This weekend has one of the biggest and best matchups in the Overwatch League so far this season. Our writers have some questions they'd like answered for Week 21.
What will the meta look like with no hero pools in effect for Week 21?
Jacob Wolf: I feel it'll be a lot more diverse. I hope we see a lot more Echo, as she's been banned a couple times over the season and I think she adds a dynamic to the game that other characters do not. Also, I know some people don't like D.Va, but I'm perfectly OK with her coming back after being banned in Weeks 19 and 20. I don't know exactly what the meta will look like but I anticipate we'll see the two regions -- the West and Asia -- have very different metas, as we have seen all season. Curious without restriction what sort of compositions each favor.
Arda Ocal: Wide open. I'm expecting a lot of diverse picks -- with no restrictions, players can make comfort picks, practice comps that haven't been seen yet or tried-and-true ones. I wonder long term if we will do away with hero pools altogether and adopt a full-time tournament season format like Call of Duty League and that will generate the level of excitement that the league is looking for. The tournaments this season have been exciting.
Emily Rand: In the Spark-Excelsior match alone last week there were enough different compositional permutations that it likely made viewers' heads spin (with joy, because it was also a fun match to watch). This week we might see things get even crazier with a completely open meta and (again) little time to adjust, but if the first weeks of static pools proved anything it's that there already isn't just one way to win a game of Overwatch right now. The two big reintroductions for me are D.Va, given how she always has a large effect on the meta by design, and Echo, since we've seen teams excel and struggle with that hero. People who have read anything I've written about Overwatch this year know that I do not like hero pools anyway, but at this point I really do think they've been a failed experiment that need to be done away with completely.
Did the Valiant reveal themselves as title contenders last week?
Wolf: I don't want to go that far, although a dub over Florida is impressive. The Mayhem have been the dividing line in my train of thought as the team to beat to be considered in the upper echelon of the league. But I don't think that that instantly makes the Valiant a title contender. I want to see how they do this weekend against Paris and presumably how they'll do in the Summer Showdown event, then I'll be ready to make more of an educated take.
Ocal: I like that they face Paris next, a team that is right beside them in the standings with the same season record. The Florida victory last week will certainly open some eyes. More performances like this and you have to give this team a championship contenders tag. Plus, hearing Custa sing their praises on the broadcast doesn't get old.
Rand: We said that the Mayhem-Valiant match was going to be a banger and it delivered. Johannes "Shax" Nielsen had 72 final blows (the most in the series) followed by teammate Kai "KSP" Collins. They were basically a two-man highlight reel on the weekend. That said, I always err on the side of caution when crowning teams (not to sound repetitive, but I said this of the Florida Mayhem themselves in May) as title contenders, and I want to see them have a convincing win over Paris and a successful tournament run before I say anything definitively.
Better chance to take down the Dragons this weekend: Dynasty or Spark?
Wolf: Dynasty. I still have a lot of faith in this team. I know recently losses to the Charge and NYXL might make people think differently, but I do think when the Dynasty are firing on all cylinders that they're one of the best teams in all of Asia.
Ocal: Agreed with Jacob. I'm not hopping off the Dynasty train just yet. Hangzhou had an impressive win over NYXL last week, so they are definitely in the conversation, but a loss against the fifth-place Charge put them in check just a little.
Rand: You know what, I'll take the Spark. This is partially because I'm done betting on the Seoul Dynasty (which means that they're probably going to win this weekend because it's not like they don't have the talent) and also partially due to their performances last week against the Charge and NYXL. As I previously mentioned, that NYXL-Spark series was great and my second-favorite series after the Valiant-Mayhem. Park "Architect" Min-ho and former RunAway and T1 flex tank Yoo "QOQ" Seong-joon have both been great additions to what was already a talented Spark lineup.
Better Tracer: Carpe or Striker?
Wolf: Striker. Maybe that's a hot take, but when looking at the match, Striker has done an average of 790 damage per minute on Tracer this season, while Carpe has done 692 damage per minute, per Overwatch League's Stats Lab. Carpe has played significantly more of the hero -- clocking in 267 minutes (about 4½ hours) on Tracer -- while Striker has played less than half that, at 101 minutes (an hour and 40 minutes' worth). Striker has on average more eliminations versus time played, too, and it seems, even with a smaller sample size, he's been contributing more to the Shock's teamfight on Tracer than Carpe has for the Fusion.
Ocal: I too have access to the Overwatch League Stats Lab (Beta), so I looked up their numbers as well.
On Tracer this season:
Carpe leads 231-111 in final blows
Striker leads 2.6-2.4 in final blow-to-death ratio
Carpe leads 471-244 in eliminations
Carpe leads 184,735-79,802 in hero damage
Tied in solo kills with 23
But as Jacob said, keep in mind that Carpe has played significantly more of the hero than Striker. So really, the solo kills and ratio might be the most telling. If Striker had more time on Tracer, maybe we'd be saying it would be more definitive.
Rand: The problem with this question is sample size between the two. Looking at the statistics my compatriots already brought up, I'm actually going to give the edge to Striker for overall effectiveness on the hero, despite having a lesser amount of time played.
Is Fusion vs. Shock the best matchup so far this season?
Wolf: Yes. The Shock are still doing very well after Sinatraa's departure and this Fusion, although with a different roster, is much more similar in merit to the Season 1 runner-up Fusion roster. These are two teams I expect to make a solid end-of-season run in the playoffs and I'm excited to get to see a preview of what that looks like this weekend.
Ocal: Definitely exciting. I do enjoy Florida Mayhem matchups, and I think them vs. Valiant or both these teams will prove to be fun as the season hits the tail end, but definitely right now, yes.
Rand: In the North American region sure, but not when you look at a lot of the Asian region teams going head-to-head. Even if you're limiting the scope to league play, just this past week we saw some great series such as NYXL-Spark, Charge-Spark, and Dynasty-Charge. That's without mentioning the Shanghai Dragons, who are still arguably the best team in the league (regardless of how whenever they meet Chengdu it's a messy, drawn-out affair).
Hunters vs. Charge
Arda: Charge 3-1
Emily: Charge 3-2
Jacob: Charge 3-2
Dynasty vs. Dragons
Arda: Dragons 3-0
Emily: Dragons 3-1
Jacob: Dragons 3-1
Spark vs. Spitfire
Arda: Spark 3-1
Emily: Spark 3-2
Jacob: Spark 3-1
Mayhem vs. Outlaws
Arda: Mayhem 3-0
Emily: Mayhem 3-1
Jacob: Mayhem 3-0
Fuel vs. Defiant
Arda: Defiant by default, Fuel just don't show up out of fear of the mighty city of Toronto
Emily: Defiant 3-2
Jacob: Defiant 3-2
Titans vs. Uprising
Arda: Titans 3-1
Emily: Titans 3-2
Jacob: Titans 3-2
Justice vs. Gladiators
Arda: Justice 3-2
Emily: Gladiators 3-2
Jacob: Gladiators 3-1
Dragons vs. Spark
Arda: Dragons 3-0
Emily: Dragons 3-2
Jacob: Dragons 3-0
Hunters vs. Dynasty
Arda: Dynasty 3-2
Emily: Dynasty 3-2
Jacob: Dynasty 3-1
NYXL vs. Charge
Arda: NYXL 3-0
Emily: NYXL 3-1
Jacob: NYXL 3-1
Valiant vs. Eternal
Arda: Valiant 3-1
Emily: Valiant 3-2
Jacob: Valiant 3-1
Reign vs. Titans
Arda: Reign 3-0
Emily: Reign 3-1
Jacob: Reign 3-0
Fusion vs. Shock
Arda: Shock 3-1
Emily: Shock 3-2
Jacob: Shock 3-2