Reality setting in for the win-less Shanghai Dragons

The most impressive feat of the season is not going to be New York Excelsior only dropping a few maps or the Boston Uprising winning the most games in a row. No, the most impressive thing to come out of the inaugural season of Overwatch League would be the Shanghai Dragons miraculously failing at winning a game, and ending with a  0-40 record.

With one week to go in stage three, the reality of their situation is starting to reach a boiling point. Sitting on a 28 game losing streak. A streak so long that it will pass the biggest all-time losing streak in professional sports history with another loss. 12 more losses and the unthinkable will become reality.

Dragons signing autographs. Photo via Shanghai Dragons twitter

Fortunately, stage three has been an improvement on their past two stages. The new additions are starting to find their footing, and that shows with this team winning seven of their 15 total map wins in stage three. Looking back a week ago, the Dragons took the Philadelphia Fusion to the edge before losing on Oasis in game five. It’s not a total lost cause for Shanghai.

Unfortunately, stage three ends for the Dragons against the best team in the league and the London Spitfire currently sitting as the three seed. The likeliness of them going into stage four with a win is low. The fate of their winless season will depend on either the week one matchup with the Dallas Fuel or the week four match with the Florida Mayhem.

Outside of the Dragons beating one of the bottom four teams, the Dragons have been to game five twice against the Fusion and have played close games with the Seoul Dynasty. Of the 14 shutouts against the Dragons, only two have come on stage three. After a staggering seven matches that ended in a sweep in stage two, the Dragons have shown some promise with the new roster.

The Barrier of Entry into the Overwatch League

One of the hardest parts of adding all the new players is getting the right communication. The Shanghai Dragons employed a team of all Chinese players, who speak primarily mandarin, before signing all the Korean-born players at the opening of the stage two transfer period. The Language barrier being an issue is a theme throughout the league, but it’s none more prevalent than on the Shanghai Dragons.  

Coordinating dives is hard enough without a language barrier, adding that into the mix makes it nearly impossible. And unlike the other teams, this team didn’t have an entire preseason or offseason. This is all having to be handled mid-season. Each one of the new additions not only had to adjust to living in the United States, learn their new teammate’s playstyle and tendencies, but also had to do this while working through a translator. It’s not the only reason this team is falling, but it’s safe to say they have an excuse.

Fearless. Photo via Shanghai Dragons Twitter

Additionally, the level of competition the Chinese players faced before OWL was nowhere near the level of these other players. This team came in with a hindrance and after 13 weeks of play, nothing this team has done has resulted in a win. The roster changes have helped, but we’re still seeing this team lacking in the same areas.

The progress is slowly starting to show. Chon “Ado” Gi-hyeon is working more efficiently with Weida “Diya” Luas both of their playstyles mesh well together on DPS. Dae-min “Daemin” Kiim seems to be a nice find, but it will be a few weeks before he reaches his normal playing level. The signings have not only brought in new players, but are actively helping the original roster improve. Peixuan “FreeFeel” Xu looks like an entirely different player in stage three, playing behind Lee “Fearless” Eui-Seok and Geguri.

The outlook for the Shanghai Dragons

On top of adding talented players, adding a name like Se-yeon “Geguri” Kim, the first woman to be signed in the league, has provided the Dragons with a cult-like fan-following. Most fans of the OWL love an underdog story, and there’s nothing more underdog than a team looking to avoid a winless season. It’s brought in a boisterous crowd of fans to the Blizzard Arena, and each week the yells and screams grow louder.

Muma and Geguri forever. Photo via twitter.com/shanghaidragons

Looking ahead, this team isn’t far off from a win, and it isn’t necessarily going to be a non-playoff team that finally breaks the streak. Teams with aggressive tanks seem to be their best bet because their DPS hero pool tends to lean more towards anti-dive, using Diya on McCree or another his-scan. Based off their two matchups with the Fusion, seeing Ado outplay the Fusion’s EQO on Genji, showed the potential.

However, the Shanghai Dragons ending this season with a winning record seems unlikely. Even against the bottom teams, only a few of those matches produced any map wins. So far, the Dragons only have three map wins off the bottom four teams. The league isn’t too far ahead, but this team needs more time before they’re truly ready for the task. Regardless, the entire OWL viewer base will be behind this team cheering them on. A raucous pro-Dragons crowd could make a huge difference in the end.

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Feature photo via Overwatch League Twitter

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

Dive

An Era of Dive in Overwatch

To no one’s surprise, the meta and go to composition for teams in Overwatch is Dive. Regardless of what level you’re playing at, dive is one of the easiest and most effective compositions to play. Professionals in the Overwatch League have nearly perfected this playstyle, being able to swiftly wipe a team and capture the objective. With a wide variety of heroes to choose from, not every dive composition looks exactly the same, but the core heroes and overall gameplan does.

 

What is Dive and How does it Work?

Dive composition does exactly what it states: you dive onto the enemy team. Many heroes such as Tracer, Winston, and Genji have movement abilities that can close the gap or distance between yourself and the enemy team. The goal of a dive composition is simple: multiple people dive onto a low health enemy – such as support or dps player – to eliminate them instantly. Once you’ve been able to eliminate one person the numbers advantage should be in your favor, thus greatly increasing the chances of winning the fight. If this is well coordinated and everyone on your team arrives at the same time onto the enemy, the burst damage is so great that there is not enough enemy healing to keep them alive. Dive compositions are simple, effective, and great against teams who aren’t as coordinated or when enemy players are mispositioned. Below is a clip of the Philadelphia Fusion running dive on defense.

