New York Excelsior JJoNak Wins the first Overwatch League MVP as Zenyatta

The best player from end-to-end gets the proper recognition as the Overwatch League’s first most valuable player. Bang ‘JJoNak’ Seong-hyun, a Zenyatta main, who in many ways revolutionized the flex-support meta with his damage hybrid style wins the MVP. JJoNak ended second in total damage among all qualified players as a support player. Nuff’ said

The story of a talented, rather unknown player, to the top of the Overwatch League and the best player on the best team. The rise of the New York Excelsior is certainly a team effort, but it’s an undeniable fact that JJONak brings something to the table that no other player in the league can offer. In terms of actual value, losing JJoNak would likely hamper every aspect of the NYXL roster. He’s that much of an impact player.

JJoNak doesn’t have any glaring deficiencies in his game and even with more modest healing numbers, he uses Zenyatta’s transcendence for maximum value more than every other Zenyatta which makes up for his focus on damage. He’s the most unique player in the league. No other player can offer the type of impact he can on any given match.

He is the heart and soul of the NYXL and that the coaching staff is still finding new uses for his talent. Consider this, the Excelsior popularized pocketing Mercy onto Zenyatta to keep JJoNak alive and let him do maximum damage with the damage-buff. The entire NYXL strategy is centered around this guy finding kills and it hasn’t failed them yet.

As JJoNak takes home the MVP trophy that he rightfully deserved, the NYXL will look to not let his dominating season go to waste. A refocused NYXL team will provide a much different look in these playoffs than what we saw at the end of stage four, and a big reason for that will be JJoNak.

Congrats to New York Excelsior JJoNak!

 

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Philadelphia Fusion First Team to Beat Boston Uprising on Volskaya all season as they take 1-0 series lead

The Philadelphia Fusion made a statement in the first match of the Overwatch League playoffs beating the Boston Uprising through better preparation and execution. In terms of a potential darkhorse, the Fusion now look like that team after suffocating the Uprising all over the place.

Turning immediately to the closing match on Volskaya Industries, a map the Boston Uprising finished undefeated on in the regular season and ended up getting completely outplayed in every facet of the match. Starting with the strategy coming in for the Philadelphia Fusion: Boombox out, HOTBA in while Poko sticks onto the D.va and HOTBA moves over to Tracer, to help add more close range damage aside from EQO and Carpe on their respective snipers.

In fact, this was the first time any team made massive, wholesale changes to every single approach on Volskaya against the Uprising. Take the composition for example first, but looking at how they approached the defense by playing the first choke, rather than sitting back on high-ground of the first point. This gave the Uprising plenty of trouble and they struggled to get any point presence. The changes messed with the Uprising’s entire gameplan as they looked discombobulated on the attack.

The Carpe and EQO Show

Every map this set was characterized by EQO mixing it up near the front line with Hanzo and doing big damage, while Carpe sat back on Widow and had free reign to get shots on squishy characters. In terms of the sniper duels, Carpe and EQO dominated. Now, while Carpe was winning the Widow-duel, EQO was tearing up the rest of the Uprising. Mistakes had no chance against EQO today, who in my eyes, was the MVP of match one.

It’s a snipers league, and it showed today with the better Hanzo and Widow pairing won the day. The number of impactful picks and first kills heavily fell in favor of the Fusion as the Uprising had essentially zero pressure on the Carpe and that backline. The Uprising will have to make serious adjustments on how they approach and defend against Carpe and EQO.

Neptuno Comes Out Strong

Carpe and EQO might have made the biggest impact damage-wise, but Neptuno completely dominated Kellex on the other side. Neptuno even dropped a 31k healing game on Einchewalde and had six fewer deaths than Kellex. His healing was off the charts as he contributed on most big plays throughout the match, Plenty of times where Fusion players could keep pressing with Neptuno always there for critical heals.

Take the video above, for example, Neptuno not only gets the battle mercy kill but somehow finds a way to get back to EQO and essentially turn his disadvantaged one-vs-one against notE’s Dva and eventually turning the entire fight. Neptuno stepped up in a big way and allowed BoomBox to play more of a flex role, as we saw him tear it up on Eichenwalde with Roadhog. The biggest deficit in overall play was the support mains and Neko and Kellex will have to come alive tomorrow.

Sado, HOTBA, and Poko

The revolving door of tanks on this Fusion team keeps spinning as Poko got some playing time while HOTBA found playing time not only on D.va, but Tracer as well. notE and Gamsu put up a good fight at the front-line, but the sniping advantage for the Fusion was too much for the strong performances out of the Uprising tank line.

Now back to Sado, who made so many fights changing plays in the win. His bubble placements are incredible and that was displayed through the many different ways he approaches fights with Winston’s bubble. More than anything, Sado was fantastic at blocking damage with either shields or his body. In terms of a difference maker, his coordination with the snipers on who to dive on and who to bubble was on-point.

Uprising Adjustments

Dive compositions or some way to get EQO off the backline would do wonders for this team. Striker put on a pretty great performance, alongside the tanks, but Kellex and Neko weren’t making impact plays or resurrections to stem the tide of the Fusion gameplan. It’s also clear this team was not prepared for any changes to the Fusion attack, and it showed as they were blindsided by the Fusion on both Eichenwalde and especially Volskaya with the three-damage main composition.

The Overwatch League Playoff Preview: Can the NYXL be beaten?

The anticipation for the start of the Overwatch League playoffs has hit a fever pitch for the fans. The long layoff is not only making fans nervous but the players who had two full-weeks of preparation for these three game series. The most incredible part is that with the resurgence of the Valiant and Gladiators, it doesn’t necessarily feel like an easy victory for the New York Excelsior, who enter as the favorite.

Four straight NYXL appearances in the stage finals, and a full regular season of dominating performances. Ending the season with a 34-6 record and a +83 in map differential shows a superiority to the rest of the league. In fact, the NYXL now employ five of South Korea’s starting roster, the same nation that’s barely been pushed at the World Cup the past two years. The question then becomes who will win the Overwatch League, but instead ‘who can stop the NYXL?’

Are the NYXL beatable?

Asking the Los Angeles Valiant that at this moment and time would give you a much different answer than the general public. The stage four champions, a team that’s improved immensely off the moves made by team manager Mike Schwartz, feel as if they are the favorites and can beat the Excelsior.

The Valiant has essentially caught up to the Excelsior in talent with the signings of Indy ‘SPACE’ Halpern and the trade for Scott ‘Custa’ Kennedy, who’s been arguably the biggest difference maker on the team. Now, does this mean the red-hot Valiant can take out the best team in a series?

In the season series, the NYXL lead 3-2 in overall record and that’s including the Valiant’s win in the stage four finals. Based off relevancy, that last result might be the most telling in this matchup with how much the Valiant have improved compared to the NYXL who’ve had a nice comfortable lead all season long. Combine that with SPACE playing at an MVP level, and Terence ‘SoOn’ Tarlier tearing it up on Widowmaker.

A refocused Excelsior team out of the break should get them back on track after dropping three games in stage four. It took Hae-seong ‘Libero’ Kim stepping up to push this team into a stage playoff spot, and then got handled in the stage four finals so time off felt necessary for the top seed. It’s still NYXL vs. the field.

The Field

Each team who I haven’t mentioned already has about as good of a chance of coming alive and winning the entire thing. Each team at one moment and time this season has been at or near the top. Every team earned it as the American favorite Houston Outlaws and the preseason favorites Seoul Dynasty got bounced because they couldn’t keep up at the pace of these four teams.

Starting with the Los Angeles Gladiators, who in some way have improved to the same imaginary level the Valiant have risen too. Let’s not forget the Gladiators picking to face the Valiant instead of the Dallas Fuel and losing in five games. The important thing to remember is that this team is good enough to beat every single team left, and should be looked at as the wildcard team right behind the top two seeded teams.

