The opening weekend of the Overwatch League was a tumultuous and exhilarating event, despite the technical problems that arose. This year saw the first time the Overwatch League implemented a home-away format, meaning that matches took place in two cities during the weekend.
The games were the most intense part of the weekend, with the performances of the ten starting teams creating excitement for the season to come.
Toronto Defiant v. Paris Eternal 3-1
The weekend kicked off in New York City with the New York Excelsior’s first homestand event of the year. The event started with the Toronto Defiant up against the Paris Eternal, two teams that went through numerous changes in the off-season.
Lijiang Tower was all Paris – with new support player Brice “FDGod” Monsçavoir speed-boosting around Ki-Hyo “Xzi” Jung’s Symmetra. The driving force for the success of the Defiant came with Andreas “Nevix” Karlsson’s Dva play, swallowing Mei Blizzards and keeping pressure on Xzi on Widow and Mccree.
The match ended in a solid 3-1, with the Toronto Defiant claiming victory in the first game of the 2020 Overwatch League season.
London Spitfire v. New York Excelsior 1-3
Match two of day one saw the New York Excelsior versus the London Spitfire, with the hometown team taking a heavy chip off of the visitors.
It was very clear that the star tank on the NYXL, Hong-Joon “HOTBA” Choi, was ready for a win, launching off massive bombs the entire match. London Spitfire were able to pull out an insane stall with the Boostio on Kyu-min “SanGuiNar” Lim to buy the rest of the team time to come back and fight against the NYXL on the last point. Sangjun “Babel” Park excelled at walling off enemies and controlling the flow of battle on Mei, but the rest of his team faltered against the seasoned NYXL.
L.A. Gladiators v. Vancouver Titans 2-3
For the night’s second set of matches, the League headed west to Dallas, Texas, for the Dallas Fuel’s first homestand event of the year.
The first match of the Dallas homestand saw the Los Angeles Gladiators face the Vancouver Titans. The match devolved into a brawl at times, with the Titans’ ChanHyoeng “Fissure” Baek and the Gladiators Roni “LhCloudy” Tiihonen charging each other, Reinhardt hammers swinging, hoping to create an opportunity for their DPS players.
Ji-hyeok “birdring” Kim did an excellent job of zoning out the Titans on Kings Row and finding opportunities for massive Dead Eyes on McCree. The Los Angeles Gladiators brought out Min-Seok “OGE” Son on Dorado, where he brought out his world-class Winston, helping the team to stay in the series. The first five-map series of the 2020 season came down to technical skill on Haksal’s behalf, with superior support from renowned legend Jehong “RYUJEHONG” Ryu.
L.A. Valiant v. Dallas Fuel 3-1
The final match of Saturday night saw the L.A. Valiant taking on the Dallas Fuel, and despite the home crowd advantage, the Dallas Fuel couldn’t clinch a win.
The Fuel burned hot into Map One, with YoungJin “Gamsu” Noh and Dongha “DOHA” Kim applying consistent pressure on the opposition. As the series progressed, the Valiant found form with Kai “KSP” Collins entering his stride, backed up by support player JeongWon “Lastro” Moon. KSP’s hitscan abilities are top-tier, and for a majority of the series he dominated the highlights, with the exception of McGravy’s 6k bomb.
The score doesn’t reflect it, but the maps were close. Team fights often extended into overtime, where the L.A. Valiant played a more decisive game.
London Spitfire v. Paris Eternal 0-3
The first day of the League had its own share of issues, but day two was carried by the hype from day one. Sunday started in spectacular fashion with the Battle for Europe: London Spitfire going head to head against the Paris Eternal.
Despite many critics and analysts’ predictions, this match was vastly one-sided, with FDGOD causing problems for the London team. The aggressive and decisive play seen on day one from the Spitfire was gone, and Xzi pushed through on Symmetra, melting through shields and bodies alike. The Paris Eternal opted for a double main tank playstyle, utilizing Reinhardt and Orisa versus the Reinhardt and DVa combination that has been popular with other teams – namely in part to Eoghan “Smex” O’Neill being unable to attend the homestand weekend.
Boston Uprising v. New York Excelsior
The New York Excelsior versus the Boston Uprising drew a roar from the crowds unmatched by what we heard from day one. For a moment, the Uprising began to show strength on Oasis right out of the gate, only to be smacked down by Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park’s signature Tracer. The clean sweep to follow was a showcase of what the New York Excelsior’s new DPS player Seung-jun “WhoRU” Lee is capable of on Genji when he has Sung-Hyeon “JJoNak” Bang to back him up.
The Boston Uprising were outplayed constantly and the NYXL managed to win team fights even when they were down in numbers and ultimates. The Uprising went through some serious roster changes in the off-season, and their new composition may need practice time with easier competition to make a difference this season.
L.A. Valiant v. Vancouver Titans 0-3
Following suit on the 3-0 train, the Vancouver Titans brought out all the stops against the L.A. Valiant, aiming to put the second Los Angeles team in the dirt. The L.A. Valiant was heated in this match-up, proving that they have the potential to clutch out key moments when needed – usually to the avail of KSP or Kyle “KSF” Frandanisa.
The Valiant is a team that shows promise. At times, they can go toe-to-toe with the Titans and come out on top. That said, the Vancouver Titans flexed their skills in this match, with Fissure, in particular, pulling off shatters that led to crucial team fight wins.
San Francisco Shock v. Dallas Fuel 3-1
In the final match of the Overwatch League opening weekend, the Dallas Fuel took on the San Francisco Shock amongst hundreds of Dallas fans.
Fuel pulled off some insane plays and the wrecking squad of DOHA and Gui-un “Decay” Jang proved themselves a worthy opponent to NamJu “Striker” Gwon and Jay “Sinatraa” Won. However, the San Francisco Shock continuously won clutch team fights that no one thought would be possible, even when the Dallas Fuel had all of the ultimates and odds in their favour.
On Eichenwalde, the initial attacks from each team were completed in under a minute, leaving plenty of time for Striker to shine in the open areas. Minho “Architect” was formerly a damage player who picked up Ana during this series, masterfully controlling the pace of the game by sleeping members the enemy team before nearly enemy engagement.
The weekend was not without fault, and numerous technical issues and production slips led to everything from major gameplay skips to new memes courtesy of Cheezit Grooves. Despite the hiccups with general production, the content of the matches satisfied the Overwatch itch that so many have had since September.
The Overwatch League is being broadcasted on Youtube Gaming instead of the traditional Twitch in 2020, with viewership peaking at around 92,000 viewers on Saturday during the London Spitfire versus New York Excelsior match. Full viewership numbers have yet to be released by the League, but it is only fair to assume that we will see at least triple that in viewership given Youtube and Google’s AI and embed settings allowing for passive viewership counts from webpages.
Week two of the Overwatch League kicks off in Philadelphia at The Met, where the Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, Washington Justice, and Houston Outlaws will descend upon the Philadelphia Fusion’s home turf.