The Overwatch League is a great league that I love watching, reading and writing about it. The final week of stage two was crazy with upsets, spoilers and a final that not many people saw coming. My record for the week was 7-5 (not including the playoff matches) which has me ending the stage with an overall record of 39-21. But let’s get into it.
MOTD: DAY ONE
Both the San Francisco Shock and Florida Mayhem have been heating up after a tepid stage one and becoming exciting to watch. However, the big story for this match was the debut of Sinatraa for the Shock who just turned 18 this previous week and has been called the “150k man” due to the fact that his paycheck is three times the amount of the base OWL player salary. And he had a decent debut on Tracer to be honest. This match honestly could have gone either way at the end, but Florida ended up eking out the victory in map five. Obviously, Florida has been playing with each other since day one and San Francisco are getting new additions to their lineup such as Sinatraa, Super and Architect who will take some time to completely gel on the squad.
But Florida is, all of a sudden, exciting. Tviq and Logix both went off especially with the former on Pharah and the latter on Widowmaker. The duel with Logix and Babybay was one-sided with the Belgian dominating from start to finish. The Mayhem are improving at the perfect time with new players arriving to the team for stage three to add on to what they have already built thus far. While Logix and Tviq were fun to watch, my MVP goes to their D.Va player, Manneten. For me, he has been the most consistent player on Florida from day one until now. And his Defense Matrix to negate Sinatraa’s Graviton Surge denied the Shock from finishing King’s Row just meters away and, potentially, won them the match.
MOTD: DAY TWO
Somehow, Seoul found another way to miss the playoffs through a last second loss that comes out of nowhere. In this case, it was the struggling Houston Outlaws who shocked everyone with a 3-1 win over the Dynasty. But it definitely did not come easy. With the series being tied up at halftime, King’s Row ended in a 4-3 score to the Outlaws. But if you think about it, that means that Houston held Seoul on the first point during timebank which is exceedingly rare for that map. Last up was Gibraltar which, feels like the Korean teams have much better results on but, yet again, it went down to the wire ending 3-2 to Houston.
This was a critical match for the Outlaws. They have looked straight up bad at times this stage and they couldn’t have come up against Seoul at a better time with the Dynasty coming off their first two losses of the stage the previous week to New York and London. They still need to address their lack of a top tier Tracer player as the Clockwork experiment (who was considered the best scout player in the world in Team Fortress 2) has not panned out. But the entirety of the Houston lineup stepped up with a return to form for everyone’s favorite Finnish DPS player, Linkzr. In stage one, he looked to be in the conversation to be a top player in the league within his role but, like the rest of his team, has underperformed this stage. However, he came back to life against Seoul with some absolutely disgusting Widowmaker plays reminding us how deadly he can be. Also, you either love or hate Jake, but you can’t deny that his Junkrat play is somehow on another level.
MOTD: DAY 3
It can’t come down to any closer of a finish than a 99% to 99% standoff of the final point of map five, but that is exactly what happened when the Philadelphia Fusion took down the Los Angeles Valiant in a series that could have gone either way. The Fusion needed this to stay in playoff contention and the Valiant did everything in their power to play the spoiler.
The Valiant played well, but seemed disconnected. Tanks Fate and Envy seemed to be dying more than usual and, while the flexibility of Kariv to switch between DPS and Support is invaluable, it may be leading to a lack of flow for the squad. Philly on the other hand look very strong. Ever since Eqo joined the team in stage two, they’ve looked more focused. However, while the Israeli had a stellar match, my MVP goes to Poko. Over the course of the match, he dealt over 44,000 hero damage, had 103 eliminations and 23 deaths and played one of the best Zarya maps of the season thus far on King’s Row.
MOTD: DAY FOUR
The Uprising sure do like playing spoiler. In stage one they were the reason that the Valiant missed out on the playoffs and, in stage two, they did the same thing to the Gladiators. Bad luck for the LA teams, huh? In order for Los Angeles to make the playoffs, they either had to win 3-0 or 4-0 against Boston. Unfortunately for them, the first map was Volskaya Industries which the Uprising were undefeated on this stage… and they remained so deflating both the crowd and the Gladiators going up 2-0 at the half. However, Los Angeles fought back to winning two incredibly close rounds to force a map five on Ilios where they ended up losing 2-1 and the series overall 3-2.
While they missed out on the playoffs, the Gladiators should be proud of what they have been able to accomplish in stage two. The improvement has been phenomenal. For the Uprising, they ended stage two in the same place as stage one: 6-4 and mid-table. The fact that the next meta change will not be nearly as dramatic as the Mercy change should bode well for Boston and allow them to get off to a much better start once stage three begins. MVP for this match is Striker as he continues to insert himself into the top three Tracer conversation in OWL. Opportunistic picks couple with an insane ability to seemingly land the majority of his Pulse Bombs equals a deadly combination.