Common Heroes in a Dive Composition

As mentioned earlier, heroes with movement abilities and dashes are the core reason why dive works. The standard dive composition is 2-2-2: two tanks, two dps, two supports. The two tanks that remain almost unchanged in any dive composition are D.Va and Winston. Both tanks have gap closing abilities and abilities that can negate incoming damage, with relatively short cooldown times. The only other reasonable option is Zarya or Reinhardt because they can shield players while closing the gap, mitigating damage to teammates who are diving. Tanks lead the charge and are core pieces of running dive.

When it comes to DPS heroes in a dive composition, Genji and Tracer are the two most common heroes. Both have a high amount of burst damage and movement abilities which close the gap. Additionally, if Genji is a part of a kill, his dash ability Swift Strike resets and it allows him to dash through other enemies. Although uncommon, other heroes such as Doomfist and Sombra could be options for a dive composition.

As for support heroes in dive comp, Lucio and Zenyatta are the most common. Lucio does area of effect healing and can speed boost his team, making them reach their opponent that much faster. Zenyatta players on the other hand can call out and Discord enemies, so that they take more damage, allowing the team to burst down a single target that much faster. Two other supports that could be played are Mercy and Moira. Both heroes provide much more healing as opposed to Lucio and Zenyatta. Regardless of hero choice, the overall idea of dive remains the same.

Weakness of Running Dive

Even though dive is easy to play, it can be exploited. dive requires communication from the whole team. If one person decides to dive in and the rest of the team isn’t there, it makes it easier for the enemy to eliminate that person, giving them the numbers advantage. Also, some compositions and heroes are dive resistant. Enemies who play Bastion, Junkrat or Reaper can complete shred enemies when they dive in.

Lastly, teams are left susceptible to counter-dives. Teams must fully commit because when diving, with this they use most, if not all, of their movement abilities to close the gap. If someone doesn’t dive in, good teams will recognize this and eliminate players who are by themselves or who are unable to get help from the rest of their team.

Final Thoughts

It is obvious that dive is the most played composition in Overwatch. It is easy to play, requires little communication, and can be used on almost every map. Unless teams learn to adapt or create unique strategies to counter it, dive will continue to be the go to composition. To see how professional players execute it and come up with strategies to counter it, tune into the Overwatch League.

 

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Featured Image Credit: Josh Armstrong | Hero Portraits: Blizzard Entertainment

Videos Clips: Overwatch League

Overwatch League Team’s Approach to Blizzard World

Blizzard World is the newest map to be inserted into the Overwatch League map pool, and the hybrid map early on has facilitated strong defensive play and made it tough on attacking teams. Seven games have been played on Blizzard World and only three teams have reached the third point. Each team has similar strategies with slight differences, here’s how each team plays this map.

The first Point

The first point on Blizzard World is a long run for the attacking team, with many open sightlines and back alleys to avoid them. The majority of teams in the Overwatch League started off positioning themselves on the backside of the dock building, towards the mini health pack. Similarly to Hanamura, Kings Row, and Eichenwalde, teams will play near the back of each point.

One reason is to go anti-dive and make getting onto the backline a journey just to get into a position to dive that far. Secondly, it makes the attacking team come to them and stay organized. An attacking team lacking cohesion on the first point of Blizzard World will come to a swift and brutal end. Lastly, it makes healing easier, especially on this map where there are more doors and buildings to enter than just about any map.

Pro Play

As for how pro teams play this first point, it depends on the team, we will use a couple of teams as examples. On attack, the strongest strategy so far has been the triple-tank composition that pushes up through the right or left buildings and slow pushes aggressively onto the point. The Seoul Dynasty are the only team to run this, but unlike other strategies that rely on a Sombra hack or Widowmaker pick, the tank composition has more room for error.

Dock building where most teams set up for on defense for the first point. Photo via Overwatch Wiki

Moving closer to the standard, the three characters that often get picked on this long stretch of a first point is the best mobility characters (Sombra and Tracer) and the character that covers the most ground (Widowmaker). The San Francisco Shock ran Sombra throughout the entire map but were hard countered in some instances by the Dynasty’s tank lineup.

As for the most forward-thinking setup, that belongs to the Dynasty on defense as well. It was the same tank composition but switching Jin-hyuk “Miro” Gong from Winston to Orissa and shielding the small pathway on the attacking right side. On the attacking left side, Byung-sun “Fleta” Kim on Sombra hacked the big health pack and with Jin-mo “Tobi” Yang on Tracer forcing the attacking team to the attacking right side, right into Seong-beom “Munchkin” Byun waiting behind the Orissa shield with Roadhog’s hook.

The most efficient team throughout week two on the first point was, you guessed it, the New York Excelsior. Facing the London Spitfire, who sat behind the dock building, Jun-hwa “Janus” Song forced them off with direct dives, leaving Do-hyeon “Pine” Kim free shots on retreating support players. Widowmaker is not a must-pick on Blizzard World, but the tight shots with heavy cover make it hard to pass up.

