A lot is on the line in week 25. Who can find their groove?
The Overwatch League is going into its last week of hero pools for season 3 with Mei, Widowmaker, Orisa and Ana banned for another week. Some teams have to play catch up on the schedule and another two Friday games in the North American region are on the docket.
In terms of the meta, the evolution of Genji playstyles in Overwatch League moved away from brute force plays and high resource commitment to avoid turbo-feeding, and most of it has to do with Brigitte. Not only has the Repair Pack change made recipients less unkillable, Brigitte players across the league have started picking up tricks to deal with hard carry Genji performances.
Coaches around the league had to cure their bloodthirsty flex DPS of rabies, though there are certainly players with more refined instincts which will execute better in these scenarios. Now much more about understanding when windows are open for engagement, Genji derives less value out of their mechanical superiority. It’s also important to understand that Genji, much like every other role to varying degrees, isn’t just being played by the pilot of the hero. A statement like “X-player is a great Genji” is increasingly less true than “Y-Team plays Genji well”. The team has to throw the alley-oop and it takes a capable player to make the dunk.
Match of the Week: Florida Mayhem vs San Francisco Shock
10pm (BST) | 5pm (EST) | 2pm (PST) Friday, July 24
Who's your Genji?
San Francisco Shock (3-1, 60%): The announcement tweet for Sean Taiyo "ta1yo" Henderson mentioned that league approval was pending and it remains to be seen if he’s eligible and it’s therefore still unknown which line-up the Shock will be rolling out. And yet those circumstances appear less relevant now and I have come around to believe that anyone on Shock’s roster, including Matthew "super" DeLisi, can make due for the time being against most teams. Shock’s excellent setup paired with anyone who understands opportunities will lead to successful executions most of the time. Tracer seems to be more of a focal point now and we know Nam-joo "Striker" Kwon is ferocious in the paint.
Whether or not the Mayhem have these fundamentals down to the same degree or if they will need to make it a zoo of a game where these recognizable patterns vanish and it becomes a matter of duels remains to be seen.
Atlanta Reign vs Boston Uprising
8pm (BST) | 3pm (EST) | 12pm (PST) Friday, July 24
Where is your mind at, Boston Uprising?
Atlanta Reign (3-0, 80%): It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Boston Uprising. After great improvements in the mid-season after Leyton "Punk" Gilchrist joined that even saw them upset the Gladiators, the Uprising have been declining again. For the upcoming games, it’s therefore wrong to look at results. Rather we should look at improvements the team is making and judge them based on that. The season playoffs have gifted them the opportunity for a redemption arc and with an unexpectedly high placing there, they could make their season whole.
Seoul Dynasty vs Chengdu Hunters
9am (BST) | 4am (EST) | 1am (PST) Saturday, July 25
Chengdu Hunters (3-2, 45%):
Shanghai Dragons vs London Spitfire
11am (BST) | 6am (EST) | 3am (PST) Saturday, July 25
Is this another meta the Dragons will be dominant in?
Shanghai Dragons (3-0, 70%): The Dragons enjoyed a longer break and we haven’t seen them in this hero pool yet. While that poses some questions, the Dragons consistently had all the right answers with few exceptions this season. I’m curious if the Spitfire will stick to Dong-jae "Schwi" Lee after last week’s performance and if he has noticeably improved this week.
New York Excelsior vs Guangzhou Charge
1pm (BST) | 8am (EST) | 5am (PST) Saturday, July 25
What's it gonna be, NYXL? Now or never?
Guangzhou Charge (3-1, 65%): It’s high time that the NYXL got their act together if they want to challenge the Charge for the important second seed in the Asian region. The XL needs to win practically every match from here on out, which would also help to inspire confidence in their approach to the season. If the plan for New York this season was to sacrifice some consistency for peaking potential in the playoffs, this week is the time to display those qualities and the Charge are an excellent opponent to make a statement against.
The Charge themselves are once again plagued by visa issues, with both Alberto "neptuNo" González and Charlie "nero" Zwarg having to leave the country and go through the process at home. Fortunately for the Charge, Ou "Eileen" Yiliang stepped up to the task and with Brigitte still a meta staple Jung-yeon "Chara" Kim is still up there with the best of them.
San Francisco Shock vs Vancouver Titans
8pm (BST) | 4pm (EST) | 1pm (PST) Saturday, July 25
Will the Titans take the opportunity to try something out?
San Francisco Shock (3-0, 90%): Let’s be honest, the chances for the Titans are slim to none here. After a rough first week into this hero pools in which they got clean-swept twice, it’s the perfect opportunity to field-test everything you got.
