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How much drama can you squeeze into one match of the Overwatch League season? Given the heights reached by the Boston Uprising and Shanghai Dragons on Friday night, the answer is – plenty. Controversy outside the team, the first example of possible officiating misconduct, personal rivalries between the teams, and heightened fan support led to an all-time memorable matchup.
News broke earlier in the day that Uprising’s owner Robert Kraft was being charged with solicitation of prostitution. While none of the players nor staff have commented on the matter, Overwatch League fans pounced on it. Twitter, Discords, Reddit, and other areas of the internet were writhe with toxicity about the Uprising’s owner. Unfortunately, what would normally be a much bigger story than a normal match, which would nearly be forgotten by the end of the day.
Shanghai would go into the match with unprecedented fan support. From the last few games of last season, Overwatch League fans have wanted to see Shanghai get their elusive first win. Conversely, no OWL team wanted to be that first team to lose to the Dragons. Blizzard Arena was clearly on the side of Shanghai, as noted by casters Achilios and Wolf throughout the broadcast.
As I mentioned in my pregame analysis, a big change for Boston would be the addition of Colourhex. Coming off a two game suspension, the New Zealander was meant to help counter the Sombra triple tank comp that has been the thorn in their side all season. How well he could integrate into the team could be the lynchpin the whole match rested on.
Before the 10pm match would begin, the Uprising would nonchalantly tweet out their starting roster:
Now why would I mention something as innocuous as the starting roster? For those who don’t have the Overwatch League’s official rules memorized, allow me to highlight part 5.16 subsection (e):
Part 5.16 subsection (e:)
Pre-Match Roster Submission. Teams must submit their Starting Roster (including seating order) for each match no later than two (2) hours prior to the start of the first match of the day. Changes to the Starting Roster after that time are subject to rejection by the League Office.Overwatch League Summary of Official Rules 2019 Season
Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the team that hit the stage. In an unprecedented, last minute change, Fusions was told he would not be allowed to play. As first reported by VPE Sports, Fusions was still playing under his two-way contract. In a statement released two days later by the League, it was explained:
As two-way contract player Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth had already played twice for the Boston Uprising in Stage 1, he was ineligible to play in Friday’s match against the Shanghai Dragons. Unfortunately the League Office did not determine he was ineligible until shortly before Boston’s match was set to begin, and we apologize for that oversightOverwatch League official statement
Let’s think through this timeline:
- 8pm – Boston submits their roster to the League
- 9:43pm – Boston tweets out their starting six roster
- Minutes before 10pm match start – Fusions is told he can’t play.
- 10:36pm (well after the match started) – Boston tweets out this update
Who is responsible for this mess? Obviously, with the League apologizing, they hold some responsibility. More than anyone, they should have known who was eligible to play and responded swiftly to Boston’s starting roster. That’s not to say the Uprising is blameless. Teams and players are responsible for knowing the League rules and should have known this. Fusions was projected into the starting six and scrimmed all week with the team. Boston was at a disadvantage before the match even started.
On top of this, you have Gamsu, Shanghai’s main tank. Boston’s former captain and fan-favorite tank player was traded to Shanghai just two days before the start of the season. Gamsu claims he was “blindsided by the trade.” However, Uprising Team President Huk disputed this on Reddit. These conflicting accounts only added fuel to the fire. Regardless of who is right, it’s unlikely that Gamsu didn’t play with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.
Boston and Shanghai’s match had too many combustable ingredients for one match. Ownership drama. Officiating mistakes. Fans overwhelmingly on one side. Player drama. An upsurging, winless franchise. Blase’s birthday. How would the actual match play out?
All eyes were on Boston’s hero selection. With Fusions pulled out, Axxiom took his spot on Rein. Colourhex played on the Sombra, Additionally, Boston played a Wreckingball, Lucio, Moira, Winston, and DVa. Interestingly, Shanghai would employ the Phar-Mercy combo. With no anti-air counter, DDing (on Pharah) and Coma (on Mercy) had free range to pepper the Uprising with Rockets all the way from their spawn to the point. Colourhex performed well enough as Sombra, but the Uprising were more often than not the worse victims of the EMP. This would foreshadow future problems. While it was a close stage 1, Shanghai would win it 100% – 48%.
Stage 2 saw both teams play mirroring three tank team comps. Unfortunately for Boston, Gamsu’s aggression steamrolled the Uprising. They took the point from the start and never let go. Winning 100% – 0%.
Boston would play on offense first. Surprisingly, they put Note on the Reaper. Was this a genius move? Hard to say. Throughout the round, Shanghai played with more trepidation and less willingness to engage. With the amount of damage that Reaper has, the dynamic changed. It proved difficult for Boston to get the last point after causing through the first two. Take for example, Note popping his first (and only) Death Blossom of the round:
Getting stunned and tossed off the map after spending all round building to an ultimate hurt. Meanwhile, DDing on Sombra continued to pull off devastating EMPs. At the last defense, he was particularly effective. DDing quickly earned and used EMPs, a fatal blow after he often would hit all six Uprising players. What made DDing work so well was his coordination with Gamsu and his teammates. The EMPs were seemingly always followed by an Earthshatter or Graviton. After several pushes and with no time left, Boston was able to capture the last point.
With Shanghai on offense, Boston continued to fall prey to DDing and the Sombra. He methodically stalked the back line, hacking stray players, calling out the Uprising’s positioning, and fleeing the few times he was spotted. Specifically, between point 1 and 2, he hit all 6 players of the Uprising with an EMP on two separate occasions. The Uprising simply had no answer to it. Shanghai got through the last point with over two minutes. As a result, they made quick work of getting a tick on their next pass through to win the map.
Horizon Lunar Colony
Moving to Assault mode, Boston would plant the seeds for countering DDing and Sombra. How did they do it? First, Shanghai helped. Boston took the longer outdoor route and were instantly hit with the EMP en route to Point A. Fortunately, the Dragons weren’t coordinated enough to reap the benefits. Second, Aimgod started popping the Transcendence preemptively. This became a meta game between the two as they began baiting each other. Would Aimgod use the Transcend too early? Could DDing hold off his trigger finger and wait him out?
Shanghai got through both points with over two minutes on the clock, but that’s peanuts compared to the Dragons. On offense, Shanghai absolutely steamrolled, capturing both points with over six minutes in the bank.
With their second turn on offense, Boston continued to run to Point A through the longer outdoors trek. They captured it quickly, but were thwarted in a snowball attempt on Point B by more EMPs from DDing. However, they were able to stagger on the point. