Overwatch

Overwatch anniversary event is back next week: What to watch for

Just a few weeks after the Overwatch archives event has ended, the anniversary event is about to begin. Slated to begin May 22nd, this anniversary event will be a must play for many Overwatch fans. Not only can you grab new skins, but there’s a whole lot more to look forward to.

All the Overwatch Seasonal Skins

Overwatch

Halloween Terror Seasonal Skins from Overwatch

You didn’t read that wrong. Blizzard has announced that all past seasonal skins from Overwatch events will be available for purchase or to find in your loot box during the anniversary event. If you missed out at all during past Halloweens, Winter Wonderlands or summer games, be prepared to claw your way through loot boxes for the sweet sweet loot. Never have the seasonal skins been in such easy grasp of many fans, and the length of the event, May 22nd to June 11th, offers fans plenty of time. Along with past returning skins, some heroes will be getting new digs. There will be a total of eight new legendary skins and three new epic ones. Judging by the announcement, pirate Junkrat will be one of the epic skins.

Dance your heart out

The highly coveted dance emotes are coming back! Along with their re-arrival, Moira, Doomfist, and Brigitte will be getting a dance emote as well. A highly popular item, and one that always entertains before a match starts is a great incentive for increased play in Overwatch. Not only this, but when you pull off a potential POTG you’ll be able to gloat in style. A great way to view all of these are over at the Overwatch anniversary homepage.

Seasonal Brawls

Overwatch

Yeti Hunt from Blizzard and Overwatch

Blizzard announced that all past seasonal brawls will be returning. To many fans chagrin, they have their eyes set for more Lucioball. For others, it will be Mei’s yeti hunt or snowball fight. Whatever your guilty brawl pleasure, Blizzard is ready to bring it back for your enjoyment. It’s a great way to relax after some heavy competitive games, and an even better one for laughs. Coinciding with a free weekend of play to the public, Blizzard is ready to show those not in the game exactly what they’re about.

Deathmatch getting some love

Overwatch

New Escort Map Rialto from Overwatch

Deathmatch is benefiting a lot from the anniversary event. A different take on the Overwatch game mode that sees it become a more traditional shooter, it’s loved by many. For this event, Blizzard is updating the mode with a new map, Petra, and a competitive mode. There will be ranks, placements, and dreaded SR loss. In a mode that was called for often, then often neglected, it’s nice to see Blizzard continue to tinker with modes and maps. Also, adding a new map in any capacity after the recently released Rialto means that Blizzard is intent on bringing fans of Overwatch more content of what they want.

In summary, this event is great for anyone who missed out on that skin, who misses playing that seasonal game mode. It’s a testament to the fan base Overwatch has had throughout its two years, and a thank you to anyone who has joined the world to experience it’s joy. So for the next week, get ready to grind for those skins or emotes and mostly, go enjoy yourselves.

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Featured photo from Siliconera

Boston Uprising

Boston Uprising are the First Team to Go Undefeated in an Overwatch League Stage

The Boston Uprising have become the first team to sweep through a stage in the Overwatch League. The New York Excelsior look poised for their third 9-1 record through OWL’s first season, but it was the scrappy Uprising who pulled off the feat first. They had gutsy game five wins across the board, and will look to carry their confidence in the stage finals. No matter who they go up against, they know they’ve beaten them before.

Boston Uprising Overcome Adversity

Stanislav "Mistakes" Danilov, a Boston Uprising competitor

Stanislav “Mistakes” Danilov Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Early on in stage three of the Overwatch League, some disturbing news was reported about former Uprising member Jonathan “Dreamkazper” Sanchez. The team and League temporarily suspended Sanchez as they begun their investigations in to the matter. The very next day, another accusation went up, and Sanchez was formally cut from both the Uprising and League. It was a swift move, a deliberate move, and the correct move. Since then, many wondered how Stanislav “Mistakes” Danilov would excel. While some worried Danilov’s play would falter, this did not occur.

The Uprising took everyone by surprise, sweeping the next week’s matches with Danilov in for Sanchez. Danilov had guts to come in and perform like he did, and the whole team rallied around it. They had something to prove to the rest of the League, and they succeeded in doing so. Overwatch is a team sport, and no team is rolling more than the Boston Uprising.

Playoff Advantage

Boston Uprising

Courtesy of Overwatch League

There is no greater advantage in a do-or-die situation than confidence. The Boston Uprising are the one team that has loads of it. They seem to always pull out a win in a game five situation, and they even took down the League’s best while facing controversy. With the change to stage playoffs entering stage three, four teams will compete on Sunday for the title. Boston, going 10-0 in the stage, will be first overall. This gives them the advantage to choose whom they’ll play in a semi-final game. The other two teams that were not selected will face off in the other semi-final. With a selection imminent, the Uprising have an advantage that no other team has had before. Let’s dive in to who’s most likely to face the Uprising first.

