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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Hero buffs

PTR hero buffs: Road, Junk, Widow and Orisa

On the Overwatch PTR players can test some new changes coming soon to Overwatch. Some of those changes being the new Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes with accompanying map: Château Guillard, Widowmaker’s ancestral home. Though the important changes are always the hero buffs and nerfs. Thankfully this time around the changes are all buffs, with a much needed one for Roadhog.

Hero Buffs: Roadhog

As we all know Roadhog was nerfed two months back. This nerf got rid of Roadhog’s one-shot combo by lowering his damage. This was a change that was met with much mourning, as well as a lowered pick and win rate. Without his one-shot combo Roadhog is essentially a walking ultimate battery. But his buff on the PTR should help with that problem.

Hero buffs

Roadhog PTR patch notes

As you can see Roadhog can now move when using Take a Breather in addition to taking 50% less damage while using it. This change now allows Roadhog to safely be a meat shield for his team. Before it was high-risk low-reward for Roadhog to tank shots because the enemy would get easy ultimate charge. But with these changes Roadhog gives the enemy less ultimate charge while using Take a Breather.

Essentially, Roadhog’s Take a Breather now functions as a minor shield for his teammates. Though keep in mind that the enemy will still build ultimate charge off of you, just not as much. Speaking of ultimates Junkrat got a buff to his.

Hero buffs: Junkrat

Junkrat’s RIP-Tire has always been frustrating. It’s capable of getting a team wipe but is easily destroyed. Talk about a let down. But never fear for Blizzard has decided to buff the RIP-Tire so that it’s harder to hit.

Hero buffs

RIP-Tire now burns rubber

These changes mean that Junkrat’s ultimate is harder to hit as well as more maneuverable. This means that Junkrat has an easier time securing frags with his ultimate as well as spending less time vulnerable when controlling it. The RIP-Tire got a movement buff and so did Junkrat himself.

Hero buffs

Triple jump here we come

What this change does is it gives Junkrat the ability to triple jump. It also boosts his damage output, but really it’s all about the triple jump. The added mobility allows Junkrat to drop bombs from directly above enemies as well as confront Pharah in the sky. The extra mine also allows Junkrat to disengage from fights easier.

Another hero who got a movement buff is Widowmaker.

Hero Buffs: Widowmaker

Widowmaker has two buffs being tested in the PTR. The first is a buff to her Grappling Hook, reducing its cooldown from twelve to eight seconds. The second buff allows Widowmaker to see enemies affected by her Venom Mine through walls.

Hero buffs

Poison wall hacks

The reduced cooldown on her Grappling Hook is great but it pales in comparison to the Venom Mine buff. The old Venom Mine acted as a warning system for Widowmaker. Now, in addition to being a warning system, it functions as a mini wall hack. Which means Widowmaker can use the Venom Mine to set up easier headshots for herself.

The new Venom Mine won’t help her much with the buffs made to Orisa though.

Hero buffs: Orisa

Orisa also has some buffs being tested in the PTR. The projectiles from her Fusion Driver have been sped up by 20% and her Protective Barrier has been increased in size by 20% with a shape change.

Hero buffs

Faster bullets and bigger shield

The speed buff to her bullets will make fighting more mobile heroes like Genji and Tracer easier. The faster bullets also makes building her super charger easier because it’s easier to land shots. Though what’s really important is the buff to her barrier.

This increase in size puts her barrier around the same size as Reinhardt’s, if only a little smaller than his. This means more teammates are protected by it. The shape change also makes it, in the developer’s words,”more effective when it’s used on slopes or on top of objects (such as the payload).” This shield change will make any attack Bastion or Torb’s day.

These hero buffs should go live with the next patch and we can’t wait until they do.


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Featured image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

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Forgone Conclusion: Overwatch Contenders League Qualifying Weekend Sunday

Immortals versus everyone, it’s not close. Every team fight looked exactly like this.

I miss Saturday’s games already. Sunday’s looked to be a fatalistic foreshadowing of future proceedings. Immortals were not giving a single point to anyone and lived up to their name going two to zero every game they played throughout the bracket. They ended up annihilating any and everything in their way. Not too surprising coming from Carbon League where they went six and four but ultimately won the tournament convincingly. In essence, despite losing in the Bracket Saturday, Immortals returned Sunday like a shadow.

Throughout the night I found myself drawn to the odd ball type teams. The current meta itself rotates primarily through dive comps situated around Winston, D.Va, Zenyatta, Lucio, Soldier 76 and Tracer. The dive meta comp however seemingly disappears, especially on Lijang Tower’s Garden area. Control point maps, especially wide open control points like Lijang Tower Garden and Nepal Sanctum suddenly burst to life when you see a Mercy or a Mei.

