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.

NRG Blows Second Map Lead in Consecutive Days as Rogue Impresses in the Win over Complexity at the America FACEIT Minor

It’s been a rough few days for the prohibitive American favorite to not only take one of the two qualifying spots but to be sitting in Rogue’s spot as the top placing team. Now, after starting off 1-0 against both Complexity and eUnited, ended both days losing two straight and are now the first team sent packing.

The loss to Complexity yesterday was completely unexpected, by winning decisively on the first map, only to drop two games with sloppy play and inconsistent play from their bottom-three. For an NRG team that’s usually solid against their own region, the last two days seem like a total outlier. The odds of losing the match when winning the first map are low for any team, but the top-ranked North American team doing it is somewhat of a mystery.

Even the top players showed up on both days, Cvetelin ‘CerQ’ Dimitrov and Vincent ‘Brehze’ Cayonte played quality Counter-Strike. Both finished with positive kill-death ratios and made plenty of big plays. However, the rest of the teams play dropped off drastically after those two. And even on the losing maps, CerQ struggled to get anything going and ended up with less than .60 kills per round.

Unfortunately for NRG, it was the snowball effect for them today. Falling down early on Dust 2 by losing pistol and the lead slowly growing put the stranglehold on an NRG team that was losing confidence. The final kill count on Dust 2 ended at 91-52 in favor of eUnited. It was over once NRG’s mental game faded. eUnited will now face Complexity in qualifying for the Major. The two teams who beat NRG this week.

Rogue Improvements

Rogue deserves plenty of praise for their noteworthy performance at the Minor. Against a Complexity team that played exceptionally well, Rogue went to an even higher level of play and earned the win. It was nice to see a Rogue team, headed by Spencer ‘Hiko’ Martin, play up to their talent level. They’ve put themselves in a great position to qualify with the 2-0 win against Complexity.

Witnessing Casper ‘cadiaN’ Møller heat up with the AWP on Mirage was quite the sight. He sat apartment side and seemingly didn’t miss a shot for the entirety of the map. Of course, Complexity adjusted to his positioning specifically, but his overall impact on the game didn’t go unnoticed. Outside of cadiaN’s AWP, Hiko was a monster against Complexity. On Dust 2, a map Rogue dominated on, and Hiko finished with 30 kills and a staggering 1.79 rating. He set everything in motion.

The Grand Finals

eUnited vs. Complexity should be a barn burner, in that both teams seem evenly matched in most important areas. Seeing as both teams lost to Rogue, a scenario where one of these teams makes the necessary adjustments to beat Rogue seems unlikely. Especially now with Rogue having the upper bracket advantage, but the important thing to remember here is the winner of Complexity and eUnited qualifies for the FACEIT Major.

Featured image courtesy of FACEIT

Complexity Win Sloppy Affair against NRG at FACEIT’s American Minor

Complexity Win Sloppy Affair against NRG at FACEIT’s American Minor. #FACEITMinor

The week of upsets in the Counter-Strike world continues as NRG falls in an extremely close match with Complexity at the American Minor. After winning a convincing first map on Xache, NRG proceeded to throw away a few leads on Train, only to lose in overtime and eventually get exposed on CT-side of Inferno, dropping eight on nine rounds.

Now the result wasn’t from a lack of trying and by the looks of it could’ve been avoided with a few longer stretches of consistent play. Looking at the post-game numbers, almost all of NRG went positive, with CerQ, their main fragger having good enough numbers to win, but even he failed to give NRG a chance in the second half of Inferno. Despite what looked like a winnable set after map one, Complexity completely turned it around.

In all honesty, Complexity didn’t play close to their best here. ShahZam wasn’t having his best day on the AWP, alongside Stanislaw who finished at even overall. However, Complexity relied more on their strategy and in most cases, especially on the CT-side of maps, were finding advantageous situations. ShahZam wasn’t hitting every shot, but in most cases, he had the opportunity to get the first peak and that opened up everything for Complexity.

Overall, it was a sloppy game from both sides. Complexity came alive in the key moments, but it was a messy back-and-forth before they eventually pulled away in the second half of Inferno. Seeing Complexity have to battle down on Train, having to win six of the last seven rounds to stay alive. Stanislaw didn’t have his best performance, but on Train, he was constantly making big plays happen. Often due to positioning and playing around smokes, but he made the plays when they needed it.

