The Overwatch League schedule delivers a batch of spicy rematches.

17:00, 02 Apr 2020

Overwatch League heads into week 9 with a couple of spicy rematches of last week’s upsets. With the cards reshuffled through new hero bans in Mei, McCree, Brigitte and Wrecking Ball, San Francisco Shock and the Shanghai Dragons are out to get revenge for last weeks disappointing results. 

Meta forecast

While it proves challenging to predict metas, I think we’ll see a lot more Sombra than in previous weeks with both Sombra-Dive and Sombra-Deathball comps being possible compositions. Ironically, the ban of Brigitte might hurt the viability of Tracer as she's too vulnerable without Armor Packs causing her to be replaced even by Sombra in dive. Within the deathball-archetype, we might see both Orisa/Sigma and Rein/ or Zarya iterations with Reaper as the second DPS of choice. Backline wise and without Brigitte being available, Moira and Lucio could make a return in both Dive and Deathball with Ana being the more risky choice over Moira. Perhaps some teams will be able to surprise.

Match of the week: Los Angeles Valiant vs San Francisco Shock

02:00 CEST (April 5th) 20:00 EST 17:00 PST (April 4th)
San Francisco Shock 3-1 (~65%): The Shock are out for revenge and if they still have the same ferocious bloodlust that they have shown last season, they’ll make sure it won’t feel close either if they can help it. While it might seem strange to predict the Shock to have a comfortable victory when they have just lost against their opponent last week, in my mind, this will be a natural occurrence in hero pools. The meta coin flips against you. I entirely agree with viol2t’s assessments that the Shock were unlucky, in the sense that they practised a composition against opponents that didn’t find a solution, so they safely assumed it was the best meta adaption there was. When you hit the server and you’re confronted with an entirely different comp you’ve never seen in your scrims, you lose the match. It’s as simple as that and that’s 1-week hero pools for you. The rest of the match just saw them struggling and tumbling around to find a counter. This is not a weakness of the Shock, this is a design feature of 1-week hero pools. On average and under the forecast meta, Shock should have the advantage though, especially against a weakened Valiant squad that has had to let two of its coaching staff go. Let's hope that both teams meet each other at eye level running mirror comps or at least comps which don't have massive advantages over one another. 

Shanghai Dragons vs Hangzhou Spark

10:00 CEST 16:00 EST 19:00 PST (April 4th)
Shanghai Dragons 3-0 (70%): While the Shanghai Dragons have shown weakness against Chengdu’s chaotic style, they’ve equally impressed against the Guangzhou Charge. The Dragons’ roster is deep and should on paper be more meta resilient. They’re more likely to execute deathball comps in a coordinated way than the Spark too. There’s a decent chance this will be a stomp. 

Chengdu Hunters vs Guangzhou Charge

12:00 CEST 18:00 EST 21:00 PST (April 4th)
Guangzhou Charge 3-1(60%): Chengdu had solid showings last weekend and their chaotic style will continue to catch teams off guard but that will only prevent them from being the worst team, not one of them. With Wreckingball banned, Chengdu will have to find a less exotic solution which might just push them into playing more standard compositions where their weaknesses will be revealed. Perhaps they can continue to find Pharah adaptations that take the wind out of Charge’s sails but that’s about the only starting point we have if we want to engineer winning conditions for the pandas.

Logix and Beast.

Toronto Defiant vs Washington Justice

22:00 CEST 16:00 EST 13:00 PST (April 4th)
Washington Justice 3-2 (55%): This match is particularly hard to call as we don’t know which version of each team will show up. A prime Surefour is not someone you’ll see dominated by Corey but the Canadian star player has not had a shining couple of weeks after his stellar performance against the Fusion. If the meta goes more towards deathball, the Defiant have shown their aptitude towards that early in the season. That said, if the Justice were to take this match, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Los Angeles Gladiators vs Dallas Fuel

12:00 CEST 18:00 EST 15:00 PST (April 4th)
Los Angeles Gladiators 3-1 (65%): It’s been a while since we’ve had the chance to see the Fuel in action and we can only hope that they used their break to improve on their synergy. If there is a way for dive to be viable, I think we’ll see Gamsu and NotE trying to reach into their Uprising season 1 bag and deliver on Winston and D.Va, with Decay on Doomfist and Doha reaching for his excellent Sombra. If I had to guess, I’d say that the Gladiators are going to prove to the Fuel that Winston is not a viable hero in this meta, playing their usual smart rotations with deathball comps and only pulling dive on control. It’s a crying shame that this week’s hero bans will bar us from seeing Birdring and Decay face off on McCree.

