Well, I was wrong, or perhaps, half wrong.
To be fair, I was far from alone on this one with pretty much all the Overwatch League analysts also expecting to see New York Excelsior and the Vancouver Titans meet in the Stage 1 finals.
Instead, we saw one of the biggest upsets of the season so far where Seoul Dynasty took out New York in the first playoffs match. Dynasty have always had a lot of potential as a team and have looked stronger than ever this season thanks to some changes to their lineup.
This includes the addition of former Gladiator’s main tank Fissure who’s known for some seriously high-level play.
Despite this, they’ve been inconsistent. I didn’t really expect them to make it to the playoffs and I certainly didn’t pick them to defeat New York, let alone in a fairly convincing 3-1 matchup.
I remarked before the match to friends that it was pretty unfair that Seoul would have to face off against the Excelsior first and thus almost certainly get knocked out of the running early. Then when they took down New York and I discovered their next fight was Vancouver Titans, this sentiment was repeated.
Unfortunately, for these black and gold underdogs, the Titans were just too strong. It’s often said that New York is by far the best team in the league and the Titans appear to be the first to really usurp that title.
They have similar methodical, perfect, and in some ways kind of boring play styles but it certainly gets the job done. Especially in this GOATS, three-three, or trip-nip meta.
They remained undefeated and went on to take down the San Francisco Shock in a fairly close 4-3 win. The matches themselves were incredibly close but in the end, it almost felt more like San Francisco lost to fatigue rather than Vancouver. This longer matchup seemed more a war of attrition for this team.
The Shock have been a huge surprise this season and dominated both Toronto Defiant and then Philadelphia Fusion with 3-0 and 4-0 victories in these playoffs. Almost taking it to the Titans at the end here is huge considering how far above some other teams they can feel.
Currently, it almost feels like we could split the league in two. There’s Toronto Defiant, San Francisco Shock, perhaps even still New York Excelsior based on history and if we want to sneak them in for this recent victory Seoul Dynasty (though realistically, they’re far too inconsistent).
Then there’s everyone else.
When these teams are playing their best they completely eclipse all the others. They’re not even necessarily the highest on the ladder but watching them dominate it’s hard to deny that their skill, when it’s going well, is just something else.
As per usual with the Overwatch League, this could all come to an abrupt halt and change in Stage 2.
There are some pretty significant patches coming through and that includes the addition of the newest hero Baptiste to the line-up.
Many were hoping that he might be what finally breaks the current play styles but I’m not sure that’s the case. If anything, he seems to be another hero that promotes sticking together and may only strengthen the current meta.
His clustered healing but perhaps, more importantly, his temporary invulnerability field both work on the team all being nice and close to receive full benefits.
That being said, I think he’s going to counter the use of ultimate combos nicely. Currently, games almost feel like an exact copy where a Zarya ultimate goes out followed by a D.Va bomb and if the other team is lucky they’ll have a Zen transcending to avoid any damage.
Having Baptiste come in with a non-ultimate ability which can save the team could mean teams need to be more inventive when it comes to these strategies and I am here for that.
There are also heaps of changes to existing heroes and it’s hard to know exactly how they’ll come into effect.
Lucio, for example, is a pretty regular choice for team compositions and he’s seen fairly significant nerfs to his speed boost ability which is a key part of getting teams moving quickly together as a unit.
Zenyatta, another support class, will be doing less damage which could be a big deal considering that’s his primary use in this meta. Moira, on the other hand now does more healing. These changes seem big on paper but maybe they won’t matter so much in a well-oiled team.
Something I’d like to see come into play from the patch notes is more McCree. His fan hammer has been nerfed but his ultimate has received a large buff in that it now does more damage in a shorter time-frame.
I don’t know if it’ll last long but I’m betting a few teams will be caught out by this, expecting to have more time when his ultimate is triggered at least in early matches. This could see a lot of cheesy team fight wins early in Stage 2 which could make for a lot of fun viewing.
Another DPS ultimate I’m curious to see the pros utilities is Widowmaker’s. It now reveals enemy health bars as well as locations which would allow players to focus down on injured opponents.
To compensate, her ultimate now stops when she dies so it’s likely we’ll see some slightly less aggressive play from snipers during that period.
Torbjorn is also getting buffs with extra armour. He’s already been used with some success, particularly by Atlanta Reign on Ilios during this first stage and hell I want to see more. Junkrat is also doing more damage and who doesn’t like a bit of Junkrat? Anything that’s not another tank or healer, please.
All in all, I’m just hoping for change. I’m glad we were at least half surprised by the Stage 1 finals but I think we’d all appreciate a less stagnant meta moving forward. I miss seeing DPS characters and the often flashy plays that come with them and I’m hoping Stage 2 will be the resurgence.