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 Aug 19-21. 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.
- No changes made to power level increase over time
Developer’s comment: The Hunters haven’t had a particular moment this season where they just suddenly became good, unlike a couple of other teams. They’ve been steadily getting better and are now about at the level where they should be able to challenge the top teams. We’re not sure if they can actually win the Countdown Cup just yet, but even if they don’t, their power creep means that they’ll be even better in the postseason.
LOS ANGELES GLADIATORS
- Mentality buffed from paper to steel
Developer’s comment: The biggest obstacle the Gladiators have had to face all year has been themselves. We’re sure you’re all aware of how, after any minor inconvenience, this team is inclined to immediately collapse. So, we’re making a big change and buffing their mentality so that they stop tripping over themselves.
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: PRE-SEASON PREDICTIONS
It’s always strange to think back on the start of a season when you’re standing at the end of it. On a personal level, I can’t even believe that I’ve been writing Match Notes for going on 20 weeks now. What were we thinking when this season began? What were we wrong about, and what were we right about?
“The Los Angeles Gladiators” is the answer to both of those questions. Though it seems a thousand years ago now, the Gladiators were at the top of every pre-season ranking coming into the season. They were projected to rule over the West region with an iron fist. They were going to be the best team in the world. Then the season began and that expectation immediately crumbled into dust.
Nobody really knew what was going on with them all season. They had all the pieces but never quite knew how to put them together. Sometimes, they would pull off improbable victories; other times, they would fall to pieces for no apparent reason. Then, the Countdown Cup rolled around and, finally, something clicked. The Gladiators swept through their competition in the West and, after a grueling 4-3 match against the Chengdu Hunters, managed to seize victory for the first time in franchise history. We still have a little bit more to go before we wrap up the season for good. But right now, at least, we can say that we were right. The Gladiators are the best team in the world.
A NEW ERA IS HERE
— Los Angeles Gladiators (@LAGladiators) August 22, 2021
DEFEAT: NOBODY, ACTUALLY
Yeah, there were teams that lost this week (namely, the Seoul Dynasty, Atlanta Reign and Chengdu Hunters). But, honestly, it doesn’t even matter. What matters is that we made it to the end of the season and we’re going into playoffs with the most even playing field we’ve ever had. In previous years, there were just one or two teams that we felt sure could win the whole thing. This year, we have no idea. Any one of the fourteen teams still in contention could potentially win it all. Sure, some have a better chance than others, but there’s nobody we can totally write off. That’s never happened before.
All I feel going into the postseason is optimism, and not even the cautious kind. Blind, fearless optimism; knowing that anything could happen. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
And just before we go into the final section of the final Match Notes of the season, I want to thank anyone who’s stuck around and read this silly recap series. Whether this is the first entry you’ve ever read or whether you’ve read them all, it’s been a lot of fun using these as a way to reflect on every week of the Overwatch League. I’ll continue to cover the postseason in a different format. For now, though, Match Notes, just like so many other things, will be back next season.
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.
HUANG “LEAVE” XIN (CHENGDU HUNTERS)
“Electrifying” is the only word I can think of to accurately describe what it feels like to watch Leave play Overwatch. He has a remarkable way of making magic happen. Just when you think the Hunters are going to let a fight slip through their fingers, there’s Leave with an improbable triple kill, or a map-winning pulse bomb, or an ult-canceling headshot. In the final between the Gladiators and the Hunters, every single player was better than we’d ever seen them. But Leave was the best.
Overwatch is about individuals just as much as it is about teams. It’s important for players to be able to work with each other, but to be a truly great team, you need a little something called star power. You need one player who can turn losing situations through sheer force of will. You need someone who, to quote the show “Ted Lasso,” “makes you feel like you’ve been struck by f****** lightning.”
We watch esports for that feeling. We’re lucky enough to get it every week.
- Indy “SPACE” Halpern (Los Angeles Gladiators)
- Kim “Shu” Jin-seo (Los Angeles Gladiators)
- Kevin “Kevster” Persson (Los Angeles Gladiators)