Day One of Season 2 of the Overwatch League was not what I was expecting.
I sat down Thursday night with a beer, chips, and some queso and got ready to watch the opening match of Season 2 of the Overwatch League. I’d been waiting all week to watch the London Spitfire and Philadelphia Fusion go at it in a rematch of the Season 1 Championships, and I’ll admit, I’m a bit biased. I’m a die-hard Spitfire fan. Since I was brought up in CounterStrike and loved Cloud9, they made the most sense to me when the original Overwatch League teams were revealed. What I really wanted to see (besides a Spitfire 4-0), though, was to see Birdring and Profit pop the you-know-what off.
Ilios was up first. I was excited. Profit’s Pharah? Yes, please. I dipped a chip into my queso and narrowly avoided getting some on my shirt, much to my dog’s disappointment. I looked up at the TV and saw this.
“Fine,” I thought, slightly annoyed. “They’re running GOATS. Well, what is Fusion runn—”
“Oh.” I sat and ate my chips in silence. I may have sighed. I also may have tweeted a little.
JEFF KAPLAN PLEASE
— Nick Johnson (@Lesona_) February 15, 2019
WHAT IS GOATS (for those who don’t know)
For the uninitiated, GOATS is an Overwatch team composition. It consists of three tanks and three supports and is most often made up of Brigitte, Zenyatta, Lucio, Reinhardt, Zarya, and D.Va. Positioning is key in this composition, and it revolves around strict control over abilities and layering of ultimates.
THE PROBLEM WITH GOATS
GOATS is boring to watch, plain and simple. Now, now, I know you’re thinking, “Nick, don’t you understand the communication and team cohesion it takes to pull off GOATS effectively? How can you call it boring?!”
Well, dear reader, I do indeed understand the communication and team cohesion it takes for teams to pull off GOATS. I do! What I’m saying is it’s boring to watch and therefore makes for a terrible viewing experience. Quite literally “pick up my phone and check Twitter on overtime map point” boring. As a viewer, I never want to see a stat about Birdring, one of the world’s best DPS players, read like this:
That’s uh, thrilling?
LONDON SPITFIRE VS. PHILIDELPHIA FUSION
Almost the entire first map was spectated in free cam. Viewers saw almost no POV cams because GOATS compositions lend themselves to an overview of the battlefield. Remember when Profit created clips like this?
Yeah, we didn’t see that Profit today. Instead, viewers got (at least) two matches worth of this.
Map two was Hollywood and the perfect stomping ground for a Pharah or a Genji – or so I thought. We saw both teams run GOATS once again, resulting in a 20-minute map two that was as thrilling as boiled chicken. Fusion’s Sado brought out a Hammond at one point, but that’s hardly a shakeup from the 3/3 GOATS composition.
Volskaya, map three in the matchup, finally gave viewers a taste of what they wanted. The cheers in the Blizzard Arena were audibly louder when Birdring finally brought out the Widowmaker. After a quick take on the first point, Spitfire was stymied on point two. Guess what? They switched back to GOATS. I’m pretty sure I heard groans from the crowd. Listen to the clip and you be the judge.
Carpe, who for his second point defense had switched to Ashe, switched back to Zarya.
Volskaya would eventually go to overtime, and end with both teams fielding a Widowmaker and Fusion running a Tracer. That would be short lived, however.
Map four was Rialto. Rialto was a grindy GOATS v. GOATS snoozefest. The mirror match-up went Fusion’s way, and London barely got past the first turn out of spawn. Fusion took the map and the series 3-1.
OWL SEASON 2 IS SHAPING UP TO BE THE OPPOSITE OF EXCITING
Listen, I’ve got nothing against GOATS as an Overwatch player. It’s exciting to coordinate with my stack and land an awesome Reinhardt Shatter/D.V.A. Bomb combo, but it’s simply not exciting to watch. Additionally, it’s not the reason viewers tune in. Riot Games has made several changes to League of Legends in order to up the action and encourage fights simply because viewers want to see two teams duke it out. Imagine if you took Tom Brady and his receivers away from the Patriots and replaced them with linemen. No one would watch the NFL anymore because people want to see 70-yard passes and touchdowns, not defensive grinds (Did you watch the Super Bowl? Did you enjoy it?). The same holds true in competitive gaming.
The rest of the games in the OWL’s Season 2 debut followed the same path, and GOATS reined supreme. We saw flashes of DPS here and there, but without fail every single team reverted to a GOATS composition on every single map. Even the casters are bored. (As of posting, Game 4 between the Shanghai Dragons and the Hangzhou Spark hasn’t finished yet, but seems to feature a more varied composition.)
It’s enough to make me want to cry.
Los Angeles Gladiators Are Our Only Hope
The Gladiators chose several off-meta DPS heroes, especially on Route 66. If you’re looking for a game to rewatch, rewatch this matchup featuring the Los Angeles Gladiators against the Seoul Dynasty.
“THERE IS NO META”
Earlier this year, Jeff Kaplan commented on GOATS and the state of the Overwatch meta, or the lack thereof.
“What’s inevitably going to happen is, whether the meta changes or not, people will end up not liking the current meta. And I already see that happening. I see people say, ‘GOATS is dead and now it’s double sniper and that’s terrible,’ or ‘Everyone’s going to just play McCree.’ What the hell do you people want? If you want random heroes every match, Mystery Heroes is now available for you in the Arcade. There is no meta.”
Well Jeff, if tonight’s matches were any indication, there indeed is a meta. The majority of OWL viewers may be “south of diamond.” They may “not actually be playing GOATS” in their solo ladder matches. But they are definitely watching it, and it’s definitely boring.
Related Artcicle: OVERWATCH ESPORTS: OVERWATCH LEAGUE DAY 4 RECAP
Image VIA: Blizzard Entertainment