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 happened from April 23-25. 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. It’s always nice to get a glimpse into the inner workings of the league.
- Main tank is now present in most teamfights
Developer’s comment: Throughout 2020, we found that more often than not, the Justice didn’t actually have their main tank with them, making most fights an unbalanced affair. This change will hopefully make the team’s performance more stable and allow the rest of the players to focus more on their own roles.
NEW YORK EXCELSIOR
- Hitscan damage replaced
- Flex damage replaced
- Main tank replaced
- Flex tank replaced
- Main support replaced
Developer’s comment: The NYXL have had a solid core for the last three years, but we just weren’t seeing the overall results we wanted from them, so we’ve done a full overhaul of their kit. This should finally appease all the NYXL fans out there who call for drastic roster changes every time they lose a single match.
- No performance changes made
Developer’s comment: We know it’s unusual to specify when no changes have been made, but we felt it was pertinent information given the doubts surrounding this recently assembled roster. We’d just like to reassure everyone that despite the player swaps, the Fusion are still the Fusion and will continue to perform exactly as well as they always have.
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 and epic highs and lows of professional Overwatch this week.
VICTORY: MAIN TANKS
In a pre-season interview I conducted with the Justice’s main tank prodigy Kim “Mag” Tae-seong, he told me that “most people still think that main tanks can’t carry the game,” and that his goal was to change this belief. After a mere two weeks of regular season play, I think that belief has been sufficiently dismantled, even if it wasn’t solely Mag who did it.
Though tanking is often a thankless job, having a good main tank is incredibly important for any team to be considered elite, and that’s never been clearer than right now. In the West Division, we have rookies Mag and Cho “JJANGGU” Myeong-heum of the Houston Outlaws elevating their formerly lackluster teams to new heights. Others, like the Dallas Fuel’s Lee “Fearless” Eui-seok and the Paris Eternal’s Daniël “Daan” Scheltema, are showing impressive individual performances, even if their teams are struggling a little. Over in the East Division, the Fusion’s Kim “Mano” Dong-gyu remains as reliable as ever, while new face Qiu “GA9A” Jiaxin helps the Chengdu Hunters roll their way to victory.
Remember, main tank players: Damage players need you. You don’t need them.
Our two European teams, the Paris Eternal and London Spitfire, returned this week, looking quite different than they did last year. Both teams transitioned to fully European rosters over the off-season, a move welcomed by many European fans as an opportunity to finally showcase their region’s unique “press W” mentality in the league.
Unfortunately, the two teams’ debut week didn’t go so well. The Eternal managed to defeat the bottom-ranked Vancouver Titans but later fell to the Outlaws. The Spitfire didn’t fare any better, suffering two rough 3-0 losses at the hands of the Outlaws and an angry Los Angeles Gladiators looking to bounce back.
Still, both teams have some great players. It was unfortunate that they both had to face the Outlaws, who seem to be nearly unstoppable in the West Division, in their first week playing together. With time, it’s clear that both teams can see some real improvement.
Perhaps this tentative optimism goes against the spirit of the “defeat” section, but I don’t care. The pieces are all there for our European representatives. They just need to put them together.
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 who we think gamed harder than anyone else.
TAN “NISHA” LI (CHENGDU HUNTERS)
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. “You just wrote about how main tanks defined this week, and you’re not even giving one of them this prestigious title?”
Sorry, but Nisha gets top honor this week because his jaw-droppingly bold support play stole the show all through the Hunters’ much-anticipated game against the Fusion. It can be difficult for a main support to stand out, but especially so if they’re playing Mercy, a hero often overlooked for anything short of a pistol kill.
Nisha’s impact was undeniable all series, though, from underground resurrections to mid-air resurrections to – well, it was mostly his resurrections, but those are tough to pull off in high-level play. It’s been a long time since a Mercy rez made me gasp out loud.
Though the Hunters may have lost that match, Nisha was their standout player, a rare feat for someone in his role. Many people, myself included, questioned the team’s decision to start him over Li “Yveltal” Xianyao, who’s been in consideration for best Mercy in the league for years now. It’s safe to say that Nisha has more than quelled those doubts.
- Lee “Carpe” Jae-hyeok (Philadelphia Fusion)
- Shin “PIGGY” Min-jun (Houston Outlaws)
- Lee “Fearless” Eui-seok (Dallas Fuel)