An Uprising for the Valiant

Boston Uprising

2018-01-27 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Even though the Boston Uprising had an easier time defeating the Los Angeles Gladiators this week, the Uprising are likely to target the Los Angeles Valiant as their opponent. The Gladiators had spurts of greatness playing the Uprising, and have overall been a consistent team this stage. The Valiant however, have not. They looked absolutely dominant in the first half of the stage and then began to fall apart against stiffer competition.

In their match earlier this week, the Uprising won a game five for a 3-2 score. The Valiant looked unable to do anything in the first two maps, then turned the heat to force a game five. This has been their nature against tougher competition. The Valiant look to be the most vulnerable team heading into the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the New York Excelsior tackle the Gladiators. If an upset happens in that series, all the better for the Boston Uprising.

All signs point to a clash between the Valiant and the Uprising, and, most likely, an Uprising versus Excelsior final. However, the playoffs are a tricky beast. For fans of the Overwatch League, these finals are sure to be fantastic.

 

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Overwatch

Competitive play for Overwatch to start season 10

Today marks the 10th season of Overwatch’s competitive play. While it has seen many tweaks to progression over its course, season 10 does nothing so drastic. The past few seasons have remained constant in regards to progression, but this season sees Brigitte join the fray. Here’s what to look for in the coming season.

Overwatch’s 27th hero unleashed

Overwatch

Brigitte taken from Overwatch

Brigitte is finally joining competitive play. As season nine ended, many wondered what effect Brigitte would have on competitive play. Many still do, although there is a consensus that she will shake up compositions. The dominating structure of 2-2-2 may finally begin to wind down, as Brigitte will allow her to fill the tanky/support role she was designed to. She’s also made a living on harassing Tracer’s and Winston’s that attempt to get a jump on a team’s back-line. Her stun is the most useful tool in these situations, and makes quick works of squishy targets. With focus fire, even a tankier character will feel the wrath of Brigitte. Her ability to provide armor to scale back some damage, and to provide area healing while dealing damage will see many compositions experiment to find the right fit.

With Brigitte being launched competitively before the start of Overwatch League’s stage four, it remains to be seen if she’ll be played on the big stage. If she is eligible, many will look to see how top tier teams and players utilize her. Her addition may be the bane of some players, but she may give Overwatch the jolt it has been looking for recently.

Scatter Remains

Overwatch

Source: Play Overwatch and Blizzard Entertainment

Although the new Hanzo rework has been on the PTR for a week or so now, it hasn’t made the jump to the live servers. If this rework follows suit with the introduction of Brigitte, we will be stuck with scatter arrow for another competitive season. However, since Hanzo is an older character, perhaps Blizzard allows his rework to make its way to the competitive scene. Either way, scatter arrows reign is ending, and all who love it should enjoy using it one last time.

If you don’t know, scatter arrow is being replaced with an ability called storm arrows. This ability reduces Hanzo’s arrow damage slightly, but allows him to fire six arrows in rapid succession. These arrows are also fully pulled back to allow for high damage. They can burn through tankier foes’ health bars, especially with critical hits. He’ll also be gaining a new mobility ability. Lunge allows for Hanzo to leap horizontally in the air, and increases his range of movement. This allows for Hanzo to move from higher locations easier, and to clear further distances or flank faster. Combined with storm arrows, Hanzo looks like a blast to play.

Rialto joining quick play map pool

Overwatch

Rialto, the new payload map. Taken from Overwatch

Although new payload map Rialto will not be coming to competitive play, it will go live this week in Overwatch. Players in all the other types of play will be able on the new map, which is a welcome addition. Blizzardworld is still a fresh map, so the continuous adding of maps to the map pool has been great work by Blizzard. New maps add new and different strategies to each player, and each new type is a welcome addition. Competitive players can look forward to using this season to sharpen their skills on Rialto for the upcoming eleventh season.

Symmetra Rework coming along

Overwatch

Symmetra and teleporter taken from Overwatch

Symmetra’s rework and change to defense hero is progressing nicely. Her abilities will be swapped, as her ultimate will be a movable, 5000 hp shield, while her teleporter becomes a regular ability. She’ll also be able to create reduced turrets, and her primary fire will no longer lock on. A lot of previous issues players had with Symmetra and the way she plays is being addressed nicely by Blizzard, and the rework seems to be progressing nicely. By the time season eleven rolls around for competitive play, look for Symmetra to be a completely different hero.

And that covers it! Not a whole lot is changing to this competitive season, but adding in a new hero is certainly going to change a lot of ways players will tackle maps. Look for the cries of Brigitte being unfair or unplayable to quickly follow the beginning of the season. Most of all, get out there and have fun climbing the ladder once more!

