Outlaw stocks soar, while Uprising and Mayhem continue to plummet
Week 5 of Overwatch League 2020 season is upon us and with that is the arrival of Hero Pools, a system created to ensure that rigid metagame are a thing of the past. Taking heroes that received over 10% pick rate, the Overwatch League has randomly disabled Reinhardt, McCree, Widowmaker, and Moira for the upcoming Washington Justice homestand.
The thought process going into this was that with Reinhardt and McCree exiting the game, Dive compositions would be the go-to composition to fill their place. Heroes like Tracer, Sombra, Winston, and Doomfist should be prominent fixtures and teams that can pilot these heroes to a high level were favored over those who could not. Due to the chaotic nature of this new change catching teams off guard, strong DPS players should be able to abuse the lowered amount of coordination and be able to more frequently take over games. Last but not least, I did give some extra credit to teams who have previously shown strong Dive performances this season and have established strong leadership figures in their team.
With that said, it’s time we answer the question of who the winners and losers are for the first week of Hero Pools.
Philadelphia Fusion - Winners
The Philadelphia Fusion field six all-star caliber players and a boast solid bench to boot. This team has done well so far in the league and will continue to do so. With how flexible and robust this roster is, any meta thrown their way should be easily run, no questions asked. They meet the star DPS player test with Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok and crew. God forbid Carpe has an off night, this team has the ability to carry from every single position on the field. From Kim "SADO" Su-min at tank to Kim "Alarm" Kyungbo at support, the Fusion roster is stacked to the brim with future role star nominees. They’ve shown within these last few weeks that their coordination is among the title contenders of the league. With only the Paris Eternal to prepare for, the Fusion has a full day of official tape to study and pick apart before they even have to step foot on stage. This team will continue their dominance and cement themselves as a threat to the 2020 title.
Washington Justice - Losers
Sorry D.C, this team is still on a slump. With a 1-3 record, the Washington Justice will be looking for a rebound as they return home for their second of five homestands this season. However, they’ve got an uphill battle to fight against the metagame. Boston Uprising should be a breeze, but going toe-to-toe with the New York Excelsior will be the true litmus test for the home team. While the Justice can call upon 2019 Role Star winning DPS Corey "Corey" Nigra to come in clutch on a number of different heroes, that style of play has already been figured out. However, rookie prospect Lee "TTuba" Ho-Sung could see some play on Pharah or Doomfist if the new metagame allows for it. All in all the Justice will probably feel very similar come this weekend; a mid to lower team that puts all of their resources onto their star player to carry.
New York Excelsior - Winners
The New York Excelsior, much like the Fusion, boasts a core of players that are both very strong and insanely flexible. Speaking generally, with players like Kim "Libero" Hae-seong and Jeong "Nenne" Yeon-kwan there really isn’t many Hero Pool selections that pinch their DPS line. On top of that, they have someone like Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong-ryeol who can command the team and become the arm of the coaching staff on stage. The latter half of the qualification should be what your eyes gravitate towards.
This is going to be a brand new and very chaotic game. Saebyeolbe can guide the NYXL and keep them all focused and on the same page. With Libero finally seeing stage time, he could be playing anything from Doomfist to Sombra to Genji--and will look solid on any of the heroes. Whereas Saebyeolbe and Nenne can both lock down a double-hitscan meta and can be put on Sombra and find great success. This is not the Hero Pool to throw a wrench in the NYXL’s plan and I’m not sure I can think of one that would. Compared to their peers, the NYXL should have a return to form this weekend in Washington D.C.
Atlanta Reign - Winners
While the Atlanta Reign did start off their season on rocky footing, this should be a refresh for the team. I think people undervalued just how strong the Paris Eternal is, and losing to such a strong team shouldn’t be viewed as such a hefty blow. Many of the criticisms you can draw with this team in that match stem from some of their rookie talent and to be fair to them, this was their debut weekend in the Overwatch League. Week 5 should see a Reign squad, fresh, loose, and ready to play without first game jitters. With DPS players like Kim "Edison" Tae-Hoon and Jeong "Erster" Joon the metagame I proposed earlier should not be a problem. Erster can become that star DPS player that can spearhead games nearly by himself and Edison fits the mold as well. With such a deep roster of talent, Atlanta has all the tools available and should be in prime position to both not be effected by Week 5’s Hero Pool selections.
