Week 20 did not disappoint neither in the quality of games nor in entertainment factor
What a juicy weekend, ey? From exciting upsets to twitchy Twitter fingers, to eventually even spicy Reddit comments making us suck air at an accelerated rate through our teeth. Great teams went the full length against each other with star players bench-pressing their team while others made the press by benching themselves. Allegedly. There's only one certainty in Overwatch League: Career death in Texas. Let’s mirror the energy of this weekend and formulate light-hearted answers to the questions we posed on Friday.
Match of the week: Valiant vs Mayhem - Is the meta favouring the Valiant enough to break into the top 3 in North America?
There’s two things that my soul wants to tell you with childlike glee: Yes, and I told you so. Sure, it was also a weekend with a meta in which the Mayhem had shown quality in May Melee but that wouldn’t have been a spicey take, so it was willed into existence. Those are the rules of this universe and you have to live with this lore. It wasn’t even that the Mayhem played badly and their own star players had standout moments like BQB reading Shax like a book on parts of Rialto and holding A on his own, or Gargoyle being a one-man-army on several occasions on Sigma.
The show that both Shax and KSP put on was different. It seemed like both of them hit record before the match and uploaded it straight to YouTube as a highlight compilation. In many ways, Tracers felt like untouchable gods with Harmony Orb this weekend and it was usually down to who could kill the enemy backline quicker with the answer more often than not being Shax. KSP had more of an ebb and flow to his peaks, but when he made those waves clash into the backline, Kris often looked like a wet poodle.
Most interestingly, this meta seemed very playable during no hero pools, putting Valiant on the map as a dark horse to win the entire thing. If they can deliver an equal performance against the Shock or the Fusion, their DPS line-up does not have to hide from Carpe/Heesu nor Ans/Striker.
Dynasty vs Charge - Can the Dynasty win the battle against themselves?
Seoul Dynasty makes your soul die nasty, leaving it in ugly brown colours with the sole dye nestea. For those looking, it’s not sold in ST. This took 10 solid minutes to come up with which means it took significantly less time to create than Seoul's team cohesion, but only sucked slightly more than their stamina within any given series.
Losing the series in this fashion, coming back from 0-2 only to lose it on the last submap on control, was very on-brand. Profit was especially lazy this weekend, hard carrying the Dynasty at times and it really seems like this team has soul-snatched London’s season 2 performance by inviting that core into their house. Ultimately, the only two questions for this team which will matter will be: Can you make playoffs and can you peak there? Nobody would deny a successful season if they could answer both of those with a resounding yes.
Spitfire vs Hunters - How well did the Hunters use their extended break?
Apparently not well enough, with these Hunters looking like they had been praying on fish fingers at Costco during their break. London, on the other hand, are a team that really is coming together and the quality that this coaching staff must have seen in these rookies is slowly but surely starting to shine through, not just on Glister but also on Babel and Although.
Spark vs NYXL - Just how good are the new Spark with QoQ and Architect?
Better than any fanboy or girl could’ve realistically expected them to, and just as much as yours truly said he would. The I-told-you-so-dance is muscle memory at this point. Architect is the real deal and the Spark can look towards the tournament with high expectations. It’s still early in their meshing processes and yet both QoQ and Architect hit the ground running immediately. While the series was still close, it’s not too harsh to say that Architect took Haksal for his lunch money to buy candy for the entire team.
Shock vs Eternal - How good is sp9rk1e’s hitscan if needed?
The Eternal really bamboozled us with that one bringing Xzi in on a moment's notice. I was looking forward to more sp9rk1e with a Glock. Pulling this secret pistol out of their back pocket only to fight against a Leopard II tank and get steamrolled. You really showed them guys! The one-punch-men of the Overwatch League didn’t seem to care and slapped the Eternal around for three quick maps, completing their quest for a clean sweeping of every single franchise in the Overwatch League. The level of portrayed dominance is a beaut to behold. Can anyone really doubt that this is the best team in Overwatch history?
Reign vs Defiant - Can the Defiant keep their veteran-honeymoon cool?
Uhhh, that one didn’t land, did it? Instead of honeymoon coolness, we got full-tilt poker with most of Defiant’s bluffs running into Reign’s gutshots and nut-flushes. This signals that the season is likely to be over for Defiant, with a 5-9 score and little in the way of performance trajectory to suggest otherwise. Bottom tier teams would have to find very deep runs in the two remaining tournaments and unless a very lucky hand is dealt to them via their schedule and hero pools, they will be drawing dead soon.
