There’s always something new in Overwatch. New heroes are introduced throughout the year, new metas emerge and evolve, new faces show up and show off, and right now it seems like new records are being set every week. That’s not to say, though, that we can’t enjoy a good throwback every now and then, reminding us of the good old days and bringing back beautiful memories. Week 3 of Stage 2 gave us reasons to celebrate both the new and the old, and everything in between.
1. Sometimes, an old problem just needs to be tackled from a new angle. That’s what the Charge did this week as they tried to break out of an extended slump and avoid setting an unenviable map-streak loss record. Triple-tank, triple-support just wasn’t working for them—so they added Doomfist to the mix. Naturally. It didn’t quite work against Hangzhou, resulting in a narrow 3-2 loss (map futility streak avoided, though!), but Yiliang “Eileen” Ou tried it a second time against Atlanta on Sunday, and the result was much different.
“Compared to other teams, we just weren’t good enough at 3-3, so we tried something that we thought we’d be good at, which is Eileen’s Doomfist,” support Jin-Seo “Shu” Kim explained after their 3-1 win. “In scrims it actually went well, so that’s why we made that change. Other teams are not really aware of this comp. We expected them to be confused, and it actually worked.”
The victory snapped a seven-game losing streak, but it wasn’t easy. The two teams set a league record with a combined 33 map points, including a 7-6 scoreline on Hanamura and an 8-7 finish on King’s Row. Part of the problem was that neither team could manage to engineer a strong defense. Put together enough speedruns, and you get a marathon.
Shu wasn’t complaining, though. “Everyone onstage was excited and actually really enjoying the game,” he said.
Anyone watching would agree.
2. What happens when you fumble a 94.3 percent chance of winning, as the NYXL did on Friday against Atlanta? The shocking 3-1 victory for the Reign resulted in a swing of nearly 35 Elo points. Before the match, Ben “CaptainPlanet” Trautman had a note in an internal stats document that this was the highest probability of a 4-0 finish recorded thus far by his simulator—but hey, that's why we play the games.
* Read more about Elo and the match simulator here!
What a bizarre two weeks for the Reign, though. Last week, they lost to the previously winless Los Angeles Valiant. This week, well, you know. Hey, guess what—their final outing of Stage 2 is a rematch against the NYXL. Pick ’em leagues across the world are sweating.
3. With each passing week, I become more convinced that the Vancouver Titans are a black hole when it comes to absorbing pressure. They simply don’t cave, no matter how unsalvageable the situation is. Their 4-0 win over Boston on Sunday, though decisive on paper, gave us probably the single tensest map of the week on Paris:
After Boston slogged out both points, it was Vancouver’s turn to attack, and they ran up against a Bastion bunker comp that seemed impenetrable. The Titans tried everything: a Symmetra maneuver, a standard 3-3 with Reinhardt and Ana, then the Winston variation. The Uprising held strong.
Finally, as the clock ticked down to overtime, Vancouver went to work. You already know how it ends, but it’s worth highlighting the exquisite decision-making throughout that entire sequence, all the little wins the Titans racked up—not dying to Junkrat’s tire, Sombra’s timely hack onto D.Va, the peel for their Zenyatta, their own D.Va staying alive through a Bastion ult. Vancouver usually wins by brute force; this was death by a thousand papercuts.
4. Time for some Week 3 superlatives:
Another impressive footnote from that Boston-Vancouver match was the Uprising setting the third-fastest attack time on Watchpoint: Gibraltar. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Dragons set the fourth-fastest attack time on Rialto in their 3-1 win over Florida.
Jin-Mo “Tobi” Yang helped the Seoul Dynasty claim their first win of the stage with a vintage performance on his most famous hero:
Tobi didn't just set a single-map environmental kill record (8 on Eichenwalde), but he also set an entire-match environmental kill record (9). Previous records were 6 (by Muma) and 7 (tie between several lucios) respectively.— Ben Trautman (@CaptainPlanetOW) April 21, 2019
The biggest milestone reached this week was, of course, San Francisco’s league-record 20-map win streak, which they achieved with 4-0 sweeps over Toronto and Hangzhou. There has been more separation between the league’s best teams and the rest of the field in Stage 2—four teams remain undefeated after three weeks—but to not drop a single map, no matter the opponent, is impressive indeed.
