What do ultimate’s, power, and temptation have to do with one another? Strategy and responsibility heading into the end of an Overwatch League match; in other words, with great ultimate’s, comes great responsibility. Numerous matches throughout week two of the Overwatch League season featured teams irresponsibly jumping the proverbial (and literal) gun to give opponents an early advantage. Hence, on a wider takeaway, the teams who played responsible individual matches (looking at the Philadelphia Fusion) powered their way through the second week of play. The teams that failed to cooperate and initiate advantageous matches lost all leverage. Juxtaposed to week one’s focus on the meta league shape, those who tuned into week two were granted with rich lessons in the game and case and points on how to play Overwatch.
And that might have been the best thing about this past week – the nuanced fans were richly rewarded with teams willing to change the meta. Certainly, the storyline could be about Felix “xQc” Lengyel of the Dallas Fuel being suspended, or the frustrating lack of intentional strategy the bottom teams furnish – and there will be discussion about those topics – but overall, the Overwatch League was able to delve into the chaos of the in-game moment with fun, passionate, and shocking matches.
Overwatch League Stage One Week Three – Ultimate, Power, and Temptation
Recap of Stage One, Week Two
Shock and awe started and ended the second week of play – no sooner would the Philadelphia Fusion and San Francisco Shock take the stage than the highlight rolls would begin. The tension was set by this match, and truly deserves a re-watch for any player who is seeking to delve into competitive play.
Georgii “ShaDowBurn” Guschcha of the Fusion rose the level of Genji player by initiating a chaos inducing, 16-player kill streak on the Temple of Anubis. His performance threw the Shock off their intrinsic plan, and tied the match at 1-1. Without cohesion, the Shock’s support players begin to waste ultimate’s by doubling up, using them at one time, in one spot. ShaDowBurn and Andrej “BabyBay” Francisty were incredible to watch go against one another, but alas, BabyBay’s veteran prose was not enough to give the Shock an advantage. Jae-Hyeok “Carpe” Lee was phenomenal as Tracer and Widowmaker, putting on a focused snipping clinic to take the player of the match.
Unfortunately, the latter two matches of the night were mere solidifications of the two worst teams in the league. The Seoul Dynasty and Houston Outlaws swept the Florida Mayhem and Shanghai Dragons respectively. The Dynasty managed to even embarrass the Mayhem with their secondary line up in – a haughty, but still effective decision.
Thursday was only more brooms until late in the evening. The Outlaws took quick care of the Dallas Fuel in a 4-0 showcase, while the New York Excelsior popped a brilliant strategy to run through the Los Angeles Valiant 3-0. The Valiant simply executed one, repeated strategy, appearing a bit absent minded until too late. Tae-Hon “Meko” Kim could become a very special tank for the Excelsior.
The last match of Thursday night showcased the Los Angeles Gladiators and Fusion in a dynamic matchup of equal opponents. The match was truly special as the Gladiators had to fight back from being down 2-0. Eventually frustration set in for the Fusion, and their individual matchups never came through – the Gladiators pulled out a 3-2, overtime win thanks to their fundamental team orientation.
Disparity among teams again headlined the beginning of Friday. The Dynasty shutout the Boston Uprising, and the Mayhem took the ‘best of the worst’ matchup in a sweep of the Dragons.
Then, the London Spitfire took the stage with brevity, austerity, and excitement. The team previously regarded as not versatile and too traditional was anything but. In fact, Ji-Hyeok “birdring” Kim and Chan-Hyung “Fissure” Baek lead the Spitfire’s ability to fundamentally transition on any attack, use their ultimate abilities with responsibility, while putting a focus on the opponent’s modus operandi of individual attacks.
Using DPS at front, with Tanks for support, and not a wide variety of fancy flanks may not perceptually intimidate on paper, unless the entire team flanks. The best part of the Spitfire is their ability to function throughout the entire map and transition their entire squad onto the point of defense or attack. In that style they beat the Fuel 3-1, then held off the Valiant from a resilient push by Brady “Agilities” Girardi on Saturday morning.
And to note, despite Agilities youth, he is coming into a league of his own with a renowned ability to substitute and change the flow of a game with literally agile pushes.
The latter two matches of Saturday may have not been overtly exciting. The Gladiators fell flat in a 4-0 loss to the Excelsior in which preparation was the emphasis. The Shock then won a close 3-2 matchup with the Uprising. Both teams displayed their inefficiencies, but do not sleep on the Shock just yet. Between BabyBay and Matthew “Super” DeLisi, they only need one defensive player to functionally rise to prominence, and they may start pushing the top tier teams.
Stage One Week Three Power Rankings
Lots of change this week, more correction, and maybe a bit of hyperbole on the Fusion. Their ability to push individual fights is incredible and almost unparalleled in the league. The poor marketing the Fusion have received has done a vastly intriguing squad a great disservice.
The Valiant did have some bad games this week, but they showed resiliency and correction. There are clear holes, but their talent deserves more time before dropping them farther. The Excelsior are the big question mark; they are just sitting at four and five being hyper efficient.
The Dallas Fuel looked pitiful this week, and while their team is talented, their strategy was utterly futile. In the match against the Houston Outlaws, they simply ran the same DPS units straight into a wall of tanks over and over again. Their drop may be corrected, but utter lack of creativity revealed gaping holes and was disappointing.
- Seoul Dynasty (Up from two)
- Los Angeles Valiant (Down from one)
- London Spitfire
- New York Excelsior (Up from five)
- Philadelphia Fusion (Up from nine)
- Los Angeles Gladiators
- Dallas Fuel (Down from four)
- San Francisco Shock
- Boston Uprising (Down from eight)
- Houston Outlaws (Up from 11)
- Florida Mayhem (Down from 10)
- Shanghai Dragons
The Temptation of Ultimate Power
Hinted at earlier, but now the leading diatribe for the strategic part of the week in review is temptation in utilizing ultimate power. The ultimate is intrinsically crafted into each hero to dramatically shift the pace of a game. However, utilizing a hero’s ultimate is not always wisest to be used as a large sweeping broom; often the best progress in a match is when a player sits on their ultimate and precisely times the use within the game plan.