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Featured Image courtesy of Overwatch League and Blizzard

Overwatch League

Overwatch League stage three playoff odds

We have one final week remaining in Overwatch League’s third stage of play. Some teams have already booked their ticket to the playoffs, while others will be fighting hard in week five to get in. There’s even a team that has a shot at going undefeated throughout a stage. Here’s a look at teams’ odds of making it.

Overwatch League Stage Playoff tickets booked

Overwatch League

Boston Uprising Victory by Robert Paul

The Boston Uprising and New York Excelsior have booked their tickets to the stage three playoffs. There’s no doubt that these two teams have been dominant throughout this stage, and NYXL has been there all season. The Uprising have tough opponents in week five, going against both Los Angeles teams. These two teams are still fighting to maintain their spots in the playoffs, and could challenge Boston’s win-streak. In the end, there is no scenario where they can drop out of the stage playoffs.

The same is true for the NYXL. They’ll also be going up against the worst teams in the Overwatch League in week five, and should be able to pad their win total. Going against the lower tier teams may also allow the NYXL to practice and prepare more for the stage playoffs than other teams. Boston could be practicing potential opponents during their week five play as well. Whichever of these two top teams claims first place, they’ll have their pick of the three teams to play in the stage playoffs. This is a heavy advantage, so don’t look for NYXL or Boston to slack next week.

Stage Playoff Odds: Absolutely In

Valiantly to the Playoffs

Overwatch League

2018-04-11 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

A huge revamp of their roster seems to be paying off. Although the “honeymoon phase” is over and they’ve dropped a few maps, the Valiant are poised to enter the stage playoffs. They could’ve punched their ticket this week, had they beaten the Houston Outlaws, but they’re on the verge of doing so. If the Valiant take a win over Boston or Philadelphia in week five, they’ll make the playoffs in any capacity. As many hockey fans know, all you need is to get in to the playoffs to win.

Look for the Valiant to regroup and use the strong play and leadership of Custa and the Tracer skill of Bunny to carry them into the playoffs next week. If the Valiant drop both their games and miss the playoffs, it will be a disappointing end to stage three after such a strong start. For the team’s confidence heading in to stage four, they need to make it in.

Stage Playoff Odds: Strong

Gladiators Brawling their way through

Overwatch League

Courtesy of the LA Gladiators Twitter

The Los Angeles Gladiators are also on the verge of making the Overwatch League stage playoffs for the first time. With the revamped stage playoff look allowing four teams to get in, the Gladiators want nothing more than to be one of the four. To secure their place in the playoffs, they’ll need to win both their games next week. Playing a game against Boston hurts those odds, but a game against Florida could pick them up a win that could be the buffer against many of the currently 4-4 teams looking to make it. Regardless of both wins, the Gladiators will need to pick up at least a single win, as either Houston or San Francisco will pick up a win to tie the Gladiators record. If they tied, the Gladiators currently have the differential in their favor, but to feel comfortable they’ll need one.

Stage Playoff Odds: Moderate

The Battle over 50-50

Overwatch League

San Francisco Shock by Robert Paul

There are four teams sitting at 4-4 records heading into the final week. The San Francisco Shock, Houston Outlaws, Philadelphia Fusion and Seoul Dynasty. A win for each would have them tie (if Gladiators drop at least one) the Gladiators. The Outlaws or Shock are guaranteed a victory, as they’ll face each other. This means at least one of them will get to 5-4 in week five. This is also true for Seoul and Houston, as they will face each other on the last day of the stage. If Houston drops one of those, they’re most likely out. If the Shock win against the Outlaws, their chances look good, as they’ll play the Florida Mayhem after them.

Philadelphia will start the week with a good opportunity for a win against Dallas, but will have to battle the Valiant at the end. If the stars align and the right teams lose (every other 50-50 team and the Gladiators), then the Fusion may make the playoffs. Seoul has the toughest schedule of the three. They have to play against the London Spitfire, and then go against Houston the next day. Looking at the standings, it’s a tough road for all of them, but they’ll be closely watching both L.A. teams during week five and hoping their play falters so they can slide into the playoffs.

Stage Playoff Odds: Low

Strong Endings to carry into Final stage

Overwatch League

Shanghai vs Dallas by Robert Paul

The London Spitfire have looked completely different compared to the end of stage two. Being a top three team to end the stage, they lost out to the Fusion in the semi-finals. Unfortunately for them, they won’t have that chance again. They’ll join the Mayhem, Fuel and Dragons with no chance to enter the stage playoffs. Their play in the past few matches has looked great however. London is finally looking like London of old, and looked poised to have a run during stage four. They’re going to be in contention for the season playoffs if they’re able to be competitive during the final stage.

