In the Asian region, you never know if a team will bring their A of Z game
It’s been a tumultuous start to the season for the Asian region and many of them still haven’t caught up on the volume of games that would put them at half-way point. This chaos has seeped into all parts of the region, from meta compositions to the teams which are competing in it to unpredictable match scores. Forecasting the Asian region, therefore, is extremely challenging with Seoul Dynasty and the Chengdu Hunters being the most inconsistent teams in season 3.
No qualifiers are needed for the May Melee seeding as Guangzhou Charge have been given a bye-round for the quarterfinals. The Asian bracket had been drawn earlier in the week, with coaches briefly explaining their picks. The bracket looks as follows:
Dive compositions around Echo and either Tracer and Sombra depending on the team and the map will likely be the most frequently played comps. A team like the NYXL will likely count more towards playing Tracer to accommodate SBB on top of their lessons they brought over from North America when they were still scrimming in this region. Teams like Shanghai and London will probably be looking towards more Sombra. For the underdog teams, we should expect unorthodox approaches to punch up. Given the bonus victories teams get from finishing high in May Melee on top of a sizeable price pool, the importance of winning these matches is higher than a regular season game, making curveball strategies more appealing to underdogs as they should disregard long-term oriented development for the moment.
Hangzhou Spark vs Seoul Dynasty
Hangzhou Spark (3-1): Which Seoul will show up? Given that there are no hero pool bans, double shield, as well as Tracer, are available and in Dynasty’s case, it might be their best shot even if these compositions appear inferior to the Echo dive meta. Without seeing the process of trial and error, it’s almost impossible to say how these variables shake out in practice, making this a very challenging series to call. Another element to this bag of skittles is whether or not Architect will be able to play and if Guxue’s visa situation allows him to play before he has to leave the country to renew his visa. If Architect can play and they can run Winston dive with Guxue in the team, this roster might just become the second-best team in Asia. Echo dive has been a saving grace for this team, allowing most of their players to pick heroes they feel comfortable on, which, on top of the aforementioned Architect and Guxue, also entails Bebe not having to play Moira and Adora playing Echo, which looks to be his best hero.
The playoff qualities of the old London core should not be ignored. While there were certainly bad performances in the past, generally speaking Gesture, Profit and Bdosin excelled in these high-pressure situations. With it getting to a point where their season is on the line, can they bring it back?
New York Excelsior vs Chengdu Hunters
New York Excelsior (3-0): Schrödinger’s Chengdu, it is either feast or famine with the Chengdu Hunters. You can’t say if this meta suits them because you can’t predict what they will even play. Chengdu has often opted against playing their own personal style this season and has instead been beaten by playing conventionally from a meta standpoint while using their players out of position all too often. On the other hand, the team has also beaten the Shanghai Dragons convincingly, proving that they still possess the ability to punch up. The New York Excelsior is another inconsistent roster which loves to field weird starting line-ups without any clearly identifiable reason. In their last meeting, NYXL trounced the Hunters and there’s no reason why we should assume otherwise here.
Shanghai Dragons vs London Spitfire
Shanghai Dragons (3-0): The Spitfire have improved their performance during their break, but it simply isn’t enough to beat the Dragons in their current form. The lack of hero pools is unlikely to give the Spitfire an advantage either, as it takes some of the random factor out of building a functioning meta composition with none of Shanghai’s players outright being banned out of their main. This match will be a good but short lesson for the British organization.
Guangzhou Charge vs Hangzhou Spark
Hangzhou Spark (3-1): With star player nero and their main support neptuNo missing it will likely weigh too heavily on Guangzhou to compete against the winner of the quarterfinals. If Seoul does indeed win their match, they may have found a working formula that should also work against the weakened Charge. If the Spark win and have Architect and Guxue playing Echo dive compositions, then the already close series record between the Charge and the Spark should significantly tip in the favour of the team in pink.
New York Excelsior vs Shanghai Dragons
Shanghai Dragons (3-1): There are few teams that completely outgun the NYXL in the Overwatch League but Shanghai is one of them. New York will have to be prepared to admit to being a lesser team and opt into an uneven meta matchup that allows them to cheese past NYXL. Both teams are too predictable in their output and the highest highs that New York have shown this season is unlikely to be enough for the Dragons. Perhaps it’s simply too early in the development cycle of this new approach that the Excelsior are taking or it’s at the tail-end of it with a potential Haksal pick-up, but barring any minor miracles, Shanghai will move to the finals in a Echo Tracer/Sombra dive mirror.
Hangzhou Spark vs Shanghai Dragons
Shanghai Dragons (4-1): The Shanghai Dragons are the big dogs in Asia and their biggest opposition will either come from the Excelsior, the Spark with Architect or a Dynasty that figured out how to run a double shield composition and make it work. A victory in the Asian region would cement the Dragons as the force in the east and would build a great storyline for the end of the season in which they will likely have to face teams of equal calibre such as the Shock, the Fusion and even the Eternal with Xzi and sp9rk1e. Unfortunately for this final, it is likely to be a quick affair and won’t deliver to the same extent that the match between the Shock and the Fusion will.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment and slmn