Welcome to Match Notes, a weekly column by staff writer Bonnie Qu that looks back on each week of the Overwatch League.
This week’s entry is about the games that took place from July 8-11. For official match results, check out the Overwatch League website. For everything else, look here.
THIS WEEK’S PATCH NOTES
The good folks over at the Overwatch League are constantly figuring out ways to make things as balanced as possible. This means tweaking the relative strength of various teams and players from week to week, with varying results. This year, they’ve generously agreed to send us some of their official patch notes every week so that we know exactly what changes have been made.
- New passive: “Breaking ties”
Developer’s comment: The Hunters have historically been very good at dragging a series out longer than it ever needed to go, but had problems actually closing those series’ out. We’ve given them a new passive ability that will allow them to actually win in tiebreaker, rather than making it to Map 5 for literally no reason.
- New ability: “Cursebreaker”
Developer’s comment: Occasionally, Overwatch League teams will incur the wrath of an ancient god or something and a horrible curse will be placed upon the whole league. This time, someone seems to have screwed up real bad, because every team that’s gone 4-0 in qualifiers has failed to make it through knockouts. To counter this, we decided to bestow a curse-breaking ability onto one of the teams, and the Dragons seemed like our best option.
LOS ANGELES GLADIATORS
- Ability to play attack on 50% of maps removed
Developer’s comment: There was a lot of talk about the Gladiators’ aggressive style during this tournament. We felt that in order for a team to be truly championship caliber, they should be able to play an equally strong defense. Thus, we’ve taken away their ability to attack on several maps. If they can overcome this challenge and win purely off the strength of their defense, they’ll be ready to go to Hawaii.
Winners and losers are a natural part of competition, though not always in the way one would think. In this section, we go over who experienced the triumphs, defeats, epic highs and epic lows of professional Overwatch this week.
VICTORY: THE HUNTERS
Four teams have made it to the Summer Showdown playoffs: the Shanghai Dragons, the Dallas Fuel, the Atlanta Reign, and the Chengdu Hunters. All of them have been here before. Two have even won the whole thing. Sure, the Dragons and the Fuel are the two best teams in the league. Sure, the Reign look like a really strong challenger. But of all these teams, the most interesting one to follow has to be the Hunters.
The Hunters underwent some roster changes this tournament. Flex tank Luo “Elsa” Wenjie retiring and Ma “LateYoung” Tianbin stepped up to the starting roster. Though Elsa was a fantastic player who was responsible for many of the team’s past successes, LateYoung returning to the main roster might actually be the best thing that could happen to the Hunters right now. They’re a team notorious for being able to take matches to a tiebreaker, only to stumble at the last hurdle.
LateYoung’s strong personality and leadership is just what they need to finally fix this little issue of theirs. It’s already paid dividends for them in the form of a spectacular reverse sweep against the Philadelphia Fusion and a 3-2 win against the Seoul Dynasty in knockouts. These are the kinds of wins that would have likely eluded the team in the past. Furthermore, the Hunters love to employ the kinds of roster swaps that no other team would dare to even attempt – and end up succeeding anyway. They’ve spent this season steadily rising above their reputation as a team that could win or lose against anyone. Now, they’re on the way to being a team that can just win.
DEFEAT: THE SHIELD LOGO TEAMS
The Summer Showdown knockout games were thrilling, to say the least. Four out of six matches went to all five maps, with each victory feeling hard-fought. But along with the thrill of victory comes the heartbreak of defeat, and two teams – the Washington Justice and the Los Angeles Gladiators – became intimately familiar with heartbreak this week.
It’s been rough for the Justice and the Gladiators. Both are teams that were projected to do very well before the season began. For good reason too, given the immense talent on both rosters. However, despite performing well in the regular season, neither team seems quite able to push past that remaining barrier and make it to the tournament playoffs. That was made all the more apparent this week. The Justice claimed a narrow victory over the Paris Eternal, only to be defeated 3-2 by the Fuel. The Gladiators blazed past the Boston Uprising but, similarly, lost 3-2 to the Reign.
Both teams really gave it their all, and it showed in the way they played. The Justice, especially, were maybe the best we’ve ever seen them. You can’t help but feel for these players and coaches as they return to the drawing board once again, knowing they were closer than they’ve ever been. But the season’s not over yet, and there’s still time for these two teams to pick up their shields and finally make it through.
WHO GAMED THE HARDEST?
Every player in the Overwatch League is, by definition, a gamer. But, sometimes, one rises to the top as the most gamer of them all. Whenever this happens, it’s worth celebrating. Each week, we’ll be picking the one player we think gamed harder than anyone else.
KIM “FURY” JUN-HO (WASHINGTON JUSTICE)
Some people may call me on my bias for this one, and they’d probably be right. It’s true that Fury is one of my favorite players to watch. He has been since he made his league debut in 2018. But I don’t think anyone can disagree that of all the gamers this week, Fury gamed harder than anyone else.
The Justice may have ultimately failed to make it to Hawaii, but Fury’s performance was a sight to behold. He’s always been one of the best D.Va players in the league and it was such a treat to get to watch it again. Sometimes, a player is just so good at a hero that it seems like the hero is a part of them. Fury’s D.Va feels like that. Everything about his play is so fluid and calculated. Every time the broadcast shows his POV, you can practically see his mind going a mile a minute in every little movement, every little twitch. He’s always in the right place at the right time. He very rarely makes a mistake. Without him, the Justice wouldn’t have gone nearly as far as they did.
He’s also shouldering a lot of responsibility as the veteran player of the Justice roster. Not only has he been playing in the league longer than most of his teammates, but he was also an integral part of the London Spitfire’s 2018 championship run. The Justice are still a young and volatile team, and will need Fury to step up as a leader more than ever if they want to really come into their own. Hopefully he comes back well-rested and ready to dazzle again in the Countdown Cup.
waaaaaaaaaaaaaaAaaaaaa ggs @ParisEternal please.. one more..
— Fury (@Furyy_d) July 11, 2021
- Yi “JinMu” Hu (Chengdu Hunters)
- Kang “Void” Jun-woo (Shanghai Dragons)
- Kim “Ir1s” Seung-hyeun (Atlanta Reign)