Second Point

Pylon Terrace second point

The second point on Blizzard World was the doom bringer for offenses in week one. It’s a long point, with many doors to escape and a giant wall that helps defenses set up on the high ground with cover. The Pylon Terrace section is a great section for defenses and five of eight teams were stranded in this middle section.

Why is it so difficult? First off, it gives the close quarter heroes a serious advantage. The D.Va players last week tore up the second point. Matt “Coolmatt” Lorio used D.Va’s vertical maneuverability to control the against the dive and counter-dive while still maintaining the high ground advantage. That’s not to mention the success D.Va’s have found with angled self-destructs in week one. Coolmatt had couple play of the game plays, but he wasn’t the only one, Tae-hong “Meko” Kim and Gael “Poko” Gouzerch also landed major self-destruct multi-kills.

Additionally, Tracer and Junkrat can play a significant role in this section. Heroes like Tracer and Sombra work well because it’s easy to get to the backline considering all the passageways. Junkrat is great because all those passageways allow for Junkrat to send easy body shots onto anyone he catches. Jun-young “Profit” Park played this role as it should be played, but Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park did a great job trying to counter the Pylon Terrace setup.

Third Point

Five out of fourteen rounds ended in three points. It’s incredibly difficult to push into that final point and takes a well-concentrated ultimate fight win to take the point entirely. Heavy tanks have been one of the best strategies because they have the necessary help to power through. However, Junkrat’s proven to be a nuisance for attacking teams, as there are many paths for a rogue junktire to connect.

Diablo section of the third point. Photo via Overwatch Wiki

In essence, it’s about outlasting opponents and getting strong ultimates to end fights. It’s arguably the most difficult point to take in the map pool, but that will change over time. With only five rounds finishing on the last point, there’s not enough data to get a clear understanding of what teams are looking to run at this point.  From the few games last week, it took a skill shot and recognizing a retreating defense from  Kim “Zunba” Joon-hyuk to finally take the point with a triple-kill self-destruct. 

It’s safe to assume more strategies will be introduced this week. It’s nice to see the compositional picks are spread out amongst a large number of heroes. Sombra has been shown to work on both offenses and defenses. Same goes for Widowmaker and the tank-compositions. Those three have taken the spotlight, but expect more drastic changes to be implemented this week.

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Feature photo via Overwatch Wiki

The Unofficial Midway Point Overwatch League All-Star Rosters

The Overwatch League is around the midway point of the season, and with two stages and a playoff left to go, it’s important to recognize the players at the top of their positions making the biggest impact for their team.

Now, the rosters were selected for their specific role. For instances,  Byung-sun “Fleta” Kim is a projectile main but can go hitscan and often does. Regardless of this fact, Fleta is a projectile main because that’s his primary role. Only supports don’t make the distinction, but it’s important to recognize the divide between main healers and projectile healers (I didn’t make the distinction).

The 20 best players in the Overwatch League according to their roles. The decision-making process took some heavy analytical thought and pinned uber-talented players against each other. Ultimately, the 20 players on these rosters are as close as you’ll get to the actual all-star game, which takes place after the season in August.

Hitscan Main

Photo via OWL Twitter

Atlantic: New York Excelsior Saebyeolbe

Sub: Philadelphia Fusion Carpe

Pacific: Los Angeles Valiant Soon

Sub: Los Angeles Gladiators Asher

Saebyeolbe is undoubtedly the best Tracer in the Overwatch League, but Terence “SoOn” Tarlier has been a force for the Los Angeles Valiant in the inaugural season. Unfortunately for the Pacific, the Atlantic is riddled with top-level Tracer play. Facing Saebyeolbe is one thing, but having Carpe on the bench is just cruel.

However, Choi “Asher” Joon-seong is starting to establish himself as the premiere Tracer main in the Pacific and is showing a greater ability to win heads up against other Tracer’s. Regardless of SoOn and Asher’s continued advancement in the Tracer-heavy meta, there’s no better player than Saebyeolbe and Carpe comes as a close second.

Projectile Main

Photo via Overwatch League Twitter

Atlantic: New York Excelsior Libero

Sub: Philadelphia Fusion EQO

Pacific: Seoul Dynasty Fleta

Let me preface this by saying that the league’s best projectile main was just suspended indefinitely which drastically shakes up, not only the Boston Uprising roster but the rest of the Atlantic in terms of playoff placings. In his absence, the New York Excelsior add yet another name to the unofficial all-star game starting lineup as Hae-song “Libero” Kim slots in as the next best choice. The other quick rising name on the list is Fusion’s Josue “EQO” Corona who helped totally transform Philadelphia into a dangerous playoff team.  

As for the Pacific, Byung-sun “Fleta” Kim was a natural choice, but outside of his expert level Genji and versatility on many offensive minded heroes, there’s really no other players that came close throughout the Pacific. In recent months, Fleta’s been flat, as has most of the Dynasty roster, but there’s no doubting that a more cohesive team could set Fleta off on a number of different heroes. If an all-star game ever does happen, watch for Fleta to win MVP.

