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 April 29 to May 2. 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 ability: Element of mystique
Developer’s comment: We’ve been working on the Dallas Fuel for several seasons now, and we’ll be the first to admit that we’ve had a few misfires. However, we think that with this change, they’re finally in a really good spot. Their new passive, “Element of mystique,” was a concept we had years ago and just recently managed to bring together in a satisfying way.
- Still no performance changes made
Developer’s comment: You might be wondering why we’ve included this unorthodox patch note two weeks in a row. It’s because we feel like we cannot stress this enough: no matter the roster changes, the Philadelphia Fusion will remain exactly the same. They are always capable of reaching incredible heights – as long as it’s not during a playoff match.
- Gameplay now somewhat resembles previous performances
Developer’s comment: We know there are plenty of Shanghai Dragons fans out there clamoring for a revert to our 2020 patch. One of our design principles is never to go back, no matter how good something used to be, but as a bit of a compromise, we’ve made it so that the Dragons seem like their old self again. (They aren’t actually, but they’ll make you think that soon they might be.)
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 and epic highs and lows of professional Overwatch this week.
Those who followed the matches this week will know that for a brief, beautiful moment, it was possible for four teams to tie for the the final two May Melee knockout spots. It would require the Atlanta Reign to beat the San Francisco Shock by at least two maps.
The Shock were able to close that match out with a 3-2 scoreline, effectively shutting down the promise of a gloriously chaotic four-way tie. Little did we know, though, that the mayhem was only just beginning. I am, of course, referring to the Florida Mayhem’s impressive victory over the top-seeded Washington Justice, to clinch one of the final four May Melee slots and expeditiously book their tickets to Hawaii. Over in the East division, the then-undefeated Philadelphia Fusion were toppled by the Shanghai Dragons, and the Chengdu Hunters rolled over the Seoul Dynasty with relative ease.
However, none of this was even close to being the wildest thing that happened this week. Defending champions San Francisco Shock were absolutely rocked in their knockout match against the sixth-seeded Dallas Fuel. The Fuel may have barely eked into knockouts, but they soon showed they weren’t to be taken lightly. Led by main tank Lee “Fearless” Eui-seok, the Fuel came out with guns blazing, defeating the Shock in a resounding 3-0. They then blasted through the Houston Outlaws without so much as breaking a sweat.
To the Mayhem and Fuel: see you in Hawaii. To everyone else: better luck next time.
DEFEAT: BEING UNDEFEATED
With the Washington Justice, Houston Outlaws and Philadelphia Fusion all eliminated in the May Melee knockouts, there are no longer any undefeated teams in the Overwatch League. (Though these teams’ regular season records technically remain unblemished, we all know the truth.)
Before the season began, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone predicting a 4-0 start for the Justice and the Outlaws. Hell, even the Fusion’s start to the season was up in the air due to their numerous visa issues and hasty player signings. But all three of these teams exceeded expectations right out of the gate, with impressive individual showings and team cohesion, which is a commendable feat.
The fact that there are no more undefeated teams is a good representation of what this season of the Overwatch League is shaping up to be. It’s been clear from the start that unlike previous years, where there were a handful of juggernauts tussling for first place while everyone else vied for fourth, 2021 is the tightest race for the trophy that we’ve ever had. Anyone is capable of beating anyone. Even the bottom teams are full of potential. There’s no telling where this season will go.
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 who we think gamed harder than anyone else.
LEE “FEARLESS” EUI-SEOK (DALLAS FUEL)
One of the reasons I was skeptical about the Shanghai Dragons performing up to the standard they set for themselves last year was the loss of their aptly named main tank, Fearless. He was instrumental for them at many crucial junctures last year, most notably helping the team pull off a four-map reverse sweep, the likes of which had never been accomplished before in professional Overwatch history. He joined the Dallas Fuel this past off-season to reunite with his former teammates from Element Mystic, all of whom he hadn’t played with since 2018.
Fearless’ transition from the Dragons to the Fuel doesn’t seem to have affected his performance at all. In fact, he might be gaming harder than ever now. His Winston remains a force to be reckoned with; it was on par with the likes of Xu “Guxue” Qiulin and Kim “Mano” Dong-gyu last year, and came up big for the Fuel many times this week. He can also play any other main tank hero without any noticeable skill drop-off. The Fuel struggled to find their footing early on, dropping their first match to the Houston Outlaws, but Fearless no doubt helped them rally back and defeat their Texan rivals where it mattered the most.
Earlier Overwatch League fans will remember Fearless as being part of the infamous Shanghai Dragons roster that went completely winless in the inaugural season. He was dropped from the team after that and spent a year in Contenders, proving himself worthy of being picked back up. You might see people saying that Fearless is the “protagonist” of the league, which actually makes a lot of sense given his journey. To say he’s currently undergoing a redemption arc wouldn’t be much of a stretch at all. It’ll be very interesting to see how far he can take it.
- Kim “Yaki” Jun-ki (Florida Mayhem)
- Kim “Fleta” Byung-sun (Shanghai Dragons)
- Luo “Elsa” Wenjie (Chengdu Hunters)