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New York Excelsior Overwatch

Ever Upside Down: NYXL Struggles to Find Footing in Stage 4

Shanghai

When you’re a fan of an OWL team, a loss can be disappointing. If your team gets 4-0’d, it’s even more disappointing. But a match where your team only scores one point can be extremely depressing.

When your team is the New York Excelsior, who had once dominated the meta and struck fear into the hearts of their opponents, you start to ask questions.

It’s been rough couple of weeks for the NYXL, and Week 3 of the final stage has been no different. Barely getting a victory over the Hangzhou Spark, the NYXL would meet their match in the Guangzhou Charge. They handily full held the Excelsior on three of the four maps played. To say it wasn’t even a contest would be a disservice play of the Charge. It’s more fitting to say that the Charge were playing as if New York wasn’t in the lobby. So what happened?

Mei Meta Blues

NYXL vs London Spitfire
Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

There was once a time in which NYXL looked untouchable, true titans before the Titans even existed. Sabeyolbe’s Tracer, Meko’s D.Va, Jjonak’s Zenyatta – true heavy hitters who embodied their Heroes, players who could 1v6 teams if they tried, or so fans told themselves. Truth is, over the 2019 season, the New York roster, while still a top-five team in the league, is losing its luster. It’s important to reiterate that while certainly under-performing within the stage, the NYXL still remains a top-five team in the greater league standings. This being said, the cracks in the Excelsior armor are visible. If not remedied soon, these weaknesses will remain a bad omen for their chances in postseason playoffs.

Down a slippery slope? Or just a stumble?

While there are a number of possible reasons as to why New York are playing so badly, from the infamous sandbagging theory (now rebranded to experimenting), to player fatigue as posited by Wolf in this tweet on Sunday. The former is more meme than actual criticism, but Wolf’s take is quite reasonable. After all, out of their nine-man roster, the only substitutes available are for their DPS, with the Excelsior’s tank and support line playing every game this season. It wouldn’t be surprising that Mano, Meko and crew are feeling a tad burnt out; but there are other plausible reasons for their downward slope. Namely, it is possible that the NYXL have lost their carry potential in the new meta-game.

The New York Excelsior are defined by their iconic hero-player combinations and said players ability to hard carry team-fights when playing them. Not only are the NYXL playing in an unfavorable meta for the team at the moment with Mei-Reaper Bunker, but the very core of the team is struggling to find footing due to communication errors, poor positioning and a lopsided roster.

Too many DPS for their own good?

Of the nine-man roster currently signed to New York, five of those players are DPS. This should, in theory, give the team a wide range of damage options to choose from. In practice, however, the team has stuck to a static starting DPS roster consisting of Yeon-kwan “Nenne” Jeong and Hae-seong “Libero” Kim. With Libero on Mei and Nenne on Hanzo, Reaper, or Widowmaker. Hailed as a hitscan specialist with an extremely flexible hero pool, it is understandable as to why Nenne is chosen over Sabeyolbe, Pine or Fl0wer.

Despite this, Nenne’s middling results on Reaper and Hanzo during this stage raises the question as to if NYXL can be using their deep DPS roster more effectively? Even more striking is how much the team’s coordination appears to suffer when fielded without their shot caller and captain Sabeyolbe. It’s quite interesting that despite the team claiming that they’re “experimenting” this stage to prep for the playoffs, they seem reluctant to mix up their DPS lineup even in the face of criticism and a losing record.

With every big loss comes the “Sandbagging” comments, the LW Blue memes, comments about 2018 Playoffs. The playoffs are looming.– Wolf Schroder

As many have stated before, it seems that the New York Excelsior remain lost in this meta. Their roster, which once dominated dive last season, seems unable to find their footing in the 2-2-2 lock world. Moreover, whether through meta changes or an increase of the league’s skill floor, the individual players of NYXL are evidently having problems compensating for poor communication or lacking preparation.

There was a time that the team could hard-carry a teamfight in a pinch with some well-placed frags or a super impactful primal rage. However, it seems that this time has passed. The meta-game might change slightly with the introduction of Sigma this week alongside some light Orisa nerfs. But, it is predicted that Mei-Reaper/Hanzo bunker (Or as LA Valiant Main Tank FCTFCTN likes to call it, ‘Fortnite Goats’) will remain a prominent strategy going into the postseason. It’s a dark time to be an NYXL fan this month, one can only hope that the boys have enough insight to course-correct before it’s too late.


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Featured image courtesy of Ramón Escolá, follow him on Twitter here: @hanafuda_OW

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