During week three of the Overwatch League Stage 2, the Atlanta Reign pulled off the biggest upset of the regular season so far. They defeated the New York Excelsior 3-1, handing the league favorites their first regular season loss.
Then, two weeks later, Atlanta did it again, beating New York 3-2. This made Atlanta, despite their 7-7 record, became the first team to defeat New York twice in a season. By understanding how Atlanta was able to accomplish this feat, other teams can figure out how to defeat one of the best teams on a regular basis.
On the Temple map of Busan, Atlanta came out more aggressive in the GOATS vs. GOATS matchup, but New York got the clutch ultimate use first. But all throughout this map, Dustin “Dogman ” Bowerman got the better of Seong-hyun “Jjonak ” Bang. And when Atlanta retook the first point, they consistently took the fight to the Excelsior, forcing positioning errors and getting quick picks that end teamfights early. The same happened on MEKA Base, where Atlanta was able to sustain longer point control. Both rounds went to 99-99, but New York had too many delays and wasted ultimates to flip the point when it mattered most.
Nathan “FRD” Goebel subbed in for Daco this map, and he ran as Symmetra in Atlanta’s initial attack. That quick run-around to Point A led to a sustained teamfight on Point B. New York’s defense on B was steadfast, but Atlanta’s GOATS play eventually grinded them down. The Reign would shine on defense, running a Junkrat bunker composition as Jeong “ErsTer ” Joon was the star, working with Andrej “BABYBAY ” Francisty to force New York into awkward spots to waste resources. The Excelsior were nearly fully held back in their first attack, and Point B was rougher with Babybay’s Mei causing trouble. New York were only able to finish in overtime. Their following attack died as Erster got a triple-kill, and Atlanta won their following round thanks to quick target selection onto Dong-gyu “Mano ” Kim.
In a more traditional GOATS vs. GOATS game, Atlanta played aggressive again, but New York appeared more willing to match them. It ultimately didn’t pan out, as Atlanta got better ultimate use and pushed far forward. New York, on their attack, took their time in trying to find a target on Point A. But after that, Atlanta pushed all the way up to the spawn room, with Dogman continuing his Busan-like play and Daco getting some bombs off. New York needed to use some ultimates just to break out of their spawn. Sure, the Excelsior were able to finish the map, but with far less time than Atlanta. In extra rounds, New York’s players either died when they got ultimates or they used them at the wrong points. With that hold, Atlanta denied their opponents any chance of winning the series.
At the start of the rematch on University, Jjonak used an ill-timed Transcendence, opening the door for Excelsior to be wiped out. A Babybay Graviton Surge caught New York off guard, who did not check their corners. Mano was also constantly targeted, at times being a non-presence. New York fared better on Gardens, getting the better of Pokpo and using their ultimates in sync. Dogman played Ana on City Center, getting more value than Jjonak’s Zenyatta. Atlanta were also constantly positioning themselves on the ledge overlooking the point, forcing New York to come to them for engages. Pokpo got the most of out Dogman’s Nano-Boosts, jumping all over the point looking unkillable at times.The consistent confusion New York showed lead Atlanta to win.
New York attacked first and secured Point A fairly quick. But afterwards, Atlanta turned the defense way up. Daco landed some major bombs as the payload almost reached Point B, allowing the Reign to set up position on the walkways above the payload route. The support ultimates and stagger kills were key in keeping the Excelsior from finishing completely. On their attack, Atlanta used a 3-DPS composition. Erster’s Pharah and Babybay’s Hanzo kept New York hiding away from the point, their GOATS not at all equipped to prepare with the aerial threat on Point A. The Excelsior never appeared to be a threat to stopping the payload after that, with Daco’s EMP’s put them out of commission, and everyone else’s ultimates leading Atlanta to victory.
Unlike the week three set, this one went all the way to five games. The first map, Gardens, saw Pokpo leading charges with his Winston jumps and juggling the opposition in primal rage. Thanks to team follow-up and utilizing tight chokepoints, New York hardly got a foothold on the point, only breaking through when Daco and Dogman died. Atlanta would win thanks to Erster and Daco. On Market, New York got the early advantage with Jjonak’s and Nenne’s aggression. It took a long time for Atlanta to gain control, relying on Babybay and Masaa for kills. But once they got control, the Reign never looked back. No matter what ultimates New York through out there, Atlanta hung on with Babybay and Daco’s heroics to get quick kills and end New York’s dreams.