The Overwatch League is about to get interesting

Hope Corrigan Columnist

By Hope Corrigan, Hope Corrigan is a Roar Expert New author!


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    (Image: Blizzard Entertainment)

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    The last two weeks have sparked big changes in Stage 1 of the Overwatch League.

    Finally, we’ve witnessed western teams like the Boston Uprising and Philadelphia Fusion seeing victory over some of the powerhouse South Korean teams. Seoul Dynasty have been knocked off their seemingly unbeatable perch and all around upsets are starting to occur.

    No longer do I tune into a match and feel like I can predict the outcome – the massive skill discrepancy is starting to close and this coupled with changes coming to the game itself, can only mean for more intense, unpredictable, and interesting games.

    The Overwatch League had garnered the nickname 0-4 watch with the consistent railroad games, especially when coming up against one of the three South Korean teams. Even when a match point would sway, it almost felt as though it was on purpose to give the other team false hope or be more exciting for viewers.

    Watching the western teams get a small win up against the likes of London, Seoul, and New York was reminiscent of watching a cat toying with a certainly doomed mouse.

    Overwatch World Cup Shanghai Qualifier Stage

    (Image: Blizzard Entertainment)

    Korean teams come with such an advantage in culture and experience. Competitive gaming has been accepted and even coveted around the country for years before it properly hit western shores. The atmosphere comes with such expertise and skill that I’m honestly surprised we’re seeing upsets as early as we are.

    Pure Korean teams come with such an advantage that it’s a testament to the hard work from the western teams that we are starting to see them legitimately scratch at their armour.

    Watching the mid-ranking team, Boston Uprising take down the current number one spot holders, London Spitfire in a 3–2 match victory felt like the start in a truly competitive Overwatch League. While not devoid of Korean members, the Uprising is made up of a melting pot of different nationalities who, thanks in part to their victory, now hold the fifth position in overall standings.

    Philadelphia Fusion is another band of many nations who sit even further down in the rankings. They surprised everyone by taking down number two team New York Excelsior in another tight 3–2 match and while these victories aren’t enough to usurp Korea from the top three spots on the line-up, they spell change for the future.

    One of the biggest lessons other teams will have to learn before this top rank is truly disheveled is composure. The reason so many matches turn into 0–4 massacres is written all over the faces of the condemned teams.

    The ability to avoid being tilted, and shaken by those first games in a match are something that can only come with experience, and as the league is still so young is hopefully something we will see improve in time.

    Korean teams come with a level of composure and ability to fight back we aren’t yet seeing in many of the western players but like the overall skill gap, this can only get better with more exposure to the pressures of league.

    However, players aren’t the only thing changing for the better when it comes to spectating Overwatch League. This week brings the final portion of Stage 1 and so the last games before the latest game-changing patch come into effect.

    Healer Mercy, who is a ‘must pick’ for almost every team and map with her fight-winning Valkyrie ult has been nerfed by Blizzard. Her ability to immediately resurrect two players with this ability active has turned the usual 6v6 game into momentary 8v6 battles.

    Matches have been predictable holdbacks hoping to charge Valkyrie before the other team for that potential game-winning eight player push. It also creates a predictable dive team composition to perform around this ability and so team comp rarely sees much outside this hero build.

    A gamer uses a computer mouse illuminated with red lights while using a laptop computer at the Dreamhack digital festival in Moscow, Russia, on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015. Dreamhack is the world's largest digital festival and meeting place for gamers, fans and e-sport enthusiasts.

    (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

    Now the must-pick hero will only get one res during Valkyrie and it will take some time to pull off. This is a huge change and as such we should see some new compositions coming forward and possibly even some more hero variety.

    Lucio and Ana are support characters that have been almost non-existent this season due to the preferred Mercy and Zenyatta healing team. Not only will these changes deliver some interesting developments in hero compositions but also in watching how the teams react to the now unpredictable landscape.

    Everyone should tune into this next coming week of Overwatch as it may mark the end of this predictable loop of games.

    It’s the last chance to see the league as it currently stands and will likely hold some last-ditch upsets of its own. Players seem hungrier than ever rather than defeated by the previous weeks and the little victories serve to inspire more out of unexpected teams.

    Perhaps, more importantly, is to tune into the weeks following, as we are about to see a new level of Overwatch League where things are set to really get interesting.

    Hope Corrigan
    Hope Corrigan

    Hope has been writing about video games since 2012 and has no plans of stopping now. Generally, a healer main who just wants everyone to have fun.

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    The Crowd Says (5)

    • Roar Guru

      February 8th 2018 @ 9:22am
      Stirling Coates said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:22am | ! Report

      It’ll be interesting to see whether some of the struggling teams can pick it up with Mercy no longer being an auto-include.

      I remember one of Houston’s players flat out saying they knew they could knock off San Francisco because their support players don’t like using her. If Ana and Lucio can get back into the meta those teams could do a lot better too.

      • Columnist

        February 8th 2018 @ 9:54am
        Hope Corrigan said | February 8th 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

        She was definitely too necessary a pick and needed to be changed. I’m really looking forward to (hopefully) getting to see more Lucio plays. His mobility is so cool and fun to watch + environmental kills. I might also be a Lucio main… so a little biased here.

    • Roar Rookie

      February 9th 2018 @ 3:17pm
      Adam Heap said | February 9th 2018 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

      The Mercy patch has been long overdue and should really make the game more balanced for the other healers.

      Personally, I think Blizzard’s been 100% vindicated about the League. 100k viewers on average for every game – even for lower-profile teams – is exactly what they would have hoped for, and the closing skill gap is exactly what I predicted would happen. The finals for Stage 1 are going to be really interesting!

    • February 10th 2018 @ 2:53pm
      moustache_twirler said | February 10th 2018 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

      WHAT were the Dynasty doing during their match against the Valiant?

      Taking out the best DPS player in the league (Fleta) AND the best support player (Tobi) after losing the first map… AND putting the best Support flex player (Ryujehong) in the Mercy role???

      Surely they were throwing??

      They had almost 6 minutes to cap point A Anubis and touch point B, but failed to do so. Point A Anubis is the easiest point in the game.

      As you point out in your article… It’s no longer 4-0 Overwatch…


      • Columnist

        February 14th 2018 @ 10:34am
        Hope Corrigan said | February 14th 2018 @ 10:34am | ! Report

        Right! Dynasty were so on fire in the first few weeks and the distance they’ve fallen is incredible. One of the commentators was saying that their captain isn’t very good at disciplining his team but I feel like it’s got to be more than that. Very curious to see what they bring for the next stage.

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