By Steve Toroni
The Stage is set and the green flag is ready to drop for Stage 2 of the Overwatch League. Wednesday, February 21 will be the first sleight of matches, highlighted by the Los Angeles Valiant taking on the Seoul Dynasty. Both teams have something to prove as they just missed out on third place and the opportunity to compete in a title match during Stage 2.
Stage 1 was full of gamers who displayed masterful Overwatch play. Some of the best Overwatch players in the world who at one point tore up online competition on Battle.net now show off their talents in front of thousands of people on a national platform. Let’s take a look at what worked in Stage 1 for some of these high-profile gamers and how their teams plan on using them for Stage 2.
DreamKazper: Offense, Boston Uprising
Perhaps the best rags to riches story in Stage 1 was the Boston Uprising. A team compiled of skilled individuals, the Uprising had no prior experience playing with each other, unlike some of the better teams in the league. While Boston got off to a slow start, it helped that Jonathon “Dreamkazper” Sanchez took the role of offense to a whole other level. Most players in the Overwatch League run one specific Damage Per Second (DPS) Hero, but Dreamkazper consistently switches it up and is seemingly proficient with whomever he chooses.
In Stage 1, Dreamkazper often ran McCree, Genji, and Pharah and simply dominated the opposition. It was his clutch play that set him apart; being the one to dismantle teams just when Boston needed it, like in Map Three of Week Five’s match against the Valiant as Pharah and in Map Four in the same week against the Los Angeles Gladiators as Genji. In both matches the DPS achieved multiple kills when Boston found themselves needing it most.
In Stage 2 look for Boston to continue to have Lucas “NotE” Meissner run D.Va, who was one of the most successful in that role, while Nam-Ju “Striker” Gwon predominately runs Tracer to back up Dreamkazper in his offense role. Dreamkazper’s flexibility should be utilized even more as Boston looks to make a push towards a title match in Stage 2.
FLETA: Offense, Seoul Dynasty
One of the best players to run Widowmaker and Pharah in the Overwatch League, Byung-Sun “FLETA” Kim saved his team time and time again for the Dynasty in Stage 1.
In Week One against the Gladiators in a close match, Fleta excelled in Map Three (Ilios) as both heroes. Crucial kills from long-distance as Widowmaker continuously made it difficult for the Gladiators to get their attack started and switching to Pharah created chaos which disrupted his opponents for the remainder of the map. This would be what we would come to expect from FLETA as he lead the Seoul to a 7-3 record, ujst missing out on a chance at a title match.
In Stage 2 Seoul needs to utilize FLETA better as he can be flexible on offense with multiple heroes. However, as one of the most feared DPS players in the league, it is hard to contribute to the team if you are not playing. In Stage 1, Week Five against the Valiant, Los Angeles capitalized when FLETA was substituted out for Seok-Woo “Wekeed” Choi in an attempt to try and make a hard dive with Wekeed as Genji and a Tracer partner. This was cleverly countered by the Valiant and cost Seoul the match and a chance at a title match.
Look for Seoul to use FLETA more with more of a variety of heroes in Stage 2. At one point in his professional career he accounted for over 50 percent of eliminations for his team during his time with Flash Lux in the APEX League in Korea. Seoul will likely let FLETA do his thing with a wide variety of Heroes in Stage 2 as the Dynasty try and rebound from a disappointing Stage 1 finish.
Jjonak: Support, New York Excelsior
Seong-Hyun “Jjonak” Bang running Zenyatta is some of the most methodical and precise action one will see when analyzing Stage 1 matches. But, we saw some interesting developments in the final against London that could be foreshadowing for Stage 2 when it comes to New York’s strategy moving forward.
The new meta will see Mercy’s ultimate nerfed substantially, limiting her cast time and not providing a second Resurrection. This will have teams more inclined to run Lucio and Moira, since they provide area of effect healing, which would most likely be the duty of New York’s other Support player, Yeon-Jun “Ark” Hong. This meta may limit the need for Zenyatta (even though Jjonak has the ability to thrive in this role regardless of meta) since his role is more dive oriented, being able to heal divers with orbs while also boosting their DPS.
With this new meta, the three-tank strategy that the Excelsior used against the Spitfire may be seen more often around the league. In Map One of this final, New York was down three games before Jjonak switched from Zenyatta to Roadhog, accompanying their Orisa and D.Va to lead a successful New York comeback to take the Map. Jjonak as Roadhog was a beast and was able to be self-sufficient in healing himself, leaving Ark with the ability to focus on others. In Stage 2, look for New York to use this three-tank strategy more often with Jjonak as Roadhog. The Excelsior were close to winning it all in Stage 1 and Jjonak being put in this role more often could get them to an Overwatch League title in Stage 2.