For the final week of Stage 3, the Overwatch League is taking the show on the road to Atlanta, Georgia, for the Atlanta Homestand. With localization set to begin in the 2020 season, the Overwatch League rolled out the Homestand to see what games in the teams’ home markets might look like. If you’re new to the Overwatch League or missed the Dallas Homestand, think of it as a week of regular season games and the All-Star games rolled into one big live event. With the final few spots in the Stage 3 playoff bracket and the title of best Torbjorn hammer up for grabs, this weekend of games promises to burn Hotlanta to a crisp.
The eight teams heading to the Homestand represent a lopsided cross section of Overwatch League talent trending toward the bottom quarter of the ladder. Six of the eight teams have overall rankings below 15 and their stage rankings don’t bump them up that much higher.
However, if you think the relatively low standings of the participants will have any impact on the quality of the matches, you’re more wrong than a full team of Tracers trying to run goats.
This season’s Stage 3 is the absolute anarchy stage. This is the stage that saw the Shock shooketh and the Titans attacked. The San Francisco Shock and the Vancouver Titans, both stage champions and nigh undefeatable teams, were taken down by opponents on the complete opposite end of the win record. The Los Angeles Valiant, a team that’s shakier than the legs of a newborn foal, have clinched a spot in the stage playoffs, while the Grand Champions London Spitfire couldn’t end the stage with a .500 win record. Yes, the standings of the Homestand teams leave a lot to be desired, but with the way Stage 3 has been playing out — with mind-boggling upsets and record-smashing defeats — the standings are completely irrelevant.
Pay special attention to the New York Excelsior, the Shanghai Dragons, the Philadelphia Fusion, and the Guangzhou Charge as all four teams are gunning for the last two spots in the stage playoffs. While there’s a good chance the rankings will remain as they are, the Fusion or the Charge have the capability to bounce some of the lower seeded teams out of the bracket.
The Overwatch League understands that the game is more than team kills and payload pushing. Part of the allure of watching is getting the chance to see professional players do what they do best: frag. In service to that, the Homestands have become part standard League games and part exhibition games that pit community stars against the pros in 1v1 grudge matches. For the Atlanta Homestand, the marquee event, arguably bigger than the games themselves, will be the Torbjorn (hammers only) 1v1 match between Daniel “dafran” Francesca and Liam “Mangachu” Campbell. Why Torbjorn? In a game environment that saw the same six heroes played with very little variation, these two men dared to think outside the meta, choosing a joke hero to the delight of fans and casters alike.
Beyond the teams’ playoff aspirations and the thrill of watching two Torbjorns beat each other with hammers as God intended, there’s something energizing about watching Overwatch League games outside the confines of the Blizzard arena. If you watched the Paris leg of the 2018 Overwatch World Cup or the inaugural season Grand Finals, you understand that there’s something undeniably exciting about watching League games with a crowd of roaring fans. Hearing the chants and hollers and all the hype conveys a kind of secondhand excitement that can’t quite replace the feeling of actually being there but comes satisfyingly close.
Catch the Atlanta Homestand starting Saturday, July 6th at 11:30 a.m. EDT on Twitch and the ESPN mobile app. Check out the schedule below: