Overwatch League 2021: Week 3 Reactions and Analysis
Another week, another round of Overwatch League, and was it a bit of a doozy. This week featured the knockout round lead-up to the May Melee tournament and there were a few unexpected results.
Since the knockouts were this week, I’ll only be talking about the teams that qualified to play this time around. I apologize if this means your team won’t be covered, but it just makes it easier for me considering that 18 out of 20 teams played this weekend to some capacity. With that said, let’s get into it.
Washington Justice: Not All Bad
So, Washington ends this weekend on a bit of a sour note after taking down some rather weak-looking competition over the past two weeks. Still, I think there a few things to look forward to for them as their Overwatch League season progresses.
Again, I have to come back to Jerry. I think he was a big reason Washington was even able to pull out that Volskaya map against Florida. He constantly had tabs on BQB and especially Yaki on Tracer. On Dorado, the team just couldn’t really get him where he wanted to be on offense, but the defense almost resulted in a fuller hold. The Justice got the Mayhem down to under a minute before they finally finished. I’d say this is overall good. After their offense, every member of the Justice looked like they were in a sauna. Especially the rookie, Mag. My God were they all sweating hard though. In that kind of condition, I would’ve expected this squad to instantly fold like a house of cards on the defense, but they didn’t. It still wasn’t enough, but better than I could’ve hoped.
If they can clean up some of the holes in their gameplay and get solid play out of Jerry like on Volskaya, I think this team will still be in a good spot.
Florida Mayhem: Peaking At The Right Time
Florida made good on their schedule in the qualifiers with that Shock loss being a non-issue, apparently. Ever since their glow-up last season, the Mayhem has always struck me as a team very much like the Shock. In the sense that they display the same kind of confidence and disrespect for their opponents as the Shock do. Especially with Yaki on Mei. Tracer is probably his best hero, but he’s always been an absolutely disgusting Mei player in the best way possible. Every time he plays Mei he always does something that makes me want to barf, and that King’s Row hold against the Justice is just another example.
The Mayhem just have yet to prove that they’re actually better than the Shock. And it’s probably a big reason they took that 3-0 from them this week. The Shock still do play that disrespect game better than them. I suppose at this point, though, they don’t necessarily have to prove their better than San Francisco. Depending on how next week goes, they may not even have to face Dallas, and if they do, they get another week to attempt to download Dallas as a team now. Something that teams this week didn’t get the luxury of. And that’s even if the transitive property even matters anymore this season.
Regardless, the Overwatch League is all about playing at your peak at the right times. Especially with the shortened schedule. That’s what the Mayhem is doing. I’m very interested to see if they can keep this momentum going.
Toronto Defiant: Sheesh…
I don’t even know what to say about the Defiant after this week. They look like the team that probably leveled up the least after their first two games compared to other teams that played this week. Yes, that includes the Uprising, Valiant, Eternal, Spitfire, and Excelsior.
The Uprising at least took a map off of the Justice this week. Toronto couldn’t even score ONE DAMN POINT on ANY map against them… I mean, that had to have been the most one-sided match I’ve seen in a while. Look, there’s been a lot of 3-0’s this season so far, but I don’t think any of them resulted in the losing team never scoring a point on any of the three maps played. That was a complete shut-out in every sense of the word. Anubis was probably the closest the game ever got. And although they did win against London, it was still pretty messy.
They were basically all being outplayed at any juncture during both the Mayhem and Justice games. The most concerning issue—and there were a lot of them—was definitely Heesu getting hacked twice out of EMP in that Justice game. After establishing himself as such an intelligent Sombra in the Overwatch League last season, it was VERY uncharacteristic to see him get outplayed in such a fashion twice. I think this team needs to do some soul-searching because they put up very little resistance against the stronger-looking opponents this weekend, and the other teams I mentioned may be catching up to them faster than they think.
Dallas Fuel: Is This The Meta Now?
Watching Dallas this week was probably the most exciting thing. After just barely earning that 6th seed, edging out the Glads, they come out and rock both the Shock AND the Outlaws. All they needed was a chance to show what they can really do, and holy hell are they taking advantage of that chance. I don’t know what Crimzo was talking about in the sound bite he gave in week 1, (maybe someone can shed some light on that?) but it does not look like money is what’s saving this squad.