Stage 2 Title Match
Two stage finals, two reverse sweeps and both have involved the New York Excelsior. After Philadelphia shocked the league by weathering the storm to beat the London Spitfire in the semi-finals, they took a 2-0 lead against New York going into halftime. But unlike the Spitfire in stage one, the Fusion looked like they ran out of steam toward the end losing the final three maps. Once Philadelphia was full-held on the first point of Volskaya coming out of halftime, I think everyone had that feeling that a reverse sweep was a possibility. Let’s go into each team a bit more in-depth.
First let’s talk about the Fusion. I think their Winston player, Fragi, would be in the running for a most improved player award. The amount of times he began the dive only to die immediately in stage one was more than I could count. But now, he is much more coordinated with his team, dies far less often and, therefore, has a much larger impact than simply creating space. In terms of DPS play, Carpe has shown to be one of the elite players in the league on his Tracer but, more so, his Widowmaker. However, for the most part in the final, he was outplayed by Libero. Eqo has completely changed this team since he came in for week one of stage two. While Shadowburn’s Genji was stellar in the first stage, it seemed like he didn’t communicate that much with his squad nor did he coordinate very well. Eqo does and it’s a thing of beauty as he is definitely in the top five Genji players in the league. Lastly, young Snillo is the Tracer specialist that the Fusion needed to allow Carpe to flourish on Widow.
From a tank perspective, I already spoke about Fragi, but Poko has been consistent on his D.Va play from the beginning. He strikes a very good balance of peeling for his supports while still being aggressive. He has not achieved the highs of his stage one D.Va Bomb kills, but he has shown more versatility with the different map pool. Before OWL, he was known for his Zarya play and, from the brief glimpses that we’ve seen this stage, it makes me sad that D.Va is almost a mandatory pick much like Mercy was in the first stage. Lastly, let’s talk about the supports. Boombox seems like a fine Zenyatta which sounds insulting, but it’s likely because I just watched him go up against Jjonak who is an entirely different animal. Neptuno has been able to play his Lucio in stage two and his ability on the Brazilian has shown, ending the stage in the top three, if not number one, in most of the offensive Lucio statistics.
For the New York Excelsior, there is so much to say. The DPS players of Saebyeolbe and Libero have both garnered MVP awards from myself making the argument of being the best DPS duo in the league the more I see them. Saebyeolbe’s Tracer, while not as definitively ahead of the pack as some would have you believe, is still there and is a thing of beauty to watch. Libero is the flex DPS player that every team wishes they could have. Need a Pharah? Genji? Widow? Junkrat? In the title match, he played seven different heroes and outdueled Carpe who is considered one of the best Widow players in the world. The tank play is the area that gets overshadowed the most which is unfortunate as the main tank duo of Mano and Meko are underrated as odd as that is to say. They don’t make the flashiest plays, but they do make the plays and always seem to be on the same page.
Finally, the support duo. This might be my favorite duo of any role in the league. Jjonak is the best non-DPS DPS player out there. Most teams run the Zenyatta for his ultimate which is the best defensive ability in the game. But other than that, they provide a little bit of healing for teammates and the valuable Discord Orb to target down specific enemies. But Jjonak and Zenyatta’s right click ability where he charges his orbs to send out is frightening. He is the only player who consistently shuts down flanking Tracers and puts out more damage than some DPS players. As someone who plays this hero, this is so difficult. Also what helps his success is his partner, Ark. Widely considered to be the best Mercy in stage one, he has continued that trend in stage two. You can usually find him damage-boosting Jjonak in the back and somehow healing anyone who needs it. If there has ever been a player who looks like he can be everywhere at once, it’s him.
But who is the MVP of this match? Saebyeolbe got off to a tepid start on the first two maps but turned it on after halftime. Libero? I think everyone was surprised to see him handle Carpe on Widow as well as he did along with his stellar Pharah play. Mano or Meko? I feel like tanks get the short end of the stick, but these guys played out of their minds. However, for the second time, I’m awarding a dual MVP to both Jjonak and Ark. Jjonak offers something entirely different from other Zenyatta players in the league and you can’t ask for a better defensive support than Ark. And in the final, they were spectacular.
And that’s half of the inaugural Overwatch League season halfway done! This has been more exciting and enjoyable than I ever imagined it would be and it will be difficult to wait until April 4th to watch some more matches. But, next week I’ll let you know my predictions for week one of stage three along with some teams, players and storylines to watch out for heading into the final half of the season.