Main Tank

Photo via Overwatch League Twitter

Atlantic: London Spitfire Gesture

Sub: Houston Outlaws Muma

Pacific: Los Angeles Gladiators Fissure

Sub: Los Angeles Valiant Fate

The most intriguing matchup of the entire match will undoubtedly be seeing the former Spitfire main tank against their current starter. Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung vs. Hong “Gesture” Jae-hee alone would sell tickets. Looking through all the roles, no other matchup seems as balanced as the main tanks. Gesture and Fissure have proven to be the most lethal Winston’s with their high damage totals and thus belong on these squads.

Austin “Muma” Wilmot and Koo “Fate” Pan-seung are no slouches either. The two of the better spacing Winston’s leave such a huge mark on their teams and are very deserving of all-star spot despite the lack of gaudy damage numbers. In fairness, these players don’t have the plays that show up in the kill feed, but their presence is felt even more than the best damage dealers.

Flex Tank

Courtesy of: owl report

Atlantic: Houston Outlaws Coolmatt

Sub: new York Excelsior Meko

Pacific: Seoul Dynasty Zunba

Sub: Los Angeles Valiant Envy

Flex tank is always the kid at the party having the most fun. This statement applies to all these tank players, and each one should be looked at as the unsung heroes on their teams. Now, Matt “Coolmatt” Lorio has the best survivability of any D.Va player, and is incredible at turning disadvantageous fights with D.Va’s maneuverability. However, Kim “Meko” Tae-hong is equally good at controlling fights and does a great job distracting for his dynamite damage mains to get in.

The Pacific throws Kim “Zunba” Joon-hyuk, who historically have been the strongest flex player in the world dating back to Apex. This hasn’t changed much since that time, Zunba is the player putting the Dynasty in the best position to win with his methodical and space controlling push style. As for the subs, Kang “Envy” Jae-lee currently is unemployed but based on stats alone, Envy was the most damage intensive D.va in all of the Pacific. Looking forward, expect Indy “Space” Halpern being the next strong D.Va main in the Overwatch League.

Support Mains

2018-03-25 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Atlantic: New York Excelsior JJoNak

Atlantic 2: New York Excelsior Ark

Sub: London Sitfire BDosin

Pacific: Seoul Dynasty Tobi

Pacific 2: Los Angeles Gladiators Shaz

Sub: San Francisco Shock Sleepy

The Atlantic has an undeniable advantage in the support department from the stacked Zenyatta’s to the strong Mercy and Lucio play. Bang “JJoNak” Seong-hyun is changing the game as a hybrid-support player with Zenyatta allowing for players to have an impact on all aspects of the game. Choi “BDosin” Seung-tae is no slouch, coming in at second overall in damage output, but no one compares to JJoNak.

The Pacific would have the old Lunatic-Hai duo of Jin-mo “Tobi” Yang and Je-hong “Ryujehong” Ryu, but both have underperformed this season and fell well below their standards of healing. Tobi is still considered one of the best straight healers, but his ability to survive isn’t as efficient as it used to be before this season. It was also tough only choosing one from the Los Angeles Gladiators Finnish-duo, but since the Mercy patch, Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara has separated himself in the Pacific.

For what it’s worth, Ark is still the best overall Mercy and continues to play her and other supports at the highest level possible. Nikola “Sleepy” Andrews is one of the bigger surprises, as his confidence has grown tremendously through this first season. Sleepy’s starting to become a premiere Zenyatta damage dealer.

Take a look at these rosters and tell me this isn’t something that audiences would watch.

Atlantic Roster

  • Saebyeolbe
  • Libero
  • JJoNak
  • Coolmatt
  • Gesture
  • Ark

Bench

  • Meko
  • Muma
  • BDosin
  • Fate
  • EQO

Pacific Roster

Starters

  • Soon
  • Fleta
  • Fissure
  • Tobi
  • Shaz
  • Zunba

Bench

  • Asher
  • Fate
  • Envy
  • Sleepy

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Feature photo via Overwatch League Twitter!

Boston Uprising win the preparation game after a 2-0 Stage Three start

The Boston Uprising end the week as the hottest team in the Overwatch league. A complete team effort gets them through one of the roughest weeks in the stage three schedule and sets them up nicely down the line. It also helps in terms of overall seeding, as the Uprising go from sixth to fourth and are close behind the Seoul Dynasty and London Spitfire.

Continually, beating two divisional opponents in a tight race is always important. The 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Fusion was an enormous win considering the Fusion just came off a successful trip to the end of the stage playoffs. On Saturday, the Uprising completely and utterly dismantled the Houston Outlaws, winning in one of the most one-sided games of the season.

Two MVP Candidates on the Uprising DPS-Line

The Uprising has a lot going for them at this moment. This team had little expectations outside of their own building at the start of the season, most saw them as a bottom-four team. With that in mind, pushing the best teams midway through stage three is an excellent sign, and even more important is the emergence of both Jonathon “DreamKazper” Sanchez and Nam-joo “Striker” Kwon at the damage positions.

Both players were known as talented players entering the Overwatch League, but to say both players would be considered MVP-candidates past the midway point is insane. But here we are, Uprising constantly upping their game and finding new ways to use their terrifying damage duo to throw off opposing teams, and after shutting down Jiri “LiNzkr” Masalin and Jacob “JAKE” Lyon, it’s safe to say both players belong in the conversation for best player.

