The Philadelphia Fusion ended Boston’s regular season 14-match win streak. But Friday’s match saw the Uprising hoping to start anew and go 1-1 in the first week of the Stage. Houston, however, had no designs of making it easy for them. And they didn’t. The analyst desk was split on predictions. But one thing that was said often was that the Meta would be the deciding factor. With the addition of Brigitte, the Meta took a hard turn away from Dive. While Dive is still a viable strategy in many situations, it’s no longer as dominant. The Outlaws never did favor Dive setups. And this is honestly good for the game and the Overwatch League viewing experience. Constantly watching teams just run Dive compositions into one another would be boring. In a meta that favors slower, more meticulous play, the Houston Outlaws shine.
This was no more evident than on King’s Row. This is a map that typically goes the distance or very close to it. But Houston managed to make it one of the fastest King’s Row games in the Overwatch League. The entire match lasted under ten minutes. Bringing their Zarya specialist, Spree, back into the mix helped. But the real deciding factor was Linkzr on Widowmaker. In just about every single push from the Uprising, Linkzr popped off, putting Mistakes to shame and showing up with a performance to make Pine and Carpe proud. With these elements in play, they were able to full-hold the Uprising, only allowing them to take a little over one tick. Then, on their own attack, they took their time. They picked up one tick on their first push and the remaining percent on the second after some great picks from Jake on Hanzo.
Hanamura was another challenge for the Uprising. In all of the Overwatch League, they’ve never won on that map. Now, coming into a meta that clearly makes them uncomfortable, it’d be even more of an uphill battle to win on it. And Houston proved that. Boston was able to pick up the first Objective at the last possible second, largely due to more heroics from Striker, who stayed alive long enough for his team’s respawns to come in. But the team stalled out on Objective B. Despite nearly getting it on their final push, Houston saw that they only got a little over two ticks. Then, for their turn at attacking, Linkzr happened again. He even saved his team from a Rip-Tire. Then, on the back of the momentum from the Objective A attack, they swept through Objective B without complication, taking a 2-0 lead in the series.
The Uprising really came alive on Oasis, largely thanks to their new Zenyatta player, Aimgod, getting some key picks. Another major component was Houston’s apparent inability to deal with the Uprising’s Phar-Mercy combination. While it wasn’t a problem on University, it proved difficult for Linkzr on Gardens. The odd choice to go with Widowmaker him no favors as most of the Control maps aren’t ones where you typically see a lot of that character in the Overwatch League. There are, of course, some exceptions. Nepal Sanctum, for example. But the thing that made it strange was that Linkzr had been playing McCree on University, which seemed to be an infinitely more ideal pick for the composition they wanted to run. Thanks to this and some very odd positioning from the Outlaws, the Uprising was able to take the win on Oasis, 2-1.
Then it came down to Watchpoint: Gibraltar. This map would determine if Boston’s hope for the series stayed alive or not. Uprising fans had to feel nervous, however. The Outlaws looked incredibly dominant against the Spitfire on this map, largely thanks to some incredibly aggressive play from Muma on Brigitte. Boston ran full dive on their attack. Eventually scoring enough kills to push the payload through Objective A. However, in a surprising adaptation, Jake swapped from Genji to Brigitte. This had the effect of putting the Uprising on the back foot. While the Outlaws weren’t running a composition to really compliment that hero selection, Jake’s highly aggressive, almost DPS-like style did the job. With it, he was able to outright bully the Uprising and stop their advance, kept alive by his tank-line.
The Uprising contemplating changing tactics for a moment. But stayed on the Dive composition, likely because they were hoping Mistakes, who was 80% to a Genji ultimate, would pull off a Hero-Blade. Suffice it to say, that did not happen. The Uprising stalled out halfway through the shuttle phase of the map. On their own attack, Houston rolled through the first Objective. After stalling out for a bit on Objective B, Jake returned on the Brigitte to beat up Boston and take their lunch money, as well as the map. With that map, the Outlaws won the series, 3-1. Thus Houston went 2-0 in the first week, with the Uprising being the mirror image of that, going 0-2.
The Overwatch League continues to heat up, however. The next matches feature the Philadelphia Fusion going head to head with the Florida Mayhem. Then Shanghai Dragons continue to look for their win of the season, this time against the LA Valiant. But the final match is between the London Spitfire and NYXL.