February 19, 2018 by coachcarter717
(Courtesy of Florida Mayhem Twitter)
Written by Carter Cotrupi
Stage 1 is behind us and Stage 2 is just days away after a well-deserved break. The London Spitfire now have a Stage title to defend after pulling off an exciting reverse sweep on the goliath New York Excelsior team. With the nerfs to Mercy and Junkrat now in effect for the start of Stage 2, the team compositions should get a nice shakeup from what we saw in previous weeks.
There are some teams that need to go back to the drawing board and others that have just one missing piece in the machine before they can contend for a Stage championship.
With twelve teams and a lot to say, this ‘team notes’ analysis will be separated into three articles.
Note: the analysis detailed in these articles are observational notes coming from a traditional sports fan turned esports fanatic. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I am invested in seeing the Overwatch League continue to grow and evolve past the ceiling marked by previous efforts to popularize esports. And that growth starts with the founding 12 teams.
Shanghai Dragons: 0-10 (12th)
(Courtesy of Shanghai Dragons)
Strengths- “Undead” is the obvious star player for the Shanghai Dragons. He is the most consistent player on the roster and undoubtedly the lifeblood of the team. Diya is a passable Tracer that supports Undead’s heroic Genji, Widowmaker, and McCree play, but doesn’t pose enough of a threat to distract opponents from picking out Undead in every team fight.
Weaknesses- With a map win against Seoul Dynasty and several instances of going toe-to-toe with the best teams in the league, Shanghai is proof that the skill gap in OWL is small. The obvious flaw in Shanghai’s lineup is the tank play, which is perhaps the easiest role to fix with the right additions. The current lineup of “MG” and “Roshan” have been outmatched by their tank counterparts in most of their matchups, leaving the squishy DPS and support heroes with no protection.
Notes- Recent updates from the Dragons mentioned the team has signed a few new players to their roster. Some of the most notable signings include South Korean Zarya player Kim “Geguri” Se-hyeon, Mystic tank captain Lee “Fearless” Eui-Seok and MVP Space flex Cheon “Ado” Ki-hyun. For an expanded list of all the team signings, check out this article.
The new signees should give the Dragons an immediate upgrade to their lineup, especially at the tank position. But the real pressing issue is the simmering team chemistry, which will take a step back with the South Koreans integrating with the current Chinese lineup. I don’t think the Dragons are the Cleveland Browns of the OWL. I believe they will get better with more time and experience as a unit.
Florida Mayhem: 1-9 (11th)
Strengths- The team’s main strength? Florida Mayhem is having the most fun out there on the Blizzard Arena stage. Just watch any of their creative entrances at the start of their matches and you will agree. I hope we see Logix play more Tracer in the future because that seems to be the character he excels with. Opposite him is Tviq who may not be the best DPS in the league, but he is certainly not someone you can ignore when he’s on the Pharah or Junkrat.
Weaknesses- The main con with Florida in Stage 1 was that they only had six people on the roster, which left no room for creativity in their strategies. This was fixed as they have signed a couple more players (in addition to “Zappis”). Until we see this new depth in the Mayhem roster utilized properly, their game plan will be read like a book. There is only so much that one lineup can practice before they start overexerting themselves too much.
Notes- The Mayhem is a team that ebbs and flows together. There is rarely a time when you see one or two players carrying the team to victory. Overall, I think Logix on the Tracer has to be the most effective player on the Mayhem regardless of the matchup (though we don’t see it run as often as it should be). Florida might want to spend less time planning their stage entrances and more time improving their in-game performance (although their entrances are top-notch).
Dallas Fuel: 3-7 (10th)
Strengths- As one of three OWL teams to sign an existing squad (Team Envy) together, I really expected better synergy from the Fuel. This is a team that could easily rise into the top half of the league standings if they consistently performed up to their high ceiling. The addition of “aKm” could act as a necessary spark for competition among the star DPS players on the Dallas Fuel roster in the same way that a veteran running back in the NFL doesn’t want to get overtaken by a rookie.
Weaknesses- Dallas seems to be the easiest to shake up emotionally when things don’t go their way. The hours that go into practicing team communication every week all seem to disappear when their opponents upstage them. Honestly, you wouldn’t be able to tell that the Fuel roster has a long tenure as a team just by watching their performance so far in OWL. What seems to frustrate the players the most is the mechanical slump that stars like Taimou have experienced since joining OWL.
Notes- Seagull is the lone bright spot on the Fuel not just because he is the x-factor at any given moment during a match, but because he has the best understanding of what his team needs to work on to turn things around. It’s a shame that he’s been flipping back and forth between a Junkrat one-trick and a bench player. History shows the team likes to experiment with many non-traditional lineups inside the existing meta. In that spirit, I think Seagull should be pushed to the front a lot more often for Stage 2.
San Francisco Shock: 3-7 (9th)
(Courtesy of Activision Blizzard Inc.)
Strengths- These guys went toe-to-toe with Seoul in an exciting 2-3 loss when everyone expected a clean 4-0 sweep by the Dynasty. As a viewer, it looks like “Dhak” will benefit the most out of any support player in the league once the Mercy nerf comes into play in Stage 2. Watching him on the Lucio, you can see why it’s his favorite character. The guy moves so smoothly around the map and manages his abilities much more effectively than when he’s forced into the Mercy role.
Weaknesses- It looks like the Shock will never reach their full potential until star DPS player Jay “sinatraa” Won is eligible to play in the league. Won was part of Team USA in the Overwatch World Cup last year and is recognized as one of the best Tracer players in the pro scene. After signing a $150,000 contract ($100,000 more than the base OWL player salary), the 17-year old is active on the roster but not allowed to compete in any OWL matches until he comes of age March 18th (the final week of Stage 2).
Notes- Andrej BabyBay Francisty is the highlight of this San Francisco Shock team and has thrived so far in his solo-DPS role in Won’s absence. If sinatraa can amp up the threat level for the Shock’s Tracer play once he’s in the lineup, then that will free up Babybay to be even more effective in return.
Additional Note: the Shock have been at the forefront of OWL’s first major charity campaign. Fellow Shock teammates mocked Andrej’s first ever “MySpace-esque” Instagram picture, but then decided to use it in support of their initiative to be a positive influence in the gaming community.
Thus, the #babybaychallenge was born. According to the rules, each time someone posts a side-by-side picture of themselves (or an artistic substitute, such as a pet), the Shock will donate to the National Alliance on Mental Illness in San Francisco (NAMI-SF) which aims to help youth mental health programs in the area with support, education, and advocation for those with mental illnesses as well as their families. This is a great starting point for the Overwatch League as its teams continue to foster loyal fanbases and ever-growing communities.