The other three teams however, are far removed from the season playoffs. The Mayhem have looked great since Sayaplayer and Awesomeguy have been regulars in the lineup, and it shows in the standings. They’ve jumped over the Dallas Fuel for 10th place. The Shanghai Dragons are still without their first win of the season, and everybody will be hoping they can pull one out during the final stage. For the Dallas Fuel, they’ve had quite the up-and-down season, with both players and management scandals constantly racking them. They’ll look to establish a winning culture during the final stage, and look to come out strong in season two.

Stage Playoff Odds: Impossible 

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Featured Image courtesy of Overwatch League and Blizzard

Fortnite Scholarship Program One of Many in new Collegiate Esports Push

In almost every conversation that’s ever taken place about the esports industry, there has been one driving concept.

For those invested in the industry, one goal to push towards. For those who were a bit more skeptical, one point of contention. For both, one major focus. Legitimacy.

People in the esports industry, above all else, want their work to be seen as legitimate. Players want to be seen as professionals, skilled laborers with something to contribute to society. Managers and organizers, tech guys and sound guys, writers and content creators (like me!) all want to be seen as more than a bunch of nerds wasting their time on video games.

Many of those people (like me!) are in college. Oftentimes, that makes things even worse. If you’re trying to balance going pro with managing your grades, you’re usually gonna have a bad time. That might be changing soon, though.

Play to Pay

Today, more than ever, colleges are stepping up to support these “nerds” in pursuing their passion. With the rise of professional esports leagues and increased esports visibility, universities across the country have introduced scholarship programs for budding collegiate esports stars. 

Photo Courtesy of UC Berkeley News

UC Berkeley, for instance, recently announced the development of an esports community center in partnership with local franchise NRG Esports. NRG’s Chairman and Founder Andy Miller also owns the Overwatch League’s San Francisco Shock.

In the same press release, Miller explained the logic behind these big moves. “By investing in this esports program, we’re investing in the future: technology, reinvented community, new learning models, and of course, the students.”

“Not only is UC Berkeley one of the most prestigious institutions for higher learning in the world, but it also runs the best collegiate esports program in the country. We look forward to the many things we can do together not just in our Northern California market, but hopefully throughout the esports community as well.”

Always an industry leader, Cal have also announced a partnership with League of Legends developer Riot Games. This agreement paves the way for Berkeley to launch the inaugural League of Legends Intramural Esports League this fall. More importantly, it gives Cal the chance to eventually provide scholarships for these new student-athletes, keeping them afloat as they balance academics and competition.

“We’re pleased to add another dimension through a new intramural league and scholarships,” Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton said. “We’re looking forward to advancing the potential of our students and of collegiate esports with this partnership between Cal and an industry giant like Riot Games.”

Accent on the “U”

Berkeley aren’t the only ones getting in on the collegiate esports scene, though. Ashland University, a comparatively sleepy college of 5700 students in a 20,000 strong Ohio town, are stepping up to match the Golden Bears’ efforts

Graphic Courtesy of Ashland University Esports

They’re offering prospective students up to $4000 a year to play for the school’s Fortnite team, and have programs in other major franchises like Overwatch, CS:GO, and League of Legends. On top of the scholarship, all the players get a full peripheral kit, complete with keyboard, mouse, and headset. With coaches and training centers decked out with the latest equipment, it’s clear that Ashland are in for a penny, in for a pound.

Ashland’s all-in approach has clearly paid off. With articles written by journalistic giants this level of visibility is unprecedented for a school so small. Yet here we are, talking about a school that may very well change the face of collegiate esports forever.

Collegiate esports as a stepping stone

What’s special about these new programs is not their novelty. It’s what their adoption represents in the overall esports picture. Universities big and small see esports as a chance to make money and bring recognition to their own brand. More importantly, they are recognizing esports as a legitimate enterprise for their students to pursue alongside a degree.

Now more than ever, collegiate esports can be used as a stepping stone to greater careers in the industry. Ashland University’s Overwatch team could field the next Overwatch League star. Cal’s intramural leagues could show us the next big League of Legends team, or the next big pickup in CS:GO. With a degree in hand, these new players won’t have to worry about what to do when their esports career is over. Skeptics won’t be able to sneer about their lack of education or life skills, either. They’ll have everything they need to succeed, in and out of the esports industry. I can’t think of anyone who loses in that situation.

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Featured photo Courtesy of Epic Games

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Stage

Overwatch League stage three week four primer

The fourth week of Overwatch League’s stage three is upon us. Coming into this week, there are a lot of stories unfolding for different teams. Stage playoff spots are up for grabs to newly contending teams wanting a chance to be champions. Here’s what to look for throughout the week.