Consider this, among all OWL players Striker currently has the best kill-death ratio of any player and is the top three in all major statistical categories. DreamKazper, on the other hand, leads most categories among the league leaders for projectile players and is the one player who is in the top five for total damage from a non-hitscan player.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the Uprising victory today and how each player was used. First, the acknowledgment of all the heroes played in today’s match were staggering. A combined six heroes between the two, and in most instances, those switches worked. Looking at Striker’s day, he played a great deal of Junkrat when he’s normally primarily stuck on Tracer. However, on maps like Temple of Anubis, a map the Uprising are 6-0 on this season, he couldn’t be touched from the high-ground. Same goes for Junkertown, and the few times Striker switched off Tracer.

On to DreamKazper, who surprisingly took on Widowmaker duels from Linkzr and came away with an overwhelming lead in head-to-head kills. Putting that in perspective, LiNzkr doesn’t lose in that department. It’s one area the Outlaws always have the advantage on, but DreamKazper made sure that wasn’t the case Saturday. In fact, DreamKazper was having so much success specifically finding LiNzkr, that it brought down the entire Outlaws gameplan. No one could get started on offense and this is the reason why.

Coach Crusty driving force behind Uprising

Coach Crusty before a match. Photo via twitter.com/BostonUprising

Here’s something that simply doesn’t get discussed enough and that’s coaching. Da-hee “Crusty” Park will never get the recognition he deserves for what he’s been able to get out of this team, but on the outside looking in, the Uprising is the best-coached team in the Overwatch League. It’s not only getting the best out of each player, it’s the traits they’ve instilled into these players. The fact that this team rarely overextends and always have Noh “Gamsu” Young-jin always in the right position to dive forward in attack or backward to defend allowing for everyone to play with a safety net.

Additionally, the compositional picks are also making it easier for the players. The Outlaws didn’t have answers for DreamKazper’s Pharah. The Outlaws don’t have a great answer for Pharah on the roster, but that’s the benefit of having DreamKazper ad the main projectile player. The versatility of the DPS-mains and their large hero pools gives Crusty plenty to work with. 

It’s quite remarkable to see the growth on this Boston Uprising team. There’s no player more on highlight alert than DreamKazper, who is just unconsciously good on most days. This team’s main problem is consistency, either win-or-lose, this team goes on streaks. Right now, they’re on a winning streak, but only time will tell if this type of play keeps up. Regardless, this team is hitting on all cylinders, and improving at a faster rate than most of the other teams in contention. Good coaching, talent, and the willpower to improve will keep them to their winning ways.

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Feature photo via Boston Uprising Twitter

The five best players in stage two of the Overwatch League

Photo via Overwatch League Twitter

Two stages down with two stages to go and at the halfway point of the regular season the picture of best teams and players is becoming clearer. The New York Excelsior have separated themselves as the best team with their staggering amount of map wins and their stage two win over the Philadelphia Fusion. NYXL is the best team, but do they feature the league’s best player?

Honorable Mentions

Stage two featured many breakthrough performances as the skill gap continues to close between former Apex players and the rest of the world. It’s been made abundantly clear that the talent pool is not centrally located, and after Josh “EQO” Corona bust onto the scene in stage two and dramatically improved the Fusion dive, no player can be underestimated.

Additionally, stage two featured plenty of established Apex players making their patented big plays. Kim “Libero” Hye-sung for the stage two champs showed his versatility by filling and producing with many different heroes. Similarly, Kim “Birdring” Ji-hyeok played that same role for the Spitfire, and continues to terrorize teams with his ridiculous skill and big play potential.

Other names who deserved consideration, the Outlaws Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin single-handedly won games in stage two. Hong “Gesture” Jae-hee didn’t make this list because of his deaths per 10 minutes, but in terms of damage from the main tank, there’s no one better. Let’s not forget Austin “Muma” Wilmot proving himself as one of the three best main tanks or Kim “Fleta” Byung-sun who’d be in the top five with more consistency.

  1. Philadelphia Fusion Carpe

On championship Sunday, Lee “Carpe” Jae-hyeok was unconscious on Tracer and Widowmaker against the NYXL. This performance was more-or-less what Carpe will do on a daily basis. Outside of adding another playmaker like EQO and having an aggressive tank with Joona “Fragi” Laine play disruptor, Carpe’s freakish aim and game sense was the main reason the Fusion almost took the stage two title.

In terms of survivability as a Tracer, Carpe’s one of the best with a kill-death of 4.21 per 10 minutes which is good for fourth among active players. It’s not only his survivability on the opponent’s backline, but his ability to find those priority targets. Carpe’s arguably the next best Widowmaker behind Linzkr. If you need proof, watch the Widow’s in the stage two playoffs fail miserably in the sniper battles.

  1. London Spitfire Profit

Similarly to the NYXL, the Spitfire have many players who are on the brink of breaking into the top five, but no player had the impact that Park “Profit” Joon-yeong had throughout stage two. Sure, Libero gives them that much-needed utility, but in terms of damage dealer, Profit’s been invaluable. Profit is the backbone to a feverishly aggressive team, spearheading it all.

Looking at the most kills throughout the league, Profit sits in second with 515 total kills and is in the top three in most statistical categories. Profit’s not the best Tracer in a Tracer driven league, but he’s really close to taking that top spot and has more versatility as a hitscan than some of his counterparts.

