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 15-17. 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.
- “Chengdu Zone” now envelops the league
Developer’s comment: We were brainstorming ways to make the league more interesting, and our intern Todd brought up an interesting idea. In many ways, tournaments are very similar to a battle royale in that only one team will be standing at the end. Thus, much like in most battle royale games, we’ve converted the already-existent “Chengdu Zone” into a sort of ever-closing ring that will kill you swiftly if you cannot adapt to it and end up being wholly consumed by it.
- New ability: “Heat shield”
Developer’s comment: The Dragons are immune to the Chengdu Zone.
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: EAST DIVISION
For the past two tournaments, we’ve been asking one question over and over again: who can topple the Dragons? And now, after the Summer Showdown, the answer remains the same: nobody. Nobody can topple the Dragons. Not right now, anyway.
But boy, did the Chengdu Hunters come close. Though the Dragons ultimately won again, becoming tournament champions twice in a row, the Hunters had a triumphant Summer Showdown. They were the wildcard coming in, but they quickly proved themselves to be a serious threat. The four series’ they played – two against the Fuel and two against the Dragons – were some of the most exhilarating matches we’ve had in recent memory. Each match saw every single player in the lobby giving it their all, to spectacular effect.
Most importantly, the Hunters’ run and the Dragons’ triumph tells us more about divisional differences. It would be easy to say the East Division is just plain better, meaning that some of its middling teams might be better than the West Division’s mid-tier teams. But it seemed like the stylistic difference in play was on display more than anything. In since-deleted Tweets, the Dragons’ Koo “Fate” Pan-seung mentioned how even with ample time to prepare, the West Division teams have no high-level teams who play the same style as East Division teams, to scrim against.
This is all theory, though. The important thing is that the Wrecking Ball has prevailed. Bow down to him.
DEFEAT: WEST DIVISION
The West Division had a tough time of it in the final four. Both the Dallas Fuel and the Atlanta Reign were summarily defeated by East Division teams in the first round. Then they were forced to play each other, a matchup that the Fuel won right before they went on to get swept by the Hunters.
To be perfectly fair, both teams were working with a significant disadvantage; they had to travel to Hawaii and get acclimated in a very short timeframe, whilst the East Division teams only had to wake up at 7AM. It’s been a problem in every tournament so far, but unfortunate flight delays for the Reign threw the issue into sharper focus this time. Still, as mentioned above, it’s unlikely they would’ve been prepared to face the East Division teams anyway. The Fuel might have been able to take down the Hunters given an extra week of prep time, but frankly, the Dragons seemed unbeatable on all counts.
It’s not all bad for the West Division, though. This is the first tournament where the divisional gap has actually been palpable. With hero bans coming back into effect for the Countdown Cup, who knows what kind of meta we’ll see? Maybe it’ll be one that favors the West Division teams this time.
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.
LI “YVELTAL” XIANYAO & ZHOU “MMONK” XIANG (CHENGDU HUNTERS)
We have an incredibly rare occurrence this week. Two gamers have been awarded the Gamed Hardest accolade. It came down to the two of them, and I just couldn’t decide.
It’s fitting, considering how their play was symbiotic this week. Mmonk has always been a pretty good flex support, but something came over him this week. He secured so many crucial kills and managed to fend for himself, even in the face of players like Kim “Sp9rk1e” Yeong-han and Kim “Fleta” Byung-sun constantly diving him. If not for him being able to pick off enemy damage dealers, the Hunters absolutely wouldn’t have gotten as far as they did.
Mmonk was only able to pop off like this because of Yveltal’s unerring support, though. Yveltal first became known for his Lúcio play, but with Lúcio out of constant rotation, he’s switched over to Brigitte and is doing just as well, perhaps even more so. I can’t count the number of times the broadcast would switch to one of the two supports’ perspectives, only to reveal that they were pushed up ahead of their entire team, with Mmonk slinging orbs and Yveltal dutifully keeping him alive. I feel comfortable saying the Hunters’ support line has shot up the ranks to contend for best in the world at this point.
- Choi “Hanbin” Han-been (Dallas Fuel)
- Kim “Izayaki” Min-chul (Shanghai Dragons)
- Qiu “GA9A” Jiaxin (Chengdu Hunters)