The Overwatch League wrapped its first round of regional playoffs last weekend, with Shanghai Dragons, Seoul Dynasty, Philadelphia Fusion, and San Fransisco Shock leading the pack.
The third season of OWL was supposed to be held live, with home and away games held in each team’s respective city. Unfortunately, the league had to scrap those plans due to the outbreak of COVID-19, and instead hold the third season exclusively online (read more in our Overwatch Betting sites section).
The 13 teams in the North America bracket and the 7 in the Asia bracket will square off until one team from each bracket goes head to head in the grand championship. In order to avoid latency issues, the winning North American team will fly out to play on the same server as the winning Asian team. But because of the time needed for travel and quarantine, the grand finals will not be until four weeks after the second round of playoffs.
Seeing how the Shanghai Dragons currently have the highest standing in the Overwatch League. It’s entirely possible that 2020 could finally be the year they rise above their catastrophic first season. And they’re off to a great start.
The Dragons earned an impressive 3-1 victory over the New York Excelsior on September 6. Void’s Sigma was extremely accurate, managing to outmaneuver Haksal’s Genji reflects and acrobatics to snipe him with a hypersphere, and that’s after wiping out two other NYXL team members on Route 66’s home stretch. Fleta came in extremely clutch towards the end of the set, with three kills that opened up the point on Liajang’s Night Market, securing victory for the Dragons. Fleta, Shanghai’s newest addition and Seoul Dynasty’s ex-super-star, will be facing off against his old team this Saturday.
2019 OWL runner-ups The Vancouver Titans are off to a very poor start, with the newly restructured team holding one of the lowest standings for the 2020 season. It’s a disappointing drop in quality for an organization that almost swept the entire series last year, but understandable as the Titan’s coaching and player roster was entirely restructured from the bottom up only four months ago. What’s more, Shockwave can be a bit too aggro with his Ashe. He doesn’t play defensive enough and gets picked off quickly and easily.
However, we can’t place all the blame on him, as we saw in their match against the Washington Justice, Decay’s Zarya simply outclassed the Titans time and time again. Whether it was on defence in Numbani where Decay managed to get four solo picks on the first point, or the Graviton Surges that cleaned up the Titans over and over again on Volskaya, Decay and company shredded the Titans like cheddar on taco night.
Some may say the Titans just aren’t performing well in the current meta. Their tank composition of D.Va and Winston doesn’t pair well at all against Roadhog or Zarya. Roadhog’s high projectile damage can easily destroy Winston and Zarya’s particle cannon bypasses D.Va’s defence matrix. However, San Fransisco Shock ran the same tank comp as the Titans against the Washington Justice and managed to turn the game around.
In one of the more thrilling match-ups last weekend the San Fransisco Shock took on the Washington Justice. The third round found them duking it out on Volskaya Industries, where we saw these same tank comps pit against each other as we did in the Titans on Justice match. The key difference here seems to be Ans’ Widow who would deal huge damage from afar before Striker’s Tracer would go in to clean up the rest, making it easier for Smurf’s Winston to effectively dive and spread his damage across the Justice. Another key factor is that Smurf and Choihyobin constantly adapted their tank comps to Washington Justice, bouncing between almost every tank hero available and never sticking to two tanks for too long. It was a very close match, but the Shock managed to beat the Justice in overtime 3-2.
The Shock continued their winning streak against the Atlanta Reign, with Striker showing off brutal mirror match-ups against the Reign’s Edson, and Lip flexing beautifully technical Symmetra plays on Lijiang Tower, warping quickly behind a Mei wall to eliminate a D.Va mech on Lijiang Tower.
Philadelphia crushed both Los Angeles teams, winning every match-up they had. Their match-up with the Gladiators found the Fusion comfortable. They let Ivy experiment on DPS with his lesser played champs like Reaper, Doomfist, and Junkrat. He even managed a 1000-IQ play by baiting BigG00se’s Lucio into a Rip-Tire on Lijiang Tower’s Control Centre. But he also managed to do some beauty plays with his more regular Tracer, pulse-bombing a rocket barrage from Kevstar causing the Gladiators to lose third point on Numbani. But that isn’t to say the Los Angeles Gladiators didn’t put up a good fight. Kevstar managed to be particularly impressive while defending the third point of Numbani. With a quick switch to Ashe he was able to temper the Fusion’s aggression and hold the point for an extra 90 seconds.
For the Gladiators, Ivy, Carpe, and Heesu were too deadly to tango with. But all the credit can’t be given solely to the DPS. The Fusion’s support is played by the top-ranked Lucio player FunnyAstro, and his plays are a joy to witness. Almost like he’s trying to prove his Lucio credentials, Astro weaves between ults, drops perfectly timed sound barriers, and wall-rides tall buildings to battle airborne heroes like Pharrah.
Beyond the four teams who cleaned up last weekend the losing teams also have one more shot at redemption in their lower brackets. Atlanta Reign, Florida Mayhem, Los Angeles Valiant, and Washington Justice will duke it out this weekend in the lower North America bracket and Guangzhou Charge will face New York Excelsior in the lower Asia bracket.
Photo Credits: Overwatch League / NYXL