By Steven Toroni
With the new meta established going into Stage 2, every team in the Overwatch League had adjustments to make prior to Week One. With teams chasing Ji-Hyeok “Birdring” Kim and the London Spitfire for a chance at a title match in Stage 2, teams are trying different approaches in matches to figure out what works for them. Each team plays differently, so learning and countering opponents is going to be the key for success.
Week One saw London fall to the Houston Outlaws, a team they handled with ease in the Stage 1 final. Houston made the proper corrections to their meta and prevailed victorious because of it. Week One provided many examples of this as teams displayed many different Hero combinations. Let’s take a look at what strategies worked in Week One and project how teams will execute in Week Two.
Simply put, the Uprising got spanked in Week One by the Philadelphia Fusion. Perhaps the team coming into Stage 2 with the most promise to improve, they fell flat in disappointing fashion to Philadelphia, who was led by Josue “EQO” Corona.
EQO was a wrecking machine in his Overwatch League debut as he used Genji to record 94 eliminations, including 51 final blows, which amounted to 37,047 total damage done in the contest. In the first two maps, Boston’s best offensive player, Jonathon “Dreamkazper” Sanchez was running Soldier: 76, which just did not work for Boston. The idea may have been to use their best threat; putting him in a role where he could self-heal, and having one other support being responsible for healing the rest of the Uprising. But, EQO was too dominant for this strategy.
When Dreamkazper switched to Genji they had more success, but ultimately the Uprising would fall after three maps. In Week Two, look for Boston to correct their plan of attack. They will be facing the juggernaut that is the New York Excelsior on Thursday, March 1 so their margin for error will be even slimmer than in Week One.
In the match against the Fusion, Boston played more cohesive with two support players once Dreamkazper switched to Genji, but was met with limited success. The combination of Lucio and Moira allowed players like Young-Jin “Gamsu” Noh to run wild with less abandon as Winston. The Uprising went on to lose against the Houston Outlaws in Week One; starting 0-2 was likely not something the highly-anticipated Boston Uprising had in mind.
The Los Angeles Valiant got the best of the Seoul Dynasty in Stage 1 in a match that would eliminate the Dynasty from a chance at an Overwatch League title match. As fate would have it, the two teams would battle it out on day one of Stage 2. Seoul made a crucial mistake in said match-up when they substituted their best player, Byung-Sun “FLETA” Kim out in clutch moments of the game. Knowing that teams would attempt a variety of hero combos with the new meta, Seoul went into this match ready to adjust on the fly using the talented FLETA.
The new meta has pushed teams to use Soldier: 76 more, since he has the ability to self-heal. While Seoul was able to win the first map last week, led by a brilliant display of Tracer from Jun-Hyeok “Bunny” Shae, Brad “Agilities” Girardi was able to stay alive for sustained periods of time and do massive damage to the Dynasty. After starting off map one hot, Agilities was taken out by a lethal combo of FLETA’s EMP as Sombra (wiping out Agilities’ ability to heal) and Jun-Hyuk “Miro” Gong’s Primal Rage as Winston delivering the final blow. Agilities was put in check and Seoul would go on the win the match.
FLETA’s bread and butter is playing from the outside, but when his team needs him to, he is great at delivering the necessary execution regardless of the Hero. Look for Seoul to keep running Bunny as Tracer with a Lucio (run beautifully by “Jin-Mo “Tobi” Yang) and a Zenyatta and two tanks while FLETA acts as a flex and makes on-the-fly adjustments.
The Outlaws looked to seek revenge on the undisputed Overwatch League champions of Stage 1, London, as they fell to them in the opening title match. It has been speculated that the Seoul Dynasty were more deserving of the opportunity so Houston has something to prove in Stage 2.
The Outlaws came out in Stage 1 and shocked the London Spitfire in Week One. Birdring as Genji and Jun-Young “Profit” Park as Tracer would lead an offensive charge that would put London up early by one map. They were outsmarting Houston by countering their Sombra meta with competent Zenyatta play that was able to deliver orbs to teammates before the Sombra could Hack London’s players.
In a hail-mary of an attempt, Houston completely overhauled their meta and switched to a three-tank approach with two support and a Hanzo (an extremely rare hero choice in the Overwatch League) and London could not do anything to contest the point in map three.
Houston closed things off with an aggressive approach as they ran a Tracer and a Soldier:76 with two tanks and a Lucio and Zenyatta. Look for this strong Houston Outlaw team to continue to use this meta, occasionally switching out the Soldier: 76 for Genji. Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin proved to be a threat as DPS Heroes in Stage 1, and Week One of Stage 2 was no different. Linkzr should continue to see the independent workload moving forward while Houston continues to use two or three tanks depending on the map and opponent.