5. After the Shock’s fifth-consecutive sweep, Dong-Jun “Rascal” Kim told me that he actually didn’t realize that the team was so close to the record, but it comes with the territory. The last map they dropped was the final map of the Stage 1 Finals, and that’s something that has stuck with the team all stage.
“It was regrettable coming in second place, so we wanted to rely on each other and support each other even more,” Rascal said. “If we worked just a little more, we’d definitely get there, so that gave us a lot of confidence going into Stage 2.”
How confident, exactly, are the Shock right now?
“Whether it’s New York or Vancouver, I think we’ll be able to beat them,” Rascal said.
The team’s confidence isn’t baseless, according to the scoreboard. Rascal told me that San Francisco’s biggest strengths are their preparation going into each match, and their flexibility. Of course, the Shock have rarely had to deviate from 3-3 this stage, but they have been one of the only teams that has seamlessly incorporated Baptiste into specific map strategies, due in part to Rascal’s ability to get the most out of his diverse toolkit.
“I think Baptiste does catch some teams off-guard, in my opinion,” Rascal explained. “Even for us, we’re not perfect at using Baptiste, even though we’re one of the stronger teams at it. It just shows how complex it is to prepare against it—it’s still too early for teams to adapt. Even if we were to play a really strong team, Baptiste is a wild card that we can use to catch them off-guard.”
6. Another hallmark of the Shock’s current run is how oppressive they’ve been, often pushing opponents back into their spawn and, in some cases, trapping them there with a knockout Graviton Surge. I asked Rascal how San Francisco developed that aspect of their playstyle.
“At first it just happened in scrims because Sinatraa really likes to make our opponents feel helpless,” he told me. “Later on, we started getting good at it, so we’re one of the few teams that spawn-camps the enemy a lot. Other teams aren’t too used to fighting it.”
Tilting the other team doesn’t hurt, right?
Rascal laughed. “That’s the biggest reason why we do it.”
7. Week 3 was also a showcase for some spectacular old tricks. Case in point: Tobi reminding the world that Lúcio can, in fact, be a carry:
It was the kind of performance, alongside Je-Hong “Ryujehong” Ryu’s Ana heroics, that instantly transported old fans back to the heyday of Lunatic-Hai, even though it’s 2019 and the demands asked of this hero have changed.
“Before, I probably would have played more defensive, but now in the 3-3 meta I've changed my style to be more aggressive,” Tobi said.
His heroics against Dallas helped Seoul win their first match of the stage, one that’s extremely backloaded (four matches over the last two weeks) and extremely tough due to the fact that they were scheduled to play Vancouver twice.
The first match was a 3-1 win that the Titans made look easy, but Tobi told me that the Dynasty took away some key lessons from that first encounter. “I think we learned how to figure out what they were looking for in terms of specific targets,” he explained. “How they use ultimates in specific moments, or Lúcio boops to separate someone to break up our formation and focus us down, using Ana, these kind of things—I think we've learned a bit about how to respond to that.”
8. Tobi’s single-match record was the highlight of a great weekend for Lúcio players, and it made me curious about the overall environmental-kill leaders among Lúcio players for the 2019 season. Courtesy of CaptainPlanet, here’s the court of boop barons:
- BigGoose (Gladiators): 35
- Masaa (Reign): 35
- Slime (Titans): 33
- Moth (Shock): 30
- IDK (Spark): 26
9. We could have as many as four teams finish with 7-0 records in Stage 2, which is unprecedented. The Shock, Titans, Gladiators, and Spitfire are all still undefeated, and none of them play each other for the remainder of the stage. We should see at least three of them onstage in the Stage 2 Playoffs, and I’m already salivating at some of the potential matchups.
10. Lastly, thanks to Atlanta support Dusttin “Dogman” Bowerman for being such a good sport about this and making history as the first live-broadcast haircut in the Overwatch League:
For Week 4, the Overwatch League hits the road for the Dallas Fuel Homestand Weekend. The matches kick off Saturday, April 27, at 9 a.m. PDT, when the Eternal (5-6) take on the Spitfire (7-4). Watch all 2019 season matches live and on demand on overwatchleague.com, the Overwatch League app, our Twitch channel, MLG.com, and the MLG app.