The Washington Justice have gone the way of the American Revolution. These past few weeks have seen more movement from the Justice than any other team; their entire coaching staff have been removed and all but four players are now free agents. As of last week, three players had been contracted for the 2020 Overwatch League season, leaving only one remaining question: were the Washington Justice planning on activating their team option to keep hold of Ethan “Stratus” Yankel?
The answer, announced just yesterday, was yes. Here’s why Stratus was worth the two-year contract.
Benched and shrouded in the misfires of Washington’s unfortunate starting three stages, Stratus’ potential was truly unseen. Like many things with the Justice, everything changed in the final stage where Stratus played as many matches (seven) in Stage 4 as he did throughout thew rest of the season.
His Mei in particular was a shining beacon. With the most time played on the hero and overall Mei league rank clocking in at fifth, Stratus put out enough highlights to rival fellow DPS star Corey “Corey” Nigra. Additionally, Stratus’ sky domination with Pharah was not only a benefit to the team but just plain fun to watch.
Among the first three stages, Stratus played on 15% of maps and Justice saw a 10% match win rate. In Stage 4, Stratus played on every single map and Justice skyrocketed to 86% match win rate. Breaking down the maps, Stratus saw victory on a mere 8% played in Stages 1 through 3. Stage 4? 67%.
When the Justice clicked in Stage 4, Stratus clicked too. Now heading into 2020, it’s hard to imagine the team without him.
On joining the Justice, Stratus was immediately a fan favorite for good reason. His social presence was among the best in the league and his positivity (despite the Justice’s early performance) remained solid. Tweet after tweet, Stratus worked his way into the core of the league’s most charming players.
This popularity understandably exploded in Stage 4. The sunglasses, the OWL-developed frag videos, the bromance with Corey… regardless of where people stood on the Washington Justice as a whole, Stratus (alongside Corey) garnered the team immediate appeal across all circles.
It’s difficult to understate the benefit of this sort of clout. The Role Lock definitely positioned the Justice for a successful Stage 4, but an energetic, positive DPS duo is nothing to shirk. 4-0s against the Vancouver Titans don’t just happen.
Stratus excels at situational heroes that are invaluable in the proper team compositions. An additional DPS signing could have filled this role as well, but there’s no sense ignoring Stratus’ preexisting synergy with Corey. Locking those two in together is a huge benefit to the team as a whole, regardless of who they choose to round out the roster in the coming weeks.
Mun “Gido” Gi-do’s departure just last week, Washington’s other team option, originally made it stressfully unclear just what Washington’s plan for Stratus was. On the official Justice Discord, Grant “Keiranthil” Paranjape outlined the reasoning behind the delay in announcement,
“… We wanted to commit to building around players long term (for both competitive reasons, as well as letting fans get behind them long term). Hence the delay in making sure we would have Stratus for years to come, rather than just next year.”
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Featured Image Courtesy of Ben Pursell for Blizzard Entertainment
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