The other terrifying team is the Boston Uprising and the potentials of their roster with the likes of Nam-joo ‘Striker’ Kwon. This is a team that ran off a huge winning streak that lasted a stage and a half even after the loss of their second damage main. The fortunate aspect of the Uprising run is their run will bypass NYXL until the finals. It also matches them up against two teams they have winning records against.

Lastly, seeing the London Spitfire, a team who has massively underperformed this season according to their standards, with a final shot at winning the title leads me to believe they can do it. But, all the turmoil and shuffling of the roster still brings questions to their chances as a whole. Overall, their talent level is practically just as high as the Excelsior, with the GC Busan core, but they haven’t put it all together since stage one.

Predictions

  • The Boston Uprising over the Philadelphia Fusion in three games
  • Los Angeles Gladiators over the London Spitfire in three games

Semifinals

  • Los Angeles Valiant over the Boston Uprising in two games
  • New York Excelsior over the Los Angeles Gladiators in three games

Finals

  • Los Angeles Valiant over the New York Excelsior in three games

The Valiant seems to be synchronizing and gelling just at the right time. The team unison is higher with this team than any other team in the playoffs, and more big performances from their main playmakers can push them over the top similarly to stage four. Valiant over NYXL in three close games with SPACE as the MVP.

 

Meta Bellum Envy looking like his old self in win over X6 Gaming

Meta Bellum supported a higher echelon contenders team even before the arrival of Envy. The addition of the former Los Angeles Valiant flex tank Envy gives Meta Bellum a new added dimension to each aspect of their gameplan. In the 4-0 win over X6 Gaming, Envy started single-handily winning fights on both D.Va and Brigitte and showing the potential impact his role on the team will have down the line.

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Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/overwatchcontenders

First off, Envy fitting into the Brigitte role makes a ton of sense based on his style of play. If anything, Brigitte fits his playstyle even more than D.Va by having more available tools in close-range fights, which Envy takes quite often as a flex tank. It’s nice seeing him open space for his damage mains to move in, similarly to how he looked early on with the Valiant.

 

Obviously, Envy wasn’t the only Meta Bellum player popping off in this one: Naist, on a variety of different damage mains, primarily Pharah and Junkrat, completely tore up the X6 backline. Order and Godsb, that started the season looking extremely strong against World Gaming Star H2, had a rough time accounting for the Meta Bellum damage mains. For Meta Bellum, it was Naist pressuring the frontline and Happy on Widowmaker staying alive on the backline. The combination of those two fulfilling their roles perfectly combined with Envy’s space opening plays led to a route of the season one champions.

 

Equally important, is the early affect Envy’s having on the rest of the team. When Envy arrived at the LA Valiant, he was an incredible offensive-minded D.va, but his failure to last boiled down to connecting with his teammates. It had little to do with his actual play but more the attitude he brought into the building every day. On a contenders team, the pressure is off and he can focus more on himself rather than the entire spectacle and pressure of the Overwatch League.

It’s only the second time X6 Gaming has been swept (Element Mystic took them out 4-0 in season one), and the first out of the Meta Bellum squad. This result tells us that believe the hype that Envy is going to bring firepower and that this team is lined up now to make a deep run and potentially be a threat to win Contenders Korea.

Featured photo courtesy of twitch.tv/overwatchcontenders

 

Element Mystic Open the Overwatch Contenders Season with a Razor Thin Victory over Seven

Element Mystic opens up their second season of Overwatch Contenders pretty much the same way they started season one: winning with style. In a matchup between the two of the higher placing regular season teams in season one, Mystic Element got bigger performances and ended up taking the match by the thinnest of margins.

By no means was Seven overmatched at any point in the match, as they pushed the team who finished 18-2 last season. It took a ridiculous Widowmaker performance out of Xzi and the many intelligent plays from Doca on D.Va that led to this victory. Outside of those two, finding the right times to unveil Torbjörn on defense.