Florida Mayhem vs Washington Justice
10pm (BST) | 6pm (EST) | 3pm (PST) Saturday, July 25
Can the Justice show signs of a promising rebuild?
Florida Mayhem (3-0, 75%): The Washington Justice are in a very similar position to the one the Florida Mayhem found themselves in last season at this stage. Having just replaced their hybrid core roster with a full Korean line-up, the Mayhem at least strung together a respectable homestretch of the season and finished it off on a high note that laid the foundation for their rebuild this year. For a moment, one could see it happen for the Justice with Ho-Sung "TTuba" Lee turning out to be a really good performer on the Genji and things clicking briefly. Since defeating the Gladiators in the Summer Showdown, the needle moved in the wrong direction for the Justice with a crushing defeat against the Toronto Defiant. It’s high-time we see at least something or someone Washington can hold onto during their freefall through the ranks.
Boston Uprising vs Dallas Fuel
12am (BST) Sunday, July 26 | 8pm (EST) | 5pm (PST) Saturday, July 25
Deep breath. This is one for your confidence, Dallas Fuel.
Dallas Fuel (3-1, 70%): The Fuel are in a position in the standings and in their overall form in which they can both compete for a top 5 spot in NA and drop to the rough 10th seed in the regular season. Given the importance of those seeds, the Fuel’s season is on the line and with pressure up to their necks, the true fabric of this roster will be tested. It’s a transitional season for the Fuel for sure, with a lot of departures on the horizon - but they could put a bow on it starting this week. For the Uprising, this is another rough matchup in which they can realistically only win given the expectations for this match.
Philadelphia Fusion vs Los Angeles Gladiators
2am (BST) Sunday, July 26 | 10pm (EST) | 7pm (PST) Saturday, July 25
Now or likely never, what will it be?
Philadelphia Fusion (3-0, 75%): The Titans, unfortunately, weren’t a great opponent to contrast the Gladiators against in this meta and it still remains to be seen if they finally clicked during the break like their play might suggest. The Fusion are a tall task but if they can make it close here, it could indicate a solid season turnaround.
Chengdu Hunters vs Hangzhou Spark
9am (BST) | 4am (EST) | 1am (PST) Sunday, July 26
Second time’s the charm, Chengdu Hunters.
Hangzhou Spark (3-1, 60%): In some ways, the theme of this match is not substantially different from the one that the Hunters will have against the Dynasty. The Asian region went from the one with the highest density of good teams to their mid-tier being populated by Pepega-squadrons multiple times this season. Guess which period we are in right now...
Shanghai Dragons vs Seoul Dynasty
11am (BST) | 6am (EST) | 3am (PST) Sunday, July 26
Groundhog day, the match?
Shanghai Dragons (3-2, 65%): Every other week or so, we jump back in time and get to experience this game again and despite having watched a million times both awake and in our nightmares, this match still makes as much sense as a peyote trip. I’m in desperate need of a guide through this experience.
Los Angeles Gladiators vs Paris Eternal
8pm (BST) | 4pm (EST) | 1pm (PST) Sunday, July 26
What are the Gladiators really made of?
Paris Eternal (3-0, 70%): In all likelihood, the Gladiators went to bed with a crushing defeat against the Fusion still fresh in their minds. There is no time to sulk, however, considering another elite opponent is waiting. Not only will they have to get onto this server again, but they’ll only have 18 hours to review and get into the mind frame to save their season. The character of this team will be thoroughly tested this weekend.
Toronto Defiant vs Philadelphia Fusion
10pm (BST) | 6pm (EST) | 3pm (PST) Sunday, July 26
Philadelphia Fusion (3-1, 70%): Toronto Defiant are the fish filet that’s two days over the expiration date and you wonder if it’s still good. Their trajectory has definitely pointed upwards and should excite their fans but they shouldn’t reasonably be expected to take one from the Fusion here.
Washington Justice vs Houston Outlaws
12am (BST) Monday, July 27 | 8pm (EST) | 5pm (PST) Sunday, July 26
Can the Outlaws stay consistent?
Houston Outlaws (3-1, 65%): So far so good for the homestretch of the Outlaws. With only three more matches left to go for them in the regular season, a solid finish that allows their minds to stay at ease during their extended playoff preparations would be worth its weight in gold, not least because it could mean that they get to avoid the bottom 4 bracket stage of the playoffs. For the Justice, this is the type of match you’d want to win to communicate the potential for a successful rebuild for season 4. The fact that this isn’t likely should tell us something.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment and random.org