Back from the break but whose back will be broken?
Overwatch is back from the break with a new 2-week hero pool duration and fresh bans in Brigitte, D.Va, Sombra and Echo. We’re starting out with only 8 matches with the Asian region having less games than we are used to, only playing two matches on Saturday. Breaks have worked wonders for many teams in the past, allowing them to catch up and reset their mental condition, coming back with reinvigorated energy. Therefore, we’re likely to see matches which will deliver over their expectation. Some players are reunited with their teams and the anticipation for sp9rk1e makes for a hype weekend. We’re also swiftly approaching the breaking point of the season for many teams as they close in on being mathematically excluded from the play-ins.
With Echo banned for two weeks, the meta we saw before the break is no longer possible. Instead, we might see teams revert to all kinds of Mei compositions. With D.Va banned on top of that, it looks like double shield will be on the menu. Pairing Mei with Reaper, McCree and even Ashe could be feasible, with the latter curiously being the most likely outcome. With Sombra banned, Asia’s flavour DPS is out of the picture which will likely see a lot of teams go the Tracer route. While the combination of heroes being banned looks like a direct attack on most dive compositions, experiments on some maps with deep dives around Genji, Doomfist and Winston on top of a Zarya could see playtime on the odd map.
Match of the week: New York Excelsior vs Seoul Dynasty
12 PM CEST 6AM EST 3AM PST July 13th
Which Seoul shows up and how quickly can Haksal be integrated?
New York Excelsior (3-2, 55%): The NYXL come out of the break with a banger of a signing. With Mei likely in the meta and both WhoRU & Libero having played the hero for the New York this season, a starting position for Haksal could set the tone for the intentions of the team from the big apple. On the other side, we have Seoul Dynasty who likely couldn’t have asked for a better set of bans, with double shield being the likely go to composition for the next two weeks, Echo and Sombra being banned while Profit gets to play Tracer. The inconsistency of the squad makes it a hard game to predict and the chances of this very promising match turning into a sweep in either direction are concerningly high.
London Spitfire vs Shanghai Dragons
10 AM CEST 4AM EST 1 AM PST July 13th
Was London able to use their break effectively?
Shanghai Dragons (3-1, 70%): On paper, this should be a one-sided match and yet, pre-break London looked like a promising prospect with a very similar potential to the Los Angeles Valiant over in the North American region. DPS player Although was a promising addition to the London starting line up and added some much-needed firepower next to Glister. Perhaps you’re bored of the recurring point of London’s stacked coaching staff, but it bears repeating as breaks are the opportunities in which staff can distinguish themselves from the back. An interesting aspect comes at the hand of the late hero pool announcements, which likely forced teams who wanted to start practice early to play with guessed hero pools based on the play rate we saw during the last week of active play. It just so happens that 3 out of the 4 banned heroes are those with the highest play rate in their respective roles, giving teams who were early to practice an experience head start.
Unfortunately for London, they are playing against the best team in the region and possibly the best team in the world and Shanghai have a proven tenacity which will make it hard for London to outright trounce them. This makes an upset rather unlikely but all the more exciting if it was to happen.
Paris Eternal vs Boston Uprising
9 PM CEST 3 PM EST 12PM PST July 13th
Can Boston look competitive against a Paris Eternal with sp9rk1e?
Paris Eternal (3-0, 65%): What an unfortunate timing for the momentum that Boston has shown in the last couple of weeks. The team looked to be on an upswing with new found confidence after their victory against the Gladiators. Now they are meeting a team that themselves are likely to pick up steam on the back of their much-anticipated rookie sp9rk1e joining the fray. Voices from inside the Eternal have left no doubt that sp9rk1e has still got it and that they expect him hitting the ground running. If the Ashe/Mei or Tracer/Mei compositions were to become the go to compositions, it should be interesting to see how sp9rk1e fits in there. The silver lining for Boston is that they will be able to run a double shield composition at which they excelled at and with Xzi likely still out for this weekend, their hitscan DPS Jerry is unlikely to be completely outclassed by SoOn.
Florida Mayhem vs Dallas Fuel
11 PM CEST 5PM EST 2 PM PST July 13th
Are the Fuel really a contender for the top 3 in North America?
