from Arc 6. While the move wouldn’t be that great for Dallas, the Valiant could profit immensely from the trade. The only downside- the separation of long-term teammates Unkoe and Terence “SoOn” Tarlier, who’s time together has been impressive, to say the very least.

 

2. Geguri

Seyeon “Geguri” Kim is one of the better off-tanks we’ve ever seen, and her addition to the Shanghai Dragons will definitely help the team pull itself back from the depths of its abysmal 0-20, -65 record. Between her and Eui-Seok “Fearless” Lee, the Dragons are starting from the ground up at tank.

I don’t expect the Dragons to turn things around overnight, mind you, and their challenges are unique in both variety and magnitude. There’s a couple language barriers, for one, as well as the stress of living in a new country with new people, far from home. Hopefully the Dragons embrace the potential being in last place gives them. It’s not the best situation to be in, sure, but now they can take the time to find what works for them.

That’s all without mentioning the pressure Geguri is already getting as the league’s first female player- pressure that will only increase as she plays, win or lose. Shanghai’s coaching and support staff need to put in the time with their new players if they want them to grow and improve in a healthy way. Without that support, the Dragons will never get back on their feet, even if Geguri is as good as I think she is.

 

1. void

Go watch this, and come back. (Don’t, actually, it’s five hours long.) Try this one or this one instead. Notice those crazy D.Va bombs? That’s what Jun-woo “Void” Kang brings to the LA Gladiators now that his signing has been confirmed. We’ve waxed poetic on the Gladiators before, but I have a feeling their move up the league’s standings has just begun.

Void’s greatest strength (beyond those crazy bombs) is his game sense. His ability to respond and move in concert with the needs of his team will play perfectly with the style of his new/old main tank Fissure, a former teammate from C9 KongDoo. His lightning fast target-focus and peeling capabilities will also increase the lethality of his flexible DPS corps and bloodthirsty backline. Suffice to say, this was a good pick-up.

While I bemoaned the potential loss of the Gladiators’ other tanks, iRemiix and Bischu, keeping them could be just as advantageous as sending them on their way. As LA approaches a full 12-man roster, the chance for internal scrim opportunities grows higher, especially with access to the Gladiators Legion academy team. Those scrims could show us new heights for the Gladiators, and that is one exciting prospect.

 

 

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Stage 3 Will Be the Best Stage Yet. Here’s Why

There’s no denying that stage 2 of the Overwatch League was fantastic. Many teams that struggled in stage 1 started to turn things around, and their step up in performance made for some close games all stage long. The Big Two, New York and London, have kept the pressure on as they push towards a seemingly inevitable season playoff berth. A select few teams rose to that challenge and gave us some impressive showings, win or lose. Some teams that looked dominant early got picked apart, some teams rallied to an impressive finish overall, and some… well, some still need a bit of work.

Overwatch League

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

But that’s okay! Because we’re approaching a new peak in the Overwatch League- Stage 3. More teams are approaching their full strength, the trade window is closing, and rosters are gelling together more and more as they rack up the hours. All of those factors will help stage 3 blow its predecessor out of the water. And no matter what these teams look like now, I have a feeling we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Even the lowest teams in the league are a few good days away from the rest of the pack. That’s what makes this stage so great! We could very well see those good days in the coming weeks. There’s always a chance that certain things will stay the same- New York will probably continue slapping the taste out of everyone’s mouths, Shanghai will need a lot of work to challenge anyone, Dallas will still play Custa on Lucio… and so on. (Please, Dallas, prove us wrong? We hear his Zenyatta is pretty good!)

No matter what sort of state these teams are in now, the name of the game is parity. Low-ranked teams need to push into the middle of the pack, the guys in the middle want to push towards a potential playoff spot, and more established playoff teams need to keep an eye on anyone trying to knock them from their perch.

So what will it take for all of these teams to reach an equal plane? Less than you think, honestly. Let’s take a look at how all these teams are stacking up as we go into the stage.

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Danteh

Danteh to be traded to Houston Outlaws?

With Sinatraa’s eligibility to play starting in the final week of stage two, Danteh seems the odd-man out. His play has been fantastic on Tracer, and there is a team that has been severely lacking Tracer. The Outlaws would get their major flaw patched while the Shock shore up their tank line. It seems to be a perfect match, but we will have to see what the Outlaws are willing to give up to get a Tracer.

Why They Need to Move Danteh

Danteh

Source Robert Paul

You may wonder why the Shock would even consider moving someone as talented as Danteh. Sinatraa is the main answer, as the man is being paid for his high-level of talent. There is no way that Sinatraa does not start with his eligibility starting on March 22nd. With his talented Tracer play, the odd man out seems likely to be Danteh over Babybay. With this in mind, the Shock have a roster full of DPS players. Recently signed Architect seems like the precursor to moving Danteh, and the roster still has iddqd waiting to play and eligible soon player Super. With so many DPS players waiting for their chance to play behind Sinatraa, and Danteh’s proven record, teams will call and the Shock will listen.