No hitscan. No problem. Just get really creative with the other projectile and short-range hitscan characters in the damage hero roster. This is what we love about Overwatch, and it says a lot about Dallas as a team. They may not all be playing what’s perceived to be the most viable damage heroes right now, but they have trust in each other as a unit to get the job done regardless. That’s an admirable quality about a team no matter which way you slice it. Houston is really the only other team we’ve seen get creative with the Symmetra teleports on different maps, I think. So, it brings joy to my heart that Dallas is really going the extra mile with her.
Whenever other Overwatch League teams start to figure out Dallas will come sooner or later. When it does, it still won’t take away from the strong teamwork and energy they’ve been displaying since week 1.
San Francisco Shock: Confidence Turned Hubris
Now, as a preface, I’m not one of those people who just want the Shock to lose because they win so much. No matter which way you slice it, they earn those wins by being better than the other team. Being mad about them for that is pretty idiotic in a competitive environment. I want to see other teams CHALLENGE the Shock. That is strictly on other teams getting better, not the Shock getting worse.
With that said, I honestly didn’t expect the Shock to be 3-0’d by another team in such a fashion, especially in such an important game. I don’t think anyone did aside from the most faithful of Dallas fans. At best, I expected Dallas to put up a good fight. I would’ve been perfectly satisfied with that, as I was with the Atlanta game. Instead, the Fuel gave the Shock a kick in the teeth.
As much as we want to meme about “Shock mad” after their loss to Houston, their confidence is slowly being transformed into hubris. This will, inevitably, happen to ANY confident team, so I’m also not going to point fingers at any one problem the Shock may or may not be having, either behind the scenes or not. Whatever revelation they had that compelled them to put Viol2t in on hitscan damage/Echo over these last couple matches wouldn’t even be questioned if the Shock continued as normal. It would simply be another example of their dominance and freedom to flex on opponents whenever they want.
In any competitive setting, it is any other teams’ goal to knock off the top team. And it’s a top team’s prerogative to ALWAYS be aware of this. Being a top team means that you have more slack to do whatever you want, and other teams WILL and SHOULD always try to take advantage of that. It doesn’t look like teams are going to stop doing it any time soon, and it was something most teams were incapable of doing last season anyway. Now, it just comes down to the Shock’s response. Is it really open season this year in the Overwatch League, or not?
Houston Outlaws: Ouch
I got to admit, I’m not even a Houston fan and I felt this one. You take down both Dallas and San Francisco in some close games in the same week. You’re then out here crushing teams in the next week while your in-state rival is just trying to keep their heads above .500. They then sweep San Francisco in a tournament setting before doing the same thing to you out of nowhere. I don’t think I’ve ever vicariously experienced a bigger ‘Bruh?’ moment than this.
If it’s any consolation, Houston can at least say they had a better performance against Dallas than San Francisco did, which, in itself, would be a ludicrous statement if it wasn’t true. Houston scored 5 points across 3 maps against Dallas, and those maps were pretty close, more or less. The Shock scored 2 points across 3 maps, so… I mean, you can only do so much in a 3-0, but Houston did manage to finish both Volskaya and Blizzard World with somewhat even time banks on both maps. As reassuring as that is, if at all, I can imagine this one really hurts. Hopefully, the players won’t be too down on themselves after this because they’re still doing REALLY well so far this season.
Shanghai Dragons: Fair Enough
So, a lot of teams in the Overwatch League have been showing that the power of improvement is a very dangerous thing so far this season. A lot more dangerous than we might want to give it credit for. The Dragons are no different. Now, improvement is something I expect to happen with every team. I’m a little caught off guard by just how quickly some of these teams have turned things around though.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think the Philly match was more a case of the Fusion beating themselves more than anything, but credit to the Dragons for being able to wrestle momentum away and never fully give it back. I still think Shanghai has some things to work on after this weekend. They still kind of look like the shakiest team out of the final four after this weekend. They certainly earned their spot in the May Melee though, and you have to respect it.