Florida Mayhem (3-1, 60%): The Mayhem seem to have established themselves as a top team in North America though the bans didn’t fall in their favour for this important match. Yes, Yaki will be able to play Tracer but not being able to have Gargoyle on D.Va and Brigitte in the fold to support Yaki opens up some question marks towards the route Mayhem will go this weekend. That said, the same is likely true for Dallas as well, forcing NotE off D.Va and likely putting Doha on Mei duty. Decay is likely to have developed an even more nasty Ashe, which does spark some excitement for this match if Decay was to be forced onto the hero for specific maps or locations. Fans of the Fuel will likely experience a gut feeling of excited scepticism, as the team found themselves in positions where they were believed to be on an upswing during the past seasons, only for them to disappoint when it mattered. Can Dallas escape that curse?
Atlanta Reign vs Los Angeles Gladiators
1 AM CEST July 14th 7PM EST 5PM PST July 13th
Where is Ers...Who wins the battle of the underachiever?
Los Angeles Gladiators (3-1, 60%): If Dallas against Florida was a match for the podium then this one is the battle of the underachievers at this point in the season. With similar season 2 performances that surprised to some degree, both teams entered season 3 with adjusted expectations, leading a lot of fans and experts to predict these two teams to fight for the top spots. Neither could deliver on these expectations and are still trying to find themselves. Both teams have players that haven’t reached their potential yet and Atlanta specifically suffers from a lack of superstar performances that their roster should be capable of. In my mind, a break also favours the Gladiators in trying to rally the troops both from a moral and strategic standpoint given their stacked coaching staff.
Philadelphia Fusion vs Houston Outlaws
9PM CEST 3PM EST 12PM PST July 14th
Can the Outlaws keep their play-in dreams alive?
Philadelphia Fusion (3-0, 70%): The season has been cut down significantly to 21 games and with a score of 5-9 and an expected qualifying win rate of 50%, the Outlaws need to remain rocksolid against low and mid-tier teams while getting the rare win against a top team. Looking at their upcoming schedule of Fusion, Gladiators and Mayhem, two out of those three matches are a must-win for their play-in hopes if the format we are used to from season 2 is kept. Unfortunately for them, a Philadelphia Fusion that no doubt is coming out of the break with an attitude after losing the May Melee semi finals to the Mayhem. There’s little doubt who the favourite in this match is. The silver lining is that the Outlaws have consistently delivered in scrims but have yet to put it all out on match day. Even with an Outlaws playing up to their potential, it will be a hard task for them.
Vancouver Titans vs Toronto Defiant
11 PM CEST 5PM EST 2PM PST July 14th
Can the Defiant escape the bottom tier and will Surefour be back?
Toronto Defiant (3-0, 65%): The Defiant have stocked up in the leadership department, bringing in Numlocked and previously Kruise. It’s quite curious just how much early Overwatch history remains in this roster, with many of their members already being around and playing at the highest level when the game launched. These grandpas are now facing off against hungry rookies who just recently entered the league and if the Defiant want to have any say over the rest of the season, they will have to win convincingly here. The break should’ve helped both teams in helping in the transitional periods of finding synergy between the members and perhaps it could become a close match, albeit not of the highest quality Overwatch.
Los Angeles Valiant vs Washington Justice
1 AM CEST July 15th 7PM EST 5PM PST July 14th
Can the Justice lay the foundation for a redemption story in 2021?
Los Angeles Valiant (3-1, 60%): The Valiant are the repeat comeback success story that the Washington Justice dream to be, though their approach to improvement reminds more of Florida’s path in season 2. Going full Korean in today’s player market is not a bad idea, given the lack of support for T2 Overwatch in the West and the resulting impending lack of quality talent for season 4. While the Justice will certainly try their best, they themselves will know that their path to redemption is long and hard and that they can’t expect immediate results. A good result for the Justice in this match would be a close 3-1 in which they bring it to the Valiant on every map but are ultimately overwhelmed by superior talent and cohesion. The Valiant themselves are still hungry and want to remain in the dark horse position for the season, outside direct playoff qualification but with plenty of chances in the play-in tournament and beyond. A particular point of interest is the return of Stitch to active play and how he will fair against the likes of KSP and Shax.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment