Over the course of the 2021 Overwatch League season, the Paris Eternal have been the team to track. Coming into the season, fans expected little of the mostly green Eternal roster. Compared to the team seen in 2020, the overhauled lineup seemed incredibly weak. After all, how could a roster built around middling rookies find success in such a star studded season? Near the start of the year, these rock bottom expectations were disappointingly accurate. The Eternal suffered in the May Melee, touting a single victory against the Vancouver Titans in an otherwise winless stage.
But heading into the June Joust, the Eternal’s luck began to flip. The team went 2-2 in the tournament, taking out big names like the Washington Justice, but missing the knockouts. They would then go on to achieve a 3-1 record in the Summer Showdown, defeating the formidable Los Angeles Gladiators 3-2 in the first week of the stage. This rise to glory thrilled fans, as many began to predict a playoff run for the dark horse team.
However, recent results show that fans may have jumped the gun in labeling the Eternal as playoff hopefuls. The team took a slight nosedive in the Countdown Cup, going 2-2 in a performance that lead many fans to question the Eternal’s ability to make waves in the postseason. After all, they’ll need to take down two all star teams to make it through the playins, a difficult feat for even the most consistent powerhouses. But that doesn’t mean that a deep playoff run is impossible. In fact, if the stars align, the Paris Eternal could have a decent shot at carving a path through the playins- even if such a prediction can only be made after huffing a metric ton of good old fashioned Copium.
Vetoing The Justice
The first obstacle separating the Eternal from a playoff run is the Washington Justice. The DC based team will be facing the Paris Eternal in the first round of the playins, an important step for both rosters. Though the way the Justice chose their dance partner for this weekend was comical, their roster is anything but. The team touts incredible talent in every single position, and have proven themselves capable of slugging it out with the greats. On paper, this sounds like a matchup that disfavors the Eternal. But as anybody who’s been watching the League for the past year will tell you, it’s not quite that simple.
If there’s one thing the Justice struggles with, it’s consistency. Not in a single aspect of their play, mind you. It seems that every single moving part that makes up the Washington Justice is prone to total, disastrous failure. One day, the team could be as regimented as a squad of synchronized swimmers. The next, they could look as coordinated as a baby cow (or worse, a Plat lobby). One day, an individual player could be pulling off clutch after clutch. The next, they could be pulling off memep after memep. This means that, no matter how bad your team is, a match against the Justice always has room for an upset.
So what does this mean for Paris? Well, they could either use skill to beat the Justice, utilizing incredible DPS and Tank play to disrupt their heavily coordinated compositions, forcing them to fall into disarray. Or they could sit back, relax, and let the Justice do the exact same thing to themselves.If the Paris Eternal can manage this, they’ll have made it through the first round of the playins- and towards an even bigger challenge.
Outshooting The Outlaws
Now, it should be said that this match has yet to be set in stone. In fact, there’s a second team that the Paris Eternal could face in the second round of the playins. Sadly, that team is the San Francisco Shock, and the amount of Copium I’d need in order to predict an Eternal upset would require both a doctors note and a license. So for the sake of realism, it’s best to consider how the Eternal could win their shootout against the Outlaws.
The Outlaws, like the Eternal, are a formidable team that has taken a recent nosedive in terms of performance. The Outlaws have struggled in the latter half of an otherwise dominant season, going 4-4 after the June Joust. Though a suboptimal schedule could be blamed for this newfound weakness, the Outlaws still have other issues that need to be addressed- and that the Eternal need to exploit if they have any hope of standing off with them this Sunday.
Of these weaknesses, the most glaring is the Outlaws’ inability to adapt against aggressive teams. Houston has championed a defensive playstyle throughout the season, spearheaded by their incredible tank and support play. Though this playstyle crushes the League’s weaker rosters, it has faltered against more dominant teams, who prefer fast, aggressive methods of play. If the Paris Eternal want to make the playoffs, playing fast might be the tool they need. After all, this style isn’t unnatural for them. Daniël “Daan” Scheltema’s Wrecking Ball and Nikolai “Naga“ Dereli’s Pharah are both aggressive powerhouses. If the Paris Eternal can utilize them to play aggressively and disrupt the Outlaws’ double shield composition, they won’t just etch out a victory- they’ll turn the Outlaws into a speed bump on their road out of the playins.