Danteh For FCTFCTN

Danteh

Source Overwatch and Blizzard Entertainment

FCTFCTN was recently signed by the Outlaws, but his focus on tank could see him just as quickly moved. The Shock aren’t starving for a tank player, but they don’t have many waiting. In fact, the only player listed as a tank main is Nomy. Nevix, listed as DPS/flex, has played the role of the second tank throughout the season. Having a strong tank main ready to jump in at any time would be a strong addition to have.

This, coupled with the strong play that FCTFCTN has shown in his play, especially during the Overwatch World Cup with Team USA, could be just the kind of player the Shock would be willing to swap for someone as skilled as Danteh. In fact, FCTFCTN and Adam are the only two starting line-up members of Team USA yet to make their OWL debuts. FCTFCTN has sat on the sidelines. Adam is playing for the NYXL’s academy team. They’re both capable players, and FCTFCTN is just waiting to prove he belongs on a team. Given the chance to shine, FCTFCTN could bolster the Shock’s area of weakness.

Danteh for Spree

A tank that falls under the tank position, but has looked great during playtime in the OWL, is Spree. Spree may be harder to pry away from the Outlaws due to his strong Zarya play when they roll triple-tank, but they could have FCTFCTN pick up that roll if Spree is gone. The Outlaws would prefer not to give up someone that has meshed well with the team, but strong tank play is definitely on the Shock’s radar, just like any available Tracer is on the Outlaw’s. Picking up a tank that can flex should any of your other roles falter can be helpful, and Spree is a proven off-tank with both Zarya and D.va. While Spree rarely plays, his play is noticed. With the Outlaw’s failing to meet expectations throughout Stage two, they need to give up anything to secure a proven Tracer player. With one of the strongest starting tank lines in OWL, with Muma and CoolMatt, other tanks become expendable.

Continue reading below for a dark horse take on another team that could swing for Danteh.

Dark Horse Candidate: Philadelphia Fusion

Danteh

Courtesy of Liquipedia

Hear me out here, the Philadelphia Fusion could swing a deal for Danteh. The Fusion technically have 12 players signed, but SADO has been suspended for quite some time. He’s a tank player, so the Fusion could afford to give up an extra tank with the knowledge that after his ban SADO can fill the position. The Fusion also have a great wealth of support players. With dhaK’s recent struggles the Shock signed and have been playing Moth in the support role. Shoring up the support role could be something they look to do with their loads of DPS. The Fusion also have a wealth of DPS, with Carpe being a constant and EQO and ShaDowBurn swapping in and out to fill the other slot. If Carpe goes down, their Tracer play will struggle. If they want to run Widowmaker and Tracer, they could deploy a strong duo in Carpe and Danteh. It’s not a position that the Fusion need to fill, but they could get even stronger if they went for it.

The Shock are sure to be listening to any team that has a want for a Tracer or strong DPS player. The expectation is that come Stage three, Danteh is on a new team. What team that is, we’ll have to wait to find out.

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Shock ready to roll out Sinatraa

Happy 18th birthday, Jay Won, better known to Overwatch enthusiasts as Sinatraa. Today Sinatraa becomes the most recent player eligible to play for San Francisco Shock. With his debut imminent fans are gearing up to see how the youngest player in the Overwatch League handles that debut.

Sinatraa Team USA

Sinatraa representing Team USA at the Overwatch World Cup. Picture courtesy of: liquipedia.net

Bidding War Won By Shock

First, a little history lesson. NRG eSports bought the San Francisco franchise spot in the Overwatch League before The League was formed. NRG found themselves battling to secure the services of Sinatraa against Cloud9. Eventually Sinatraa signed on the dotted line for NRG for a starting salary three times higher than the Overwatch League’s base amount. Had that bidding war went the other way Sinatraa would be starting out in powder blue as a London Spitfire player instead. Much has been made of the youngster’s salary and he’ll hope to step in and justify the hype immediately.

 

The Cavalry’s Here

Tracer, Sinatraa’s preferred Hero. Picture courtesy of: youtube.com

And Tracer is the character he hopes to do that with. However, Tracer is a character that a lot of players in this League are exceptional with. From a technical standpoint Sinatraa is incredibly capable of producing the goods, but the competition from other Tracer players is extremely stiff. Ji-Hyeok “Birdring” Kim and Jun-Young “Profit” Park from the Spitfire are two of the strongest Tracers in The League. Dallas Fuel’s Hyeon “Effect” Hwang is also phenomenal as Tracer. Jong-Ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park might just be the best Tracer in the world hands down. Excluding previously-mentioned company, there’s another half-dozen players that belong on that list. Learning curves don’t get any steeper than that.

