Beyond a few surprising results (Chengdu Hunters did what exactly in Shanghai Dragons?), there are a few takeaways for me from this weekend. I’ll dig deeper into those after this weekend’s results, as well as the VODs if you want to watch any of the series – although you should definitely check out Houston Outlaws vs. San Francisco Shock.
Friday April 16
Houston Outlaws 3-2 Dallas Fuel
Los Angeles Gladiators 1-3 San Francisco Shock
Saturday April 17th
Guangzhou Charge 0-3 Shanghai Dragons
Los Angeles Valiant 1-3 Chengdu Hunters
Philadelphia Fusion 3 – 1 Seoul Dynasty
Toronto Defiant 3-1 Vancouver Titans
Atlanta Reign 1-3 Florida Mayhem
Dallas Fuel 3-1 Los Angeles Gladiators
Sunday April 18
Guangzhou Charge 0-3 Seoul Dynasty
Chengdu Hunters 3-0 Shanghai Dragons
Philadelphia Fusion 3-0 Los Angeles Valiant
Houston Outlaws 3-2 San Francisco Shock
Florida Mayhem 3-1 Vancouver Titans
Toronto Defiant 3-2 Atlanta Reign
I just want to point out that the Defiant are 2-0. It was a good weekend.
To take away
Are Hero Pools Really Necessary?
One of the main reasons for Overwatch and OWL introducing Hero Pools last year was to shake things up by making sure teams couldn’t perform the same lineups every week. You have to try something else if your favorite heroes aren’t available on a given weekend.
While we’ll see Hero Pools (which are no longer in the retail version) again later in the season, opening weekend gave some solid evidence as to why they might not be the best. way to keep things fresh. While we expected teams to make extensive use of the double bubble (Winston and Zarya) or cutting edge line-ups, we saw a lot more versatility this weekend. In fact, all 32 heroes saw at least some playtime.
This suggests that effective balance fixes, not hero pools, are a better way to favor a wider range of hero selections without limiting the characters available.
There will always be a meta of some sort. Things could change drastically by the second tournament cycle if balance changes on the final experimental map become part of live play, like a reduced health for Reinhardt and a shorter cooldown for Orisa’s Halt! capacity. But maybe it would be better for Blizzard to tweak the heroes so that they are all viable, rather than arbitrarily locking a few each week into OWL.
Is there something that Minki Park “Viol2t” cannot do? He was the league’s best player last season, according to IBM Watson Power Rankings. The San Francisco Support superstar Shock showed this weekend that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Viol2t switched to the hitscan damage role for a few cards and showed how good his McCree is. In Friday’s third card against Los Angeles Gladiators, Gibraltar, Viol2t collected 15 final blows with this hero. Against Birdring and Kevster, and a strong team overall, it’s really impressive.
Viol2t’s fine performance in this match wasn’t all that surprising, considering he showed off his hitscan prowess on his stream. Things didn’t go so well for him in the loss to Houston on Sunday, however. By my calculations, he only landed one murder on Dorado as McCree, and it wasn’t a final blow.
Even with an abundance of world-class DPS talent at their disposal, the Shock have an even deeper talent pool to fit into the damage roles. Who knows? Maybe we’ll even see more Super Genji this year.
Houston Outlaws and Dallas Fuel made Texas proud this weekend. The teams faced off in an exciting first game of the season, with the Outlaws winning 3-2. They each faced fierce competition, with Fuel taking on the Los Angeles Gladiators and Houston taking on two-time defending champion Shock. Both Texas teams won those games, with the Outlaws taking Shock to a sixth card for a 3-2 victory.
In the case of Fuel, their 3-1 victory was perhaps even more remarkable. Hitscan specialist Ki-hyo “Xzi” Jung left the team and OWL two days before the start of the season due to persistent injuries. This put the Fuels in a position where they had to perform unusual compositions, but they made a Mei-Doomfist DPS line work with great effect against the Glads. They could be a real threat if they can pick a talented hitscan player who marries the team.
Both Outlaws and Fuel were eager to have a great season, and they got off to a fantastic start.
The Overwatch League returns for Week 2 of the 2021 season on Friday, starting with Paris Eternal v Vancouver Titans at 3 p.m. ET.