Both Numbani and Watchpoint: Gibraltar displayed a strong showing and understanding from Element Mystic on how to play Torbjörn. Rapel, who’s primarily a Zenyatta-main, and a very strong one at that, surprised everyone with his bait on Torb. Setting Xzi far behind on point A with Widow and playing the turret in the hallway allowed on the Numbani high-ground prevented any attempts at dive-pressure from D.va or Winston.

The Torbjörn pick was fun, but the heart of the Element Mystic lineup returns again to the presence of Repal, Doca, and Xzi. These three came through in a big way today. Each one contributing in diverse ways and adding value all over the map. In fact, Doca deserves the MVP for constantly moving and shooting. Doca was a pest on the Seven snipers all game.

However, it’s hard to say Xzi didn’t deserve the recognition for his insane Widowmaker plays. Doca essentially protected Xzi with strong frontline play, but Xzi wasn’t missing many shots onto squishy characters. In the Widowmaker duel category, Xzi had an overwhelming advantage in kills. And Overwatch being a team game means both players helped each other immensely.

Seven Come Back Strong

Yes, Seven would’ve preferred to start the season off with a win, but let\s remember how both these teams ended season one. Top three in the regular season only to fall quickly in the first round. Seven to Meta Bellum and Element Mystic to O2 Ardeont. Falling that early after a strong season can do irreversible damage to a team and leads to questioning a teams talent when it’s often times just one bad game. It’s good to see both teams come out firing.

For Seven, Fr3e gave Doca on the other side a run for his money in terms of overall team value. In losing situations for Seven when Xzi was getting picks, Fr3e was the one Seven player turning disadvantage situations with his ability to drop tons of damage. Mika (Mercy) and Adora (damage) also looked on point, but that wasn’t enough to stop the three-headed wrecking ball of Mystic Element.

Featured photo courtesy of GSL

BlossoM Secures the Top Spot at OWC Contenders 2018: Trials Korea with Win over WGS H2

The former management team behind the GC Busan organization back before they were members of the London Spitfire, seemed to have put together another up-and-coming squad. BlossoM will now get a chance to compete in Overwatch Contenders Korea and based on the talent from two main DPS-players, to Swoon and his impressive Zenyatta, this team could be dangerous.

Securing the undefeated trials record tonight came at the hands of strong team play, shutting down World Game Star H2, who’s also being promoted to challengers. The three other teams are MVP Space, who finished second overall, and GC Busan Wave, meaning Meta Athena will miss out on a promotion. Meta Athena, one of the more consistent organizations in Overwatch, lost out by one map win. The +8 map differential was one behind WGS H2’s +9.

BlossoM Royal Road?

The surge of Blossom in trials has made it more difficult on teams like Meta Athena and other teams looking to qualify. Even after huge turnover of player and coaching staff this year: losing Gambler to Seoul Dynasty, and their former head coach Agape to the London Spitfire; The Blossom are improving at an impressive rate. On top of all that, Blossom was one of the teams involved in boosting, resulting in a few former players being released from the team.

The addition of Ans, who has arguably been their best player in Trials on Widowmaker, loosened the load for everyone. Also adding LIP as a late addition heading into Trials worked out tremendously for Blossom, as he slotted in nicely as the fill-in damage main aside Ans’s Widow. In reality, the two tanks are the ones responsible for such a dominating effort in Trials. Both SeeYa and Mineral did nothing but create space for that newly added backline. It was a culmination of the spacing, aiming, and execution that led to the 7-0 record.

It’s clear this team has taken massive jumps in coordination and skills since the few appearance we saw of them in April. The overall team record is only 8-4. Only 12 matches on record and this team is now looking like a real threat to make even more improvements heading into Contenders.

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Overwatch League Going the Distance

 

AOOOOOIn the past two weeks, 12 games have gone to a game five. That’s the most in a two-week span this season. Three of the four teams currently sitting in the stage three playoff spots didn’t make stage one or two playoffs. The London Spitfire are two games under .500, San Francisco Shock are in a playoff spot, and the Boston Uprising are now unbeatable.

What the **** is going on in the Overwatch League?