Yet despite the learning curve, there’s potential for other Tracer players to learn a trick or two from Sinatraa himself. One thing Sinatraa has going with his Tracer is his “Ultimate Utility”. Pulse Bombs are considered weak compared to other Heroes’ Ultimates, but a well-placed stick devastates opposing squads. This part of a Tracer skillset is something Sinatraa has perfected and it’ll help him hang with the best.

Be Rubber Not Glue

Sinatraa has a bigger problem than hanging with the best Tracers in the world though: His image. The Internet never forgets, never forgives and never just “lives and let’s live”. Various circles on the Internet perceive Sinatraa as “Toxic” and that’s a problem. The important thing to remember however is that Sinatraa is still very young. There’s plenty of time to become a role model and an ambassador for the game but he must ignore negativity. San Francisco will do all they can to shield their young star from criticism. He must reciprocate by shielding himself.

That means staying calm when being criticized. It means not saying or doing anything that’ll result in sanctions. Sinatraa has stated that he’s working on turning his image around publicly. Time will tell how that plays out but he must be on his best behavior. This is especially true considering The League’s zero-tolerance policy regarding unprofessional conduct. All eyes will be on Sinatraa from the first moment he sits in one of the hot seats as handling the pressure will be about more than playing a good Tracer.

Bringing It Forward

Sinatraa will be fully aware of this. However, he’ll block out all the noise made about his ability, his attitude and his wages to deliver at the top level. Sinatraa has already played in the Overwatch World Cup. That previous experience will serve him well when he steps out for the first time in Shock colors. Sinatraa was expected to debut at the beginning of Stage Three, however San Francisco want their investment paying off immediately. This means that Sinatraa’s debut match will be against Boston Uprising on March 21st, the first match he’s eligible to play. By bringing his debut forward San Francisco will show Sinatraa the team he signed up for has faith in him. It’ll also slake the thirst of any of Sinatraa’s stream fans and bring in a wave of new viewers curious to see his debut.

Super Not Far Behind Sinatraa

And let’s not forget that Matthew “Super” DeLisi will be eligible too in only a handful of days. Furthermore two more players have signed on for San Francisco Shock. Min-Ho “Architect” Park and Grant “Moth” Espe are now Shock players according to the Shock’s Twitter. This wave of new signings almost fills the Shock’s roster. Warming the bench starts to become a threat for San Francisco’s veterans. Architect will hope to displace Andrej “Babybay” Francisty and slot in beside Sinatraa’s Tracer. Support Player Moth will hope to push Daniel “DhaK” Martinez Paz out of his starter slot. Fans will have to wait and see how the new signings shuffle the Shock pack.

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San Francisco Shock Youth Players Ready For Challenge

San Francisco Shock Youth Players

San Francisco Shock. Image Courtesy of overwatchleague.com

For the fans of San Francisco Shock, it can be hard to look beyond their run of results so far. Four losses in their last six games and an overall record of 5-11 makes for grim reading for any franchise at the top level of any sport. Yet the Shock are on the brink of turning the corner as over the course of the next few weeks, two more players will become eligible for the main roster.

Jay “Sinatraa” Won and Matthew “Super” DeLisi will break into the Overwatch League and San Francisco Shock are the perfect team for their debut. Had the Shock been fighting at the business end of the league, the pressure placed on the two youngsters to step in and perform at the top level immediately would’ve been enormous and possibly even overwhelming. Instead they’ll have time to adjust and integrate into the team without the concern of battling near the top of the table. The extra few weeks with the training wheels on will be a boon for not just the youth players but the franchise also.

There’s also the matter of the main roster; Overwatch League teams get 12 roster slots. Most teams in the League have either that exact number, or very close to it with few dipping below 10. This is not the case for San Francisco whom have only used nine of those slots, two of which are filled by players who still can’t play. It leaves a team of only seven active players, and one of those seven have not played a single league minute yet (the player in question, André “iddqd” Dahlström, was unwell throughout Stage One and has yet to feature in Stage Two).

Lack of Substitutes An Issue For The Shock

Courtesy of: Overwatchleague.com

That’s a major problem San Francisco have. All it takes is for two players to be shelved through injuries, illness or a freak event and the Shock can’t field a team. If we put that issue aside though there’s a deeper issue that comes to the forefront. While it’s one thing to want to build a team around a core of players, the problems creep in when a spot in the starting line-up is a right instead of a privilege. There’s nobody on the San Francisco bench and that leads to complacency among the players. The threat of being dropped for under-performing is non-existent and right now, those occupying the seats behind the monitors are looking too comfortable. Once Sinatraa and Super become eligible, the threat of riding the bench becomes a much more real prospect in the event of poor play.

