February 20, 2018 by coachcarter717
(Courtesy of Boston Uprising Twitter)
Written by Carter Cotrupi
In part 2 of the Stage 1 team notes, I look at four teams that weren’t consistent enough to break into the playoffs. These teams have the pieces to compete with the top four squads, but some reworks are in order before they can climb the ladder.
Los Angles Gladiators: 4-6 (8th)
Strengths- I think that the Gladiators hit a rough patch at the wrong time with the Stage 1 playoffs right around the corner. Earlier in the season, the Gladiators were separating themselves from the pack, showing off their fluid teamwork and coordination. However, the more matches they played using the same strategies, the more it seemed like their opponents had them figured out. Stage 2 should be a good time for LA to throw some curveballs at their opponents. With no Mercy to cancel out important frags, the DPS synergy between SureFour, Asher, and Hydration will be firing on all cylinders.
Weaknesses- The Gladiators are loaded with talent, but as a team they have some major consistency issues. This is a team whose final Stage 1 ranking perfectly matches their performance. Just above the four bottom-feeders, but nowhere near the top of the mid-card. Four out of their six losses were characterized by a 0-4 sweep by the opposing team. Their only win outside of the bottom four teams came from a 3-2 slugfest against the up-and-down Philadelphia Fusion in Week 2.
In terms of specific player critiques, the Gladiators have some key positions that require a closer look. The support duo of Shaz and BigGoose have some of the best maneuverability to dodge flanking enemies, but both are too dependent on their tanks for protection. The enemy DPS has an easy time isolating the supports from their tanks and that leads to easy team fight wins. I would like to see them work on punishing flanking DPS one-on-one instead of trying to outmaneuver them.
Notes- The main tank duo of Luis “iRemiix” Galarza Figueroa and Aaron “Bischu” Kim may not end up on the highlight reel like their DPS teammates, but they are the center of this Gladiators team. Just watch any of the interviews where they talk about their past experiences playing Overwatch and you can tell how well their real-life bond translates to their gameplay. LA has a unique advantage in their Korean-English language barrier with Kim acting as an in-game translator between Jun-sung “Asher” Choi and the rest of the squad.
Like Dallas, LA has the general roster needed to go for a playoff push, but they need to focus on mixing up their predictable game plans. Figueroa and Kim end up calling the shots because of their central viewpoint as tanks during each team fight. If the rest of the Gladiators can fall in line under their shot-calling, then this team could be a terrible force to reckon with.
Philadelphia Fusion: 5-4 (7th)
Strengths- Out of these mid-tier teams, the Fusion have the best individual talents on their roster. Up until Week 5 of Stage 1, they were in the running to overtake teams like Seoul and the LA Valiant in the final standings thanks to incredible showings from their DPS duo of ShadowBurn and Carpe. Think of the one-two punch of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram in the NFL this year and that is the kind of production these two bring to the table.
Weaknesses- The rest of the Fusion lineup seem to have a hard time capitalizing on the important picks made by their DPS heroes. Fragi is always on the wrong side of the kill feed because of how often he overextends, and Neptuno takes unnecessary risks as a support player that keeps him out of the fight. You hear analysts use the term “lost” quite often in sports, but the Fusion have looked lost since they declined to participate in the OWL preseason due to “player logistics issues”.
Notes- ShadowBurn and Carpe gel together so well and I would argue that they have the best carry potential out of any DPS duo in the league. Give these two an aggressive tank line and supports with better survivability and Philly would climb the ranks in due time. I’d like to see Philly switch out Fragi to try out another tank player on the Winston until he improves on his survivability as a main tank.
Boston Uprising: 6-4 (6th)
Strengths- If you need a tutorial for how to run the perfect dive comp, you could watch any of the matches the Uprising have played so far. Seriously, when this team executes a dive perfectly, it’s like watching the 4th quarter comeback in Super bowl LII: pure ecstasy. Boston is perhaps the most disciplined non-Korean team thanks to the management style and player-focused development under team President Chris ‘HuK’ Loranger. HuK or “The Pres” has experience as a pro esports player himself along with coaching, consultation, and project management within the industry.
Weaknesses- Unfortunately, Boston’s greatest strength proved to be the most predictable strategy once they met the anti-dive playstyle of the Houston Outlaws in their do-or-die playoff contention match. Main support “Kellex” sometimes struggles to keep himself out of the crossfire as Mercy during team fights, but he has shown great game sense when it counts and is highly active in the team comms. I have yet to see him play Moira or Lucio, so we’ll see if his role changes in the non-Mercy meta.
Notes- Besides the hard-hitting yet flexible DPS duo of Dreamkazper and Striker, the Uprising roster consists of lesser known Overwatch pros. Because of this, the team was almost unanimously predicted to sulk in 12th place before the start of OWL. The Uprising managed to build a solid roster without dynamic star power and the team mentality quickly shifted from underdogs to contenders by the end of the preseason.
President HuK made it clear that the main priority was recruiting players who would contribute to the best team chemistry instead of buying-in on top names in the pro scene. The result has been exceptional for a group with little experience playing together. What Boston needs to do is shake things up and extend their comp variations under the same guise as their disciplined dive attack. The team has shown that players like NotE can come in midseason and contribute. Players like Neko and Striker can hold their own when flexing to an off-tank role, so perhaps we’ll see an old dog learn some new tricks.
Seoul Dynasty: 7-3 (5th)
Strengths- Seoul Dynasty were perhaps the most feared team throughout Stage 1. Despite missing the playoffs, the former Lunatic Hai squad demands respect due to their impressive mechanical skills. The DPS God Fleta came bursting out of the gates, daring anyone to try to take him down. No one expected Zunba to have such an impact playing Zarya and the support duo of Tobi and Ryujehong continue to dominate their counterparts. The best part? The Dynasty have yet to show all of their cards.
Weaknesses- If there was one team that held the psychological advantage against every opponent at the start of the season, it was the Dynasty. Western teams knew of the dominant skill level that the members of Lunatic Hai possessed, and the media coverage of OWL made this team look untouchable. But the veil has been lifted and the famous mantra “Even a God can bleed” would echo in each of their three losses.
Notes- The importance of Seoul’s support duo of Ryujehong and Tobi cannot be emphasized enough. The Dynasty are a different team when Ryujehong, the steak-loving behemoth, is not in the lineup, as evident by their loss to the Outlaws in Week 4 when he was inexplicably absent from the rotation. He is by far the best Zenyatta player in OWL and he does not shy away from dueling DPS opponents trying to flank him (he often wins those duels anyways). His unique skill level allows him to play as a hybrid support/third DPS, dealing an equal amount of damage and healing.
Tobi is the sole leader and shot-caller of the Dynasty and works as the main bridge between Seoul’s coaches and players. I would imagine that having one person calling the shots would maintain a cleaner and more organized voice chat amongst the team in-game. If you thought the support duo looked great in the Mercy meta, then get ready to see their best heroes on display more often in Stage 2. Tobi’s famous for playing Lucio while Ryujehong will up his playtime on Ana to match his stellar Zenyatta form. Look out.