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Overwatch League’s opening week is in the bag. All the preseason power rankings and hot takes are starting to fade out against the cold indifference of reality. Unexpected heroes, disappointing performances, and POG plays abound throughout the league. Now it’s time to pull up the VODs, crunch the numbers, and have a realistic look at how the Uprising look.
Boston Uprising vs. New York Excelsior
Much has already been said about what this match means and what many expected. Would Boston get rolled 4-0? Could they steal a map? How could a team with last year’s MVP not dominate? Lastly, can a team that traded their main tank 2 days ago show any signs of life? Fortunately, the tempo of the match would be revealed quickly.
In a foreshadow to how the match would be decided, stage 1 of Nepal saw NYXL play a rare off-GOATS team comp. Switching Meko from DVa to Sombra, the Uprising’s inability to stop the EMP would quickly become obvious to everyone. Without a dual dps threat (as Colourhex came into the match suspended for two games) NYXL had the advantage of knowing exactly how the Uprising would play. Unfortunately, it cost them the first map.
Despite the Sombra play by NYXL causing major disruptions, Uprising put up a valiant resistance on stage 1. NYXL squeaked by 100% – 99%. Stage 2 saw more back-and-forth but the NYXL prevailed. Interestingly, Note would be de-meched and eliminated first. Additionally, he missed all 3 of his Self-Destructs on Nepal. Stats don’t lie and these would portend future concerns.
New York matched the GOATS comp of the Uprising on Numbani. This slower paced play style lead to equal exchanges on both sides throughout the match. Equal, that is, until Fusions decided he wanted to show what a Contenders and World Cup player from the other side of the pond could do:
NYXL was supposed to steamroll the underprepared and lesser experienced Uprising, but Boston showed they were up to the task on this second map. Carefully managing their ultimate economy, focusing picks, and timely healing all were clear parts of their strategy. Did you know? According to the broadcast: NYXL won 29% of teamfights where they suffered the first death last season, 5% more than the next highest (Boston). Who’d have thunk?
Numbani was ultimately decided by the Uprising. Left with only a minute and a half after capturing Point A, the Fusions led team forced their way through NY’s defense and stole Point B. On the other end, New York was unable to capture Point A despite having over four minutes to do so. Boston’s impressive defense rested on their positioning on top of the point and splitting the front and back lines of New York. As a result, their team coordination drove them to take the map 4-3.
Horizon Lunar Colony
On map 3 we saw a bit of tactical differentiation between the two teams. Whereas Boston went up the right stairway to Point A, NYXL consistently used the longer outside path. Next, they walked along the skybridge and dropped down to Point A. Both teams played the GOATS comp appropriately, but to me, this was the PoTG on this map:
Forced into Overtime at Point A and down 2-0, New York cleared the point and pushed Point B before Boston had regrouped. As a result, the Uprising rushed into a defense that became staggered. Through sustained offense and timely ultimate use, New York pushed through and tied it up 2-2. Thwarting Boston’s attempt on offense, NYXL had a minute and a half to get a tick on Point A. What did they do?
Surprising everyone in the audience (and the casters) they pulled out an unbelievable team comp. Mercy, Zenyatta, Hammond, Sombra, Pharaoh, and Tracer. I don’t think we saw this team comp anywhere else all week. While Wrecking Ball peeled Boston away to open the Point to Pharaoh spamming rockets, Axxiom’s Zen finally picked Pharaoh during her ultimate. Justice did not rain from above and Boston forced the draw. 1 – 1 going into the fourth map. New York’s arrogance to play this off-meta team comp failed. Gloriously.
Remember when I said earlier that Nepal foreshadowed the end of the match? A Sombra having free reign to EMP and the Uprising not having an answer to it? Well, NYXL thought back to that first map and said, “Hey let’s do that again!”