Overwatch League Stage Undefeated

Overwatch League

2018-01-27 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

There have been no teams that have pulled off a perfect 10-0 throughout an Overwatch League stage. Currently, the Boston Uprising look to challenge that. They currently sit at 6-0 on the stage, and play against favorable teams this week. The Uprising will be tackling the Shanghai Dragons and Dallas Fuel, which are two of the weaker teams in the League. While the Uprising look to continue their impressive and purely dominant play since the release of Dreamkazper, they’ve taken down top tier teams. The New York Excelsior lost a game five thriller to the Uprising, while also beating the London Spitfire, Seoul Dynasty, and Houston Outlaws. No matter the team, Boston hasn’t had a problem.

One is all you need

Overwatch League

Now a dream, soon a reality by Robert Paul

On the other end of the spectrum from the Boston Uprising are the Shanghai Dragons. They are battling over halfway through stage three without a single win on the season. They’ve continued to impress as the roster adapts to playing together, and communication has steadily improved. However, they will have an incredibly tough time finding a win during this week. As stated above they’ll take on the on-fire Uprising, and then will have to battle the Philadelphia Fusion for their first win. All signs point to another disappointing loss for the Dragons, but all they need is to win one to boost their confidence.

London Spitfire hoping for takeoff

After a five map win against the Los Angeles Valiant, a previously undefeated team during stage three, the Spitfire are looking to turn this stage around. They currently sit at 2-4, but looked much more impressive than they had looked against the Valiant. Birdring was not in the lineup for the Spitfire, taking the week for a wrist injury. It all clicked for the Spitfire as they looked dominant in taking the first two maps against the Valiant, and dominant once again in the decisive map five. They’re hoping to translate that success against the other California based teams, the Los Angeles Gladiators and San Francisco Shock this week. For this stage, all three teams sit around the same level of play, and they’ll all be pushing for a spot come week five.

Valiant want to bounce back

After looking a little disconnected against the Spitfire, the Valiant will have to push back. They have games against the Outlaws and the Florida Mayhem this week. While one can usually write off the Mayhem, they’re always ready to take advantage of being looked down on. They have the talent and skill to take teams to the limit, and the Valiant can’t sleep on them this week. The other match against the Outlaws looks more difficult on paper. The Outlaws are one win back of a stage playoff spot, and only one win back from catching the Valiant in League standings. It should be a thrilling map that the Valiant will need to take to avoid possibly sliding out of the stage playoffs.

Two weeks left, who gets in?

Overwatch League

Overwatch League Inaugural Season Teams

There are four matches remaining in stage three, and there could be a few playoff spots ready to change teams. If the Valiant are unable to bounce back after their Spitfire loss, they could fall out of contention. Meanwhile, if the Shock can’t take their two matches this week, they’ll likely see one of the many teams one win under them surpass them. These teams include: Gladiators, Dynasty, Outlaws and Fusion. If the Spitfire pull off two straight wins in each remaining week, they could see themselves vault into the stage playoffs once again. Boston’s run of 6-0 should see them secure a spot, but if they have a major collapse, (unlikely), they could fall out as well.

For the first time, there are multiple spots in play for the stage championship. The previous two stages have seen teams battle for the third spot, since the Spitfire and NYXL had been locks for the other two. This time around, it’s anybodies game out there. This should be a great week for the Overwatch League and its fans, and set up an even more thrilling week five.

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Featured Image courtesy of Robert Paul

What is going on in the Overwatch League?

In the past two weeks, 12 games have gone to a game five. That’s the most in a two-week span this season. Three of the four teams currently sitting in the stage three playoff spots didn’t make stage one or two playoffs. The London Spitfire are two games under .500, San Francisco Shock are in a playoff spot, and the Boston Uprising are now unbeatable.

What the **** is going on in the Overwatch League?

Uprising Industries

The Boston Uprising is the biggest story of stage three for many different reasons. Obviously, the team dismissal of talented projectile-DPS player Jonathon “DreamKazper” Sanchez due to inappropriate behavior with a minor, left a major void on the Uprising starting lineup. Despite a good start to the stage, it felt like the inevitable doom was coming for the Uprising.

Enter Stanislov “Mistakes” Danilov, a Russian-born player with many considerable functions in-game as the projectile-DPS alongside star Tracer-main, Nam-joo “Striker” Kwon. Since Mistakes took over the DreamKazper role, the Uprising haven’t missed a beat. He’s not only filled a need, but has in some ways excelled in areas DreamKazper wasn’t as proficient in.

