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The world got its first glimpse of what the 2022 Overwatch League season could look like, as pros from the Washington Justice and Los Angeles Gladiators played a show match during halftime of the 2021 Grand Finals. The league will transition to an early build of Overwatch 2 next season featuring 5v5 matchups, and while no one is sure how that will turn out, those closest to the show match offered their early opinions.
“It’s similar to what we already know,” said Gladiators tank Indy “SPACE” Halpern, “but the difference of the tempo of the game and the matchups make it feel like a new competitive game, as well as something we know.”
After playing Reinhardt in the show match, SPACE got to show some flexibility compared to his natural off-tank ways. Playing on the new Push game mode, he compared swinging his hammer around to another esport.
“To be honest, [on Push] it felt like I was playing Call of Duty when we kept spawning and kept fighting around the point,” said SPACE.
In a recent online conversation through Twitter Spaces, SPACE was joined by Blake “Gator” Scott of the Atlanta Reign and Matthew “super” DeLisi of the San Francisco Shock talked about their experiences playing the upcoming sequel.
“The flow felt good. The game didn’t feel too different and the individual impact was much higher,” Gator said. “So being able to duel enemy tanks felt nice. People had more impact, so there was less randomness involved.”
These players also got to play the new versions of Bastion and Sombra in Overwatch 2. At the same time, when mentioning the recent re-works, they all agreed that Sombra was probably the best hero in the game. According to super, Bastion still wasn’t quite there despite his rework.
“Bastion’s new turret form is still too slow,” super said. “It’s a dangerous line for him, where he’s too slow and doesn’t do enough damage. But, his new secondary fire is really neat. You can get some crazy grenade spots with it or rocket jump.”
As for supports, super was also interested in what the path for the role would look like going forward.
“I feel like supports are more like fraggers now, because you have more space and have fewer tanks pressuring you,” super said. “You can do more offensively.”
With all supports now having passive healing, there’s less focus on healing yourself or other supports, so being more aggressive works well. Gator talked about how this change impacted popular strategies from Overwatch 1.
“It feels like you’re awarded for every bit of damage you do, which doesn’t happen in Overwatch 1,” Gator said. “Right now, supports just farm healing on tanks. I remember practicing in OWL and telling teammates not to shoot anyone so our enemies wouldn’t build support ultimates.”
The general consensus was the game felt busier, as each player has a bigger role due to the removal of one position. But, that didn’t mean every player felt good about it. Los Angeles Gladiators rookie support Kim “Skewed” Min-seok, who played in the show match, said he felt disappointed.
When asked about OW2:
It was fun at first because it felt like I was playing a new game, but the more we played the more I could feel the emptiness of having one tank player gone, I felt that slight emptiness pretty strongly. It wasn't as fun as I had been hoping it would be T_T https://t.co/pv0K98yG4l
— swingchip💙 (@swingchip930) September 26, 2021
In a tweet, translated by Jade “Swingchip” Kim from the Florida Mayhem, Skewed mentioned how, “the more we played the more I could feel the emptiness of having one tank player gone, and I felt that slight emptiness pretty strongly.”
He went on to say how it wasn’t as fun as he hoped, but he also knew this feeling was based on a very early version of the game. From another player’s perspective, anything new is good.
“I’m glad to be done with Overwatch 1, to be honest, because it got stale for me,” Atlanta Reign star player Kai “Kai” Collins said. “The changes that are coming for Overwatch 2 should help me get back in.”
At the same time, the changes will bring up many new questions for coaches. Atlanta Reign’s head coach, Brad “Sephy” Rajani, said he has concerns heading into the new game, even if he knows they might be solved by release.
“As a coach, I’m worried about the strategic depth of 5v5 vs 6v6,” Sephy said. “It might evolve into more clicking heads in OW2, but I’ll hold judgement until the game releases. The strategy of a game like Overwatch 1 doesn’t always make a game popular, so the sequel might just be different, not worse.”
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.