Chengdu Hunter vs Shanghai Dragons

10:00 CEST 04:00 EST 01:00 PST (April 5th)

Shanghai Dragons 3-0 (70%): The Dragons visibly underrated the Hunters, playing the B-team during parts of their first match and completely falling apart when the pressure of losing got them. In conventional Overwatch, the Dragons will show up as one of the top teams. Hunters strategy of overloading the opponent takes a serious hit with Wrecking Ball being banned and they will likely have to pivot to the next exotic strategy if they want to have a chance in this match. I doubt they’ll find another approach to apply their multi-directional Overwatch and they chances of getting revenge stomped are high. 

The best swordsman in the world doesn’t need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn’t do the thing he ought to. - Mark Twain 

Gamsu high fiving fans when that was still a thing.

Guangzhou Charge vs Hangzhou Spark

24:00 CEST 18:00 EST 15:00 PST (April 5th)

Guangzhou Charge 3-2 (55%): Another rematch and one that came down to the wire last weekend. Both teams have been on about equal footing for most of the pre-season in scrims and the relative parity between them manifested in last weeks match. Despite my scepticism towards GodsB’s enduring qualities, he’s been performing admirably for the Spark once again. At his advanced age of 23, I hope to see more of his old-man-strength. In the best of cases, the match will turn out to be close again if they arrive at the same meta conclusions. If one team has tumbled into the better read, it will, unfortunately, turn into a one-sided affair.

Houston Outlaws vs Paris Eternal

22:00 CEST 16:00 EST 13:00 PST (April 5th)
Houston Outlaws 3-1 (60%): This match might be a sleeper pick for one of the best of the week. Not only is it a rematch in which the Outlaws performed the perceived upset (though I don’t think it should really be seen as one) but bans arguably favour the underdog once again. With McCree out of the picture, neither Blasé nor LiNkzr will have to face off against a cracked cowboy in Xzi. To everyone’s benefit, Lucio is back in the picture and the matchup of Jecse against FDGod promises to be a delight, with the two most bloodthirsty main supports going head to head. Last time, the Outlaws benefitted from getting an early read on the meta and being able to hone the compositions starting very early in the week. If this turns out to be a regular occurrence for the Outlaws, in which they can more often find the dominant thing to run, the team might tremendously gain due to hero pools. It remains to be seen if Eternal’s more fundamental and less granular approach to coaching will give them an edge this weekend. 

Philadelphia Fusion vs Washington Justice

24:00 CEST 18:00 EST 15:00 PST (April 5th)
Philadelphia Fusion 3-0 (75%): On paper, this match is the most one-sided of the entire weekend. We have a top team squaring up against a bottom tier one with the meta arguably favouring the favourites. According to coach ChrisTFer, we might even be seeing a bit of ChipSa. Rumour has it that the Doomfist specialist has been smashing. Whether or not that might result in playtime with these hero pool bans remains to be seen. Taking Stratus for his lunch money would at least make an on paper underwhelming series obscurely entertaining.

Dallas Fuel vs Los Angeles Valiant

02:00 CEST 20:00 EST 17:00 PST (April 5th)

Los Angeles Valiant 3-1 (60%): You can’t help but feel sorry for the Valiant in their current situation. Already operating with small salaries, the team now had to let go of two of their long time coaches and are down to only Packing10 and Gunba in terms of the coaching staff. This is especially rough in a 1-week hero pool cycle in which coaches are already monstrous hours in well-staffed teams. Fortunately, the Valiant have recruited not only skilled but smart players who contribute towards strategy creation and can take over some of the planning tasks. Dallas Fuel are the exact the opposite, being a team that always had plenty of resources but could never convince on the server. There’s no McCree to help Decay shoot the Dallas Fuel some bail. If it devolves into rush comps crashing into each other, the Dallas Fuel might have a chance. If the Fuel haven’t been cured of dive in their first match, they’ll be beaten to a pulp here too. 

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

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