The most improved team from bottom-to-top is the Uprising. Even before the DreamKazper release, Lucas “NotE” Meissner was starting to drastically improve, and a tank line that went under the radar began to make big impacts on games. Same goes for the support line Kristian “Kellex” Keller and Park “Neko” Se-hyeon, who are both producing more healing stats (mainly Kellex) and contributing extra damage and final blows (mainly Neko). And of course, the play of Striker has put his name right near the top of any MVP discussion.

Overall, the transition has been seamless for coach Da-hee “Crusty” Park and the Uprising staff. It’s been a combination of the rest of the team stepping up in his absence and the coaching staff finding ways to put Mistakes in the best position to produce. The Uprising is not only 6-0 in stage three with wins over the top three Korean-dominated teams (Seoul Dynasty, London Spitfire, and New York Excelsior), but bring in a 10 game winning streak from stage two, and are only four games back of New York for the first overall seed.

Shocking the Overwatch world

The Shock is a great feel-good story. Sitting at 10-16, six games behind the Philadelphia Fusion, their chances of a playoff run are rather slim. However, this is a new roster and they still have the stage playoffs. The Shock dropped eight games against the Dynasty and Valiant in the stage three matchups, but also have wins over the Gladiators and Fusion. It’s still a work in progress.

Signing Jay “Sinatraa” Won, Matthew “super” DeLisi, Min-ho “Architect” Park, and Grant “Moth” Espe added talent to an already talented player base. The early return on these players is looking great, and as teams like the Uprising, Fusion, and Valiant have shown, if the talent is there, it will only take time before they catch up to the rest of the league. It’s still uncertain what this new rosters ceiling is, but the way it’s constructed feels as if it can adjust to any meta-swings and has players still learning the pro-game.

Furthermore, it will allow Dante “Danteh” Cruz to be unleashed on the league. Adding Sinatraa will allow Danteh to flex onto other roles besides Tracer, mainly getting to play Sombra. The Sombra usage in the league is still being played with, but the advantages of having Danteh lets the Shock run it on most maps. The other signing of Architect is the Widowmaker this team has been looking for, and Super’s the space creating main-tank that Danteh has been looking for.

The strange results of the Dynasty, Spitfire and Excelsior

Lastly, the oddities associated with these three teams continue in stage three. The New York Excelsior continue to start bad and end with a smile, reversing sweep their last two games. The London Spitfire keep losing that game five, and the Dynasty can’t beat teams over the .500 mark anymore.

Expectations and reality are reaching a breaking point with these teams. The Seoul Dynasty and London Spitfire are only two games ahead of the seventh-seeded Houston Outlaws. The New York Excelsior have only dropped three games, but it’s clear that teams are catching up with them too. It’s a mad scramble among the Overwatch League playoff teams.  

Nevertheless, these teams will be big players at the end of the season, and this is more than likely a bump in the road. It’s the world of Overwatch balancing itself, as the non-Apex players have finally caught up with the level of competition being so high. The results clearly show that it’s not a three-team race. Any of the six playoff teams can beat anyone at any time. That includes the NYXL, who struggled in both stage finals as the favorite.

the great thing is the that the fans are getting one helluva show every single night in the Overwatch League. The margins of player skill are razor thin from top-to-bottom. Seemingly every team has a few sleepers ready to have a breakout performance, and that’s going to make stage four and the run towards the playoffs unbelievable.

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Feature photo via Overwatch League Twitter

Overwatch League

Overwatch League: Have the Korean teams been figured out?

The Overwatch League is currently halfway through its third stage. For the majority of the season, the Korean teams have displayed a dominance that other teams were constantly trying to match. As the stages have progressed, more and more teams have been able to grab wins against these near unstoppable teams. With constant play and recordings available to the other teams, have the Korean teams been figured out?

Overwatch League Prediction: Seoul Dominates

As the inaugural season for the Overwatch League kicked off, many pegged the Seoul Dynasty to be the top team. Currently they sit in second place to the New York Excelsior. However, they kicked off the first season with a bang. They’ve gone 7-3 in both stages, going 0-4 against the other Korean teams.

Overwatch League

Seoul Dynasty by Robert Paul

Stage three has seen Seoul look much weaker than before. They opened the stage swept by a resurgent Los Angeles Valiant, and then dropped another game to the Los Angeles Gladiators. As of this writing they’ve yet to face the other Korean teams in stage three, but their diminishing dominance leads to a likely loss against both. Many believe that the Seoul Dynasty have dropped maps due to deploying a “b-team” during matches against weaker opponents, and they’ve been chastised for it.

They missed both stage one and stage two playoffs simply from map differential, and winning a few more against weaker teams could’ve pushed them into a higher tier of play. As the stages have continued, the Dynasty have looked less and less like the dominant team they were in the beginning. Many teams have figured out who the key players on the squad are, and make quick work on them during play. As their strategies and style of play is shown more and more, teams are able to study and counter it efficiently.

