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Everything you need to know about Stage 2 of the Overwatch League

Overwatch Contenders, the path for talented players to the Overwatch League. (Photo: Robert Paul / Blizzard Entertainment)
Expert
28th February, 2018
2

The Overwatch League has entered Stage 2 of the competition and like I’ve said before, this means things are about to get interesting.

There’s been changes to the game, the players and the scheduling and with more to come, it’s easy for things to get a little bit mixed up. If you’re new to the league, or just want some brushing up, here is everything you need to know about the latest round of professional Overwatch.

As with every stage change in Overwatch, a new roster of maps has been put into play. Not only are new maps a nice change visually, but they can also fundamentally change the way the game is played.

Different terrain will always favour different heroes, compositions and teams. For this reason it’s important to have consistent maps across the board during a stage but also to rotate them fairly. Seeing teams adjust to new map types will force changes to play styles and heroes especially with the current uncertainty in the meta.

Something that makes Stage 2 very different from Stage 1 is the meta isn’t set yet. This means teams are still finding the best combination of heroes and play styles to use on different maps and modes.

Stage 1 favoured a dive composition of heroes who could get in and out quickly, built around Mercy’s resurrect abilities. While dive teams are still favoured, now that Mercy has been nerfed all sorts of heroes are being played and it makes for some exciting games.

The lack of Mercy also changes the way teams work as a whole. Watching the past week of games has seen teams punished for mistakes that would otherwise be bandaged by a quick resurrect.

With the right momentum, a team can take advantage of the enemies’ blunders and railroad much faster, making for some speedy sudden finishes and potentially more upsets.

There still seems to be a bit of skill disparity between teams and 0 – 4 matches continue to be common. However, this shift has seen top dogs London Spitfire lose to Houston Outlaws, who they previously defeated to go on to the finals of the last stage.

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Even the second lowest ranking team, Florida Mayhem, managed to score a map win from Stage 1 runner-ups New York Excelsior though they did lose the overall game.

With the hero changes also comes new players. Not only is this a chance to see players who might not have been used in the previous meta, but many teams have signed brand new talent.

Perhaps the biggest to watch in all this is Shanghai Dragons who currently sit at the bottom of the league and have picked up four new Korean players. They include Kim ‘Geguri’ Se-Yeon, a top-tier Zarya main and off tank who has been surprisingly missing from the league.

This injection of talent has the potential to boost the Dragons out of last place but whether or not team cohesion will take a hit will also be interesting to watch.

Notably, Florida Mayhem have also signed a few new players and an assistant coach. Most of their new players come from the South Korean non-league team Meta Athena.

Unfortunately, both Florida and Shanghai will have to wait a few weeks until the visas clear before we can see these players in action.

Other teams have mixed things up with transfers between the league and London Spitfire have been hit the hardest losing both Fissure to the LA Gladiators and Rascal to Dallas Fuel. This is likely due to the team’s large lineup and players not getting their desired amount of playtime or attention.

Spitfire coach Beam-Joon ‘Bishop’ Lee has even said, “Rascal has always wanted to be on the main roster, and voiced his wish to be the head of a snake rather than the tail of a dragon”.

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While exciting, this also leads to some sloppy play which may take some forgiving. It’s important to understand these changes or at least know they’ve happened in order to appreciate both the blunders and triumphs to come.

I’ve seen several points captured seemingly without the opposing team realising as well as accidental ultimate usage. Both aren’t really something you would usually expect from this high of play. Understanding the amount of change many of these players are dealing with goes a long way to explaining these little gaffes.

This perfect storm of map, meta and player changes in the current stage make for a season where everyone is finding their feet. Now more than ever you can expect teams to make mistakes or to find outrageous solutions.

Watching this current stage of Overwatch is going to be watching a game that’s still very much taking shape and ironing out many of its kinks.

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