2017 is beginning to get juicy for Overwatch. March has been a fantastic time for tournaments: APEX Season 2 playoffs have been delivering awesome games; the Monthly Melee saw some of the best online competition ever, with Selfless facing off against top teams including RunAway, FaZe and Rogue; and the upcoming Overwatch PIT Championship promises the return of true top competition to Europe. Wew lads. It’s almost like it’s an esport.
This week has also been pretty good for content in Overwatch. Check it out:
Dot Esports - Elbion
Same writer, new location, as Gamurs merges into Dot Esports. Elbion takes us through his view of Meta Athena’s Mei usage, particularly their creative Ice Wall boosts, and looks at how that fits in with their usual playstyle. Meta Athena have looked excellent so far, improving every match and constantly innovating to reach the semi finals of APEX Season 2. How far can they go, and what more can they show?
As their inaugural season of APEX progresses, Overwatch team Meta Athena continually find new innovative strategies to surprise their foes. Whether it be an unusual team composition like their double sniper strategy, or a previously unexplored attack route, Meta Athena has consistently shocked us. Considering they are new additions to APEX, Meta is defying expectations and having a storybook run.
On Tuesday, Meta Athena combined a new composition and creative pathing for an incredible attack round on Eichenwalde against Afreeca Freecs Blue in the quarterfinals. The ingenuity is already impressive enough, however when the strategies Meta used are considered against what we know of their playstyle the true genius of the play can be seen.
Winston’s Lab - Karahol
You’ll need to focus for this one, as once again Karahol hits us with some mighty statistics. This week he probes the map format of APEX, asking how it might have influenced games compared to more traditional picking/veto methods. If you can wade through the stats and understand the conclusions drawn, it’s an interesting piece.
Map pools and veto decisions are growing more and more important as teams develop their own styles and preferences. Almost every tournament has a different take on the issue, from APEX to MLG Vegas to DreamHack to the Overwatch Open. Which system is the most reasonable for Overwatch to adopt?
What I am really hinting at in this post is the hidden side of apex, the one that’s not about how great some players are and how they can hard carry their team, but the one that’s about how teams can prepare for the matches ahead, how to structure their preparation and how eventually, in this specific tournament, all your matches in the Group Phase can be rendered useless (strong word, I know) due to a bad pull in the “map pool slot machine”.
I also want to point out how the past experiences, especially the live ones and not the scrims, can actually help players cultivate their instincts on the maps and analysts / casters cultivate their instincts about the progression and outcome of a round / match.
Well, after that blast of stats I'm sure you're getting flashbacks of highschool maths lessons. Wipe the sweat from your brow and take a look at this for some light entertainment.
OGN have again produced an open mic highlight, this time of the Lunatic-Hai vs. EnVyUs game in the first round of the playoff groups. It’s an amusing window into the minds of the players and what’s happening in the team communication throughout the match.
While Lunatic-Hai’s highlighted comms appear to be them just breezing through the game, which wasn’t a roll by any means despite being 3-0, EnVyUs have some genuine moments in there. They put their hearts out there when playing, but the last bastion of Western Overwatch fell nonetheless.
Esports Heaven - RadoN
Although it was written before the Group B games of APEX, this piece is still well worth reading if you haven’t already. After all, the most important lower bracket games have yet to be played.
RadoN takes us through five storylines that define Group B and the Semifinals of APEX: the ‘royal roaders’ of Meta Athena, still on track; the potential dominance of LW Blue, who would have to now claw their way back from the lower bracket; the final form of Kongdoo Panthera, who played fantastically against LW Blue but were bested tactically by Meta Athena; the unlikely potential for a double miracle run for AF.Blue; and the battle of the hard carries in Group B.
The "royal road" was a road that led to the palace of ancient Korean rulers, which only the ruler himself was allowed to travel on. While the monarch traveled on the "royal road", no one was allowed to look at him pass by. Thus, comes the association between the historical term and a team that wins a tournament in their first attempt - the squad is "unseen", because they hadn't competed before and become a "royalty" by winning the tournament.
The squad came seemingly out of nowhere and boasts the impressive record of winning their last nineteen Bo5s, but Meta's story is not exactly the one of a typical prodigy...
By Arms Race
Arms Race does a good job in this video of hitting on something I’ve never heard discussed about esports directly. While the drama of a close game is something that you can intuitively sense, Arms Race attempts to pin down the mechanisms behind it in LoL, CS:GO, and then Overwatch to provide a meaningful discussion on whether the base format of Overwatch’s gamemodes will hold back viewer enjoyment.
It’s by no means the most important issue with spectating Overwatch as an esport, and there are some components of the argument missing (for example, CS:GO has T-sided and CT-sided maps), but overall Arms Race has hit onto something original in his conceptualisation of this problem.