Uprising Industries

The Boston Uprising is the biggest story of stage three for many different reasons. Obviously, the team dismissal of talented projectile-DPS player Jonathon “DreamKazper” Sanchez due to inappropriate behavior with a minor, left a major void on the Uprising starting lineup. Despite a good start to the stage, it felt like the inevitable doom was coming for the Uprising.

Enter Stanislov “Mistakes” Danilov, a Russian-born player with many considerable functions in-game as the projectile-DPS alongside star Tracer-main, Nam-joo “Striker” Kwon. Since Mistakes took over the DreamKazper role, the Uprising haven’t missed a beat. He’s not only filled a need, but has in some ways excelled in areas DreamKazper wasn’t as proficient in.

The most improved team from bottom-to-top is the Uprising. Even before the DreamKazper release, Lucas “NotE” Meissner was starting to drastically improve, and a tank line that went under the radar began to make big impacts on games. Same goes for the support line Kristian “Kellex” Keller and Park “Neko” Se-hyeon, who are both producing more healing stats (mainly Kellex) and contributing extra damage and final blows (mainly Neko). And of course, the play of Striker has put his name right near the top of any MVP discussion.

Overall, the transition has been seamless for coach Da-hee “Crusty” Park and the Uprising staff. It’s been a combination of the rest of the team stepping up in his absence and the coaching staff finding ways to put Mistakes in the best position to produce. The Uprising is not only 6-0 in stage three with wins over the top three Korean-dominated teams (Seoul Dynasty, London Spitfire, and New York Excelsior), but bring in a 10 game winning streak from stage two, and are only four games back of New York for the first overall seed.

Shocking the Overwatch world

The Shock is a great feel-good story. Sitting at 10-16, six games behind the Philadelphia Fusion, their chances of a playoff run are rather slim. However, this is a new roster and they still have the stage playoffs. The Shock dropped eight games against the Dynasty and Valiant in the stage three matchups, but also have wins over the Gladiators and Fusion. It’s still a work in progress.

Signing Jay “Sinatraa” Won, Matthew “super” DeLisi, Min-ho “Architect” Park, and Grant “Moth” Espe added talent to an already talented player base. The early return on these players is looking great, and as teams like the Uprising, Fusion, and Valiant have shown, if the talent is there, it will only take time before they catch up to the rest of the league. It’s still uncertain what this new rosters ceiling is, but the way it’s constructed feels as if it can adjust to any meta-swings and has players still learning the pro-game.

Furthermore, it will allow Dante “Danteh” Cruz to be unleashed on the league. Adding Sinatraa will allow Danteh to flex onto other roles besides Tracer, mainly getting to play Sombra. The Sombra usage in the league is still being played with, but the advantages of having Danteh lets the Shock run it on most maps. The other signing of Architect is the Widowmaker this team has been looking for, and Super’s the space creating main-tank that Danteh has been looking for.

The strange results of the Dynasty, Spitfire and Excelsior

Lastly, the oddities associated with these three teams continue in stage three. The New York Excelsior continue to start bad and end with a smile, reversing sweep their last two games. The London Spitfire keep losing that game five, and the Dynasty can’t beat teams over the .500 mark anymore.

Expectations and reality are reaching a breaking point with these teams. The Seoul Dynasty and London Spitfire are only two games ahead of the seventh-seeded Houston Outlaws. The New York Excelsior have only dropped three games, but it’s clear that teams are catching up with them too. It’s a mad scramble among the Overwatch League playoff teams.

Nevertheless, these teams will be big players at the end of the season, and this is more than likely a bump in the road. It’s the world of Overwatch balancing itself, as the non-Apex players have finally caught up with the level of competition being so high. The results clearly show that it’s not a three-team race. Any of the six playoff teams can beat anyone at any time. That includes the NYXL, who struggled in both stage finals as the favorite.

the great thing is the that the fans are getting one helluva show every single night in the Overwatch League. The margins of player skill are razor thin from top-to-bottom. Seemingly every team has a few sleepers ready to have a breakout performance, and that’s going to make stage four and the run towards the playoffs unbelievable.