Unmet expectations are a bitter pill to swallow. Atlanta’s Week 4 defeat at the hands of the Paris Eternal means the Reign are getting an early taste of disappointment. In a roller-coaster debut weekend, Atlanta dispatched the Defiant with relative ease. Paris, however, was a much tougher test, overwhelming the Reign with individual skill and fierce aggression.
Now Atlanta sets their sights on the Boston Uprising. On paper, Boston is an ideal opponent, a chance for Atlanta to bounce back with an easy win. There is the small detail of Hero Pools. It shouldn’t make a difference in a matchup this one-sided, but stranger things have happened in the Overwatch League.
Four Takeaways from Week 4
Atlanta’s Preparation: The Reign’s 3-0 beatdown of the Toronto Defiant was everything they could have wanted in an opening match. After three weeks of watching their competition, Atlanta came in with a plan to handle Toronto’s style. The Defiant were completely shut down by the Reign’s double shield counter-composition. The ability to out-strategize their opponents will be key to Atlanta’s success over the long season, as will their flexibility and depth.
Where Are Edison and Sharp?: Speaking of that depth, it was odd to see Atlanta utilize so little of it in their first two matches. At the DPS position, the Reign ran with Jun “Erster” Jeong the entire time. He was joined on a permanent basis by Andrej “babybay” Francisty, the veteran hitscan player with a showman’s presence. He performed admirably but was outmatched against Ki-hyo “Xzi” Jung on Sunday. It begs the question: can the Reign really hit their peak with so much talent sitting on the bench.
Well, That’s Hawkward: Another hyped Atlanta rookie, Xander “Hawk” Domecq, made his debut on Sunday, and it was rough, to say the least. Going up against Han-been “Hanbin” Choi is a tough assignment, but that matchup didn’t look nearly as close as it did five months ago when they met at the Contenders Gauntlet. Atlanta has problems to fix across the board, but getting Hawk playing to his star potential would go a long way to getting them back on track.
Don’t Panic: All criticism of the Reign at this point must be filtered through the lens of their extremely small sample size. Four maps against Paris aren’t close to enough to write off a team with this much promise. Their strength is in their structure and depth. Give them time to iron out the kinks and find their footing; this is a team built for the long haul.
After just one week in the old regime, the Reign step into a new world on Sunday after the introduction of Hero Pools. Reinhardt, Moira, McCree and Widowmaker won’t be pickable in Washington this week, shaking up the meta in a big way.
Over the course of the season, Atlanta’s deep roster should help them adapt to Hero Pools, but how will they fare this week? With Rein out of the picture, there are two directions teams can go. They can play Winston or Wrecking Ball and lean on dive compositions, or they can drift to Orisa bunker setups. Both could be huge boons for Atlanta this week.
The dive path would let Hyun-jun “Pokpo” Park break out some of his best historical heroes, but he’s not the only one. Erster was unstoppable during the few moments he got to play Tracer in Week 4. More dive means more of that along with the potential for Genji or Doomfist to come into play as well.
If the Reign go the other direction, it seems likely that Blake “Gator” Scott would step in to play Orisa. He’s already been stellar so far this season, and he has a long track record on the hero going back to his time with ATL Academy. His synergy with Hawk shouldn’t be a problem whether they stick with D.Va or try to play double-shield comps with Sigma.
As for their opponents, Hero Pools might present an issue for Boston. With the departure of Sang-beom “Munchkin” Byeon, the Uprising are down to just two DPS players. Tae-hee “Jerry Min has been a phenomenon so far this season, but he’s been at his best on McCree. Without depth to back him up, he’ll have no choice but to play whatever his team requires. Ultimately, Boston simply shouldn’t be able to compete with Atlanta because they don’t have the same level of talent. But Hero Pools could create the conditions for a wild upset.
This is Atlanta’s chance to start the Hero Pools era on the right foot, to right the ship after a tough first week. If the Reign clean up some of their more obvious mistakes (questionable ult economy, strange lineup choices and awkward positioning) there’s no reason this shouldn’t be a 3-0 win.
Featured image courtesy of Ben Pursell for Blizzard Entertainment.
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