Playoff Time

Five weeks, seven games, and one coin toss have all culminated in the Overwatch League Stage One Playoffs this week.  This year more teams than ever will be fighting it out to take home both the performance bonus and the bragging rights as the Stage One Champions.  NYXL or Vancouver, Shock or Defiant, Reign or Fusion, Boston or Dynasty.  Any of these squads could do it, and all will have to fight their hardest for it.  The action starts tomorrow and I cannot wait.  

News

Major Changes for Stage Two Announced

The dust had hardly settled from the last game of the first stage when some changes were announced.  In a post on the league website a number of changes were explained for the Overwatch League starting in Stage Two.  These include the addition of the new hero Baptiste, Patch 1.34, the new Paris map joining the map pool, a change in the order of map types, and my favorite an adjustment to the schedule to reflect how long matches actually take.  Make sure to give it a read before the start of the next stage.  

 

Trades and Signings

Ark to Washington Justice

In a tweet Monday the Washington Justice announced that they were welcoming support player Ark to their team.  Fans will recognize Ark as part of the support line from NYXL last year and in Stage One.  Ark may not have changed the meta of the game the way his former teammate JJoNak did, but he consistently enabled his teammates on the Excelsior to be the best team in the league.  With their first win under their belt and a world class support coming onto the team the sky is the limit for the Justice.  

 

Player of the Week

Michelle: Off-tank, Seoul Dynasty

At the professional level the use and effectiveness of some ultimate abilities have changed slightly.  Ults like McCree’s Deadeye and D.Va’s self-destruct are more zoning tools than they are killers at this level.  All of the players on the virtual field know exactly how long they have between when they hear “Nerf this!” and the detonation of the mech and therefore rarely get caught when compared to ranked play.  It’s even more  impressive then that Michelle of the Seoul Dynasty is able to consistently find kills when he uses this self-destruct.

D.Va is a tank character who has a home in every composition since she has such a versatile and useful kit.  Even after several nerfs to the character she remains the go-to off-tank for GOATs compositions and beyond.  In that role Michelle is a great example of exactly what to do.  His positioning is great, he combos with his team well, and when it’s time to drop the bomb he always finds targets.  

Seoul will need Michelle at his best this week.  They kick off the playoffs with a tough match against the NYXL on Thursday at 6PM Pacific.  

 

VOD of the Week

Atlanta Reign (4-3) vs. Chengdu Hunters (3-4)

Do you want to watch more GOATs?  Three tanks & three support against the same three tanks & three supports slugging it out again and again?  No?  Well then maybe you’d like to see something crazy.  Something wild.  Some Torbjorn and Bastion.  The kind of compositions that only the Reign and Hunters could pull out and make work.  More than any other teams in the Overwatch League these are the two squads that are not afraid to pull out the funky strats, and last week they collided.   

Atlanta has the poster boy of meme comps, Dafran.  This guy hasn’t been shy about pulling out the off-meta picks.  Lucky for him he has the skills to make it work, as his tracking is still the best in the game.  Combine that with a team that knows how to work with these unique heroes and you have the recipe for success that is the Atlanta Reign.  

For the Hunters part they surprisingly showed themselves more than a match for Atlanta’s attacks.  Maybe it’s not fair to say surprising though.  This is a team that knows what they’re comfortable with and has stuck to their strengths.  Over the last five weeks they’ve been able to hone their unique strategies and force their opponents into fights on their terms.  The time is fast coming when we stop talking about how weird the Hunters compositions are, and start talking about how effective they are. 

The match unfolded like you’d think a meeting between their two might, but was so much more.  This was a fun game to watch and shows how far the Hunters have come in only seven matches.  They might not be in the Stage Playoffs, but I’ll be watching them closely in Stage Two.  

 

Match of the Week

San Francisco Shock (4-3) vs. Toronto Defiant (5-2)

I don’t think I was alone in sleeping on the Defiant.  Toronto didn’t have a super impressive squad when announced.  I predicted them in the lower middle of the pack and then forgot about them.  I could not have been more wrong.  They have racked up not only an impressive amount of wins, but all of wins have been dominant ones.  They’ve looked like they were in complete control on most of the maps they have played.  They’re about to face their hardest opponent yet, and in a match with more on the line.  

The Shock haven’t quite lived up to expectations, however that doesn’t mean their doing bad.  They’ve had a tough schedule this stage having to play against both NYXL and the Titans, the two top teams in the Overwatch League right now.  For them the strength is in their DPS players who, even in GOATs meta, are still shining.  Guys like DPS player Sinatraa will make all the difference come Friday.  

This game is by far the closest in the first round.  I honestly could see either team getting the W.  This game starts on Friday night at 8 PM Pacific.  

 

I’ve got goosebumps just thinking about the games coming up this week.  With more on the line, and more teams competing in the Stage Playoffs than ever before we can expect the best from all eight of these teams.  The Overwatch League playoff action starts tomorrow, March 21st at 6 PM Pacific.  Catch all of the action, and token drops, on twitch.  

About The Author

James Verzuh

James 'CorporalV' Verzuh was a real corporal once. Now he plays too much Overwatch and writes about esports.