The London Spitfire and the Vancouver Titans are back to competition. The latter has significantly changed.
We’ve been through another sobering week of Overwatch news and it’s time for the matches on the weekend to bring some much-needed healing. We’re scheduled to meet the yet unknown Vancouver Titans roster in two matches, as well as the hibernating London Spitfire who are playing their first match after two months of abstinence from the League. The meta points towards a dive-heavy approach in the East and an interesting mix in the West. Moreover, some of these match constellations are so unfortunately paired that they might as well be happening in a Contenders trials semi-final given the level of play we’re likely to expect. Unlucky.
The ideological differences between the Eastern Sombra monks and Western Tracer zealots are likely to once again determine the meta reads of both regions. Last week's Echo play rate was way up and there’s ample reason to believe that she’ll see a lot of playtime this week too, especially with Mercy now available to pocket her. The bans of Ashe, Reaper, Reinhardt and Brigitte suggest at least in part a dive heavy meta, though a ban of the Swedish support hero has inhibited dive to some extent before. The Asian region has a long history of preferring dive tank compositions extending back to the pre-Overwatch League days whenever it was possible and it should be no different this weekend. A composition of Winston/D.Va/Echo/Sombra/Ana/Mercy could be the go-to compositions for the teams playing from China and South Korea with some Wrecking Ball thrown in for good measure. No doubt some teams will also see an increase in their Lucio play rate on some maps due to their Lucio specialists performing miracles for them.
If past meta interpretations are anything to go by, North America will be a little more divided with some teams opting to go for mostly double shield tank rush archetypes while others would be well advised to mix in as much dive or other unorthodox comps as possible. Dive comps would of course mostly see Echo/Tracer iterations with the usual dive tanks of D.Va/Winston and then likely either Baptiste/Zenyatta or Ana/Mercy in the backline. For the Rush archetype, Echo/McCree seem like a shoe-in for double shield tanks in Orisa/Sigma. Even poke/pick comps with Echo/Hanzo or Echo/Widowmaker don’t seem to be entirely out of the question.
The meta seems wide open for many different interpretations and the upset potential therefore appears to be especially high this week.
Match of the week: Paris Eternal vs Los Angeles Gladiators
9 PM CEST 3 PM EST 12 PM PST (May 9th)
Los Angeles Gladiators (3-1): The Paris Eternal, despite all the surrounding circumstances running against them such as two of their players retiring, their superstar still being ineligible and their rising rookie in Xzi being out due to a neck injury, are a top-half team in the Overwatch League and regularly bring it to the big dogs like the Philadelphia Fusions of this league. Equally, the Gladiators had a solid season start and especially their question marks in Birdring and MirroR have worked out like a charm so far.
Both teams sport a healthy amount of versatility and we can expect the match to showcase a variety of different strategies. This is not least due to just how stacked both of those coaching staffs are and the ability of both of them to draw out the best out of their already talented players has been a delight to follow.
Approximately on eye-level, these two teams at least on paper promise a great series in which the Gladiators are the slight favourites. In a DPS reliant meta as this one, Birdring and MirroR should have a leg up on their direct opponents and with Reinhardt banned, the team should be able to play to their tank lines strength more.
Shanghai Dragons vs Seoul Dynasty
10 AM CEST 4 AM EST 1 AM PST (May 9th)
Shanghai Dragons (3-0): The Dynasty looked completely lost in the first week of Echo and not even in my worst nightmares could I have anticipated that Profit would look this terrible on a new hero that’s largely all about being a hyper-flex monster. Their engagements felt unbelievably disjointed despite playing the vastly easier to execute dive compositions and the team looked simply lost. This meta won’t play out substantially differently from the one they were locked into last week and barring a miraculous turnaround, the Shanghai Dragons - who are very likely the best team in Overwatch right now - should smash Seoul to a subatomic level.
Chengdu Hunters vs London Spitfire
12 PM CEST 6 AM EST 3 AM PST (May 9th)
London Spitfire (3-1): It’s hard to conceive of a sensible estimation of an outcome of this match. Not only are Chengdu Hunters actually the strategic equivalent of a wild bag of skittles, the London Spitfire haven’t played in such a long time that a statement towards an outcome of this match with any certitude flies in the face of all that is reasonable in the world. It’s unlikely that anyone would be able to predict which players will even be playing in this match without prior knowledge. What’s it going to be Hunters? Echo/Pharah with Yveltal charging around the skies like a stressed and overworked mother of twins? That said, I have confidence that with the time the Spitfire has had to rally again, the coaching staff of London have what it takes to forge a team that’s better than its parts suggest.
Guangzhou Charge vs New York Excelsior
2 PM CEST 8 AM EST 5 AM PST (May 9th)
New York Excelsior (3-1): New York has been firing on all cylinders ever since migrating to South Korea and playing against teams in the Asian region. While a lot of volatility is introduced due to these hero pools, the Excelsior should be considered a favourite not least due to the Charge being handicapped in their roster without Wya and neptuNo. It is unknown whether or not Nenne has rejoined the team but even just having Libero start for them on the regular has improved the team tremendously and they once again look like the NYXL that have convinced the last two regular seasons.