When Super and Sinatraa become eligible the worst-case scenario is that the players in the team start to play a little bit tighter out of fear of being benched. Coordination has been sketchy at times and this has resulted in messy dives. Some dives where the team doesn’t fully commit. Others where the team is too needlessly aggressive (leading to easy sniper picks). Further dives from poor angles. All such dives have catastrophic side effects; at this level it only takes seconds to turn a fight into a retreat. Retreating from battle burns up the clock, resulting in further desperation dives to claw that time back.

And The Consequences?

Courtesy of: Overwatchleague.com

It all culminates in a downward spiral that leads to mistakes, and some of the mistakes are truly spectacular blunders. Captain Daniel Martinez Paz, “dhaK”, straying into the crossfire against Los Angeles Valiant on Watchpoint Gibraltar as Mercy a few weeks ago is a particularly egregious example. DhaK can inspire this side to victory but the team must start to help themselves by cutting out errors that the opposition can exploit.

 

And the best-case scenario for the team when Sinatraa and Super debut? They begin to string together victories and go on the ascendancy. For San Francisco, positive match results have been few. Reasons for the fans to cheer have been meagre. Yet cast a glance forward and you’ll see that the corner the team needs to turn is close. Stage Three is a few weeks away and while Shock fans will have to endure the remainder of Stage Two, signing an established player the week before Stage Three begins will be a massive shot in the arm. The Shock failing to pick up any players between Stage One and Stage Two will have left many people scratching their heads and this is something they’ll get the chance to rectify, albeit a few weeks late.

Only one more established player is all they need. From there they can continue to bring in new blood. Delayed gratification will have to be the name of the game presently. As for the future prudent youth management will place the San Francisco Shock in great stead.

 

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Overwatch

San Francisco Shock’s Soon-To-Be Dilemma

As of today, Stage 2 of the Overwatch League is almost halfway done; the San Francisco Shock still find themselves as a lower tier team in the overall standings. The team is tied for ninth alongside the Dallas Fuel with a record of 5-10. To the Shock’s credit, they are on a positive upswing, winning their last two matches in Stage 2 against the Shanghai Dragons and Dallas Fuel. Overall, the team has stepped up, performing above expectations and pushing their limits week to week. However, with players such as Danteh and BABYBAY in the DPS role performing very well recently, only one question seems important: What will happen once Sinatraa is eligible to play?

Sinatraa’s Raw Talent

For those who may not know, Jay “Sinatraa” Won, is one of the best Tracer players in the world and is currently ineligible to play, due to the age restrictions of the Overwatch League. He strictly plays DPS, but is exceptional at this role. He knows the limits of Tracer in and out and can play Zarya extremely well. His knowledge of the game and raw talent is one of a kind. It has led him to play professionally and represent the USA team during the Overwatch World Cup. The video below is a montage of his incredible play during his stream.

Danteh’s Flexibility

Perhaps one of the best transitions from high level Overwatch to professional Overwatch was by Dante “Danteh” Cruz. Danteh climbed the Overwatch solo queue competitive ladder with his main hero Tracer; he consistently found himself among the ranks of other high tier professional players. Soon thereafter, Danteh was picked up by the San Francisco Shock.

One thing that separates Danteh from many other DPS players is his willingness to learn and adapt to new heroes. Although a great Tracer player, Danteh can be seen playing a multitude of other heroes at a high level: Sombra, Junkrat, Genji, Zarya, Roadhog. These past couple weeks during Stage 2, Danteh has really come into his own as a DPS player for the Shock. The clip below shows Danteh’s incredible play during Week 3 of Stage 2; he finishes this map with 48 eliminations and 1 death.

Babybay’s Prowess

One thing that Andrej “BABYBAY” Francisty provides, that Sinatraa and Danteh don’t, is the ability to play hit-scan heroes. BABYBAY is an exceptional McCree, Solider 76 and Widowmaker player. It is incredibly hard to find matches where Widowmaker isn’t played. Given the right support, having a consistent and fearsome hit-scan player can give teams an advantage over others. Teams are forced to alter their strategy around an impactful enemy hit-scan player. BABYBAY is a crucial part of the San Francisco Shock, mainly because he is their only player who can play hit-scan. However, this can be a double-edge sword, since he doesn’t have as big of a hero pool as Danteh or other players in the league, forcing his team to limit what they can play.

Possible Solution?

All three are great players, no doubt. However, the San Francisco Shock organization will have to make some tough decisions that could impact the future of the team. One possible solution to reduce the chaos this could create within the team is by using Sinatraa for Control and Assault maps. This allows Sinatraa to play to his full potential and unleash his raw talent, without taking away the flexibility that Danteh provides or BABYBAY’s hit-scan. Whatever the decision, it will bring seismic changes to the San Francisco Shock. Will it be a detriment to the team or help them rise in the standings?

 

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Featured Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Videos Clips: Overwatch League

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