The Atlanta Reign scored a victory last weekend over the Houston Outlaws, but Houston did not make it easy. Atlanta has not been the consistent front-runner they were expected to be this season, and now with the May Tournament looming they are out of room for errors. When the Reign are doing well, they look astonishingly strong, but when they are off the stumbles are severe. Atlanta needs to settle on a division of labor among their DPS players to lock in their cohesiveness and play to their potential.
Their deep roster should be a strength; however, using it as a revolving door it could have the opposite effect. It is too late in the season to still be beta testing the roster. This team boasts some terrifyingly talented players, and the time has come for them to shine. The inconsistencies cannot be fixed as simply as “put X player in,” because all of their players are top tier. If the Reign want to dominate 2020, they need to improve their reliability and their hunger. In some matches, Atlanta has just not seemed to want it as badly. This weekend, they are going to need to want it. Badly.
The Reign will be up against a rival team with a score to settle. Pepperidge Farm remembers the last time these two teams faced off- and so does the San Francisco Shock. Last season, a seemingly unstoppable Shock was derailed by the Reign, who sent San Francisco to the lower bracket to think about what they’d done. The Shock became the Champions of Season 2 regardless but will be looking to repay the Reign for their kindness.
The Grudge Match:
Atlanta Reign (5-4) v San Francisco Shock (7-2)
The records for these two teams seem very one-sided but are quite misleading. Due to the way the matchups have been scheduled this season, there is no consistency in strength of schedule. Now that teams are playing outside their regional bubbles, their skills will be better tested. Atlanta’s losses against the highest ranked teams in the league shouldn’t be weighted as heavily against the Shock’s schedule. However, both teams have suffered losses in games they were favored to win.
Last weekend the Shock were run to their limits by a rejuvenated Toronto Defiant. Despite the 3-1 score, San Francisco appeared to be struggling as the Defiant nipped at their heels throughout the series. While the reigning champions are undoubtedly a strong team, they seemed one clutch play away from defeat the entire game.
Every team has an occasional rough week, so none of this should diminish how talented the Shock are. This season has been anything but traditional, and the 2019 Champions should not be taken lightly.
Anything Can Happen
Roster selection and the meta are some of the most important influences in whether a game is won or lost. The underlying foundation of those decisions is the weekly Hero Pool. This week, the heroes that are out of rotation will be: Tracer, Mei, Orisa, and Moira.
This means Atlanta cannot fall back on Blake “Gator” Scott’s legendary Orisa to clutch them out of tough situations. Historically the Reign have done very well in compositions utilizing Gator on Orisa, so it should be interesting to see how they answer this set of bans.
Without Tracer, any sort of dive based meta is unlikely, but anything is possible. Double sniper could be countered with a Reinhardt/Sigma combination, especially when that Sigma is San Francisco’s Hyo-bin “ChoiHyoBin” Choi. ChoiHyoBin showed off excellent Sigma play against the Defiant, and some analysts claim he is the best in the league. However, Atlanta’s Xander “Hawk” Domecq also has an exceptional Sigma and if played would certainly keep ChoiHyoBin on his toes.
Meta speculations will not make a difference in trying to guess who Atlanta will play as their starting six. The Reign’s roster has been so unpredictable, if a dairy cow were to be predicted to start it would have an equal chance of being accurate as any other player forecast. The Reign must figure out their roster specializations and employ the many tools they have at their disposal.
The support players are going to be a huge factor, as they are the most consistent pieces of the puzzle. The Shock’s Grant “Moth” Espe is hailed as one of the best main supports in the league. He arguably saved their game against the Defiant last weekend and is often instrumental in big plays. How Petja “Masaa” Kantanen answers him will determine the sway of the wind. Masaa is certainly no slouch, and statistically very dependable – this is the matchup to keep an eye on.
If the meta allows Masaa and Dusttin “Dogman” Bowerman to play Lucio/Ana, the Reign should be able to hold their own if not have a slight advantage.
The Shock will have to give this game their all, as the Reign will not hand it to them. These teams are very evenly matched in terms of individual skill. Neither will be able to make any mistakes without the other punishing them harshly. Mental focus will be incredibly important during this grudge match. Players for the Atlanta Reign have often stated the respect they have for the Champion team and given that respect they will undoubtedly bring their best to the table.
Though winnable on either side and highly likely to go 5 maps, the potential is certainly there for an Atlanta victory.
Prediction: Atlanta 3-2
Anything can happen.
Questions? You can message Rhiannon on Twitter @Psyryn_OG and ask away.
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