Washington Justice vs Vancouver Titans
11 PM CEST 5 PM EST 2 PM PST (May 9th)
Vancouver Titans (3-2): If it was ridiculous to come up with any definitive statements about Spitfire vs the Hunters match, this match would require nothing short of time travel to make sense of it before it happens. For the Titans, we don’t even know their roster and the Justice have had weird activity with Stratus being largely gone from active play even in weeks in which Mei sees a lot of playtime. What an absolute scramble of a match.
Houston Outlaws vs Atlanta Reign
1 AM CEST (May 10th) 7 PM EST 4 PM PST (May 9th)
Atlanta Reign (3-1): A close loss to the Valiant put Reign’s evaluation down a peg though we shouldn’t overestimate the signal that this sends towards the estimation of Atlanta’s power level. Perhaps overrated at the start of the season due to an influx of talented players into their ranks on top of an already directly playoff achieving core, they should still be considered an A-tier roster, though perhaps at the lower end of the spectrum. Facing off against the Outlaws, the Reign should be able to show their mechanical superiority over the Outlaws, though an upset could come at the hand of the Texan team running an unorthodox strategy that the Reign haven’t encountered in practice.
Los Angeles Valiant vs Boston Uprising
3 AM CEST (May 10th) 9 PM EST 6 PM PST (May 9th)
Los Angeles Valiant (3-0): No doubt, Valiants performance against the Reign was a statement towards the quality of that match, from a decisive decision by the coaches at the halfway point of the match to the DPS players putting on a smokeshow of a performance individually. That said, for now we will have to assume that that performance was an outlier and we’ll have to see the Valiant performing for some more matches at this level before we can assume this to be their new average. Whether the Uprising are still the worst team in the Overwatch League remains to be seen, but there’s no reason to believe that they can bring a fight to the Valiant.
Hangzhou Spark vs Shanghai Dragons
10 AM CEST 4 AM EST 1 AM PST (May 10th)
Shanghai Dragons (3-0): The scariest thing for the Spark should be that the Dragons have proven last week that a series against Shanghai is not over until the fat Lips stop smacking. Displaying the comeback qualities required of a championship-winning roster, Hangzhou can never let the series slip away from them and likely have to find a novel strategy in order to catch the Dragons off guard. If this match goes to a dive mirror, we’ll once again be racing the record for the shortest match in Overwatch League history.
London Spitfire vs Guangzhou Charge
12 PM CEST 6 AM EST 3 AM PST (May 10th)
Guangzhou Charge (3-1): It is my honest belief that the Charge could be a top 5 team in the Overwatch League if some things went right for them and they’re one or two pickups away from getting there safely. Unfortunately for the Charge, their circumstances have slipped into their play and they’re not always able to have a strategic leg up on opponents they should be outclassing by individual skill level. Especially nero has had a marvellous season so far and if the Charge could make the push for top 5, I believe the North American would finally gain the recognition he deserves for his play. Once again, it’s hard to anticipate where the Spitfire are at with the development of their rookie roster. If they want to have a say in the season playoffs though, a struggling Charge is a team they will need to beat to make play-ins.
Dallas Fuel vs Philadelphia Fusion
9 PM CEST 3 PM EST 12 PM PST (May 10th)
Philadelphia Fusion (3-1): Whether or not this match turns into the best of the week is most likely entirely down to the Dallas Fuel. The Fusion have firmly entrenched themselves as either the best or second best team in the Overwatch League and are the team to beat in North America. The Fuel have recently enjoyed an upswing in performance on the back of Decay and Doha shining bright. The Fuel would arguably be well-served in running an Echo/Tracer composition while putting Gamsu and NotE on their signature dive tanks as their anchor to plan the match around.
Toronto Defiant vs San Francisco Shock
11 PM CEST 5 PM EST 2 PM PST (May 10th)
San Francisco Shock (3-0): The Defiant have been looking better and the Shock are back to their expected levels. Still, with both of those teams stabilizing, the inherent talent difference in both coaches and players is monumental. There’s little chance for the Defiant to come away with a victory here or even make the series competitive. This match is likely an easy skip if you are not a fan of stomps.
Florida Mayhem vs Vancouver Titans
1 AM CEST 7PM EST 4 PM PST(May 11th)
Florida Mayhem (3-0): A fun box of surprises awaits here. Sayaplayer is back and the Mayhem are playing against an enigma of an opponent. Florida have slowly but surely made good on their roster’s promise and are sitting at a respectable 5-4, the first time in their franchise history that the organisation has sat north of .500. With the Titans reportedly either being Second Wind or Third Impact, it would take a fourth tsunami for this match to be close this early into the team’s recreation process. Not an easy match to swallow for those that compete in #racethemayhem.