All The Roads To Overwatch League’s Summer Showdown Title
The stage is set, the competitors have found their marks, and all that is left to do is to find the Overwatch League’s Summer Showdown title a new home. Two familiar rivals, hailing from east and west. Two sophomore hopefuls striving for success under the sweltering heat of the Hawaiian sun.
Each franchise represented at the showdown has its own keys to victory, its own path to title glory, and this time around it is as nuanced as it comes.
They say that competition is at its best when both parties express their true colours. Rest assured, Pollock won’t hold a candle to the sheer brilliance waiting for us in Hawai’i. These are all the roads to the Overwatch League’s Summer Showdown title.
Coming into the Summer Showdown, the Dallas Fuel look to regain their seat at the top of Mt. Overwatch. After capturing the May Melee title, the pride of Texas fell just short of repeat success at the June Joust. Now, with their perennial rivals sitting across the pond, can Dallas narrow down this two-horse race and capture glory a second time?
Lee "Fearless" Eui-Seok’s Winston is a statistical powerhouse and will have to be at his best if Dallas wants to match their rivals again. Across the season as a whole, he stands as the second-highest Winston in terms of eliminations per ten minutes and hero damage per ten minutes. On top of that, he is within the bottom four in terms of deaths per ten minutes. For the Summer Showdown, he leads first eliminations rates on Winston with 11.8%. The next highest 8.7%. However, this does come with a caveat; the Dallas Fuel are the worst at converting those first eliminations to team fight wins. If they can polish the edges and pair a DPS to play duo alongside Fearless, then summer success is not too far off.
The Fuel has to return to their older, Winston based style, centred around all six players initiating on one target. This will position them as a difficult team to prepare for, as well as returning them to their wheelhouse. This style has found them in two separate finals, it can work as shown in their win over the Washington Justice, however, they have to be comfortable walking outside what is considered the more “standard” metagame that they’re used to. Returning to picks like Reaper and even further exploring Genji may be what’s necessary for the Dallas Fuel to see their third straight finals appearance.
We’ve seen the Dallas Fuel function well within the western metagame which relied on Reinhardt based compositions throughout a large majority of Control sub-maps. They have to take into consideration that the eastern teams will certainly approach them outside of that familiar mirror matchup. The Fuel needs to be very patient with their approach to Control, you cannot afford to flounder in the most important game type. Be on the lookout for a new look for the Fuel on Control.
Narrowly missing a spotless, golden stage, the Shanghai Dragons are the odds on favourite to win the entire event. However, their single map loss to the Hangzhou Spark does reveal some possible holes in their game plans that could be leveraged against them at the Summer Showdown. Even with that in mind, can anyone stop the summer of Shanghai?
Recall back to the May Melee and review what the Shanghai Dragons were utilising against teams like the Florida Mayhem on Hanamura. Now jumpcut to Shanghai’s summer debut against the Seoul Dynasty and they continue to pilot a similar style heavily playing into Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun’s hero pool. That semblance of depth is what makes the Dragons so terrifying. The fact it has been splashed in makes teams approach towards Assault very difficult. Sporadic use of a strategy like this keeps teams guessing as they approach on their attack. We all know that the Dragons can take the more standard compositions to the grand finals of North America, but to topple the hungry hopefuls attempting to nip at their heels, this level of depth, these kinds of unique defences, are going to be incredibly important.
There is no team even close to how consistent Shanghai can find early kills. Specifically for the Summer Showdown, the Shanghai Dragons have a 64.7% first elimination rate. The next closest team has a first elimination rate of 54.8%. So, not only are they one of the most coordinated, the most strategically deep, but they also blow the roof off first elimination rates—which directly correlates with team fight win rates. It’s tough to beat a team that feels like they always have a player advantage and more than half the time, Shanghai does.
