Welcome to ESTNN's Lessons Learned from Stage 1 of this year's Overwatch League! With the first stage of the Overwatch League's second annual season over and done with, The Vancouver Titans took home the trophy with a hard-fought victory in against the San Francisco Shock. Not a bad way to end your first season in the Overwatch League, if we don't say so ourselves. Today, however, we are going to take a look at a few of the lessons we learned over the first stage. These are good indicators of how Stage 2 is going to go, so let's go in armed with knowledge gained and hype raised. Let's get into it!
1. GOATS Dominated, but not entirely
The triple support, triple tank composition known as GOATS took the meta by storm in Stage 1. The ability to heal three targets that already start with high health, on top of the utility ultimates that characters like Lucio and Zenyatta provide, is extremely powerful. The composition does not lack damage either, as Zarya and Zenyatta help to provide immense pressure. Zarya gains charge very quickly, and with Zenyatta's ability to mark and debuff targets with his Discord Orb, almost makes her a DPS character. Some teams, however, were not content to sit around and accept the 3/3 meta. A new composition arose in order to combat the heavy frontline team: Hammond and friends.
This powerful composition consisted of Hammond, Mercy, and four DPS heroes (so basically what most of our solo queue games look like). This composition combats GOATS by out damaging its heals and attempting to assassinate the healers before making quick work of the tankline. Chengdu Hunters famously used this composition as often as possible, and it worked more times than we expected it to. The shock and awe of a DPS-centric composition like that is not easy to deal with. Although they failed to make playoffs, the Hunters left an indelible mark on the Overwatch League community.
2. New Empires rise out of the Old
Why hello, LW Blue, long time no see! Welcome to stage finals against Seoul Dynasty. You may be called something new now, but it seems like old habits die hard. NYXL’s old reputation of playing extremely well in the regular season only to perform below expectations in the playoffs has carried to their new name as well, resulting in a heartbreaking loss to the Dynasty 1-3. This has more impact than just a playoff game, however.
New teams like Vancouver and Atlanta are gunning for not only high placings, but playoff spots and stage titles. Teams that were in the inaugural season need to step up their game to these newcomers and show respect, lest they fall to the same fate. While some teams like the Justice managed to fall into the spot opened up by the Dragons as one of the worst teams, the Valiant also failed to do pretty much anything all stage. From semifinals of the season playoffs to the bottom of the standings, something has to change for established teams. If it does not, they will end up looking like the real rookies.
3. Overwatch can still surprise us
When a match starts, audiences tend to believe they know what they’ll see. If it’s Atlanta Reign playing, however, nothing could be further from the truth. The famous Dafran Graviton Surge on Hollywood stunned casters and flooded Twitch chat with PogChamp’s. What that proved, however, is that there is still room to innovate and improve. A common complaint is that, with GOATS meta taking over, Overwatch can seem stale or boring. What it actually means, however, is that teams that teams have to look beyond compositions to maps and cheeky moves to come out on top. This means in Stage 2 we’ll hopefully see more interesting Graviton Surges, sneaky Shatters, and the use of different map features that many took for granted. With new vigor and drive in teams, it has the potential to be a make or break season.
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— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) March 2, 2019
4. New Patch, New Meta, Big DPS
With a new stage on the horizon, pros will finally be playing on the most recent Overwatch Patch. In this most recent update, DPS heroes were buffed and characters integral to GOATS composition were adjusted and nerfed. What this entails is that there is a high possibility that compositions consisting of two tanks, two healers, and two DPS heroes may return. On the other hand, some combination of the 3/3 may still exist. Essentially, GOATS may become an afterthought while teams focus on the new compositions the patch affords them.
A few highlights of the patch are the buffs on Solder: 76, Orisa, and Junkrat. Soldier: 76 simply does more damage, meaning that he will charge his Tactical Visor ultimate ability much quicker. Additionally, his visor now targets Junkrat’s RIP-Tire and Baptiste’s Immortality Field, meaning it has more utility and can be used to save a teammate. Orisa moves 30% faster when firing, meaning she can relocate and move in a fight much easier, making her a more viable defender. Pro tank players everywhere rejoice! Reinhardt and Winston finally have a third counterpart available. Lastly, Junkrat got a damage increase on direct impacts, changing from 120 damage to 130. This means faster ult charge, and faster kills. On the PTR, he is seeing even more buffs, making his grenades fly and explode faster than before.
5. Overwatch is alive and well
All too often do members of Reddit or Twitter like to yell, “Overwatch is a dead game!” or that it has no future in two, three, or even five years. Unfortunately for those people, the stats simply do not back them up. The viewership for the Overwatch League has been healthy and even set a record for All Access Pass purchases than the last stage. This is largely due to the addition of the features that many requested for the first season, such as player stats and POV streams of each player. This means any viewer can watch their favorite player for the entire match. Overwatch League is filled with passionate people, and it shows. The game is alive, and it is living its best life.
Stage 2 for the Overwatch League begins on April 4th, and it is sure to be filled with incredible games, fantastic casting, and memorable moments. Teams will rise, players will make history, and Overwatch will show the best it has to offer. Be sure to tune in to catch all the plays, and remember; The world could always use more heroes!
Image VIA: Robert Paul and Blizzard Entertainment