  1. Los Angeles Gladiators Fissure

In terms of sheer impact on his team, Baek “Fissure” chun-hyung outshines nearly every player in the league. All the evidence is in the record before and after stage two for the Los Angeles Gladiators. Fissure’s presence changed everything for this team, and the rest of the roster is benefiting from a smart main tank who puts them in good positions.

Now, Fissure’s not the best tank in terms of overall damage; that designation belongs to Gesture. His survivability reigns supreme though. His job is to make it easier for the damage mains, and it’s hard to argue that any other tank has done that better while still dealing plenty of damage. Fissure is an incredibly smart player and the Gladiators are now starting to build around him which is scary for the rest of the league.

  1. New York Excelsior JJoNak

Let me preface this decision by saying it’s not easy picking between two teammates who both severely outplayed the rest of the players in their particular role. Seong-hyun “JJoNak” Bang is another player similar to EQO that was pulled off the ladder, and after two stages, he’s proved in a short amount of time that he’s the best support main in Overwatch by a pretty good margin.

There are many reasons why JJoNak is so coveted as a Zenyatta main. It’s not only that he essentially plays the role of another damage main, but that even when a team dives on top of him, he’s so good in micro-situations that it’s no guaranteed kill. He’s in on every play in one way or another and constantly finding final blows. JJoNak leads all support mains in kills per 10 minutes by a few kills. It’s almost unfair to compare other support mains to this monster.

  1. New York Excelsior Saebyeolbe

The best Tracer, and currently the world’s best player in New York Excelsior’s Park “Sabyeolbe” Jong-ryeol, who’s been the face of consistency in a league that demands that to be the best. Saebyeolbe is a wrecking ball of destruction, and that’s proven by his impressive statistics. First in total kills, damage, and he has the best kill-death and has a pretty healthy lead in all of those categories.

The NYXL sit at 18-2 on the season and are now the clear favorite to be holding the trophy at the end of the season. Saebyeolbe’s imposing Tracer play is the main reason this team finds themselves in this spot. It’s not just the unbelievable positioning, constantly outsmarting opponents, and one-clip prowess. It’s a constant struggle to find and kill Saebyeolbe, and that’s shown through his utter ridiculous kill streaks. He does it all and is the best Tracer in the most competitive role in the Overwatch League.

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Feature photo via Overwatch League Twitter

Danteh

Danteh to be traded to Houston Outlaws?

With Sinatraa’s eligibility to play starting in the final week of stage two, Danteh seems the odd-man out. His play has been fantastic on Tracer, and there is a team that has been severely lacking Tracer. The Outlaws would get their major flaw patched while the Shock shore up their tank line. It seems to be a perfect match, but we will have to see what the Outlaws are willing to give up to get a Tracer.

Why They Need to Move Danteh

Danteh

Source Robert Paul

You may wonder why the Shock would even consider moving someone as talented as Danteh. Sinatraa is the main answer, as the man is being paid for his high-level of talent. There is no way that Sinatraa does not start with his eligibility starting on March 22nd. With his talented Tracer play, the odd man out seems likely to be Danteh over Babybay. With this in mind, the Shock have a roster full of DPS players. Recently signed Architect seems like the precursor to moving Danteh, and the roster still has iddqd waiting to play and eligible soon player Super. With so many DPS players waiting for their chance to play behind Sinatraa, and Danteh’s proven record, teams will call and the Shock will listen.

Danteh For FCTFCTN

Danteh

Source Overwatch and Blizzard Entertainment

FCTFCTN was recently signed by the Outlaws, but his focus on tank could see him just as quickly moved. The Shock aren’t starving for a tank player, but they don’t have many waiting. In fact, the only player listed as a tank main is Nomy. Nevix, listed as DPS/flex, has played the role of the second tank throughout the season. Having a strong tank main ready to jump in at any time would be a strong addition to have.

This, coupled with the strong play that FCTFCTN has shown in his play, especially during the Overwatch World Cup with Team USA, could be just the kind of player the Shock would be willing to swap for someone as skilled as Danteh. In fact, FCTFCTN and Adam are the only two starting line-up members of Team USA yet to make their OWL debuts. FCTFCTN has sat on the sidelines. Adam is playing for the NYXL’s academy team. They’re both capable players, and FCTFCTN is just waiting to prove he belongs on a team. Given the chance to shine, FCTFCTN could bolster the Shock’s area of weakness.

Danteh for Spree

A tank that falls under the tank position, but has looked great during playtime in the OWL, is Spree. Spree may be harder to pry away from the Outlaws due to his strong Zarya play when they roll triple-tank, but they could have FCTFCTN pick up that roll if Spree is gone. The Outlaws would prefer not to give up someone that has meshed well with the team, but strong tank play is definitely on the Shock’s radar, just like any available Tracer is on the Outlaw’s. Picking up a tank that can flex should any of your other roles falter can be helpful, and Spree is a proven off-tank with both Zarya and D.va. While Spree rarely plays, his play is noticed. With the Outlaw’s failing to meet expectations throughout Stage two, they need to give up anything to secure a proven Tracer player. With one of the strongest starting tank lines in OWL, with Muma and CoolMatt, other tanks become expendable.

Continue reading below for a dark horse take on another team that could swing for Danteh.