Image courtesy of Toronto Esports

The issue however was that outside of the various little differences, you saw teams very rarely try to play anything outside of the dive meta. This staleness in the game really has plagued Overwatch over the last year. Near the inception of Ana, it was the three tank meta where two teams would slam trains together assuming different results. Now with every nerf bat ever made, the three tank meta slowed and it’s now become submarine battles. If your team is unable to dive and kill the critical element of a team, you’re forced to reset and try again usually.

Getting off the soap box however, I’m a sucker for long games with a lot of back and forth. Meta or no meta, if a game is going to be a slug fest, you can sign me up. The series that gifted me such a request was once again the match before the final match. Toronto Esports and Hammers Esports went the distance. Every single match on Sunday night was a two to nothing win except for one and it was a screamer. Not much can really top off a D.Va ult suddenly and irrevocably changing the team fights.

Image courtesy of Hammers Esports, LLC.

A blurb about Toronto Esports from their About Us page “Toronto Esports Club was founded in 2016, with the goal creating a local Esports team for Toronto and Canadian fans to cheer for. On September 6, 2016 the Club announced their intention to enter the competitive Overwatch scene with the introduction of their first professional Overwatch roster.” It also helps that this team has seasoned professional players in Chris “Huk” Loranger. More to the point, most of their entire roster is essentially been together since March but showing they’re stuff in Open Qualifiers thus far.

Hammer Esports was primarily a mobile-MOBA focused team but their expansion into non-mobile Esports, primarily Overwatch feels like an attempt to finally put themselves on a wider stage. Their showings thus far in the Open Qualifiers stands to reason that they have nothing but good things coming their way in the coming competitions.

MAP 1: WATCHPOINT: GIBRALTAR

Image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Gibraltar seems to be the initial map for every skirmish. Hammers had Snizzlenose (Roadhog, which is his main) and Christfer (Winston) while Shaz and Tomzey played around with Ana and Lucio. No Zenyatta meant that Winston’s dive target might actually last a tad longer. On the flip side however, Ana using Roadhog to build her nanoboost to give an edge to Winston for the pick was a safe assumption. With a Nano’d Winston, it’s safe to assume that Winston getting a pick in the backline was all but guaranteed. DPS duties were resting with Nesh and Fischer on Soldier: 76 and Genji.

It looked rather one sided with how Toronto started but things definitely turned for the better.

Toronto’s team went full dive comp with Winston, D.Va, Tracer, Zenyatta, Lucio but used Genji instead of Soldier: 76. Cynic (Winston) and Jaru (Genji) were truly on their game though, pushing Hammers back line while Note on D.Va seemingly got picks on her Ult consistently. There was not a single self destruct on offense where Note seemingly didn’t kill someone. In the hanger, Toronto was forcing the issue as they’d lost momentum thanks to the doors shutting. Note bowled a strike by sending D.Va’s ult into the hanging shuttle above the main cart route and getting a double kill. Arguably play of the round as Hammers retreated immediately after losing two.

Hammers stuck with Ana but the better players prevailed as it was showing more and more evident that Fischer was not as strong at Genji as Jaru. Toronto secured the first game, with Hammers trying to be over aggressive on defense and ultimately costing them. Toronto used their obvious advantage in DPS, flipping to a lopsided one tank, three dps, two supports set up. Note held down the first point leaving Jaru and Onigod to get picks and hamstring Hammers push until overtime when Note and Jaru closed down the point with solid point awareness and a devastating team fight.

MAP 2: LIJANG TOWER

Image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

As the rotation for the maps plays out in Payload, Control Point, Assault, the next up was Lijang Tower and my personal pick for the best solo game of the night. Hammers and Toronto stuck mostly to script outside of throwing in a Mercy/Pharah combo as well as just unreal D.Va play out of Note and Snizzlenose who finally got comfortable. At no point was any single map in Lijang a conclusive result as you saw Toronto and Hammers trading ults and kills back and forth. There were Mercy ults on both sides, it looked like a modern movie climax with everything exploding into a ball of fire. Garden had the team trading blows and point capture up until the final moments with both teams coming down hard on how to counter and dive one another. Hammers luck held up however and truly showed off their

Suddenly Lijang opened my eyes to a possible real fight happening. Credit to /u/BigMurph26

skills as Note’s impressive D.Va play was matched by Snizzlenose time and again.

With match point, Toronto shows adaptation at its finest as it abandons the 2/2/2 set up and runs lopsided DPS with Note going back to Solider 76, flipping the scales completely and dominating Hammers on Night Market. That game was distilled Overwatch, a game built around switching heroes to better suit your advantage versus another team.

