The first two weeks of June matches have proven that longer hero pools are certainly the way to go. The Defiant, a team struggling to find their place among the middle to lower tier teams, have found some even footing. With another secure win over their Canadian rivals, the Vancouver Titans, they’ve shown audiences what kind of play they can put forward. In other instances, however, they’ve simply been out classed. Their recent loss to the Atlanta Reign proves that they’ve still got a long way to go.
With the bad comes the good, however. During the two week break between tournaments, the Defiant welcomed in a new face. From the original Valiant team in 2018, Seb “numlocked” Barton joined the tank line, and has seen exclusive playtime thus far. Additionally, the Defiant made their initial two week contract with Thomas “zYKK” Hosono permanent. Despite the 1-1 scoreline, these two additions have added much needed depth to Toronto’s roster, giving players like Adam “Beast” Denton and Brady “Agilities” Girardi a much needed break.
Only one game stands in the way of a higher seeding than last month. In order to secure a true middle of the pack standing in the NA ranks, the Defiant has to topple the Dallas Fuel. On paper, the Fuel presents a horrifying challenge. However, their performance last weekend can give Defiant fans some hope going forward.
Dallas Fuel (4-8), June 27
Outside of Summer Showdown seeding, these two teams are neck in neck. With the Defiant settling on a 5-9 record, there’s nearly an unspoken rivalry between the two. This time around, the Defiant’s schedule is a little easier, while the Fuel had to face a swelling Florida Mayhem during week one. However, they’ve both shared an opponent in the Vancouver Titans. The Fuel fell 0-3, while the Defiant managed to sweep their Canadian competition away in a 3-0. For this reason, Toronto fans can surely have a little hope.
Fans of the Fuel are quick to defend their recent loss to the Titans, however. With new signing from Contenders Stefan “Onigod” Fiskerstrand taking the stage, DPS superstar Gui-un “Decay” Jang was on the bench. In many instances, Decay has proven to carry the Fuel through messy team fights, and has solidified himself as a solid contender on this roster. If they choose to field him again, the Defiant could rely on Andreas “Logix” Berghmans to shut him down.
Switching It Up
An important change to the rules this time around is hero pools. The last two weeks, all teams have been using the same hero pool. In the upcoming weeks, hero pools are lifted, and players can play unrestricted. This is both a good thing, and a bad thing. For the Defiant, their niche picks become a little more comfortable. Particularly, with characters like Sombra and D.Va back in the mix, Lane “Surefour” Roberts and Andreas “Nevix” Karlsson have more wiggle room in their picks.
The multiple factors that play into this game make it almost too close to call. The Fuel, on paper, have a well rounded and fearsome roster. However, the Defiant have been climbing upwards, slowly but surely. With not one, but two victories against a team that toppled the Fuel, it’s safe to assume the Defiant can and should be able to handle the heat from this Texas team.
PREDICTION: Toronto wins, 3-2
Player to Watch: numlocked
While the Fuel and the Defiant have a pool of talent to choose from, this match could come down to main tank difference. The Fuel have a seasoned veteran in their midst with Young-jin “Gamsu” Noh. With the ability to flex as he pleases, and pull off some mind blowing Reinhardt play, it’s likely that Gamsu will be a driving force for a Fuel victory. Though he’s also a veteran of the scene, numlocked needs to play at top levels if he wants to go toe to toe with Gamsu. If they can find a way to keep each other in check, and allow the damage dealers to fight it out, the Defiant could seize victory with ease.
Featured Image Courtesy of Ben Pursell for Blizzard Entertainment.
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