Houston Outlaws - Winners
After a stunning victory over the Toronto Defiant, the Houston Outlaws should be poised to continue to fight back up the rankings in Week 5. With Jeffrey "blasé" Tsang on his patented Doomfist, I truly believe that anything is possible for this team and having Dante "Danteh" Cruz and Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin to back him up is only a good thing. While the team admittedly struggled in the Reinhardt and McCree metagame the week prior, they did take the London Spitfire close with the same Dive composition that put away Toronto, the team that has been known for their Dive all season so far. With this in mind, this is a perfect Hero Pool selection for the Outlaws and they should be able to carry the momentum gained from their homestand and barnstorm the state’s capital.
Paris Eternal - Losers
Coming in just barely as Losers are the Paris Eternal, which might come as a surprise due to how good they’ve looked in the last few weeks. With strong performances against the Atlanta Reign and the Toronto Defiant, this team was quickly rising in the power rankings of analysts and pundits alike. However, this is a team that can falter when it comes to coordination at times and that comes from their mixed roster.
Adding South Korean stars like Choi "Hanbin" Han-been and Jung "Xzi" Ki-hyo has resulted in some success in the previous meta, but the team has publicly talked about how their communication isn’t up to par as of yet. With a new metagame to pilot and one that could be very chaotic and Dive oriented, Paris is projected, at least in my summation, to take a hit this week against Houston and Philadelphia. Don’t fret Eternal fans, these problems should iron themselves out by the end of the season and we could possibly could see the return of fan-favorite DPS ace Terence "SoOn" Tarlier to the active roster if Sombra or Tracer find their way back into the metagame.
Florida Mayhem - Losers
It has been a massive liquidation sale for any and all Florida Mayhem stocks as of Week 4. Their game five loss to a flimsy and inconsistent London Spitfire drew a lot of questions regarding their regular-season performance. Where I see the Mayhem struggling is in the support department. Last week Choi "Kris" Jun-soo reinforced why people rate him low on Lucio and if the metagame asks him to play the hero, things are not going to go well. Also, where exactly is Ha "Sayaplayer" Jung-woo? If Tracer comes back into the meta, he’d be a great fit for the team alongside Lee "BQB" Sang-bum’s stellar Sombra, but I highly doubt we’ll see him on stage. Kim "Yaki" Jun-ki is another selling point, but I just don’t think that he is going to be enough to push this lacking Mayhem core over the edge.
Toronto Defiant - Winners
The Toronto Defiant are on a downswing after their convincing defeat at the hands of the Houston Outlaws, but the hero selected in the inaugural Hero Pool do point them in the right direction. With decisive losses in Week 4, the Defiant are looking for an olive branch, and this Hero Pool might just be their saving grace. Their willingness to play off-meta picks these last few weeks has unintentionally positioned them extremely well if Week 5 results in a lot of Sombra and Doomfist being played.
Lane "Surefour" Roberts has been proficient on a number of heroes throughout the years and won’t be a liability at least mechanically. He is someone that can come in clutch for this team and it’s a safe bet that he will against a merger Florida Mayhem. I also expect to see quite a lot fo Brady "Agilities" Girardi on Doomfist which not only is it a comfort pick, but he’ll look that much better against a weaker opponent and he’s had extra practice on the hero. At the end of the day, if the absence of McCree and Reinhardt force people to play more Dive compositions, the Defiant should have a leg up on the competition.
Boston Uprising - Losers
What is there to say about the Boston Uprising? After a disappointing start to the 2020 season, the sole win comes by way of an unprecedented map seven wins against a struggling Houston Outlaws in Week 3. Even with promising rookies like Min "Jerry” Tae-hee and Seo "Myunbong" Sang-min, there really isn’t any firepower that can put away either the Washington Justice or the Atlanta Reign. If they do manage to sneak in a match win, it would be a fantastic upset. In the chaotic landscape that Hero Pools impose onto teams, strong DPS and coordination should be large selling points for the power of a team. Unfortunately, Boston doesn’t feature either and is slated finish Week 5, 0-2.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment