Overwatch League's second week saw the Philadelphia Fusion going 2-0 at their first homestand. They'll be back in action in Washington this week, and our writers have several questions they'd like to see answered.
Can the Justice make Washington an esports market?
It's going to be tough. Washington is already a weird market even in traditional sports, and the Justice's struggles last year until the final stage didn't do them any favors in terms of building their brand. That being said, this current Justice team was interesting to watch this past weekend, and has been highlighted in various media as a team with fun personalities in its lineup. I do think this is an oddly crucial test going forward for the league itself, which until this weekend has held homestands in cities that were guaranteed to have emotionally invested live crowds.
-- Emily Rand
ESPN Daily Newsletter: Sign up now!
It's interesting, because there already is a lot of esports investment split between two companies in Washington: You have the Leonsis family and Monumental Sports & Entertainment, who own, among other things, the Capitals (NHL), Wizards (NBA), Mystics (WNBA), District Gaming (NBA 2K League), Caps Gaming (NHL esports), and, most famously in esports, have invested in Team Liquid (Ted Leonsis co-founded and is the co-executive chairman of aXiomatic gaming, which purchased a controlling stake in TL in 2016). Then you have Mark Ein and Washington Esports Ventures, who own the Washington Justice. So the investment and the interest in the nation's capital is definitely there.
At the end of the day, it comes down to promotion and grassroots. This is not a city problem, this is a challenge for any market. Do I believe there are enough people in Washington who will care enough to come to a live esports event four to five times a year? Yes, I do. Will it be 10,000 each time? Maybe not. Can it be 2,000-3,000? With proper execution, yes it can.
How are you promoting these events? What are you doing locally? Are you being creative in your promotion? Is it just the local radio station DJ doing a 15-second copy read with half interest? Maybe a poster at the bus stop you can barely read? #TheLittleThings matter, as I like to say.
It's doable, but the secret sauce is in the execution. It will be very interesting to see what the crowds are like in Week 3 vs. Week 5 in Washington; that might give us an indication of interest more than anything.
-- Arda Ocal
No. And hosting five homestands won't help. There is a grassroots esports scene that exists in the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) area, but for the longest time it has been just Super Smash Bros. Hosting five homestands for a game that, by all accounts, has continued to see a downward trajectory in interest overall seems way too aspirational.
I like a lot of the people involved in the D.C. esports business, but the biggest problem is that travel to D.C. is not particularly cheap and I don't see the metro area having a dense contingent of Overwatch fans, much less Overwatch League fans. Dulles and Reagan might be two major airports, which is important because people travel for big events, but I don't see fans opting to go to a D.C. event over another on the East Coast, such as in Atlanta, Philadelphia or New York.
-- Jacob Wolf
Which is the worst team in the league: Uprising or Outlaws?
First of all, ouch. Second of all, I'm leaning toward Boston, but it's a rough call due to the small sample size. Boston played only one match, against the New York Excelsior, who are looking like one of the stronger teams in the league right now (again, small sample size). By contrast, Houston played two matches against the Washington Justice and Florida Mayhem. A lot of this comes down to how good you think Washington and Florida are. Right now, I'll err on the side of caution and say that it's tentatively Boston, but bear in mind that this is also factoring in the fact that Houston's lineup is more impressive on paper.
We can't determine this right now. Boston has played one game. Let's see more out of them first. So I'm going to answer this purely based on the city. As a New Yorker, you have to hate Boston. But they have great clam chowder. Houston has delicious BBQ. I drove in a DeLorean once in Houston. All compelling arguments to be made. Gotta give the edge to Houston here. So, until proven otherwise, Boston is the worst team in the league. SCIENCE.
It's Boston until proven otherwise. We can pile on the Houston Outlaws all we want, but I think it's way too soon to label them as the worst team in the league. Most disappointing team? Sure. Worst? Maybe if they have another weekend where they seem uncoordinated and out of answers. Their lineup are more than likely not world-beaters, but they have enough talent on the roster that they shouldn't be scrounging for scraps at the bottom of the standings. Boston, on the other hand, have been continually complacent being a shoestring-budget squad that prides itself on being the David to most of the league's Goliaths. Maybe Blizzard will make a DPS hero one day that uses a slingshot, and then maybe the Uprising will shoot up the standings.
-- Tyler Erzberger
Bahston. Sorry, Emily. I think the Outlaws will, at least at some point, be a bit more competitive. But Boston is just ... rough. As Emily pointed out, Houston faced off against Washington and Florida in its losses, and both of those teams are at a different tier than Boston and Houston. Come this weekend, I fully expect to see the Outlaws take down the Uprising in their match in Washington. I'll be dumbfounded otherwise.
Is this the week the meta solidifies?
My not-so-hot-take is that the meta pretty much has solidified to a point. Week 1's top five heroes were Lúcio (91.9%), Reinhardt (88.7%), Mei (84.1%), D.Va (69.8%), and Ana (63.2%). Week 2's top five heroes were Reinhardt (98.7%), Mei (95.44%), Lúcio (76.5%), D.Va (75.2%), and Ana (68.6%). There was a bit of shuffling but the top five heroes remained the same, and most teams are focusing around a set Reinhardt-D.Va or Reinhardt-Orisa combination for their tank line, Mei-hitscan (McCree or Widowmaker) for DPS, and Ana-Lúcio for support, although we did see a bit of movement in support usage during Week 2 with a rise in Brigitte play. I think teams will continue to use this framework depending on map and roster, perhaps making a few adjustments in the support or DPS hero choices in Washington this weekend.
I don't think it's fair to make that assumption until we see how hero pools shake things up in early March. Until then, I expect to see a lot of Reinhardt, Lucio, Mei, D.Va and Ana (Emily has the percentages above). But I want to see what happens when hero pools are here before we print the "the meta has solidified" headlines.
Yeah, we've found a meta and this is why hero pools are a thing. We're seeing slight tweaks at times and some sexy pocket picks like Genji with players who transcend establishments, but we're back to a place where we almost have five heroes played over 70% of the time.
Say goodbye to Mei, because she'll be frozen from professional play in a few weeks when hero pools are implemented. Has anyone seen Ashe? Are we even sure she's actually in the game?
Yes. The meta, as Emily points out, has been heavy Reinhardt-Mei-Lucio-D.Va-Ana, and until hero pools are out, it's not going to change. Those characters clearly stand out as top candidates for being banned once the system is enacted in March. Until then, expect more Self-Destructs, Earthshatters and Ice Walls.
Will there be a ChipSa sighting this weekend?
Philly have two tough matches this upcoming weekend against the NYXL and a rising Toronto Defiant team (although they played only one match, so at risk of sounding like a broken record, it's a small sample size). Unless they're really invested in a Doomfist-specific DPS strategy, I don't see why they would deviate from the Mei-hitscan setup with Lee "Ivy" Seung-hyeon and Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok, especially when Philly looked so good with the two of them this past weekend.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. So I'm leaning no, unless things fall off the rails for the Fusion on Saturday against NYXL, then we might see a change going into Sunday against Toronto.
Side note, too bad Washington doesn't get to run it back at home against Philadelphia. A home-and-home series would have been cool to see.
Will he actually play? No. Why would he? Have you seen Philadelphia's DPS depth?
Will he come out and talk some more smack? If Philadelphia goes 2-0, then expect a cheeky interview or some sort of celebration. If they go 1-1 or leave the nation's capital with nothing, don't expect to hear any chatter from the Fusion's resident Doomfist.
What a fun world that would be. But I say no -- Philly does have a tough weekend ahead of it but it has Carpe, still regarded as one of the best players in the league, and I think the synergy between him and Ivy is something it's not worth altering. So sorry, ChipSa, no play time for you. Maybe when the stakes matter less, but attempting to beat the NYXL and the Defiant is highly important right now.
Who would you take in a hitscan battle: SoOn, Surefour, Glister, Corey, Saebyeolbe or Carpe?
I stan Corey's abilities until proven otherwise.
In a one-on-one duel, Corey. In the playoffs, Carpe. If I need advice on getting married and being a good husband, Saebyeolbe.
Corey, Corey, Corey, Corey. Carpe is the obvious answer, but I'm on the Corey train, too. Choo choo!
WEEK 3 PICKS:
NYXL vs. Fusion
Arda: 3-1 NYXL
Emily: 3-2 Fusion
Jacob: 3-2 NYXL
Tyler: 3-2 NYXL
Uprising vs. Outlaws
Arda: 3-2 Outlaws
Emily: 3-2 Outlaws
Jacob: 3-1 Outlaws
Tyler: 3-1 Outlaws
Eternal vs. Justice
Arda: 3-0 Justice
Emily: 3-2 Justice
Jacob: 3-0 Justice
Tyler: 3-1 Justice
NYXL vs. Outlaws
Arda: 3-1 NYXL
Emily: 3-1 NYXL
Jacob: 3-0 NYXL
Tyler: 3-0 NYXL
Defiant vs. Fusion
Arda: 3-0 Defiant
Emily: 3-2 Fusion
Jacob: 3-2 Fusion
Tyler: 3-1 Fusion
Spitfire vs. Justice
Arda: 3-2 Justice
Emily: 3-1 Justice
Jacob: 3-1 Justice
Tyler: 3-2 Justice