The final match returned to Garden however and another massive brawl happens on the point but ultimately Toronto looked like it was out of ideas on just how to counter Hammers superior map presence. Hammers never conceded the point and tied the match up. We get a real match and suddenly I feel like it’s a no holds bar type of excitement bubbling up from the center. These two teams are insanely even and it really takes just incredibly strong play from both sides but who was going to crack?

MAP 3: TEMPLE OF ANUBIS

Image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Final round began with Hammers starting on Offense. Both teams fielded lopsided set ups with Toronto running two tanks, three DPS and Luddee on Lucio. Just a note, Luddee is officially listed as a sub and is only playing with Toronto on this specific tournament which is truly a testament to his skill as a player. People might knock Lucio for being rather simplistic in his playstyle but it’s entirely different to have to sub in for a team on a huge stage. Not to mention being a strong enough a player to keep you in a match by simultaneously getting kills and healing everyone enough to put you in the ring with Immortals.

Toronto managed to hold out on last point for six and a half minutes, punishing Hammers over and over using Sombra’s EMP effectively. Much if the game between FNRGFE and FaZe, with FNRGFE attempting to use Sombra to stall out FaZe, Toronto used Sombra in a much more effective manner. This was primarily because of Toronto abandoning first point the moment it became evident they could no longer hold out. Hammers with a minute left forced a team fight in the enclosed hallway to the side of the last point.

The fight initialized with Shaz landing a hail mary biotic grenade on Jaru who had just activated Dragonblade. Sensing weakness, Christfer identified Jaru as unable to heal, killing him, and Hammers pushed through onto point, despite an EMP. Suddenly it turned into a complete brawl as not only did the EMP not hit Lucio, Lucio had Sound Barrier and put Hammers in a position to score. On top of this, Nesh switched to McCree and that single switch from Nesh seemingly got them into a fight where Tracer and Genji could not. This happened in less than a ten second window with only 40 seconds left to win the point. They tied in the team fight and Hammers finished with 34% of a point captured. True to form for Anubis however, it takes the royal flush level of coincidences to really win Anubis handily.

Sensing an opening, Toronto returned to the 2/2/2 set up but abandoning dive comp completely. Jaru and Snow went with Pharah/Mercy, Note and Cynic on D.Va and Winston respectively and Onigod on Widowmaker with Luddee finishing the squad on Lucio (because of course). What put it in Toronto’s favor was that Hammers too had gone Widow with Nesh picking up the rifle himself.

The casters noted offensive Widowmaker is given a lot of leeway and that put Hammers down essentially to a five versus six without them even knowing it. Within moments of the match beginning, OniGod makes the call of Nesh’s Widow pick, you see Note and Cynic instantly harass. Despite an effort to hold, the first point collapsed like the old ruins they’re fighting in and Toronto began storming towards the last point.

With ultimates a plenty, Toronto drew up a play and laid their Royal Flush on the table. Jaru and Snow still on the Pharah/Mercy flew over the right side picking off Tomzey. A split second later Cynic killed Snizzlenose, and Hammers went down two players. Even if anyone crucial died, Snow’s Rez was ready and waiting to punish any ults used by Hammers. Onigod fired up garbage truck cleaning up the remaining members brave enough to try and stall.

Game, two to one,  Toronto Esports.

The rest of the matches had highlights but this particular one stands out as not only does it highlight one of the primary features of Overwatch, it shows just how much is can radically alter a match when used both effectively and creatively. On the whole however, the night was taken by the best team and that was Immortals. Immortals might ultimately become the ones with the targets on their backs for the rest of this tournament.

Check back June 18 when I cover the Open Qualifiers for Europe as well. In the meantime I’ll be covering other various aspects of Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

OGN Apex Weekly Roundup: Widowmaker Makes its Return into the Meta

The Widowmaker pick has made its valiant return to professional play. Overwatch’s competitive scene is moving back toward a more diverse team composition. Many characters are viable in this meta, and teams are starting to experiment.

The Apex league is where most of the experiments and well thought-out team compositions come into fruition. The strategies from these teams get carried across the world; basing it off of this week, sniper play is going to be imperative moving forward in this meta.

Now let’s get to the games.

KongDuesday

Photo via twitch.tv/ognglobal

The Tuesday games came up all KongDOO, as both the Uncia and Pantera squads played, and won convincingly. It’s no secret these are two of the better teams in Apex, but both teams coming out with a 3-0 result was unexpected. Both squads currently sit at 3-0 with a +6 in their respective groups.

First off, the Uncia team faced off against ConBox, who needed a win desperately to stay alive. Unfortunately for them, Uncia’s positioning and ultimate usage was on point. Uncia’s starting strategy on LI Jiang is to run directly into the point and defend. The back end healing of Lucid (Yoo Jun Seo) with his Ana or Panker’s (Lee Byung Ho) Reinhardt stayed strong. The positioning allowed for the two Uncia healers to stay safe.