Spitfire Losing Altitude

The London Spitfire were another top projected team at the beginning of the season. Over the first two stages, they backed that prediction up. They managed to play three matches on the final day of stage one to win the championship. They followed that up with a one win better record in stage two, and fell in the semi-finals. Birdring has been one of the most consistently impressive DPS players over the course of the season. His teammates always find a way to make the right plays.

Overwatch League

London Spitfire from Overwatch League

Unfortunately, this dominance has come to a screeching halt in stage three. Going 7-3, then 8-2 over the first two stages, the Spitfire are close to doubling their losses. Midway through stage three, they’re at a paltry 2-4. Their wins have come from the Florida Mayhem and Valiant. They’ve lost to top teams in this stage, and their recent play seems to be a combination of factors.

First is the fact that many of the teams have been playing for a decent period of time now, and work more cohesively. Another is that teams have adjusted their rosters and styles to be more competitive. The Valiant aggressively retooled before the start of stage three, and are at the top of stage three. The Boston Uprising have overcome adversity and meshed new players seamlessly into their lineup. The San Francisco Shock had one of the most well-known Tracer player’s finally reach the age limit to play.

The Spitfire have added a single player since the season started, and bid farewell to two of them. Rascal went to Dallas, (since released), and Fissure has been the main-tank the Gladiators needed to be competitive. While those teams have had their ups and downs, they both look more impressive in stage three than the Spitfire have.

NYXL Reigning Champs

Overwatch League

NYXL from Overwatch League

The New York Excelsior have had their way with the Overwatch League. They lost one game in the first two stages, losing an extra in the first stage playoffs. They then came back with a vengeance in stage two, capturing the championship. They’ve been dominant, and they continue to look so, but the cracks are starting to appear.

In stage three, the NYXL have already lost a game. In a surprising upset, the Boston Uprising, (on the first match without released Dreamkazper), defeated NYXL. Without their top DPS, recently adjusting, the Uprising delivered a statement to the rest of the league. They exploited the NYXL by consistently targeting and removing Jjonak from the play, who has been an absolute game changer for the NYXL.

With a surprise upset handing the NYXL their first loss of stage three, and a close match against the Philadelphia Fusion almost doubling their loss total, the NYXL no longer look impenetrable. Teams have realized just how valuable Jjonak is to the team and their style, and the quicker he’s removed from a fight, the greater the chance to win the fight is.

South Korean Dominance End in Sight

Overwatch League

Top Six Team Stage Standing Comparison

These three teams were the apex model of teamwork at the start of the Overwatch League. Two of them have taken stage championships. Their dominance lasted through the first half of the season, but looks to be over. Seoul has had an ever-so-slightly decrease in play throughout each stage. London suddenly is close to doubling their total losses from two stages during stage three. The NYXL lost to a team that had just lost one of their best players, and couldn’t capitalize.

Meanwhile, the revitalized Valiant and Boston Uprising sit 5-1 and 6-0 in stage three, and look unstoppable. Boston has taken out both the NYXL and Seoul Dynasty, while Valiant swept Seoul and face London next. A passing of the torch to the teams that have figured out and studied their Korean opponents may be happening before our very eyes in stage three, and it has made the Overwatch League all the better for it.

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Featured Image courtesy of Robert Paul

The battle for L.A.: Gladiators and Valiant go for round three

Throughout the Overwatch League’s brief history, the Los Angeles Valiant and Los Angeles Gladiators have met for some intense games. During stage one, the Valiant were able to reverse sweep the Gladiators in a five map thriller. Fans of both teams were thoroughly engaged, and the first rivalry of the league was born. The Gladiators, not satisfied losing to their regional rival, took their stage two match-up by storm. With a 4-0 thrashing, the Valiant were left scratching their heads. Since they last met almost a month ago, both teams have fresh faces to challenge for the win.

Since Last We Met: Overwatch League Rival Recap

Overwatch League

Agilities and Bischu, from Overwatch League

The Gladiators are not so changed from their last match against the Valiant. They have newcomer Void, a flex player known for his D.va play. He adds an extra layer of flex tank to play alongside Fissure. They also received Silkthread from the Valiant before the trade window closed. These were the only moves that the Gladiators made from stage two to stage three.

The Valiant are a different story. Since the last match, they have five new players, and one that’s finally of age. Space, who has been on the roster since the team’s inception, turned 18 during the stage break between stages two and three. Two others have come through trades, Bunny, a DPS, was obtained from the Seoul Dynasty. The other player, Custa, was obtained from the Dallas Fuel. To land Custa, the Valiant sent a fan favorite, and fellow countryman of Soon, Unkoe to the Fuel.

