Well you can’t say you didn’t enjoy that. Yes, there were a few blowout wins on the first day of the first ever season, but so far Blizzard’s attempt at their own esports league appears to have been a success thanks to some really well put together and talented teams for the first Overwatch League season. The action has been fast, the skill sets at times amazing to watch live and that stage, it’s just picture perfect.
SETTING THE STAGE
Let’s talk about the stage for a second, because it’s absolutely gorgeous. From the massive screens that wrap around from behind the players to the crowd before them, to the effective use of lighting and effects to make it easier to track, there’s no doubt that the effort to put this all together has been incredibly massive.
So too was the overall live presentations, supported by a professional commentary team that really knows its stuff (anyone who tuned into the Overwatch World Cup should be well familiar with most of the faces and/or voices) and some well-adjusted camera and color effects to make everything so much easier to track than Blizzard originally designed in-game. All told, it’s exactly what a big budget sports event should be like and Blizzard should be proud of that.
Also, did you know that the circular bar hanging above the crowd is manually controlled to show how far teams have capture a point? Pity we never get to really see it on screen, but those live in the arena are loving it.
FUEL AND DYNASTY STEAL THE SHOW
The best advertisement for the Overwatch League on day one was always going to be to have the two best teams on show from the start, and that’s exactly what we got when the Dallas Fuel and Seoul Dynasty went up against each other to end the first night of the season. With both teams coming from highly regarded and successful years out of the Apex tournament, expectations were high that the teams would put on a show, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.
The Fuel came out flying on Junkertown with a very quick Winston kill as they put in a strong time on the newer escort map. It left the Dynasty with a tough ask to equalize, eventually falling just short of the final capture point to hand the Fuel the first round victory 3-2. Dallas continued to roll into Anubis, putting in an astonishingly fast time through the second capture point of over six minutes remaining on the clock. Seoul responded with almost as quick a time, leading to a long back and forth as both teams modified and adapted to each other’s varying strategies.
Seoul is still the team to beat, their victory sealed by some incredible talent and cunning, and despite putting up a big effort the Fuel is now 0-2 following their loss to the Valiant. If we learned anything from this weekend and this battle in particular, it’s that nothing everything is as clear cut as we may have thought, but the Dynasty should remain early favorites.
VALIANT CLEANS UP EARLY
The LA Valiant is certainly going to be a force to be reckoned with, especially if Soon can continue to pull off those deadly Widowmaker plays. The Vailant was impressive against the San Francisco Shock in the inaugural match, cleaning them out 4-0, but it was their somewhat upset victory over early fan favorites, Dallas Fuel, that really put them on the map. The Fuel are no pushovers, so to not only beat them at their own game early on in an incredibly tight Junkertown (arguably the best round of the week besides the Fuel/Dynasty showdown) but then leave them with a big fat zero in the win column shows how tight this competition can get.
LONDON SLOW TO START, FAST TO FINISH
London Spitfire found themselves behind early against Florida May+hem, who pushed the all South Korean team hard on Dorado to hold them to just one point. That confidence carried into Anubis, but the Spitfire clawed its way back with some solid defense of their own to even the series thanks to some sharp Widowmaker sniping.
And then came Oasis, with Florida pushing out early on the first map and holding down the point to 99%, until some smart adjustments by the Spitfire turned the tide and pulled off an impressive comeback. A sneaky Reinhardt made the play of the week with a perfectly timed Earthshatter, taking out the rear guard of the Mayhem to secure the map in fine fashion. Again Florida responded, taking an early lead on the next map before London fought back once more, eventually shutting down the competitive spirit of their opposition to secure another big comeback victory and a 2-0 result. Safe to say, the competition shouldn’t take London lightly.
THE WAIT FOR PHILADELPHIA WAS WORTH IT
No one knew what to expect of the Philadelphia Fusion, who pulled out of the preseason at the last minute due to logistical issues and eventually put their full complement together just days before the season proper. But no one expected the Fusion to pull out a victory over a Houston team that had impressed against the elite just weeks ago.
Shadowburn’s Pharah torched the skies with some perfectly accurate rockets to clean out the Outlaws on Oasis and the Russian took control at a tightly contested Eichenwalde as his Genji tore through Houston’s defense to push the cart over the line. Houston responded, flying forward to set a much faster capture time which ultimately helped them comfortably take the map, sending the round into a fifth and final map for the first time in the OWL, an all or nothing brawl at Lijiang Tower that the Fusion was just too good on. They may have been swept by the Spitfire hours later, but it’s safe to say the Fusion should provide plenty of entertainment and a good bet for a few upsets in the future.
NEW YORK EXCELSIOR, AKA THE PINE SHOW
He might have only subbed in on occasion, but Pine showed how dominating he can be when given the chance in a New York side that will be right up there with the best. His McCree was stunning in shutting down the Boston team that had troubled them up until that point, and his accuracy continued to hound Houston too. No doubt every other team will be keeping a close eye on Pine’s performances going forward, perhaps even planning a counter-offensive for the super sub.
Speaking of the Uprising, they did put in a much better effort than their preseason results would indicate, but poor Dreamkazper has a lot to think about following a terrible run after half time against New York. Both Pine and Saebyeolbe constantly shut him down to almost embarrassing effect, so a few adjustments will have to be made to give him some much needed support going forward.
With every good team comes the unfortunate news of a bad one, and it seems we have an early dud with the Dragons. There were moments in their first game where whatever strategy they went in with seemed to fall apart very quickly, which isn’t something an Overwatch team wants to be remembered for. It’s going to take a monumental effort to build the roster into a contender, because right now it’s looking as though they just don’t have the right kind of answers. They aren’t alone either, both the Mayhem and the Shock may have long seasons ahead of them too.
Everyone goes on about the meta, the in-game concept of having a certain group of characters that are just right for every map you come across. Every team in the league so far has a set number of characters they might choose, though if you look closely you’ll notice that almost every character on the roster was onscreen at one point or another, whether for a full match or only for a few moments. Yes, that includes the likes of Mei, Hanzo, and Torbjorn, but one clear absentee was the turret lover herself, Symmetra. It’s a sign that there’s still plenty of balance changes that need to be made to ensure every character is worthwhile to team chemistry, but at least there was plenty of variety and excitement across the first round instead of the same old, same old.
What stood out for you in the early goings of the OWL? Let us know in the comments down below and keep an eye out for more news and wrap-ups as the season continues.