The only trouble the Shanghai Dragons have run into has been recontesting positions with a steep vertical separation. Hybrid maps like Echicenwalde and Hollywood’s second point could be a thorn in the Dragons’ side, as they’ve primarily relied on Koo "Fate" Pan-seung’s Wrecking Ball to close the distance. This pick isn’t necessarily known for being able to fight for or control space incredibly well, however, it does offer backline pressure, displacement, and the potential to solo pressure the objective. It is going to be paramount for Shanghai to manage their cart progression and use that as a secondary means of attack to pull the defenders out of position.
Returning to the stage after their disappointing performance in May, the Chengdu Hunters are here to confirm their status as a top Overwatch team in the world. Past that, they are in a prime position to reclaim their throne as the most stylistic team in modern Overwatch. These are the keys if they want to achieve summer success.
Pack The Poke
One of the Chengdu Hunters’ calling cards is how adept they are at playing a slow tempo, yet highly mobile style and whittling down their opponent with picks like Hanzo and Pharah. That must continue on Control maps like Nepal and into the western team’s reliance on more Reinhardt based compositions. However, we’d love to see that become more of a staple for the team. Double-down on Yi "JinMu" Hu’s Pharah and utilise the same strategies on Assualt maps as well. We also cannot count out Huang "leave" Xin’s Echo. Throughout the entire 2021 season, leave has a first elimination rate of 25.8%. The next highest is 20.4%. While both heroes find it difficult to operate at the same time, either or can be incredible weapons for the Hunters.
If Chengdu wants to consistently find value with JinMu’s Sombra, one of the best ways they are going to be able to do that is to catch enemy aggression and EMP immediately after the engagement. The other avenue to explore is to have JinMu play more passive to deny the enemy Wrecking Ball with the threat of Hacking them. Yes, you sacrifice the potential to Hack some of the health packs scattered around the map but having a clear role for JinMu with the ability to shut down a strong engage tool can become oppressive.
One of the narrative threads that seem most consistent throughout the 2021 Overwatch League season has been teams enabling their own style through comfort picks. Here, the Chengdu Hunters have an incredible opportunity. Ma "LateYoung" Tianbin’s Zarya has come online. As odd as it sounds, not only is Zarya a signature pick for the veteran, but it enables the Hunters’ Wrecking Ball to become more of a threat. Hybrid and Escort could become tricky for teams unfortunate enough to draw the Hunters due to how drastic the map geography tends to be on, but outside of that Zarya is going to be the pick that differentiates the Chengdu Hunters from the pack.
Ready to right the wrongs of their last Hawaiian excursion, the 7-5 Atlanta Reign are a force to be reckoned with. Equipped with a style all their own, the Reign have a real chance at cementing their play-in seed by the end of the tournament. While deep waters are not roped off for Atlanta, a few things need to go their way.
The Atlanta Reign come into the Summer Showdown strictly within a mould. This rigid focus on Rush compositions is going to paint them into a corner, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be successful. What picks like Reinhardt and Symmetra do well is abusing targets with low mobility—and when we look at what supports most of the eastern teams have been running, you can start to piece the puzzle together. With Zenyatta and Brigitte dominating as of late in the playoffs in Asia, this gives Atlanta a strong avenue of attack. The enemy supports are going to be the target of the Reign’s ire if they want to make a deep run.
One of the big picks that allowed the Reign to book their second ticket to Hawai’i was Doomfist. Down some serious Control percentage late into their match against the Los Angeles Gladiators, Kim "Edison" Tae-hoon broke out the Doomfist to turn the tide. While the sample size is small, this occurrence might manifest some success as Atlanta plays foil to the majority of the teams at the Summer Showdown. Pocket picks like Doomfist could be what pushes them over the edge.
No Kai, No Win
And last but certainly not least, Escort and Hybrid are going to be where Kai "Kai" Collins is going to shine—and he needs to. It’s clear that Atlanta wants to play slower compositions, leaning more towards Orisa and Sigma. That makes perfect sense seeing how strong their tank line is with that hero duo, however, what is going to make them explosive is enabling Kai to thrive within that framework. Whether it be Mercy pockets or investing Halts consistently to displace rather than enable pressure, Kai has to be a focal point in these games.