That clip pretty much sums up the fourth map. Over and over again, Meko would creep around behind the Uprising clouded in invisibility. At that point, EMPs would be unleashed onto the enemy team. Boston became defenseless and at the mercy of the NYXL. Deaths, objective failure, and frustration. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. Look at these statistics from Route 66, specifically Meko:
Boston was unable to get through to the third point. As a result, New York pushed through to the end to win the map and the match by a combined score of 2 – 1.
It was a story of good and bad for the Uprising. First, they silenced all their critics. Though many put Boston as a preseason bottom tier team (of which there were many) they showed they could compete with the elite of the league. Additionally, though former captain and main tank Gamsu departed abruptly just two days ago, Boston’s tank play didn’t miss a beat. Fusions, having landed in LA just two days before this match, already showed he was capable of holding his own at the OWL level. Lastly, Boston was held back by the absence of both of their dps’ availability. With more scrims and matches going forward with Fusions and Colourhex the sky is the limit for this team.
Of concern was the less than stellar performance of Note. Going into the fourth map, he had only hit 2 out of 12 of his Self-Destructs (for two kills total). He also seemed out of position often. Even in replaying the matches, it’s difficult to determine precisely the cause of his seemingly poor play. It could be that the supports were focused on boosting Fusions. New York could have been focusing their attack on the more mobile off-tank. Lastly, he could have just been uncomfortable among a relatively new set of teammates. Given his underrated performance last season, there is no cause for concern. The season just started and their is no reason to think he won’t turn it around.
Boston Uprising vs. Houston Outlaws
I spoke in my weekend preview of the unwarranted attention the Outlaws received. Given that they were a team that missed the playoffs last year, their offseason praise by critics is unjustified. Leaving their roster mostly intact, the Uprising had no reason to fear starting the season 0 – 2. Fortunately I wasn’t proven wrong.
This got ugly, quick. Houston had watched tape on the Uprising and knew Colourhex was still out, forcing Boston onto the GOATS comp. Interestingly, they started out with a Hammond, Mercy, Pharaoh, Somra, DVa, and Zen comp. Much like they did in their match against the NYXL, Boston had no answer to the EMP. Taking a page from New York’s assault on Horizon Lunar Colony, the Outlaws also had free reign with their Pharaoh, Despite a 100% – 43% win for Houston, the stage was a slaughter. Outlaws scored 23 eliminations with Boston only earning 5.
Unfortunatley for Boston, the Sanctum stage didn’t play out any better. Muma showed why he is often considered one of the league’s top main tanks, popping off for multiple environmental eliminations. With both teams using a GOATS comp, Houston had no problem rolling Boston for a dominant 100% – 29% win. Was all the momentum from Thursday about to get lost in a 4 – 0 against Houston?
Fortunately for fans of the Uprising, Boston’s players were able to put that devastating map loss behind them. Boston’s coordinated strike included Note landing kills with his Self Destruct and Fusion doing what he does, putting Houston on their heels. Pushing the payload on their attack, Boston was unable to make it the last few feet to capture the third point.
On defense, Boston proved up to the task. Fusion landed several Earthshatters and hammered through several shields, each setting up Note for more effective Self Destructs. Houston was able to make it through the first two points, but reached a road block towards the end of the map. First, they were at a disadvantage at getting past Point 2 during Overtime. That gave them just over a minute to play with. Houston got the payload right up to their victory location at which point a dragged out war was waged. With Muma popping off and hammering down Uprising players, it was Kellex hopping around on Lucio that contested the point. Eventually Fusions and the rest of the Uprising ran out of spawn and repelled the Outlaws. As satisfying as the map win was, Houston was a Torb hammer’s length away from winning the map.
As both teams stuck with a GOATS team comp, a back and forth predominated the early match. After a reasonably quick Point A capture, Boston sped forward to two ticks of Point B. Houston repelled them twice until Boston broke through with this nontraditional route to the capture point:
I’m still debating what to call this. The Mass Pike? The Beantown Highway? Still undecided. Fortunately, the grouping on the platform worked as Boston captured the point. Houston responded in kind, capturing both points with a 3.5 to 1.5 time advantage going into the second turn. With only enough time for one push on Point A, Boston saw themselves stuck in massive team fight. Fortunately, Note saw Rawkus’ Zenyatta out of position and dove him. Eliminating their healer, Boston snowballed Houston to capture Point A. Additionally, Note got a key pick on Muma on Point B to push the Uprising to 4 – 2 going into Houston’s turn on offense. Houston was unable to match Boston’s push on Point B and lost the map 4 – 3.