Outlaws vs Gladiators - Can the Outlaws finally deliver in live matches?
Team Xepher no more? The Outlaws had been doing very well in scrims the last couple of weeks, allegedly getting blocks against the top teams in the league and performing well enough. Their victory can not be chalked up to Gladiators playing with their newly acquired rookie Kevster at all, as he performed about as well as you would expect at a ping disadvantage against a stellar Danteh. When LiNkzr then also showed up to the party, we got a game on our hands.
Titans vs Fuel - Are the Titans slowly coming to their projected level?
Reading the timeline, you’d think the Fuel were fighting themselves. For my liking, the narrative revolved a little too much around Decay’s absence and not enough around the Titans performance improvement. This reception was, of course, not surprising given the circumstances but took away some much earned praise from these young players. That doesn’t mean that Fuel’s coaching staff is excused at all and it might even be the kind of performance that should bring consequences. It is inexcusable that a team which has invested so much into their roster are getting blown out by the cheapest, most accessible rookies with some promise in NA Contenders.
This game and this league isn't an environment for the core tenants of chivalry and loyalty. After two years, you have to realize that the nature of this thing has fundamentally changed. Everything you learned from your Envy history is outdated. Fortifying castles is not safe if the problems are within your walls. Rogues will take you for your money if you let them. You have to have a taskmaster to keep order. This is Mad Max, not King Arthur.
Charge vs Spark - Just how lethal is Architect?
The Asian region has developed into a beautiful bar brawl with everyone being able to get a swing in. Many different styles may lead to success. Shanghai with their judo, always capable of the chokehold as long as the match is going, using your strengths against you. New York moving more towards kick-boxing, trying to find hard-hitting knockout punches through individual performances. In this analogy, Charge and Spark have practiced karate at different dojos but often find themselves with similar styles and are therefore fairly evenly matched.
Chengdu are drunken boxing.
It’s not a chore but a pleasure to have watched Spark and Charge fight each other five times this season, as three of those five matches have gone the distance.
The recruitment of the likes of Architect, Haksal and QoQ has brought a balance to the Asian region that will hopefully sustain itself throughout the season. If playoffs were tomorrow, I’d be confident to say that at least 5 teams in Asia are top 10 in the Overwatch League.
Hunters vs Dragons - Can Chengdu drag the Dragons into the upside down?
Getting stomped by the Spitfire but almost beating the Dragons is as close to the upside down I could imagine. The Chengdu Hunters (or as I call them; Seoul Lite), were close to another deus ex machina moment that reminded of Rhaegal’s death against the Iron fleet. Fortunately, the Shanghai Drogons fought back with equal force once they switched to their main roster and devastated the lands with no remorse.
Excelsior vs Spitfire - Will we see NYXL’s back-ups Mandu and BiaNcA?
Here’s a riddle: Name a team that’s well-coached, had a budget-lineup of rookies, outstanding DPS players and is frequently punching up? Is it the LA Valiant or the London Spitfire? While the results aren’t quite as amazing for the Spitfire just yet in comparison to what the Valiant are doing in North America, they are still slowly but surely coming into their own. The question I posed here revealed that I haven’t put the appropriate respect to the Spitfire and I bow to Pavane and Agape’s coaching prowess. The question that should’ve been asked was if Spitfire can remain competitive and take it to the NYXL who seemed to be powered up by Haksal. The clear answer would’ve been “yes!” Glister had an approximated 4 to 5 double kill Pulse Bombs and otherwise played up to the expectations that many experts had before the season. Babel surprised on Widow and why he wasn’t quite KSP level, he’s also growing into his own.
While Mandu did play, it was against the Spark and had a solid performance though Architect and GodsB made life a living hell for Excelsiors backline.
Fusion vs Uprising - Will there be another Chipsa sighting?
The Fusion took their weak opponent seriously and instead field-tested their double hitscan line-up which will likely find use during the next two weeks if the previous no hero pool meta is anything to go by. They are dead serious about this season and it’s been obvious that even the map Chipsa played, they believed it to be a legitimate strategy. This team is still focused on the title.
Shock vs Justice - No question, just pain.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment