After suffering two losses at home, how does Washington bounce back?

20:00, 02 Mar 2020

The nation’s capital stood as the battleground for Week 3 of the 2020 Overwatch League season. There, the home team, the Washington Justice, frankly looked deflated. With decisive losses against the Paris Eternal and the London Spitfire, and with their only win coming by way of the floundering Houston Outlaws, the Justice are scrambling to solve their woes. With their underperformance at home and their upcoming return in Week 5, this begs the question; what can the Justice do to turn things around?

But first, we’re going to need some context.

When we dial in the microscope, the Justice feels caught between two styles.

Proactivity is always good, especially in Overwatch, but the Justice feels like they want to play reactionary often but sometimes they get in their own way and force team fights. And when they do engage it is so telegraphed that teams are given the chance to flip the Lucio switch and speed boost away, kiting out their aggression. Usually, Washington’s go button is Nano Boost but they can ham-fist either Sound Barrier or Blizzard to make a play. In the neutral (the first fight before any ultimate advantage is gained), they often rely on setting up Corey either on a hard flank or giving him space on the high ground to pressure the enemy backline and find early kills or force defensive cooldowns to gain an advantage. 

What worries me, is that if ultimates are tracked properly, Washington feels like it has no proactive play that isn't readable from a mile away. Did the enemy team just lose a fight? If, yes then it’s safe to assume that Justice probably has Nano Boost and will look to have rOar engage aggressively with an Ice Wall separating the oppositions front line from receiving any healing. Now, in their defense, there are a good amount of teams that look awkward and jarring in their first fights and will also engage with Nano Boost more often than not. 

It also feels like that’s their only engage tool, whereas a team like the Valiant creates pressure through their Ice Walls and aggressive Reinhardt play to take much more inexpensive engagements. There are two main instances where their Ice Walls are used. Like I mentioned before, Stratus likes to cut the enemy Ana away from their team or the Justice find success in using their Ice Wall to stiff-arm the enemy team’s advances giving them time to readjust. 

Another problem I can see continuing to plague the Justice is how much they lean on Corey. Take their match against the London Spitfire as a case study, and yes we do have to cut them some slack due to the team being sick. Corey still managed to put up a strong performance while feeling under the weather but rookie flex tank Clestyn was tasked with shutting him down and he did just that—even if it cost him his life at times. This mitigated a lot of what Corey was allowed to do which made their time active on the map very costly. 

That said, one way for the Justice to stand out would be to slow down their gameplans and double-down on becoming more reactionary. Instead of forcing engages, try and trap teams into trading resources into you and playing off the back of it. This should help with a fair amount of the coordination problems and the strange flanks Aimgod and rOar can’t find themselves in at times. 

And that’s just at the micro-level.

The big picture for the Justice does not look amazing either. 

Yes, they have a total of five homestands which will offer them a comfortable environment and increased practice time, but their incredibly lean roster is already drawing flak. With a good portion of the roster sick, the Justice looked dizzy in their most recent match against the London Spitfire, a game that many pundits (including myself) had them winning in convincing fashion. Instead of coming out strong, Justice found it difficult to put the Spitfire away in the first two maps and then after the half, was held to an abysmal 4.31 meters on Dorado. This alongside their final fight on Nepal Shrine encapsulates the general sentiment of this match and Justice’s narrative going into Week 5; something needs to change. 

Currently, Washington’s roster effectively sits at seven players with LullSiSH out due to extraneous visa problems. That is a problem. I was of the camp that the Justice was surely adding a few more players in the offseason, namely a few backup support players. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out and now they’re positioned behind the eight-ball. I do hope that this is something the staff keeps in mind because having a deeper roster will pay off in the long run. With how much traveling the team is set to do and how often the metagame might shake-up, having extra resources will make that transition much more manageable. Even adding additional support at DPS might give the team more weapons to utilize so that their strategy moving forward isn’t simply, give Corey the ball. 

That doesn’t mean everything is grey skies and sad vibes.

Directly or indirectly, Hero Pools will even some of the playing fields for some teams and I expect the Justice to be benefactors of the change. Yes, even if you believe Corey’s hitscan pool is hit, he still has plenty of other picks that can make up for the hero that is lost. More importantly, TTuba could see more play in the coming weeks depending on the lottery drawing at the end of Week 4. 

We’ve already begun to see the Justice figured out in a sense which, and Washington’s coaching staff has 100% taken note of that and began to implement TTuba more into the roster especially on Control maps with a propensity to feature off-meta compositions. With the metagame in flux, it’s a perfect time to feature more of TTuba’s hero pool and shift the strategic budget from a Corey dominant team to either a more balanced system or allowing TTuba a chance in the driver’s seat.

Week 5 marks the return of the Washington Justice as they prepare to face off against the Boston Uprising and the New York Excelsior. With improved health and the first-time jitters out of the way, let’s hope that Washington can put Week 3’s injustice, behind them.

 

Image via Blizzard Entertainment
 

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