With just a couple of weeks left in the Overwatch League, the simulation is falling apart. Sure, things have been unpredictable throughout, but I’m currently staring at the stage four standings and it says Washington Justice are first. First! They’ve won five games in a row after just two in the whole of the rest of the season. It’s almost as though making giant structural changes to your game and forcing them -- untested and unbalanced -- into your esport damages its competitive integrity somewhat. But hey, with how hard the League is leaning into the chaos, let’s oblige and join in.
Luckily, we can showcase both while still discussing Justice’s win streak. Their damage dealing players, Corey "Corey" Nigra and Ethan "Stratus" Yankel have been newly emboldened by the role lock introduced at the beginning of the stage. This is a difficult thing to analyse in-depth beyond “wow they have good aim” and “we broke our game’s meta in its eleventh hour.” And when you’re doing as the YouTubers do, you might as well crib from some of the website’s best content: earnestly enthusiastic clips montages.
But a damage duo is just that, a duo. Which means you can’t just go around giving Corey this treatment without giving Stratus his own time to shine.
It’s good. More of this please and thank you. Esports is silly and we should just embrace that.
Justice do actually deserve credit for their adaptability. You don’t see much Symmetra play in the League, as a rule, but they’re making it work, with Corey using her shield-breaking beam for victory on the Lijiang Tower map more than once.
If they had a chance to qualify for playoffs, I no longer have any doubts that they would take the championship and be the second-greatest comeback story of all time. (The first obviously being everything about the Shanghai Dragons). Unfortunately they’re already eliminated based on their prior performance. Elsewhere, the opposite is true, with teams who have already managed to lock in their playoff spots now looking lost and confused among this chaos.
The first team that Justice trounced was Vancouver Titans, but they at least seem to have bounced back to beat London Spitfire and Philadelphia Fusion. The same can’t be said for New York Excelsior, who had to face both Chengdu Hunters and Guangzhou Charge, both teams who had been keeping their damage dealers in top condition even through the tanks-heavy meta.
This same thing happened to Excelsior last year, and the same accusations of sandbagging – intentionally hiding their best strategies to give them an edge in playoffs – are arising. But true or not, it didn’t exactly work for them before, so it may just be that another lacklustre season ending is in the cards for them.
It’s worth noting that our other top-three team, San Francisco Shock, continue to look broadly unbothered by everything else being upset drastically around them. Some things never change. But that’s quite enough talk about actual results and metas. Here’s a man nearly destroying a cake.
Thank god the Guangzhou Charge have freed Joona "Fragi" Laine from his spot on the Philadelphia Fusion's bench, otherwise there would have been a dessert disaster.
With the meta still unsettled, it’s difficult to give you a glimpse at what’s popular, so let’s talk about a tank again. When hamster Hammond was first released, he was usually played in the main tank role despite not having the shielding abilities usually necessary for that class (think Reinhardt or Orisa). But it turns out there’s no need for a shield when you just park your big round body right on top of the teammate who needs defending, as Austin “Muma” Wilmot demonstrated this week.
The next two weeks are the last fortnight of the regular stage, with the second being the Los Angeles Valiant’s homestand weekend. (Yes, the games already take place in Los Angeles, but this is in a different bit of Los Angeles. Homestand!) There’s a lot going on then, with showdowns between the Shock and Titans, Excelsior and Titans, and of course the two Los Angeles teams going head to head. But it’s likely to be this next week that has the most implications for playoffs, with a whole slew of the middling teams still waiting to see whether or not they’ll make it into contention.
Teams to watch who are vying for a spot in the top eight include Seoul Dynasty and Shanghai Dragons, which is convenient because they’re playing each other on Thursday night. Others are trying to ensure that they at least make it into the top 12, who will have their own play-in to decide who makes it to the playoffs. Valiant is one of those, so fingers crossed their homestand gives them the boost they need.
And again, with how things went last year and how things are going right now, whoever qualifies in last place is almost certainly the one to watch. Los Angeles Valiant vs. San Francisco Shock in the grand finals, I'm calling it now.
Until then, here’s one of the oldest, most respected players in Overwatch, Ryu “Ryujehong” Jehong, explaining how to play Ana well. It’s a radical idea, but have you considered just hitting your targets?
And no, I’m not going to explain what’s happening with the duck masks in the header image. Because I don’t understand it myself despite having watched the entire thing.