This trade was one of the most looked at as a potential to backfire for the Valiant, as it was believed that Unkoe was more mechanically sound than Custa. However, the opposite has been true, as Custa has fit perfectly with the Valiant. The other three players were picked up for depth, KSF, a DPS main, Finnsi, a flex player, and Izayaki, a support main.

Who has the advantage?

Looking for any advantage or insight to this series is hard. The Valiant have looked dominant throughout stage three, with a 4-0 record through the first two weeks. The Gladiators have played the same teams as the Valiant through the first two weeks, and have a 3-1 record. The San Francisco Shock were the one team that the Gladiators could not defeat. With such similar records against similar opponents, it’s hard to narrow down a clear advantage for either team.

Overwatch League

Shields Up by Robert Paul

Looking at straight records, the Valiant appear to be the stronger and more confidant team heading into this rivalry. They aggressively retooled their roster to make the team more competitive, and the rewards have been flowing in for them. Alternatively the Gladiators have tweaked and added to their roster at the end of each Overwatch League stage, and have steadily improved. Throughout the entirety of the Overwatch League the Valiant sit 15-9 and Gladiators at 13-11. The Valiant lead the pack for stage three so far with their 4-0, +13 map differential. The momentum sides with the Valiant, but it’s no clear cut.

Overwatch League

Valiant Fans by Robert Paul

 

The great thing about rivalries is that each team has extra drive to win. The Gladiators and Valiant have extra fuel to burn trying to win the hearts of undecided Los Angeles fans. With the recent poor showings of both Southern California hockey teams, sports fans will want to dive in to a great rivalry. There’s no fiercer one in the Overwatch League than the L.A. Valiant and the L.A. Gladiators. Whether you have your wings up, or shields raised, be ready for one intense match to kick off week three.

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Featured photo by Robert Paul

Los Angeles Valiant

Los Angeles Valiant roster overhaul paying off

Before stage three of the Overwatch League started, the Los Angeles Valiant made a flurry of moves. Bunny, Custa and Space joined the team while mainstays like Unkoe, Envy and Silkthread departed. The drastic change has worked wonders and has made the Valiant look incredibly strong this stage.

Los Angeles Valiant Roster Recap

Los Angeles Valiant

Space and Soe courtesy of Robert Paul

Quick recap of exactly what happened to the Valiant roster. To kick things off, they announced they had acquired Bunny from the Seoul Dynasty. Next, they made a trade with the Dallas Fuel and swapped support Unkoe for Custa. Their next move remains clouded in mystery to exactly what the reasoning behind it is, but they “mutually” terminated Envy’s contract. Following this announcement was that backup DPS GrimReality was moving into an assistant coaching position, removing him from the roster. During the off-stage break, flex-tank player Space turned 18, and became an active player for the Valiant. Their final move was to trade with their rivals, the Los Angeles Gladiators, by unloading Silkthread from their roster.

Los Angeles Valiant

Custa by the Los Angeles Valiant

So for those keeping track, two players from the Los Angeles Valiant’s starting roster, Unkoe and Envy, were removed. Two DPS that weren’t being given a chance anymore, Silkthread and GrimReality, get moved off the roster. With Envy gone, Space takes the D.va role. Bunny starts to challenge Agilities for the second DPS spot behind Soon, and Kariv goes back to being a support alongside Custa.

Has it Worked?

Fans looked on at what the Valiant were doing to their team, and wondered how exactly things would play out. Many weren’t expecting these kind of results however. At the end of stage three, week two, the Valiant have gone 4-0. They played two teams many don’t give much of a chance to, Shanghai Dragons and Dallas Fuel, but they also played up-and-coming San Francisco Shock as well as near-dominant Seoul Dynasty. They rolled through every team 4-0 except for the Dallas Fuel, who looked vastly improved with OGE in the lineup. With a total map score of 14-1 throughout two weeks of play, the roster moves have worked out incredibly well.

Working as a team

Los Angeles Valiant

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

One of the main differences that the Los Angeles Valiant have shown through this stage is their team communication. Custa was constantly touted as a leader in Dallas, and he seems to have brought those skills to the Valiant. Alongside with Kariv, they’ve barely missed a beat together. Space has jumped in and performed as well if not better than Envy, and if the rumors about personal issues were true, the team mindset may be cleared with him off the team. Bunny and Agilities have also been great swapping in-and-out depending on the map. Bunny specifically has given Soon the ability to flex on some different heroes, as his McCree and Reaper have been producing great results lately.

With a new looking roster missing zero beats throughout stage three, the Valiant could easily be contending for the stage three championship. They’re producing great results against both challenging and “easy” teams, showing that they have the drive to win no matter the team. If anything, it’s a great time to be a Los Angeles Valiant fan, and the future looks bright.

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Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul