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 May 28-30. 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 ability: “Aspiration”
Developer’s comment: Our main concern regarding the Defiant is how quickly they stagnate every season. They always start off well, then peter out and never quite make it back. This new ability, “Aspiration,” allows them to periodically glimpse the soaring heights that they’re capable of. In short, this gives the Defiant something to aspire to, which will hopefully be a constant source of motivation.
SAN FRANCISCO SHOCK
- Clutch potential restored to 80%
Developer’s comment: The Shock weren’t quite performing the way we’ve come to expect recently. So, we dug into the numbers and decided to revert their ability to clutch out seemingly unwinnable situations to about 80%; what it was last year. And also the year before that. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
LOS ANGELES VALIANT
- Everything unchanged
Developer’s comment: When a team is performing poorly, you expect them to make big changes and they often do. However, we’ve decided to conduct an experiment with the Valiant this year. We’re going to see how long a bottom-ranked team can go without making a single change. So far, it’s been seven weeks. We’re curious to see how far they can take it too.
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.
VICTORY: THE RACE FOR THE TOP
The June Joust qualifiers have been an absolute pleasure to watch so far. Teams that didn’t even qualify for knockouts in the May Melee, like the Atlanta Reign and Boston Uprising, are stepping it up this tournament cycle. This has led to exciting games where it feels like anyone could win. It also means that every single victory – and every single defeat – matters that much more.
The West Division is a particularly tight race. With only six knockout spots and eight teams currently sitting at a 1-1 record or better, the stage is set for an exhilarating final week of nail-biters. These will determine which teams make it through to knockouts. The storylines are outstanding, too. There’s the Houston Outlaws, already qualified and looking to redeem themselves after getting knocked out by their Texan rivals last time. There’s the San Francisco Shock, our defending champions, eager to claim their crown again after their humiliating May Melee exit. And, there’s the Los Angeles Gladiators, determined to be the team that everyone expected them to be before the season began.
And that’s not even all of them! Every single team vying for a top spot right now, in both divisions, is hungry for a chance to prove themselves. That means they’ll put everything they’ve got into their remaining matches. This week was just the setup for what will no doubt be a fantastic final week of qualifiers.
DEFEAT: THE BOTTOM PART
Unfortunately, as exciting as the race for the top is, there is also a group of teams languishing at the bottom of the rankings; all of them played this past week. The Vancouver Titans, London Spitfire and Los Angeles Valiant didn’t exactly have high expectations surrounding them coming into the season. Other than a few flashes of brilliance, though, it’s been mostly unimpressive stuff from these guys. Their matches have sort of been duds.
It’s always uncomfortable to watch a team fail over and over again. You have to know that it’s the nature of competition; some teams just aren’t up to par with the others and it’s nobody’s fault but their own. But, you also can’t help but feel bad for them. Seeing the word “defeat” pop up on your screen week after week can’t be easy. The sheer number of teams in serious contention for top spots in the June Joust only makes it clearer that there are a handful of teams that simply can’t keep up.
It would be fantastic for all teams to be on even footing. It’s unlikely that will ever happen — not just in the Overwatch League, but in any organized sport. But, can you imagine how great every match would be if it did?
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.
CHARLIE “NERO” ZWARG (SAN FRANCISCO SHOCK)
The fact that it’s taken seven weeks for a Shock player to have gamed hardest is a testament to the variety of outstanding talent in the league. It’s possible that the Shock are so frequently impressive as a team that it’s become difficult to pinpoint and elevate individual excellence when it happens. It simply gets lost in there.
This week, though, Nero rose to the top and earned the honor of gaming the hardest. He’s new to the Shock this season but the pressure of living up to the team’s legacy clearly hasn’t gotten to him. He dominated in both the Shock’s matches this week as Echo; a hero who’s picked up a lot of the slack now that Tracer and Sombra are out of the mix. He’s always been a gifted projectile damage player and his experience in that department really shined this week. Nero’s wide hero pool and flexibility also allowed him to utilize Echo’s ultimate ability to its full potential.
I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing D.Va shout “nerf this!” four times every fight. But, if that’s the price we must pay to watch Nero play Echo, then so be it.
- Kim “birdring” Ji-hyeok (Los Angeles Gladiators)
- Kang “Void” Jun-woo (Shanghai Dragons)
- Luka “Aspire” Rolovic (Toronto Defiant)