The Shock and the Fusion resemble each other in many ways, making this class a battle of brothers

18:01, 28 Jun 2020

Two superpowers, the San Francisco Shock and the Philadelphia Fusion, will meet in a battle of the best teams of season 3 for the North American region. The conflict had been briefly delayed by the Florida Mayhem, forcing a two-front war on the Fusion during the May Melee. Destiny had teased us, but this conclusion during the regular season schedule can not be denied. As last year taught us, this battle might be a tipping point in history, either giving the victor momentum or the defeated a reason to chase with fervour they’ve never felt before. Is this the beginning of the end of Shock’s hegemony?. 

Becoming villains

From an underdog story as one of the worst teams in season 1 to a juggernaut in season 2, the public perception of the Shock has swung. Too long has their dominance lasted for it to still have the atmosphere of a group fighting for liberation. They have become the opponent to beat. But a counterforce has been plotting an attack for years and finally has the armoury to strike back against the empire. Under careful examination, these nations are brothers from another mother. 

The history and social mechanics of Shock’s victory in the last season are well explored on the side of San Francisco. After a soul-crushing defeat in one of the best matches ever fought in Overwatch history during the stage 1 playoff finals in season 2, the Shock did not just rally the troops but developed an internal drive for dominance. Finding opportunity in despair, no longer was it sufficient for them to merely win matches, they had to crush and humiliate opponents, collecting war trophies like the golden stage and being the first roster in the Overwatch League to clean sweep every single team.

A drive for dominance permeated the Shock’s team after stage 1, driving each individual to find more in themselves to contribute to the team’s success. These extraordinarily talented players grew into a cohesive attack force, that has participated in every single final since March of 2019.

Prior to the May Melee, assistant coach for the Philadelphia Fusion, ChrisTFer, talked about this effect, stating that playing against the Shock would be one of the most important experiences for them this season. The season schedule will grant him an opportunity for a first victory to liberate Overwatch League from San Francisco Shock’s reign.

After initial mild rumbles, players on the sidelines of each match never deserted but kept themselves sharp for the opportunity to bring their share to the greater cause. Just so, the Fusion have been mindful of incorporating every player into the team’s structure this season, giving them specific tasks and telling them to be ready by the time the meta requires their skills, occasionally giving some players playtime to stay sharp.

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A multifactorial approach to build a legacy

In contrast to London Spitfire who had won season 1, the success of the Shock was made with a different infrastructure. While London had acquired parts of the two best teams in the world coming into Overwatch League, the Shock used season 1 to lay the groundworks for their season 2 championship, introducing extraordinary Western talent in sinatraa and super to the team and counting on their development. Moreover, parent organisation NRG reconstructed their academy program, leading to an incredible amount of top tier players emerging from their school. Furthermore, it allowed the incubation of Fuel refugee Rascal into the roster, who has since become a pivotal player in the success of the team.

The underlying pattern of relying on self-raised talent is also found in the Philadelphia Fusion, calling the best North American contenders team of all time among their ranks. Fusion University too shared their harvest with the world, sending incredible talent around the league. Much like the Shock, who kept Rascal, the Fusion have benefitted from raising Alarm, an elite player who remains unquestionable in his role and could be argued as an MVP candidate. With Na1st still on T1 and waiting to become eligible, they have another immense talent to look forward to in season 4. While season 2 was a rough patch for the Fusion, they are enjoying the fruits of their labour now.

Crucially, both teams have refrained from succumbing to the draw of going for an entirely Korean roster for now, allowing them to take in the best talent from all over the globe. This approach requires significant infrastructure to get right and yet both teams have found a working formula to incorporate all kinds of players while remaining flexible in the global market. On top of that, they’ve found ways to justify spending, investing in quality players and staff when an opportunity presents itself. Their multi-channelled approach has paid off tenfold, providing great resistance to volatility of the Overwatch esports system, staying firm while other teams tumble. 

The first battle in the war for absolutely everything

The war between those two teams will not be won tonight, that much is certain. In fact, it’s not unlikely that we will see a rematch next weekend, given that the loser of tonight’s match will be given a lower seed for the top seed to choose from.

It is unclear what kind of warfare both teams will engage in tonight. With both Genji/Ashe and Ashe/Echo or Tracer finding applications in the North American region, and plenty more viable strategies to choose from depending on the map type, a forecast proves difficult in outcome but not in the quality that the match will have.

Experts state that the perceived decline of the Fusion has been greatly exaggerated and that the upset loss against the Mayhem was more a testament to Florida’s qualities during that particular meta. Fusion are here to bring the fight to the Shock.

With the enemy at the gates, much of the match will revolve around sniper duels. Carpe and ANS are said to be evenly matched but always difference-making. If the game was to come down to the tried and true meta of Tracer and Ashe on most maps, the second hitscan on both teams in Heesu and Striker and just as lethal in their respective positions. The only difference that experts see is that a double flex support requirements would give a clear edge to the Shock given the requirement and impressive implementation of Twilight.

The battle tonight is likely to make the history books as a cornerstone event for the outcome of the rest of the season. Can you hear the drums?

Images via Blizzard Entertainment

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