Day: July 25, 2019
Victim: Goats Meta
Cause of Death: A stagnant, repetitive meta, angering fans and players alike.
In the past, whenever Blizzard wanted to revive a flagging meta or fix a broken hero, all they had to do was put in a few patches or add a new hero or two. Remember the Mercy Meta? Remember Dive? Remember Tracer? All fixed with nerfs, buffs, and the creation of totally new heroes. But no matter how much Blizzard tried to buff, nerf, and patch away goats they just couldn’t kill the triple support-triple tank behemoth that has dominated the game since Stage 4 of last year.
So they enacted the most drastic action the game has seen since the Mercy resurrection nerf since, even, the announcement of the League itself: the role lock. Forevermore, or at least until they come up with new rules, Overwatch League games (and your casual quick play and competitive ladder play) will be played with 2 damage heroes, 2 tanks, and 2 support heroes.
Before the road to the playoffs, localization in 2020, and the addition of Sigma, this is the biggest story in the Overwatch League right now. Bigger even than the results of the first week of Stage 4. So in lieu of recapping every match that took place this week, let’s take a look at how some of the teams handled this brave, new, goats-less world.
After a rematch against the Dragons, who beat them in the run-up to the Stage 3 playoffs, and a match against Florida Mayhem that should be considered a violent crime in all 50 states, the Titans are undefeated in this new meta. Fans of the team from their RunAway days are excited for the return of Hyo-jong “Haksal” Kim’s Genji, making the team very much reminiscent of what they were in the Apex days of old.
San Francisco Shock
The Bay Area boys are still winning, this week against Seoul Dynasty. Like Vancouver, they’re not going anywhere.
This team is on fire with no sign of slowing down. It’s been wins for them on the stage and off with a 4-game win streak and the announcement of signing Joona “Fragi” Laine and Aaron “Bischu” Kim, two universally beloved, but seldom seen, players. They have a very winnable rest of the stage and it’s a shame there is no Stage 4 playoff because they’d be the favorites to win it all or come very, very close.
The Stage 4 meta change is developing a reputation for being a great equalizer. With a clean slate of sorts, struggling teams have a chance to change their fate. Washington is one of those teams. They have excellent individual talent in Ethan “Status” Yankel and Corey “Corey” Nigra and their match against the Toronto Defiant finally gave that talent a chance to breathe in roles they are more comfortable in.
London likes to keep a low profile; they weren’t the favorites to win last year and I don’t believe they are now. But with the role lock, players like Ji-hyeok ”Birdring” Kim and Joon-yeong “Profit” Park have the chance to break out of bench hell and Brigitte jail to remind the others why they are the defending champs.
New York Excelsior
Their time in the Atlantic Division has made them soft, or, conversely, they have always been soft and only now have they faced a real challenge to their talent. Their first game in role lock they lost to the Los Angeles Gladiators despite fan favorites Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park and Hae-seong “Libero” Kim being back on the heroes that made them fan favorites. Their spot as the Atlantic Division leader is all but secured, but if they’re going to actually make it through the playoffs, they’re going to have to start trying.
Philadelphia are known for their love of taking their games down to the wire. They were also known for winning said games. That wasn’t the case this week, seeing loses to the Hunters and the Charge. They, like the Spitfire, were not accounted for at all in last year’s playoffs. But if they’re going to get back to that Grand Finals stage (in their hometown no less) they’re going to have to do something different. Consistency has always been their bane and that’s still apparent now.
The Uprising just look lost. Not even a meta switch changes that. It’s expected that Florida is bad, from Boston it’s a disappointment.
Last year wasn’t their year and it looks like this one won’t be either. Great equalizer Stage 4, maybe, but even that can’t fix a team that has never looked comfortable together. Their match against the Titans was painful to watch and with Washington looking more comfortable in role lock, it looks like they won’t even be able to beat their long-time bottom of the barrel rivals either.
Even with Vancouver, New York, and San Francisco in such dominant leads, it is hard to predict what the finals will look like. Last year, the two teams who showed up in the Grand Finals were the last two seeds in the playoffs. This year, the playoffs will be a double-elimination bracket where three-quarters of the League will have a chance to make it. Anything can happen. The new role lock simply guarantees this. Teams we never considered (Guangzhou primary among them) will end up surprising us, so keep your mind (and your brackets) open. There’s more Stage 4 to come.