On the first day of the fifth season of the Overwatch League Thursday, fans got to see competitive Overwatch 2 for the first time. While fans and players have had access to the beta for a week now, the lack of ranked play has left fans wanting. Now, with the first three OWL games over, everyone understands a little more what 5v5 will be like to watch.
Starting off strong! 🛡
The @LAGladiators defeat the @NYExcelsior in a back and forth battle to take the first game of the season! #ShieldsUp | #OWL2022 pic.twitter.com/n3TtZQrynm
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) May 5, 2022
The first match brings highs and lows
As hectic as 5v5 started in the first series between the New York Excelsior and Los Angeles Gladiators, the lag on the North American stream for the first two maps didn’t help. What was visible was the compositions, both focusing on diving but with different hero choices. One key difference was the Echo from the NYXL, while the Gladiators stuck to the Genji. With Genji’s viability, the Gladiators took the lead.
The first lagless map for the series was the new Escort map Circuit Royal, with the Gladiators on match point. Where Control and Hybrid seemed more chaotic, the slow gameplay of Escort showed the refreshing feeling of 5v5. The Zarya pick from Kim “Kellan” Min-jae helped keep NYXL in the series, strong on defence and attack in the final stretch.
This map win from New York brought fans onto Push for the first time in the Overwatch League. Solider: 76 on both teams, Ana and Lucio on both teams. Caster Mitch “Uber” Leslie mentioned how this map could end a lot sooner than the eight allotted minutes, but the swings from both teams kept the map interesting. Gladiators took the map and the series, but a good first series for Overwatch 2.
Notes from the other two
The Paris Eternal and San Francisco Shock match solidified the common picks so far in Overwatch 2. Ana and Lucio for the support line seem consistent, as well as Genji. And with the final series of the day between the Atlanta Reign and Florida Mayhem, we saw the debut of Doomfist. Like our first views of Push, Colosseo allows for both extended fights and intense flanks. After a slow start, Atlanta cemented their win 3-1.
With the series starting on Control and moving to Hybrid soon after, the most chaotic game modes are played first. Then, onto Escort and Push, two very different playstyles reign supreme. One thing that is very different with 5v5 is the pace of the maps, as well as the way teams use ultimates. Unless in dire situations or on more strategic maps, teams only coordinate two or three ultimates at most. Instead of the classic GOATs or brawl comp style of saving all six (or in this case, five) ultimates for a fight, the flanks and more individual importance mean only one or two can determine a fight.
For the viewing experience, the first day of the Overwatch League with Overwatch 2 brought back the same fun that we know but with plenty of variety in both compositions and new content.
About the Author
Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming for as long as I can remember, with my first game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played games being Borderlands 2 and Overwatch. I have a degree in Film Studies, but writing about esports just makes my job all the better.