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The Uprising Rewind: The Season Opener with the NYXL

For many Boston fans, the 2020 season was one to forget. It was a long 28 weeks that started with a bit of excitement, then pivoted to a lot of disappointment, but ended with a glimmer of hope. The year was undoubtedly a long one, and yet it is still a season that is worth revisiting. Because if the Uprising are anything, they are absolutely a team worth watching again.

To start the season off, the Boston Uprising faced their “rivals”, the New York Excelsior. The rivalry feels a bit forced at times as NYXL has very much taken the majority of the games against the Uprising, but the history between the two cities has bled a bit into the OWL scene. That being the case, the Uprising had to head into enemy territory in late February to face the hometown favorites as the last game of the homestand.

Week 1 vs NYXL

The extremely interesting narrative heading into this match was the question – what will teams be playing? After the 2019 season, there were numerous changes to characters that would certainly affect the meta to start 2020. The first few games the previous day featured plenty of Double-shield compositions and a ton of Mei and McCree. Though it wasn’t the classic Double-shield teams saw in the previous season’s playoffs. Reinhardt and Orisa were the go-to tanks, and the majority of teams in the opening weekend ran with this strategy.

Uprising Rewind Season Opener

Courtesy of the Boston Uprising

On the other hand, D.Va had received a massive buff to her boosters, allowing her to fly around much more frequently. Some teams saw this as the difference maker, and decided it was worth it to play the off-tank over double main tanks. It’s this tank-line difference that marked the main storyline between the two teams. Boston went the way of the Double-shield, while New York opted to give D.Va a go.

[Related: Boston Uprising Welcome Back Fusions, Colourhex, Punk, and Myunb0ng]

The answer was obvious at the end of the day. New York and their D.Va easily dispatched Boston 3-0 to close out their homestand weekend with two wins. Boston put up a good fight on Oasis, but couldn’t quite get it done after a few clutch plays from the NYXL side. Unfortunately Blizzard World and Anubis weren’t quite as close, but there were certainly some good takeaways for the Uprising as they left the Big Apple.

What Went Well

Simply put, it was extremely fun to watch Overwatch again. The Boston Uprising were not bound by the meta to play GOATs, so they started off already with a chance to win. A new roster meant new and exciting plays, and from the get-go Uprising fans saw Sang-min “Myunb0ng” Seo notch the first two eliminations for the Uprising in 2020. Both Sang-beom “Munchkin” Byeon and Min-seob “Axxiom” Park got the start for Boston hoping to show what they can do in a new season of OWL.

Uprising Rewind Season Opener
Courtesy of the Boston Uprising

It was equally exciting to see a brand new coaching staff give the Uprising a new look. Fans were concerned coming into the season with the new head coach Vytis “Mineral” Laisaits at the helm. His previous stint with the Mayhem didn’t instill confidence in the jaded fan base, but with every new season, comes a new opportunity to improve. The Uprising came out with multiple looks and several attempts at counter-play. In a small sample size, it certainly appeared as though Mineral provided a good base for Boston to be competitive.

What Didn’t Go Well

The hardest part of watching this game was most certainly the silly set plays the Uprising loved to try. Using High Noon with Amplification Matrix was fun and interesting the first time, but seeing it three more times left audiences scratching their heads. Every time, New York just used a Mei wall to easily counter the combination, and Boston wasted far too much time with it all. A few defenses were also non-existent, as their plans completely folded when they faced something even a little bit unexpected.

The glaring issue with the team in the opening match was the compositional difference between New York and Boston. Far too often, the Orisa was left to do nothing but die as New York walled off the rest of the team. There were moments and situations where Orisa made sense, but as a whole a more mobile tank would be the difference in those closer team fights.

Noteworthy Play of the Game

This play was so quick, a viewer could miss it if they blinked. It’s these plays that absolutely shape the future of a match. The 1v1 between Gabe “Swimmer” Levy and Sung-hyeon “JJoNak” Bang is a moment that could have changed the trajectory of Boston’s season. Maybe that’s an overstatement, but it’s interesting to watch again anyway.

The duel between supports was far more mental than many would imagine. If Swimmer kills JJoNak, that play easily goes on to become a highlight of the weekend. His confidence shoots up, and potentially looks to make more active Lucio plays through the match. For a rookie playing in front of a hostile crowd at the pro level, this would be a massive boon for Swimmer and Boston.

Uprising Rewind Season Opener
Courtesy of the Overwatch League

However by losing, the narrative shifts. JJoNak holds his throne as “untouchable”. The crowd cheers louder, and shrinks the small amount of comfort that Swimmer gained after a close first map. Worst of all, Swimmer loses the confidence to make aggressive plays from the support position – giving Boston less of a chance to surprise a methodical New York.

It’s a bit of conjecture from such a small play, but Overwatch is a game where that happens. The smallest play can create the largest ripples in the future.

A Note Behind the Scenes

After discussing the match with the players and coaches, it was obvious Boston did not want to go too crazy in the opening match. Boston had found success with the Double-shield composition in scrims, and felt good going into the week. However when the D.Va changes came through, the coaching staff needed to make a decision. They were risk averse and stuck with what they knew. Even at half time with D.Va players at the ready, the team did not feel great about swapping strategies midway through.

Uprising Rewind Season Opener
Courtesy of Bryan Rockwood

This decision would ultimately set the pace for the rest of the season. As matches went on, the Uprising comps always seemed a step behind. The overall coaching philosophy didn’t quite line up with what was happening in the league.

According to the team, the comms also weren’t quite as clean as they had been in practice. The rookies were understandably quiet. Nerves got to the newer players at first, but as the match went on they found their voice. Sadly, it wasn’t enough to toppled the New York squad.

Next Up: Week 3 Against the Houston Outlaws

It is incredible that the “Toilet Bowl” happened so early in the season. The longest match of the year was also one of the most exciting for all the wrong reasons. Even better, Boston debuted their biggest star to date.

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Featured image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

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