Welcome to Match Notes, a weekly column by staff writer Bonnie Qu that looks back on each week of the Overwatch League.
This week’s entry is about the games that took place from July 30 – August 1. For official match results, check out the Overwatch League website. For everything else, look here.
THIS WEEK’S PATCH NOTES
The good folks over at the Overwatch League are constantly figuring out ways to make things as balanced as possible. This means tweaking the relative strength of various teams and players from week to week, with varying results. This year, they’ve generously agreed to send us some of their official patch notes every week so that we know exactly what changes have been made.
- Middling teams buffed
Developer’s comment: The West region didn’t fare so well at the Summer Showdown. With inter-region playoffs on the horizon, we wanted to ensure as much parity as possible among the teams. To that end, we’ve buffed some of the mid-table teams from the West so the competition livens up a little more.
- Sandbags applied
Developer’s comment: In an incredibly rare occurrence, the Dragons themselves requested this nerf. We were understandably surprised because historically, only one incredibly dominant team has randomly made the sudden shift to underperformance right before season playoffs, and it didn’t turn out great for them. But, sure. We granted their request and tied sandbags to their ankles.
- Passive’s effect enhanced: “First week jitters”
Developer’s comment: The Justice somehow manage to be both a wildcard team and wholly predictable, which is a very interesting thing to have in the league. As we enter the final stretch of the season, we want everything to be more dramatic, and that includes the Justice’s highs and lows. Thus, we’ve increased the power of their passive ability to make their first two qualifier games even more bafflingly abysmal than usual.
Winners and losers are a natural part of competition, though not always in the way one would think. In this section, we go over who experienced the triumphs, defeats, epic highs and epic lows of professional Overwatch this week.
VICTORY: PRETENDERS TO THE THRONE
The Philadelphia Fusion have been an odd team to follow this season. Sometimes they look like a genuine threat; other times they look like a group of veteran players just cobbled together with no rhyme or reason. But, they came into the Countdown Cup all guns blazing as they took down the Shanghai Dragons, who have seemed unbeatable all season, with a 3-0 scoreline. They then went on to defeat the Hangzhou Spark.
Of course, when it comes to the Fusion, regular season performance doesn’t always translate to tournament performance. Just look at the May Melee, where they went perfect in qualifiers, then failed to make it through knockouts. But if there’s one team that’s capable of making a heroic end-of-season run, it’s this one.
Over in the West Region, there aren’t any teams that have dominated as thoroughly as the Dragons, but the teams that have labored in the mid tier all season – particularly the Paris Eternal and Boston Uprising – seem to be on the up-and-up. Of course, we’ve said that about both teams before, but this time it looks like it might be for real. Both teams went 1-1 this week (though granted, they faced each other) but solid fundamentals combined with some outstanding individual performances have them both looking like they could surprise come the postseason.
DEFEAT: THE DRAGONS
It’s the same question, week in and week out: who can topple the Dragons? For a long time, the answer to that question – a firm “nobody” – remained unchanged. But now it’s finally different. Who can topple the Dragons? Well, judging by this week’s results, a stiff breeze could probably knock them out.
The Dragons looked… not great, to say the least, in their first two games of the Countdown Cup. Their 3-0 loss to a determined Fusion could have been chalked up to the decision to rotate two of their never-before-seen bench players into the lineup. However, they later lost 3-2 against the New York Excelsior despite running the roster that won two tournaments, which may point to a deeper and more troubling problem.
It’s not a new phenomenon for a team who stormed through the majority of the season to pull back right at the end. We saw the NYXL do just that in 2018, after all. But that whole thing ended pretty poorly for them. The Dragons seem more proven in the long term than the NYXL did back then – but anything could happen as the season comes to a close. Is the East Region due for a good old-fashioned shake-up? Are the Dragons experiencing an end-of-season fatigue that will, like last year, spell their doom? We’ll just have to see how they bounce back.
WHO GAMED THE HARDEST?
Every player in the Overwatch League is, by definition, a gamer. But, sometimes, one rises to the top as the most gamer of them all. Whenever this happens, it’s worth celebrating. Each week, we’ll be picking the one player we think gamed harder than anyone else.
SHIN “KALIOS” WOO-YEOL (NEW YORK EXCELSIOR)
D.Va is once again a staple of the current meta, it seems, and that means getting to see the best of the best play her, which is always a treat. But one flex tank in particular has been selected as Gamer of the Week not just because of his skill but because of what he’s brought to his team.
The NYXL have been struggling this season, to say the least. However, Kalios joined the team just a week into the Summer Showdown and immediately, the difference he made was palpable. The team seemed to undergo a complete transformation with him on the team. They even made knockouts, though they got trounced there by the Dragons, who were eventual tournament champions. Now, with the NYXL going 2-0 in their first week (which includes a revenge victory against the Dragons), Kalios’ influence in turning this team around can’t be ignored.
Kalios had a monstrous performance this week. He played a huge role in keeping the Dragons’ deadly damage lineup in check. His synergy with main tank Jo “Yakpung” Gyeong-mu has been progressing admirably quickly. Most of all, we got to watch him play Zarya, the hero that he’s always been best known for. Kalios has breathed new life into the NYXL, and it hasn’t come a moment too soon.
- Leyton “Punk” Gilchrist (Boston Uprising)
- Kim “Alarm” Kyeong-bo (Philadelphia Fusion)
- Hong “Gesture” Jae-hui (Seoul Dynasty)