Stage 4 and the Introduction to 2-2-2, So far…
The Chengdu Hunters aren’t the only team with a scrappy start to Stage 4, since damage dealers are finally back. All eyes are on DPS players this stage, and for good reason. The three tanks and three supports meta lovingly referred to as Goats, which dominated most of this season of OWL, was declared dead as Blizzard announced a 2-2-2 role-lock. Damage dealers everywhere rejoiced.
Throughout most of the season, DPS players were resigned to play either Brigitte or Zarya. For the first time this season, DPS players can finally play the heroes they made their name on and showcase their playmaking abilities. For teams that struggled in the three-three meta, Stage 4 may finally give them a chance to lock up a slot in the playoffs, off the backs of their star DPS players.
The 2-2-2 role lock has brought some new and some old compositions back. Traditional dive characters, like Genji and Tracer, are making a comeback. The double sniper compositions, last seen at 2018 Inaugural Season Finals, is also making a resurgence this stage. A few new heroes and traditional off-meta heroes are also making their way into the meta, with Reaper, Mei and Doomfist looking extremely viable this stage.
Orisa/Roadhog is currently looking to be the favored tank lineup. Orisa’s “hold” ability and Roadhogs “hook” create a deadly combination which pulls enemy heroes away from their team or out from shields. Nevertheless, some off-tanks prefer the D.Va instead of the Roadhog, despite nerfs to D.Va in recent patches.
Chengdu Hunters pre- Stage 4
The Chengdu Hunters are the “most entertaining team to watch,” a title that caster Robert “hexagrams” Kirkbride often touts about this Chinese-based team. The Chengdu Hunters became a fan favorite for playing their own off-meta style even during the height of the dominant three-three meta.
For most of the season, the Hunters ran a solo tank and triple DPS composition. A composition that became more viable in Stage 3, where teams like the Shanghai Dragons and the Houston Outlaws found huge success replicating it.
The Chengdu Hunters were labeled a scrappy team long before Stage 4 ever started. All season long, the Hunters played off-meta heroes and had what some called a “chaotic” playstyle. Despite how dominant the three-three meta was the Chengdu Hunters nevertheless, found quite a bit of success playing to their own strength. However, 2-2-2 role lock will force a change for the Chengdu Hunters.
The focus in Stage 4 has been entirely on DPS players returning to form. Yet, the Hunters have always played damage dealers, who have long proved themselves as capable playmakers.
On the tank side of things, their off-tank player, Wenjie “Elsa” Luo, flexed on Sombra for most of the season and only played D.Va when necessary. Main tank player, Ding “Ameng” Menghan, played his signature Wrecking Ball for the Hunters’ solo tank compositions. So what would the tank lineup look like, and how would the Chengdu Hunters fair in this new role-lock meta?
The Chengdu Hunters take Philly in a scrappy series
The Chengdu Hunters’ first match of the stage was against the Philadelphia Fusion, both teams had a scrappy start to Stage 4. Philadelphia lost a close game earlier in the week to the Guangzhou Charge and was looking to redeem themselves. Nevertheless, the Chengdu Hunters walked away with a 3-2 scoreline, after a nail-biting map five.
The series itself was scrappy, and the Hunters frequently came out ahead during those chaotic moments. The Hunters showed they would fight tooth and nail for every inch of progress Philadelphia Fusion made. Often the Hunters contested the point or stalled out the clock, despite being down a few players, attempting to turn the tide in their favor by dropping ults and trading kills.
Ameng started the match on his signature hero, Wrecking Ball. Making it clear that Chengdu would continue to play the unusual style their fans have come to enjoy. Later in the match, Ameng did play Orisa when necessary. Surprisingly, he held his own on the hero rarely seen from him.
Meanwhile, off-tank player Elsa played D.Va for the entirety of the match, instead of Roadhog. Elsa on D.Va quietly had an excellent series. He had especially clutch D.Va bombs but generally was always where he needed to be.
Tzu-Heng “Baconjack” Lo, a hitscan player for the Hunters, made a return to the stage this match. Baconjack played a confident and uncontested Widowmaker on control. Hu “JinMu” Yi, easily the star DPS player for the Hunters, played an explosive Doomfist throughout most of the series.
The Wrecking Ball, the D.Va and the Doomfist combination is a new take on the traditional dive, which uses heroes with high mobility to “dive” on a singular target. JinMu Doomfist looked unstoppable throughout the series, and Philadelphia Fusion looked lost trying to counter it.
Continuing their Momentum
Chengdu’s second match of the week was against a struggling Boston Uprising; the Hunters took the series 3-2. Most of the casters and analysts were predicting an easy victory for Chengdu since earlier in the week Boston was 4-0’d by the Guangzhou Charge and didn’t look adjusted to the new meta. However, Boston looked renewed in Sunday’s match and brought the series to a close map five.
Many are looking towards Kelsey “Colourhex” Birse, Boston’s DPS player, as a player to watch coming into Stage 4. Colourhex’s Widowmaker has been a bright spot for the Uprising team, but it wasn’t enough for them to take the win on Sunday.
The Chengdu Hunters often take risky plays. The gutsy plays that worked against the Philadelphia Fusion, earlier in the week, often didn’t pan out or were punished by the Uprising. Boston was able to bring the game to a map five off the ill-fated plays the Hunters attempted to spring on them.
In the end, the Hunters DPS players JinMu and Zhang “YangXiaoLong” Zhihao got the better end of Boston’s DPS duo. Harder matches are in Chengdu’s future, the Los Angeles Gladiators and New York Excelsior next week, a win against a struggling team like Boston could give the Chengdu Hunters a chance for a run in the Playoffs.
Featured photo from Robert Paul
Follow me on Twitter: @Delfyii for more content on the Overwatch League
Follow The Game Haus for the latest on all things sports and esports:
Want to show off how much you like TGH? Check out our merch shop here!