Complexity’s Dephh will end with the highest rating, but CerQ still had his number and ended with a higher kill-death ratio. Complexity will now face Rogue in the upper bracket final as NRG will scramble back down into the lower bracket to face eUnited, who had a rough loss to Rogue.

Featured image courtesy of Complexity 

lloD Beats Out Southern California to win The Even Bigger Balc

The one MDVA player in attendance comes into one of SoCal’s oldest tournaments and wins the whole thing. Arjun ‘lloD’ Malhotra wins his second regional of the year beating both Zac ‘SFAT’ Cordoni and Johnny ‘S2J’ Kim to take the Even Bigger Balc title. This win comes after lloD’s highest major tournament placing at CEO last week.

For lloD, it’s his best result of the year. 2018 that has shown him greatly improving his average placing and showing more ability to beat players perceived to be better than him. Back at CEO, SFAT eliminated lloD in a five-game set. At the Even Bigger Balc, lloD made the necessary adjustments and frankly demolished SFAT’s Fox.

In the video above, lloD’s displaying the two aspects of his game that carried him to a victory with Peach. We’ll talk neutral game, but first, we admire his edge guarding. Against Falcon, it was a relentless effort in zoning out S2J and pushing him back into the corner. From this position, lloD earned himself a large number of edge guarding opportunities. Every stock S2J was fighting just to make it back on stage.

In neutral, lloD centered his entire gameplan around setting up garbs. Using turnips to approach sparingly as he relied more on stage position and zoning. In every area Peach needs to hit to win, lloD was certainly hitting. lloD used directional input and the aforementioned stage control to stave off each potential knockout attempt. S2J wasn’t landing any finishing blows, mostly settling for up-air to try and kill at high percents.

It was an impressive showing. lloD being one of the lone players to travel cross country enters the event and leaves a champion. As Evo 2018 approaches, it’s important to be playing at a peak performance level and lloD, at the very least, is revving up for a big July run.

Westballz Out in Losers Round One

Weston ‘Westballs’ Dennis fell out as early as losers round one to local California Melee player Cesear. It’s a noteworthy placing for Westballz as a top player falls out of a seemingly easier tournament than the norm. Now, without seeing the actual reason for his exit, Westballz has taken these SoCal regionals lightly in the past (getting DQ’d at The Bigger Balc in 2017). Whatever the case, losing this early after just signing an extension is not the best look.

Featured photo courtesy of SD Melee TV 

Natus Vincere are the ESL One: Cologne Champions

Natus Vincere, led by tournament MVP Aleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev, dispensed of the surprising German side, BIG, 3-1 in maps to win their first event of the year. It’s been a long arduous road for the Na’vi side in their quest for a premier title over the likes of Faze and Astralis. In Cologne, it all came together as Na’vi strung together their best performances altogether down the roster.

Back to s1mple, who’s been arguably the best player all year, turned up again in each of the playoff matches. Regardless of some lesser kill numbers out of Egor ‘Flamie’ Vasilyev, S1mple not only was able to continually clutch rounds for Na’vi, but get that consistent kill-per-round. On top of the offensive consistency, his ability to stay alive was uncanny. Special performance from a special player.

S1mple had a magnificent week, but Na’vi won this event the moment Danylo ‘Zeus’ Teslenko started to make plays. The captain of the notorious Na’vi franchise, Zeus was struggling in the bracket play and it was clear they weren’t getting their best result. Once the playoffs hit and the tough matches started to come, the rest of Na’vi outside of S1mple and Denis ‘electronic’ Sharipov stepped up in a big way. This full-team effort carried them to a win.

It was clear shortly after Na’vi recovered after the 16-10 Dust 2 loss on map two that any setback wasn’t going to deny them. The response on Train was massive in terms of this team avoiding another upset at the hands of BIG Clan. BIG played some impressive Counter-Strike this week, but unfortunately, Johannes ‘nex’ Maget reached his limit on Inferno after consistently dropping huge kill numbers. nex was the BIG Clan’s most valuable player, but he ended game four with four kills.

It was an incredible week of high-level Counter-Strike. Na’vi coming from the depths to rise above the rest and win and ESL One is a fantastic ending. It’s maybe not the storybook ending German fans were looking for, but Na’vi on top of the CS world feels right.

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