The rise of Genji behind double shield compositions like the Orisa-Sigma combination had a significant impact on the Overwatch League's Summer Showdown results this past weekend. Here's a look at why Genji is back, the extent of his impact, and a few outstanding Genji performances from this past weekend.
Why is Genji back?
It's fun to joke about all-or-nothing style heroes like Genji - Genji is the type of hero that DPS players want to play and the type of hero that viewers want to watch. If there's a chance that Genji can come back into the current metagame, there's an entire stable of Overwatch League DPS's who will try him out even if he's not technically "meta."
The actual, concrete reasons for Genji's return have a two-part answer. The first is that he received a few buffs on the June 16th patch. According to the patch notes, the idea was to make him an even more viable burst assassin. One of the most important changes to Genji was the ability to manually-cancel Deflect, alongside a slight duration increase. Genji's Shurikens also received a damage buff alongside a spread reduction from 12 to 9 in their secondary fire. These changes make Genji more deadly close-up, and with the double-shield compositions that have risen to prominence, Genji can have more cover while doing more burst to opponents once he is in close quarters with them. He also benefits massively from Brigitte's presence in a composition.
Secondly, due to Echo nerfs, these buffs make him a generally more viable pick than post-nerf Echo, and allow him to fill a similar role on a team composition as Tracer, depending on what the DPS player in question is more comfortable playing. Arguably, Genji has the more impactful ultimate in Dragonblade.
While the rest of this article is going to be highlighting amazing Genji plays and performances, it's worth noting that Genji doesn't seem oppressive or overtuned. In fact, for nearly every amazing Genji play in this past weekend's Summer Showdown, there was an example of a hitscan player like Paris Eternal's Jeong "Xzi" Ki-hyo stopping opposing Genji players in their tracks.
The Houston Outlaws' not-so-surprising upset of the Florida Mayhem
The Florida Mayhem entered the Summer Showdown not as overall favorites, but certainly favored to beat the Outlaws. This was despite an incredibly close match between the two of them a week before the event where Houston were denied a reverse-sweep thanks in large part to Rookie of the Year candidate Kim "Yaki" Jun-ki ultimately winning the DPS battle against his Houston counterpart, Dante "Danteh" Cruz. Both specialize in Tracer and Genji and their Summer Showdown rematch not only depended on team performance and synergy, but how well these two DPS players slotted in Ganji or Tracer into their Orisa-Sigma-Baptiste-Brigitte compositions.
The rematch went Houston's way thanks in large part to Danteh's Genji into Yaki's Tracer on Hanamura, supplemented by teammate Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin's Widowmaker.
Sp9rk1e and the Paris Eternal . . . sparkle
This past February at the New York Excelsior homestand, I had the chance to interview Paris Eternal's Kim "Sp9rk1e" Yeong-han and Choi "Hanbin" Han-bin about coming to the team from Element Mystic along with their coach, Yoon "RUSH" Hee-won. At that point, Sp9rk1e's debut was still months away due to the fact that he was still not age-eligible to play in the league. Eternal Assistant General Manager Kim "AVALLA" Kyeong-ey, who translated the interview, and I couldn't help but send sad smiles Sp9rk1e's way when he said "It feels like I'm in the dark. May 31 seems so far away."
Sp9rkle has waited a long time to play in this league since he was the DPS star of Element Mystic. It shouldn't be as shocking as it has been to watch him immediately have an impact with the Eternal since he was able to start a little over a month ago, but the Eternal have been faced with a lot of roadblocks this year, including multiple player retirements, Xzi's mid-season trip back to South Korea, and more recently, flex support player Kwon "Fielder" Joon playing remotely on 200 ping from South Korea. The Eternal's win was first and foremost a team effort, and part of that team effort has been helping Sp9rk1e shine.
Although Sp9rk1e had many more highlight moments in the finals against the Philadelphia Fusion, his Map 5 clutch play against the San Francisco Shock on Oasis was his standout moment. The Shock were heavy favorites to win the North American Summer Showdown bracket and the Eternal had pushed them to Map 5. Sp9rk1e was pitted against Kwon "Striker" Nam-joo's Tracer after Sp9rk1e's Genji and the Eternal had already made the Shock's comparative weakness with Genji apparent throughout the series. Despite an early pick for Striker onto Xzi's McCree, Sp9rk1e immediately wiped out the Shock with a cool four kills to take back control on the final possible point, sending the Eternal to the finals.
The best Genji play of Summer Showdown: Eqo's last stand
Sp9rk1e was a key factor in the Eternal's finals victory over the Fusion, but it was Fusion DPS player Josue "Eqo" Corona who had the Genji play of the weekend in Map 7 against the Eternal. Everything looked lost for the Fusion's attack run on Rialto when Xzi's Widowmaker picked off Fusion support Isaac "Boombox" Charles and Eqo with a minute left in the Fusion time bank.
Eqo managed to get Dragonblade while the Fusion attempted to stay on the payload and stall in overtime. He then proceeded to annihilate the Eternal, capping the first point and extending the map. Although the Fusion ultimately lost, this was a monster individual performance from Eqo.