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 12-15. 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.
- Temporarily removed from rotation
Developer’s comment: The Fuel have gone through some wear and tear this season. They’ve been to Hawaii three times now and, contrary to popular belief about Hawaii, have hardly gotten any downtime as a result. We’re going to remove them from the team rotation so they actually have some substantial time to rest and recharge before playoffs. This may manifest in them looking like they’ve turned their brains off in-game, but just trust us, okay? It’s all part of the process.
LOS ANGELES GLADIATORS
- They’re finally good now
Developer’s comment: We know you’re all tired of the constant false starts with the Gladiators. They always look like they’ve clicked, but then something happens and they fall just short of expectations. So, fine, we’re giving you what you want now. Finally, the Gladiators are actually good. Happy now?
- Late-season surge now active
Developer’s comment: The Dynasty – or more specifically, the players of the Dynasty – are notorious at this point for being all about the playoffs. As we draw ever closer to the postseason, so too has the Dynasty’s power level slowly been increasing. They haven’t actually won anything big in a while, so we’re curious to see where it goes.
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: A NEW CHAMPION
We’ve only had two tournament champions this season: the Dallas Fuel and the Shanghai Dragons. When the Countdown Cup playoffs roll around, however, neither team will be in attendance.
The Fuel – who clearly hadn’t been expecting to make it at all – were knocked out early by the San Francisco Shock, while the Dragons didn’t even make it to the knockout round. This leaves the Atlanta Reign, Los Angeles Gladiators, Seoul Dynasty and Chengdu Hunters. Whichever team wins, we’ll have a new tournament champion to close out the season. That’s exciting, especially as play-ins and playoffs draw nearer. We’ll be seeing the Fuel and the Dragons in the playoffs for sure, but they might come up against stiffer competition than we previously assumed.
All the teams who have qualified to the Countdown Cup have shown great promise. The Dynasty seem like they’re finally coming into their own as the regular season comes to a close, much like they did last year. The Hunters blazed through a slew of easy opponents to make it to the final four and are likely determined to finish what they started in the Summer Showdown. The Atlanta Reign are going back to Hawaii for the third time, tying the Fuel and Dragons’ record, and hoping it’ll go better for them this time. And the Gladiators have finally, finally proven themselves worthy of the #1 spot they attained in pretty much every pre-season power ranking.
These storylines are epic enough on their own, but it doesn’t stop there. All of these teams are within range of auto-qualifying for playoffs, but none have clinched it yet. A good tournament performance would pretty much seal the deal for all of them. The stakes have never been higher, and I, for one, can’t wait to see how it shakes out.
DEFEAT: THE ELIMINATED
Let’s have a moment of silence for our six eliminated teams: the New York Excelsior, the Los Angeles Valiant, the Guangzhou Charge, the Florida Mayhem, the London Spitfire and the Vancouver Titans.
Who knew that watching teams play their final game would feel like high school graduation? Actually, it always kind of does, but it hurt just that tiny bit more this time for some reason. Maybe it’s because this crazy season has been a group effort, on the part of everyone in the league. Maybe it’s because many of these players won’t be around when the next season rolls around. Or maybe it’s because exactly when next season will actually happen is still up in the air. Whatever it is, it felt bittersweet to say goodbye to these teams.
They weren’t the best of teams through the season, but they all gave us great moments. Who could forget when the Valiant crushed the Fusion’s tournament hopes by winning one (1) map against them, or when the Titans finally got their first win and provided free breadsticks to all of Western Canada? We’ll miss you, eliminated teams. See you next season – whenever that is.
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 “SHU” JIN-SEO (LOS ANGELES GLADIATORS)
Ever since Shu joined the league in 2019, he’s – well, he hasn’t really “flown under the radar”. Everyone realized pretty quickly that he has what it takes to be up there with the best of them. But his team’s success never seemed to match up to his. With the Gladiators this season, it seemed for a while like history might repeat itself.
Luckily for him, the Gladiators finally broke through in the Countdown Cup and Shu was instrumental to that. In the team’s thrilling 3-2 victory against the San Francisco Shock, Shu’s presence was undeniable, particularly on Baptiste. He’s been impressive all tournament, but during that match, he always found a way to come through in the most crucial moments. He’s up for the coveted MVP award this season, too. When the Gladiators do well, it’s because they work as a well-oiled machine, and sometimes it’s difficult to pick one outstanding performer. Whenever there is one though, it’s almost always Shu.
- Huang “Leave” Xin (Chengdu Hunters)
- Kai “Kai” Collins (Atlanta Reign)
- Kim “FITS” Dong-eon (Seoul Dynasty)