Wow. That’s all I can say after this match. The Boston Uprising were doing well early in the stage… and then Dreamkazper happened. Without their offensive linchpin, plenty of people had their doubts (myself included) about the Uprising’s chances in their next game against New York. New York! How cruel! A team that looked like it could be falling apart, forced up against the most dominant force in the Overwatch League?

Things looked grim, to say the least. Turns out, we needn’t worry. Montecristo said it best- the New England Patriots’ “next man up” philosophy is alive and well in Boston, and the Uprising have proven that they have the depth to make their mark no matter who they put on stage.

The man of the hour

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

With Dreamkazper gone, Boston had a fairly noticeable hole in their damage dealing capability. His Pharah and Widowmaker were top notch, and the latter is a must-have hero in the league’s current meta-game.

Enter Stanislav Danilov. A native of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Mistakes (as he is more commonly known) was picked up off of Team 123 and rode the bench for the first two stages of the Overwatch League. His Widow is good, but not great, and I’ve yet to see him play Pharah at all. Uh oh…

 

No Uh-oh’s allowed

Throwing Mistakes up on stage might have seemed like a desperate, no-other-choice play for the Uprising, but something tells me Chris “HuK” Loranger (the Uprising’s President of Gaming) was well prepared for this change.

2018-04-12 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

There are a lot of moving parts for the Boston Uprising. They have one of the most consistent tank lines in the league, a scary support line with some off-tank and DPS flexibility (like Houston, New York, and other top-contender teams,) and an MVP candidate Tracer that can hold it down against the best in his class.

That’s just the starting roster. They also have three highly experienced coaches, and aforementioned, HuK. The one thing they lost with Dreamkazper- a Pharah specialist. Their solution? Just don’t play Pharah. At all.

That might seem like… not the best idea. Boston is, or was, a Pharah focused team. Their plans often revolved around Dreamkazper flying into the enemy team and pouring rockets into their collective faces. Those plans were, very often, successful. Being forced to abandon that playbook seemed like a pretty big loss for them.

Not to mention New York’s proclivity for running a Pharah of their own. Generally, if you’re not running a Pharah (and your enemy is,) you’re at a distinct disadvantage. If that’s the case, though, how did Boston manage to upset the undisputed #1 team in the league?

pieces in their place

Let’s go map by map, here. Mistakes played for all five games, and he showed us a lot of different looks in that span.

Volskaya Industries

On Volskaya, Mistakes had a tough first gig: survive toe-to-toe with Libero, one of the league’s most versatile assassins. Widowmaker duels are often decided by positioning and quick reflexes, so Mistakes played to his strengths (or against his weaknesses, perhaps,) staying in safe areas with lots of cover and support from his team to avoid an embarrassing early pick-off.

2018-04-12 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Libero, intent on finding his counterpart, couldn’t turn his attention to the Uprising’s support players, allowing them to start winning the fight against the rest of the NYXL on the ground. Then, as soon as Libero’s attention turned to help his team, Mistakes peeked out and knocked Libero’s head from his shoulders.

With that smug purple lady out of the fight, Mistakes gave Striker the space he needed to run rampant as Tracer, throwing Pulse Bombs with reckless abandon all game long. It also gave his supports the chance to build their ultimates for the proceeding teamfights, which let Boston hold the first point all the way into overtime before finally giving ground. That’s a pretty big deal on Volskaya, and that sort of pressure kept New York on the back foot long enough for Boston to take the map.

Numbani

Map 2 was the first to see any Pharah play, as Libero took to the skies to exploit Boston’s newest and most obvious weakness. Mistakes’ Genji wasn’t exactly a hard Pharah counter, but he made it work, coordinating with Neko to vaporize New York’s supports and hamstring Libero’s survivability in the air. His Dragonblades were… not great, but his target focus was strong enough to overcome that (usually.) He swapped to Soldier:76 on Boston’s defense, but too often struggled to find value from his ultimates or to keep New York from maintaining their ruthless momentum. That wasn’t his fault, necessarily, but definitely something to work on.

Ilios

With Pine coming out to play, running no-Pharah compositions suddenly didn’t seem like such a bad idea. Pine did his usual Pine thing, making Ilios a quick and dirty affair. The one good takeaway- the debut of Mistakes’ Sombra, which is easily his strongest hero. His focus was largely on Meko’s D.Va, eliminating a key defensive resource for the NYXL to let the rest of his team crash into the backline with impunity. It wasn’t enough to stop the Big Boss, of course, but it was effective and clearly well-practiced.

Junkertown

With some warm-up time under his belt, Mistakes stepped up as Widowmaker in a big way against Saebyeolbe’s aggressive, mechanically gifted sniping skills. His strong defensive plays saved the Uprising in key fights (when NotE wasn’t winning fights by himself,) and stayed calm under pressure to clutch it out for his team and secure a fifth map.

Oasis

2018-04-12 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

To have a shot at winning this map, Boston needed University and City Center, maps that are decidedly not good for Pharah players, to come up first. So, of course, that’s what they got. Starting on University kept Libero chained to the ground, and also gave Mistakes the chance to run around on his strongest hero once more. His healthpack control, coupled with a smart high ground defense, forced New York to fight on the Uprising’s terms.

They nearly threw that all away when they gave up the point for free, I can only assume it was a miscommunication, but they managed to turn things around by hard-focusing any hero peeking their head out past the walls surrounding the point. On City Center, it was Boston profiting from a strange point walk-off from the NYXL, and their ability to drag out fights with Sombra, Tracer, Winston and D.Va all stalling on the point gave the Uprising a flawless second round to win the map and stun the league’s brightest stars.

So what happens now?

Boston are staring down the barrel of a unique opportunity. For the moment, precious few teams know what Mistakes can do, or what the Uprising can do with him in the starting roster. That unpredictability is a limited resource that Boston needs to make the most of while they get Mistakes integrated more completely in their strategies and communication structures. Even if teams figure Mistakes out, the rest of his team is strong enough and smart enough to cover for him when he needs it most. That’s an important thing to have when you’re currently #2 in the stage standings, with playoffs coming closer every day.

Boston look like one of the strongest teams in the Overwatch League right now. And they’re not about to back down after a win like this.

 

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Featured photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

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