Dark Horse Candidate: Philadelphia Fusion

Danteh

Courtesy of Liquipedia

Hear me out here, the Philadelphia Fusion could swing a deal for Danteh. The Fusion technically have 12 players signed, but SADO has been suspended for quite some time. He’s a tank player, so the Fusion could afford to give up an extra tank with the knowledge that after his ban SADO can fill the position. The Fusion also have a great wealth of support players. With dhaK’s recent struggles the Shock signed and have been playing Moth in the support role. Shoring up the support role could be something they look to do with their loads of DPS. The Fusion also have a wealth of DPS, with Carpe being a constant and EQO and ShaDowBurn swapping in and out to fill the other slot. If Carpe goes down, their Tracer play will struggle. If they want to run Widowmaker and Tracer, they could deploy a strong duo in Carpe and Danteh. It’s not a position that the Fusion need to fill, but they could get even stronger if they went for it.

The Shock are sure to be listening to any team that has a want for a Tracer or strong DPS player. The expectation is that come Stage three, Danteh is on a new team. What team that is, we’ll have to wait to find out.

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London vs Seoul

Spitfire triumphs over Dynasty: London vs. Seoul analysis

London Spitfire never cease to amaze me. Once again after looking shaky in their last match against the Gladiators, they pull a complete 180 and 4-0 Seoul for the 2nd time. They looked absolutely dominant, an image of the team that won Stage 1. Seoul had been looking strong other then their match with New York, where they loss 2-3. Other than that, they won every match this stage. London on the other hand already lost to Los Angeles Gladiators and Houston, looking like the weak link of the Koreans. That all changed with London vs Seoul.

If you know your Overwatch history, this shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. Before the OWL, Lunatic-Hai was the dominant force (Eventually becoming Seoul Dynasty). GC Busan (Now London Spitfire) came out of nowhere and won two consecutive 3-0 sets against Lunatic Hai. Now in the OWL, London it 8-0 on maps against Seoul. This means overall their map score is 14-0 against Seoul. Why does Seoul struggle against London? Well overall it’s hard to say, it could be a mental block, or clashing play styles. But as for what happened on Saturday, I can shed some light on why we saw history repeat itself again.

unlikely Hero Picks

For most of the match, Seoul ran fairly basic team comps. Sticking to the meta of Tracer, Genji, D.va, Winston, Zen, and another support. They only veered off this in certain situations. London on the other hand, decided to mix things up quite a bit.

On Hanamura, Jong-seok ‘NUS’ Kim is on Mercy duty. This is odd in Stage 2 since her nerfs making her a more niche pick. This worked marvelous for London however as he focused much of his healing and damage boosting on Ji-hyuk ‘birdring’ Kim. Also this gave them a mid-fight resurrect, that turned the tide of a few fights on Hanamura.

On Lijiang Tower, London went for another odd comp with double hit scan heroes. Usually this isn’t a good idea since it makes it difficult to deal with fast moving heroes like Tracer and Genji, but it shut down Byung-sun ‘Fleta’ Kim’s Pharah instantly. This forced Fleta to switch to Genji, however London’s DPS was so destructive, it didn’t make enough of a difference.

King’s Row was another odd map. London looked as though they were about to lose 3rd point and allow Seoul to finish the map. Joon-yeong ‘Profit’ Park made an incredible switch to Zarya at the last second. Zarya, by the way, has a less then 5% pick rate in the Overwatch league, and one of the lowest win rates overall. This didn’t matter as Profit charged up his Ultimate in only a single fight and helped his team fend off Seoul, denying them map completion.

GOING IN WITH A PLAN

This is the Overwatch League, you need to go in every match with a plan on every map. London had a few strong strategies going into this game. First, they decided to split Seoul’s attention with their tanks. Jae-hee ‘Gesture’ and Seung-hyun ‘WooHyaL’ Sung both went in and distracted Seoul, giving birdring and Profit room to show the league what they’ve got. Profit used this space given to establish my next point.

Je-hong ‘ryujehong’ Ryu must really hate Profit, I mean REALLY hate Profit. Last stage Jehong was on the bench against London in order to “throw them off.” This time Jehong played all 4 maps against London. He’s really an amazing support, he’s known for his great positioning and amazing game sense, but you wouldn’t know that from this match since Profit killed him so many times. Jehong ended the match with 34 deaths and only 8 kills on Zenyatta.

Screenshot (7).png

Jehong giving Birdring a hug after the match. Courtesy of MLG Network and Twitch.

One thing I’ve always praised London for is their last second stalls. Kings Row is a perfect example of this in action. Seoul is about to cap the third point and London only has 2 players left alive. Instead of making the common mistake of attempting to hold out as long as they can in a ultimately pointless effort. They both fall back and hide in spawn, allowing Seoul to push the payload farther, up until the very last second when they are able to come back in with almost full 6, taking control of the payload. Spitfire knows it’s much better to sacrifice those 5-10 meters in order to stop the payload short of completing the map.

JUST BEING OUTPLAYED

Sometimes Overwatch boils down to who plays better. True, the heroes choices and the strategies are important, but sometimes who can click the most heads works too. Fleta is often considered best DPS in the league, but this weekend he wasn’t able to keep up with Birdring who just kept shutting him down.