Philadelphia Fusion: Murphy’s Law
Leave it to the Fusion to have one of the most exciting games, score-wise, this weekend. Despite the loss to Shanghai, Philly by far had the best performance of any losing team in the knockouts. The west was exciting because the lower-seeded teams wiggity-washed the best-looking teams. The east was exciting because they actually played good Overwatch against each other.
I gotta say, though, I’ve never seen a team suffer from such a heavy case of Murphy’s Law after one small mistake. Maps 1 & 2 were close, and it kind of looked like Philly couldn’t really keep up with the pace the Dragons were playing at. After maps 3 & 4, though, Fusion a lot of momentum on their side and it looked like they were carrying it into map 5.
Last fight on Illios well, Alarm hits a huge sleep dart on a primal-raging, nano-boosted Fate and Rascal’s Echo makes a small, but critical mistake by instantly waking Fate back up. At the same time, Carpe’s Tracer finds BOTH of Shanghai’s supports. If Fate stays asleep at this moment, Fusion takes that map, no doubt. But instead, Fate’s awoken, puts a lot of pressure on Alarm and Rascal, leaving Mano without many resources to survive. Mano dies, trades on both sides ensue and Shanghai stays in the game.
After that one crucial moment, it just never looked like Philly got the train fully back on the track. And they tried desperately to do so, especially Carpe and Hotba. Carpe turned on ‘living highlight reel’ mode at points and Hotba hit so many huge graviton surges in that last map, but it just wasn’t enough to swing things back in their favor in the end. The Fusion has had a few minor communication errors like this here and there throughout their games so far. This is pretty natural for a team that was basically slapped together at the last minute. This is the first time it’s ever ruined a game for them so heavily, though. You really hate to see it, and I hope it doesn’t get to their heads too badly.
Seoul Dynasty: Where To Next?
Congratulations on Profit’s 5K final blows. A great achievement that I’m sure Seoul would’ve liked in a winning game as well. Still, that Chengdu match, and the Dynasty’s weekend as a whole, is at least more evidence that they are no longer suffering from the heavy inconsistency problems they had last season. They’re sweeping lower tier-teams and displaying valiant efforts against higher tier-teams in the east, currently. This is a really good sign for them going forward. And unlike the Philly match from week 1, Profit’s Tracer actually showed up in the Hunters’ match. It still just wasn’t enough though.
In all honesty, I’m unsure where Seoul goes from here. They’ll improve, just like every team inevitably will as the season moves forward. It’ll really depend on how much they’ll improve. Currently, they look to be a slightly better version of last season’s Atlanta Reign, very early on when they were crushing bad teams. This puts them on a trajectory of being the East’s mid-tier/gatekeeper team in the Overwatch League as the season progresses. I suppose this would probably be better overall compared to last season. Whether or not that will translate to any sort of huge win for them this season remains to be seen.
Chengdu Hunters: Don’t Call It The Chengdu Zone Anymore
“Entering the Chengdu Zone” was always kind of a meme to poke fun at good teams that have trouble dealing with the chaotic nature of the Hunters in the Overwatch League. This was always the one constant that made Chengdu games so fun to watch even when they were having a bad season.
Now, though, can it even be called the Chengdu zone? It’s not like they’re getting good teams to play down to their level. Teams now have to play up to the Hunters’ level. Calling it the Chengdu zone now would honestly be an insult to the actual skill every player on the Hunters has been displaying so far this season. Unless it’s completely recontextualized, this is not the Chengdu zone anymore. The Chengdu zone represents the chaotic fun that we all love about Overwatch as a game. Currently, the Hunters have found such a great balance of chaos and order, and that’s genuinely scary.
Look at it this way: The Hunters in previous seasons were like Kaioken, an incredibly volatile but also incredibly dangerous transformation for both themselves and their opponents. Now? They’re full-on Super Saiyan, a transformation that has no detrimental drawbacks for the user and also provides more power than anyone could’ve ever imagined. That’s nothing to joke about.
What did you think of this week’s Overwatch League matches? Leave your comments below!