Week 4 is over and the Toronto Defiant have clinched a spot in the Stage 1 playoffs. Their victories over the Chengdu Hunters and the Hangzhou Spark solidified their spot in the playoffs, culminating to their impressive 5-2 record. With only playoff seeding on the line, the Defiant are guaranteed a top five spot following this weekend’s matches. While currently in third behind the New York Excelsior and the Vancouver Titans, Toronto continues their illustrious inaugural campaign after an impressive Stage 1.
The Defiant’s only two losses came at the hands of the Atlanta Reign and NYXL. With those losses behind them, Toronto finished their stage with three straight victories against the Boston Uprising, Chengdu Hunters and the Hangzhou Spark. Se-hyeon “Neko” Park’s return from suspension and drive to beat his former team, the Boston Uprising, helped rejuvenate the team after their loss to NYXL. The Defiant will take Week 5 off to prepare and attempt to push their momentum into the Stage 1 playoffs.
Stage 1 Takeaways:
Suspension & Return
Entering the stage, Defiant General Manager Jaesun “Jae” Won was well aware of Neko’s certain situation. The Overwatch League had taken action and issued a three match suspension to the Defiant’s starting flex support. His early absence was a cause for concern considering main supports Joo-seong “RoKy” Park and Jae-yoon “Aid” Go were both not known for their Zenyatta gameplay. Despite this challenge, the duo paired together through the first three weeks to help push the Defiant past the Houston Outlaws and the Los Angeles Valiant.
Neko’s return was overshadowed by a difficult matchup with the NYXL. After the team had some time to better prepare, their new found coordination and effectiveness proved integral to their success of late. Neko exited their Week 4 matchup against the Hangzhou Spark with only 10 recorded deaths. His recent play has re-cemented himself as one of the League’s top Zenyatta’s.
My Tank’s Bigger
Early on, Gyeong-mu “Yakpung” Jo’s Reinhardt performance was streaky and inconsistent. The team’s early lack of synergy was a dominant factor in their inability to prevent the main tank’s demise. Now with a united roster, Toronto has been able to finely tune their playstyle and strategies to better gain the edge on their opponents.
Although he is still averaging almost seven deaths per 10 minutes, Yakpung’s overall performance has increased dramatically. Despite their loss to NYXL, Yakpung and the Defiant managed to pull together a good enough showing on Dorado to steal the map from the undefeated NYXL.
Toronto displayed an inability to break down and properly counter Chengdu’s DPS compositions on Volskaya Industries. Yi “JinMu” Hu’s Pharah and Hanzo were a force to be reckoned with and Lo “Baconjack” Tzu-Heng’s Widowmaker and Bastion were certainly fan favorites.
Thankfully, for Toronto’s sake, they were able to withstand the Aggression of Chengdu’s compositions through quick engages in small windows. The Defiant’s persistence to run variations of their preferred 3-3 style displayed a dominant knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the composition. After losing Volskaya to the Hunters, Toronto’s defense overwhelmed Chengdu on Route 66 to secure the hard fought 3-1 victory.
Envy’s Return to OWL
After a short stint with Meta Bellum in Korean Contenters after his departure from the Valiant, Kang-jae “envy” Lee found a new home with the Toronto Defiant for the 2019 season.
The Defiant’s team captain is currently ranked in the top 22 in both eliminations (19.23) and final blows (6.13). Compared to the league’s top DVa players, envy is ranked 7th in eliminations with Gael “Poko” Gouzerch, Indy “SPACE” Halpern and Lucas “NotE” Meissner left ranked behind Toronto’s star off tank.
Alongside envy’s breakout, Seung-hyun “Ivy” Lee’s debut performance in Stage 1 solidified his role with the Defiant as their carry DPS. Ivy currently enters the playoffs ranked sixth among Zarya players in damage per 10 minutes (11,528) and eighth in eliminations (20.67). His dominant play against the Valiant in Week 2 served as a launching point for his momentum to begin churning towards the playoffs. From that point on, Ivy and envy headlined the Defiant’s run through Stage 1.
Stage 1 MVP: Kang-jae “envy” Lee
Recent changes to the Public Test Server (PTR) may have implications to the popular 3-3 setup so many teams are favoring in Stage 1. These changes could result in a shift to a more DPS focused build at the start of Stage 2. Some teams, like the Chengdu Hunters, will welcome these changes with open arms. Their already aggressive playstyle will blend well with a meta shift in that direction. Fortunately for the Defiant, Ivy and envy’s flexibility would also benefit from a Stage 2 meta shift. Regardless of incoming changes, Toronto should remain in strong contention behind their superior coaching from Beom-joon “Bishop” Lee and their impressive team flexibility and synergy.
Good luck in the Stage 1 Playoffs Toronto. #RiseTogether
Featured Image Courtesy of the Toronto Defiant
Player Images Courtesy of the Overwatch League
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