The damage plays from DNCE (Kim Se Yong) and Butcher (Yoon Seong Won) were critical in the win. Butcher was the player of the game on Zarya. His forward, aggressive style allowed for him not only to deal plenty of damage, but to constantly have graviton surges available. The difference in this game ultimately stemmed from their ability to have more ultimates available in each game.

It wasn’t any gimmick either. Uncia stayed the course with the “power composition”: three tanks, one damage, and two supports. Biriding’s (Kim Ji Hyuk) high-ground cover on Soldier 76 on maps like Kings Row and Temple of Anubis put Conbox in terrible situations. The strategy for Uncia clearly centered around Birding’s ability to get good sight lines on high-ground.

Next off, Pantera showed the skill gap between them and the rest of their group. RunAway looked like a team capable of pulling off a massive upset, but not against Pantera. RunAway is still alive in the round two chase, but will have to go through Fnatic.

Testing out strategies seemed to play a major factor in KongDoo Pantera’s win. On the second map (Numbani), Pantera tried out a Torbjorn/Mei composition, and it paid off. Despite RunAway taking the less ideal lower route on Numbani, the Mei play of Rascal (Kim Dong Jim) was the difference maker. His ability to stall and throw out clutch blizzards to sustain a defense.

The snowball was in effect. Rascal took Mei to Hanamura and was the main reason Pantera got a full-hold on first point. The damage characters would get grabbed by RunAway, only to see Rascal use Mei’s ice wall to block off the chain and save their lives. After, Wakawaka (An Jee Ho) switched on to the Widowmaker and got two early headshots, making it a 6-4 team fight that eventually won Pantera the set and game.

It was clear the team more willing to make adjustments and try new compositions got rewarded. The frags weren’t always favoring Pantera, so being able to get a 3-0 shows this team’s knowledge of the game. Pantera and Uncia lock up their group two spots.

Foreign Invasion

Photo via twitch.tv/ognglobal

If Tuesday brought us strong Korean play, Friday brought us strong foreign play. Anyone who has followed the Overwatch competitive scene knows about EnvyUs’s skill. Misfits, on the other hand, aren’t as well known; but we saw some dominant play from the French side as well. EnvyUs sets up a group A championship with MetaAthena next week.

EnvyUs took care of business against the worst team in their group: BK Stars. BK Stars isn’t a joke, as they were a top-team in season one. But, they fell into the group of death, and that includes the world’s best: EnvyUs. It ended in a swift 3-0 victory for the American based team.

The story of the day was Taimou (Timo Kattenun) on Widowmaker, turning around entire team fights. His knowledge of specific angles showed on maps like Volskaya Industries. He had a few highlight reel plays that awarded EnvyUs control points.

The rest of the team showed up in other areas. HarryHook (Jonathon Tejedor aria) on the other DPS characters, primarily switching off Reaper and Soldier: 76 to deal with tank-heavy-compositions or play from the back line and get free shots. His positioning on Kings Row and Volskaya allowed for EnvyUs to stay spread out on control points. BK stars would search for shield battles with Reinhardt, and instead get caught in the crossfire father, EnvyUs.

Misfits stay alive

The French squad needed a win to stay alive, as did Afreeca Freecs Red. The only problem for Afreeca was Misfits had Tviq (Kevyn Lindstrom) and they didn’t.. arguably the worlds best player showed up again playing a multitude of characters. Mei, Soldier: 76, McCree, Tracer, and even some Hanzo play. Any character he took out of the vault worked last Friday.

Ultimate economy and positioning weren’t far off for either team in this match. The game was won and lost by getting players to the back-line and keeping those support players alive. Nevix (Andreas Karlsson) and Zave (Kalle Haag Nilsson) were instrumental in winning team fights with different sets of supports (mostly Ana and Lucio) for Misfits. Tviq’s ability to flank and get clear shots on healers and DPS ended most team fights positively for Misfits.

Outside of Tviq, Zebbosai (Sebastian Olson) on the Zarya did great amounts of damage. He was the one consistently building and landing successful ultimates. The forward play, as has become standard in this current meta-game, with the tanks, allowed for Misfits to get clean hooks and built ultimate charge on the tanks. Misfits took advantage of this with the constant flanking and their tendency to not take shield battles in favor of positioning.

Next week’s schedule
Afreeca Freecs Blue (0-1) will take on Cloud9 (1-0) on Tuesday for the second spot in group C. Fnatic (0-1) will face FlashLux (0-1) to try and keep pace with RunAway (1-1).

The Friday games aren’t as enticing with MVP Infinity vs. BK Stars who are both eliminated. LW Blue will also have to match Misfits by beating Afreeca Freecs Red. A win for LW Blue will put themselves in round two.

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