Over the matches this week, teams won and lost based on either holding on to ultimate abilities or using them erratically. There is a bit of apropos maturity that comes with harnessing great power.
However, before going further, understand each hero typology has a different ultimate emphasis. Foremost, support heroes must tie their ultimate ability into the game plan with intrinsic purpose. Since support heroes can provide a sudden swath of health, their patience and foresight implicate sitting on their ultimate until it can be paired with a DPS push forward. Such complementary action creates order and harmony for the using team, and casts discord on the enemy.
Juxtaposed to the support is tank philosophy, specifically D.Va’s self-destruct (illustrated with perfection by the Fusion’s Gael “Poko” Goeuzerch), bestowing responsibility upon the user to perceive when they can create maximum chaos. Some tanks, DPS, and defender’s ultimate’s can be chaos inducing, and a huge part to disrupting a passionate offensive surge.
Take Junkrat’s RIP-Tire for example. Not only does the tire indicate sudden danger to the offense, but it perceptually will throw off an offense. Players must suddenly attempt to destroy Junkrat’s tire of doom before it wheels into the group and commences a team-sweep. The very sight of it is a distraction, and when timed with another ultimate (say a Lucio speed boost) the defense can push another team off the payload as the offense has too much to analzye.
Sometimes the best way to understand how to properly utilize something is understanding how others have mismanaged it. One of the problems the Shock and Fuel are experiencing is their passionate, erratic use of ultimate abilities. Often a Shock player would get their ultimate along side a partner, and then both would use it at the same time. This technique is especially egregious when two supports use it at the same time – there is only so much healing that a team can undergo.
Without proper and justified timing, ultimate’s will go to waste, and be used in the wrong scenario, either too early or too late.
One of the factors that have assisted the Dynasty, and even the Uprising, is their ability to sit on ultimate’s. During the Dynasty and Uprising’s match on Friday evening, there was an instance where all 12 players on the field had their ultimate ready to use. In the end, the Dynasty unleashed their six ultimate’s in a precise wave where each one complemented another.
And that complementary methodology is the best function of how to properly use an ultimate.
xQc Becomes First Suspended Player
Felix Lengyel of the Dallas Fuel was fined $2,000 and suspended four games for breaking the league’s code of conduct during his stream late Thursday evening. The Fuel went a step further, and suspended Lengyel until February 10, the start of Stage Two.
Lengyel was suspended for directing a homophobic and utterly vulgar statement at one of the Outlaws players who taunted him. He did not play in the 4-0 sweeping, but when streaming his review of the game later in the evening, he became incensed when Austin “Muma” Wilmot mimicked Lengyel’s catch phrase after dominating the Fuel.
The decision to suspend xQc was clear and necessary. The Overwatch League has set an emphasis on being verbose on professionalism. In some regards, the league has become the face of the game, and their players represent (or ideally should) the friendly, fun, and welcoming community that is Overwatch. Setting the tone for misbehavior and controversy was an excellent step for both Blizzard and the Fuel – if further incidents occur, there is now a clear precedent for punishment and a no tolerance policy. The less negative controversy in how matters are handled, the better.
Best Matchups to Watch
With three matchups per day, and each match ranging from 90 minutes to two hours, here is the (predicted) best match to watch each day of the week. (All times are in Pacific Standard Time)
Wednesday January 24th – Los Angeles Gladiators vs. Los Angeles Valiant (8PM)
The Gladiators and Valiant take the limelight on Wednesday night for dual reasons. First, this is the battle for Los Angeles; an oversold storyline, but an entertaining story none-the-less. Secondly, both teams are coming off frustrating losses and want to get back on the right foot. Expect a lot of variety with different rosters each set, aptly leading to a crazy finish with Genji chasing down a Tracer.
Thursday January 25th – Philadelphia Fusion vs. New York Excelsior (4PM)
The Fusion and Excelsior both have a lot to still show in this league, and are two teams with a plethora of potential to rise immediately. Observing how the Excelsior, a more team oriented approach utilizing set tanks, handle the Fusion’s bouncy reliance on sweeping ultimate’s will be fascinating. The Excelsior’s handling of support responsibility and flanks will be their key; the Fusion need to continue their sweeping ‘shock and awe’ bamboozles.
Friday January 26th – Dallas Fuel vs. San Francisco Shock (8PM)
Despite the Fuel looking wholly bereft of purpose last week, they did play some stalwart defenses. Against the agile, DPS-focused Shock, the Fuel could easily get back on track. However, they need to functionally handle the speed of BabyBay and Super. If BabyBay can puncture the Fuel defense, then the Shock have the stage to find their step-up player to create their own dynamic defense. Friday night will test offense (Shock) against a team whom has had better defensive prowess (the Fuel).
Saturday January 20th – Los Angeles Gladiators vs. Houston Outlaws (3PM)
The last match of the week creates a study in chaos creation. The Outlaws won last week because they played as a stalwart, experienced team. Week three will be about them continuing to come into their own as a spirited group. Meanwhile, the Gladiators are just kind of there. Their identity, other than chaos creation, is hard to pinpoint. Observe how they string together chaotic, DPS-speed on offense to break the Outlaws defense; a tactic which may offer a hint at their best functions. Then again, they might just be that team who needs to find a unique way to win each night.
Main Image: Blizzard Press Room – Andrej “BabyBay” Francisty