The Tracer battle between Sang-beom ‘Munchkin’ Byeon and Profit looked very one sided. Seoul for a while now has been known to have weaker tracers, and that contrast is drastic when compared to Profit. And when they both switched to Zarya on King’s row, Profit as mentioned before charged up his ult in a single fight, used 3 Graviton Surges throughout the map which secured 10 kills and had an average energy of 65. Munchkin on the other hand, used only 1 Ult and failed to secure a single kill with it, and ended with an average energy of 35.

This doesn’t end with the DPS, the tanks were just as dominant . Gesture looked as amazing as always match ending with 16 more kills then his Winston Counter part. And WooHyaL on D.va looked just as dominant, dying 50% less than Seoul’s D.va player.

London Spitfire are definitely a force to be reckoned with. They often look shaky and inconsistent, but times like these prove why they are defending champions. Seoul isn’t quite out yet however, with a fairly easy week 5 ahead of them, we may be looking at a rematch in the Stage 2 finals. Even if it ends one sided, the skill range here is still incredibly close. Matches like London vs Seoul are matches I wish we could watch every single week.

 

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Featured image courtesy of MLG Network

Shock ready to roll out Sinatraa

Happy 18th birthday, Jay Won, better known to Overwatch enthusiasts as Sinatraa. Today Sinatraa becomes the most recent player eligible to play for San Francisco Shock. With his debut imminent fans are gearing up to see how the youngest player in the Overwatch League handles that debut.

Sinatraa Team USA

Sinatraa representing Team USA at the Overwatch World Cup. Picture courtesy of: liquipedia.net

Bidding War Won By Shock

First, a little history lesson. NRG eSports bought the San Francisco franchise spot in the Overwatch League before The League was formed. NRG found themselves battling to secure the services of Sinatraa against Cloud9. Eventually Sinatraa signed on the dotted line for NRG for a starting salary three times higher than the Overwatch League’s base amount. Had that bidding war went the other way Sinatraa would be starting out in powder blue as a London Spitfire player instead. Much has been made of the youngster’s salary and he’ll hope to step in and justify the hype immediately.

 

The Cavalry’s Here

Tracer, Sinatraa’s preferred Hero. Picture courtesy of: youtube.com

And Tracer is the character he hopes to do that with. However, Tracer is a character that a lot of players in this League are exceptional with. From a technical standpoint Sinatraa is incredibly capable of producing the goods, but the competition from other Tracer players is extremely stiff. Ji-Hyeok “Birdring” Kim and Jun-Young “Profit” Park from the Spitfire are two of the strongest Tracers in The League. Dallas Fuel’s Hyeon “Effect” Hwang is also phenomenal as Tracer. Jong-Ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park might just be the best Tracer in the world hands down. Excluding previously-mentioned company, there’s another half-dozen players that belong on that list. Learning curves don’t get any steeper than that.

Yet despite the learning curve, there’s potential for other Tracer players to learn a trick or two from Sinatraa himself. One thing Sinatraa has going with his Tracer is his “Ultimate Utility”. Pulse Bombs are considered weak compared to other Heroes’ Ultimates, but a well-placed stick devastates opposing squads. This part of a Tracer skillset is something Sinatraa has perfected and it’ll help him hang with the best.

Be Rubber Not Glue

Sinatraa has a bigger problem than hanging with the best Tracers in the world though: His image. The Internet never forgets, never forgives and never just “lives and let’s live”. Various circles on the Internet perceive Sinatraa as “Toxic” and that’s a problem. The important thing to remember however is that Sinatraa is still very young. There’s plenty of time to become a role model and an ambassador for the game but he must ignore negativity. San Francisco will do all they can to shield their young star from criticism. He must reciprocate by shielding himself.

That means staying calm when being criticized. It means not saying or doing anything that’ll result in sanctions. Sinatraa has stated that he’s working on turning his image around publicly. Time will tell how that plays out but he must be on his best behavior. This is especially true considering The League’s zero-tolerance policy regarding unprofessional conduct. All eyes will be on Sinatraa from the first moment he sits in one of the hot seats as handling the pressure will be about more than playing a good Tracer.

Bringing It Forward

Sinatraa will be fully aware of this. However, he’ll block out all the noise made about his ability, his attitude and his wages to deliver at the top level. Sinatraa has already played in the Overwatch World Cup. That previous experience will serve him well when he steps out for the first time in Shock colors. Sinatraa was expected to debut at the beginning of Stage Three, however San Francisco want their investment paying off immediately. This means that Sinatraa’s debut match will be against Boston Uprising on March 21st, the first match he’s eligible to play. By bringing his debut forward San Francisco will show Sinatraa the team he signed up for has faith in him. It’ll also slake the thirst of any of Sinatraa’s stream fans and bring in a wave of new viewers curious to see his debut.

Super Not Far Behind Sinatraa

And let’s not forget that Matthew “Super” DeLisi will be eligible too in only a handful of days. Furthermore two more players have signed on for San Francisco Shock. Min-Ho “Architect” Park and Grant “Moth” Espe are now Shock players according to the Shock’s Twitter. This wave of new signings almost fills the Shock’s roster. Warming the bench starts to become a threat for San Francisco’s veterans. Architect will hope to displace Andrej “Babybay” Francisty and slot in beside Sinatraa’s Tracer. Support Player Moth will hope to push Daniel “DhaK” Martinez Paz out of his starter slot. Fans will have to wait and see how the new signings shuffle the Shock pack.

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Featured image courtesy of: intotheam.com