Getting in the mood - Four questions OWL week 1 could answer

19:00, 06 Jan 2020

Fed up with the recent discourse? Big same, bud. Let’s do something about that and use videogames the way the creator himself has ordained: For repression. The start of the third season of the Overwatch League is merely a month away. What have the roaring 20s in stock for us in Overwatch?

What’s the meta?

Going off scrims, there is still a wide variety of compositions played, with Orisa/Sigma/Mei/Hanzo/Baptiste/Ana or Zen being the most common combination. Mercy finds the occasional application in this archetype and even Widowmaker makes an appearance on open maps. Some teams are playing wild strategies around Orisa and Reinhardt, though it is questionable how serious they are with that approach. Older metas like the last season’s playoffs’ Bastion composition and even dive with some Wreckingball have been spotted.

With no blueprint from either Contenders or the World Cup to copy, Overwatch League might start into the season without a meta composition that has a playshare of more than 70% and that in itself could be exciting. It has even been speculated by coaches like Dpei, that we might not see an established rigid meta over the entire season, given the separation of conferences across the globe. How much of this will hold up in practice remains to be seen. It takes a certain kind of bravery to constantly play outside the meta that the perceived best teams are playing but it can pay off as the Hunters and the Dragons demonstrated last season.

Just how bad are the bad teams?

Half of the teams playing at the homestands in New York and Dallas are the teams most people consider to be safe picks for the lower half of the table. In three of the eight matches that weekend, teams of that calibre will be facing off against each other.

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In the season opener, the Defiant will play the Eternal in a match in which the French won’t yet have access to either Hanbin or Sp4rk1e. The Defiant have been bootcamping in Korea and therefore practicing for a while, so there should be nothing in the way of them proving that they are a tier above the expected bottom tier teams. If they were to struggle here, it wouldn’t bode well for their season projections. A couple of hours later, the Valiant will play the Fuel, putting the Texans into a similar position as the Defiant. Anything but relaxed victory should reasonably concern Fuel fans especially in regards to the game a day after against the Shock. The Spitfire play the Eternal on Sunday is the third match that promises insight into the quality of teams we expect to struggle. At least initial information arriving from the scrimbux stock exchange isn’t pretty for the newly assembled London roster. We shouldn’t expect immediate miracles by the coaching staff around Agape and Pavane. The timing of their match against the NYXL, Pavane’s old team, is therefore most unfortunate.

How will the homestands be received?

While the success of the first two homestands hardly constitute a trend for the rest of the season, I’m confident that they will be either sold out or close to. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if homestands had high or maxed out attendance throughout the entire season and initial numbers communicated internally have been very positive from the teams I’ve spoken to. It seems the novelty of the homestand model is enough of a draw to fill arenas. The actual challenge awaits in future seasons when novelty isn’t as big of a factor and teams will rather have to replace the fresh excitement of the event with the ritualistic attendance that traditional sports has become in their fan’s life.

Equally important to the public perception is the reception of the teams towards the provided infrastructure at the homestands. Will teams be able to practice sufficiently during their stay? Is the hardware adequate? How are the accomodations? During the pilot homestands last year, players and staff raised serious concerns for the provided infrastructure and the first two homestands should inform us if the revised league guidelines have been effective in this regard. A failure here would not bode well for the well-being of players and staff alike for 2020.

Who’s the talent?

“Oh god, not talks about talent again” I hear you crying through your blankie that you’ve wrapped yourself into to feel the security of the womb once more in these troubled times. I’ll make it light and juicy, okay? Let’s get the things that I’ve heard out of the way so that I may then recklessly speculate. All information is supplied without guarantee, so take it with a grain of salt.

It might be that the desk for the third season will remain in Los Angeles and therefore a rotation of desk talent seems less likely, though not impossible. English casters are unlikely to travel to China and I assume this means that they’ll also be in the studio the desk is residing in for those homestands and possibly more. The following speculation is made purely on what’s public knowledge other than the aforementioned bits and pieces, as I know exactly as much as you guys; Absolutely nothing. With that established, get your tinfoil, make it a boat and put your hats on. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going in.

For the desk, Custa has already been confirmed to be one of the main talent. From last year’s desk, only Soe remains a question mark, with both Puckett and Goldenboy as possible additions on occasion. Either Avast is atrocious at not so subtle hints and makes an obscure reference on social media to show everyone just how great friends he is with Custa (We get it. Yes, we’re jealous. Get out!), or the mad chad has once again pulled a heist on an unsuspecting employer for a guaranteed one year paycheck. If Avast was to be on the desk full time, it would split off his casting pair with ZP, who in turn could reunite with Hex for the ultimate comeback.

Additional pre-established caster pairings that we can irresponsibly speculate to be looked at are both Jaw and Legday as well as AVRL and Pixie. We know that Blizzard likes to scout and try out casting talent at their own events and both duos were part of Gauntlet in South Korea. We can only hope they brought flowers for their future employer-in-laws, if they want to have a chance at a permanent gig.

Perhaps more importantly, who is going to take JAKE to prom night? Did UberX breakup over Matt cheating with the Call of Duty league? Will Sideshow and Bren become a top tier casting team with the help of their marriage counselor? Tune in on February 8th!

 

Image via Blizzard

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