Boston ended last season with a record of 10-1-1 on Volskaya Industries. Their only loss came in the playoffs to the Fusion. As a result, the Uprising still claim unofficial ownership of the map.
What if I told you that Houston pulled out the Sombra? Would you think that this was the one time all week where the Uprising turned it around? If so, thank you for having that pure fandom to believe in the impossible. Sadly, you are mistaken. Danteh went back on the Sombra and used multiple EMPs to disable the Uprising’s heroes and snowball the team. A drawn out map that was over before it started.
Finally the two best words in all of Overwatch: MAP. FIVE. Winner take all, best of 3, control map. There’s nothing more exciting when you’ve fought through four other maps to get to this point. Houston had lost earlier in the week on map 5, losing in a reverse sweep to the Toronto Defiant. Would they fall apart at the end of a marathon of Overwatch again?
After trading stages, it comes down to the final winner-take all stage 3 of Illios. Boston would take the early lead, reaching 87% when they gave way to the Outlaws. With a Graviton Surge and Self Destruct, could the Uprising pull off the GOATS combo in the clutch?
Yes! Note’s Self Destruct on Linkzr and Dive on Rawkus (again) sealed the victory for the Uprising. #BostonUp!
What a first win for Boston! There are too many delicious treats to feast on here for Uprising fans. After getting absolutely demolished the first map, the boys put Nepal in the rear view mirror. Plowing through Houston the next two maps, it was that kryptonite of Sombra that forced them into a fifth map. Boston will need to figure out how to counter her if they’re going to survive this meta going forward. Adding Colourhex should help with that.
When it got to map five, the Uprising continued to impress. Working the ultimate economy and picking their spots, Boston got the eliminations when and where they needed. In a huge bounce back game from Thursday, Note showed time and time again exactly why he’s one of the few players to survive management’s purges. He’s just too reliable. While the rest of the league continues to discount just how valuable he is, we Uprising fans know he’s as dependable as anyone. Additionally, Fusion continues to impress despite being on the team for less than a week. That a Contenders player can jump up to the Overwatch League and perform at this level is mind blowing. New pickups Alamao and Blasé also showed how competent they were in their roles. Particularly Blasé, who was forced off his normal dps role and stuck on Birgitte.
There were many questions coming into the 2019 Overwatch League season. Questions transformed into concerns when Gamsu was traded two days before the start of the season. But many of these have all been pushed to the side. Fusions has shown himself more than capable of bringing this team where we want it to be. Note continues to be the clutch player we need him to be. As a team, neither the bright lights or the pressure seems to faze them. Facing the heralded NYXL, this team went down to the very last point on the last map and barely scrapped by without a win. They took the favored Outlaws to five maps and came out with a win.
Next week will see the possible addition of Colourhex, the New Zealand dps. It will be interesting to see what Uprising coaches do – continue to use the same six starters to run GOATS or change team comps? Additionally, the Uprising only have one match next week – against the Shanghai Dragons (Friday at 10pm EST).
How emotional will players be going against their former captain Gamsu? Will they respond to having the entire Overwatch League’s fans on the side of the Dragons as they look for their first franchise win? Lastly, what happens when Fusions has actual time to scrim and develop with his teammates? Needless to say, the Overwatch League is on notice. Fans should keep an eye on all the casters and opinion makers as they scramble from their preseason takes. Don’t be fooled – we knew all along who these players could be. And we never doubted. We’ve just got three words for all the doubters.
PROVE. THEM. WRONG
For all the latest on the Overwatch League and Boston Uprising, please follow me on Twitter #BostonUp