To the shock of many fans, the Toronto Defiant had a rough weekend in Houston. A game they were expected to win with ease was flipped on its head, earning the Houston Outlaws their first win of the regular season. For Outlaws fans, the team showing some signs of life in this gridlock meta is something to certainly celebrate. For Toronto fans, the loss is worrying.
Just two weeks ago, this team took the Philadelphia Fusion — arguably the best team in the league — to a Map 5. Their struggles against a dominant Atlanta Reign were understandable, but the Outlaws displayed Toronto’s flaws.
This weekend, the Defiant faces an equally struggling opponent in the Florida Mayhem. Though the Mayhem have the raw materials to get the job done, they’ve been bested more than once. Against a team that’s floundering amidst the hero pool changes, the Defiant need to show that they’re still a team to take seriously. Otherwise, they face a plummet in overall team rankings, and drop even further behind their first and only win.
Hero Pools: How The Defiant Stack Up
Most notably, this week marks the first games to be played with the new hero pools. Sunday evening, the Watchpoint desk chose the heroes that would be banned from play. In the tank category, Reinhardt was selected. Among the damage heroes, both McCree and Widowmaker were selected. From the support category, Moira was selected. With these four heroes out of the hero pool, the meta opens up beyond what it has been for the past month.
McCree and Widowmaker being off the table is only mildly worrying for fans of Lane “Surefour” Roberts. Alongside Canadian damage partner Brady “Agilities” Girardi, the two have been straying away from the Mei/McCree pairing. Instead, they’ve played a fair amount of Sombra/Doomfist, to much success against the Philadelphia Fusion. Additionally, with McCree and Widowmaker off the table, it’s not a far reach to assume that Agilities might pull out some Pharah play.
The tank and support category are much less worrying. Adam “Beast” Denton has proved his worth more than once on Winston, a hero he’s very comfortable with. With Moira off the table as well, expect Kristian “Kellex” Kellar and Young-seo “KariV” Park to play heroes they’re still comfortable on, like Lucio, Ana, and perhaps even Mercy.
Florida Mayhem (1-3), Mar 7
The Mayhem have shown that their new players and new team branding has more to offer than any other year. However, the Mayhem have only clinched one win, just like the Defiant. They’ve taken teams to the limit — just last weekend, the Mayhem went to map five against the Spitfire, and fell in the end. They haven’t found a way to clutch out the wins that they need, and that puts them on a fairly level playing field as the Toronto Defiant.
The struggle here is the talent ceiling. The Mayhem have plenty of new, young players that have room to grow and shine on that stage. The Defiant, on the other hand, is comprised mostly of Overwatch League veterans. With hero bans in effect, the Defiant have a chance to show that they can be flexible and unpredictable in the face of what’s sure to be a close and defining match for both of these teams.
Prediction: Florida wins, 3-2
Player to Watch: Nevix
Among the new players on the Florida Mayhem, one of the strongest is off-tank Beom-jun “Gargoyle” Lee. A top tier D.Va player, Gargoyle will push the limits, and is often a huge key of Florida’s clutch moments of success and victory. If the Defiant want to see success, it rests in the hands of Andreas “Nevix” Karlsson. With Reinhardt out of play, it’s very likely that teams will choose to run something akin to dive. For Toronto’s D.Va player, this could be a great chance to show what he’s got, and why he’s been chosen to carry the off-tank duties on this team. If Nevix can keep up, the Defiant have a fighting chance.
Featured Image Courtesy of Ben Pursell for Blizzard Entertainment.
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