The Overwatch League continues to deliver some real surprises throughout Stage 4. Several upset victories have dominated the first couple of weeks. The Philadelphia Fusion brought down the Boston Uprising and later annihilated the Florida Mayhem. The San Francisco Shock brought down the Seoul Dynasty. And the surprises just keep coming. Wednesday’s matches saw the LA Valiant go head-to-head against the Florida Mayhem. Then the Houston Outlaws finally fell to the LA Gladiators after a big win streak. But all eyes were on the opening matchup of the night, as the Boston Uprising battled the Dallas Fuel. The second best team in the Overwatch League, pitted against one of the bottom three. On paper, this should have been an easy win. But the Fuel continue to show signs of life.
This largely came down to the new meta. With Brigitte thrown into the mix, Dive-centered teams have had a difficult time adjusting. Boston is one of those teams. The first map, Blizzard World, was rather sloppy in its engagements from both sides. It wasn’t a particularly strong indicator of either team’s strengths. The Uprising showed poor adaptation to the Fuel’s strategy, for one. They breezed through Objective A with some incredibly tight play with cheeky angles and a nice display of spatial awareness. But after that push, Dallas adapted, putting Taimou over on the Reaper in order to break up the front line. Boston stubbornly ran a poor composition into this, only making a delayed Pharah swap at an inopportune time. They attempted the infamous “Space Dragon” combo (Graviton Surge + Dragon Strike), but were utterly shut down by Seagull’s D.Va.
The second point, Horizon Lunar Colony, came down to a 2-2 draw. Boston once again slid through Objective A with ease. But while they did eventually take B, they did so in Overtime. Meanwhile, Dallas pulled off a fast first-point take of their own. Then they snowballed from there and picked up Objective B with nearly four minutes remaining. However, they lacked the punching power to get a tick on Objective A in time-bank, which would have won them the map.
Thanks to the draw, all Dallas needed to secure a win was one more map. It came down to Oasis. On the first point, Gardens, the Fuel showed some rather questionable decision-making. Despite knowing about Striker’s Pharah, looming directly over them, they still pushed their way through a very narrow choke. Luckily, they were able to win the fight anyway thanks to a Rally from Mickie’s Brigitte and Harryhook using Valkyrie to zone Striker away. The fight got to 99/99, but the Fuel were able to sustain, with Mickie dueling both of the Uprising’s tanks at once by himself. Luckily they were a Winston and D.Va, both of which are favorable matchups for him. Point B, City Center, went completely their way, however. AKM showed up on McCree, one of his signature heroes. The team played with max aggression and got good use out of Mickie’s Brigitte armor, taking the map and the series in a shocking upset.
The last map was all about the differential. Unfortunately, it was Gibraltar – a map on which they’re historically not the best. Until this match, they were 1-5 on it. And that was coming off of a map where they were 9-2. Ultimately, little changed. They ran a double-sniper composition for an extended period of time, which worked for them towards the end. However, the Fuel simply had the superior ranged player in AKM, who popped off on Widowmaker for their defense. Furthermore, a brilliant disruptive play from Mickie forced the Uprising to panic and blow their ultimates. AKM continued to go off on the Fuel’s attack. Furthermore, the team pulled out a clever play, intentionally blowing the Trans to bait out Dragon Blade from the enemy Genji, then collapsing on him and snowballing the fight in their favor to take Point B and C, taking the series in a 3-0 victory.
When questioned later, it became apparent what the Fuel’s plan was. They’d observed the Uprising and planned for the match by picking up on their opponent’s key weakness – overspecialization. Striker is the star player of the team to many, but those star performances generally come from his Tracer game. His carrying potential is far weaker on other heroes, with the possible exception of Junkrat. The Fuel, observing this, simply made it impossible for him to run the Tracer, forcing him onto uncomfortable picks. This, of course, caused problems for Mistakes and his own synergy with Striker as their other DPS player. While their combination is powerful, the team’s reliance on it is a double-edged sword. They’re extremely susceptible to having the rug yanked out from under them, particularly in this new Meta where their old strategies generally won’t work as easily. And their going 0-3 throughout Stage 4 of the Overwatch League, so far, proves it.
Stage 4 is nowhere near over, however. Thursday’s Overwatch League matchups see the San Francisco Shock try to bring down the London Spitfire. The Florida Mayhem do their best to take down another mid-tier team in the LA Gladiators. Then the Philadelphia Fusion are up against the Shanghai Dragons.