Despite a tough schedule, the Toronto Defiant held their own in the brawling May Melee tournament. However, a near close loss to the ever-improving Vancouver Titans, followed shortly by a stomp against the Atlanta Reign, have fans wondering about this team’s true power. The tournament allowed teams to play without the restrictions of hero pools, enabling all 32 heroes for play. For some teams, the freedom allowed top tier play. For others, things took a darker turn, showing less-than-adequate performances.
The Weeks Before
Leading up to the May Melee, the Defiant were faced with one of the hardest schedules to date. Having to fend off all Californian teams is a task in and of itself. A victory in any form against these teams would’ve been near impossible to pull off. Despite the ferocity of these West Coast heroes, the Defiant managed to hold their own. In fact, were it not due to a stunning play by San Francisco main support Grant “moth” Espe, the Defiant looked poised to bring this winning team to a map five series.
Facing off against the Valiant went a very similar way. In a map five brawl fest, the Defiant nearly missed out on reverse sweeping this underdog Los Angeles team. The circumstances they found themselves in showed that they can exhibit competitive play. However, the rate at which this play appears is few and far between, and this roster needs to put in some hard work to get results.
— Toronto Defiant 🖤 #RiseTogether (@TorontoDefiant) May 22, 2020
Before the start of the May Melee, the Defiant signed a 14 day contract with Third Impact DPS Thomas “zYKK” Hosono. As such, he was fielded over both Brady “Agilities” Girardi, and veteran Lane “Surefour” Roberts. Though he showed bright sparks of light in the tough series against Vancouver, his playtime stopped at the Atlanta Reign. Why this pickup was made so suddenly is uncertain, though perhaps Defiant DPS player Liam “Mangachu” Campbell moving into a coaching position left them with a hole in their roster. Having more depth in the DPS category isn’t necessarily a bad thing, after all.
Splitting the Difference
The difference between the Defiant’s display during the month and during the tournament reflects heavily on hero pools. When certain heroes are out of rotation, the Defiant aren’t forced to play into the meta. When the season started, teams heavily favored damage heroes McCree and Mei. Since the addition of Hero 32, Echo, teams have shifted towards a more dive heavy composition. For the Defiant, who are currently lacking a player to fulfill that role, the forced Echo composition is a weakness.
This team prefers to play, and think, outside of the box. With Surefour’s hero pool ranging vastly, and his introduction of Ashe gameplay, fans expected to see him in the line-up more often. However, he’s been missing in action for some time now. Choosing to take time off and recollect after suffering many losses is completely valid, and Surefour is a competitive player who works hard to get the best possible results. If their new signing becomes permanent beyond 14 days, then and only then should fans start to worry.
Additionally, depth to the roster is a wonderful idea in other areas as well. Though new support duo Harrison “Kruise” Pond and Young-seo “KariV” Park are playing with cohesion, the front line isn’t looking as strong. Shock veteran Andreas “Nevix” Karlsson has shown massive improvements, dispelling any rumors that pinned him as a one trick Dva player. Main tank Adam “Beast” Denton, however, still has room to grow. Perhaps adding in another main tank player to alleviate the stress these two must face could help improve their overall gameplay. With one player for most of the spots on this roster, the pressure to perform at a top level every single match is incredibly immense. Filling out in certain places could certainly give these players a well deserved break.
The League is on a break until June 13th, giving everyone a two week break after the May Melee. With how positive the response was to the tournament, there’s certainly plans for something similar to happen at the end of June. The conversation around the addition to hero pools as well is making people think about how it could be implemented. The top teams that most analysts expect to perform at top levels played extremely well without limitations. There were rarely any upsets over the weekend, and the two winning teams were an overall pick from the start.
With how well these teams performed and the overwhelmingly positive response, it’s possible fans see a shift in how hero pools work going forward. Whether they’re to be removed completely, or adjusted to a longer time period is unsure. As of right now, this talk is speculation.
A looser reign on hero pools might hurt this already floundering Defiant team, as they tend to perform best when niche picks are up on the table. A team that prefers heroes like Ashe, Tracer, Sombra and Genji would certainly benefit from a change in the meta every week. These are issues that could be fixed with potential roster changes, but only time will tell how this team will come back from a rough start.
Featured Image Courtesy of the Toronto Defiant Twitter.
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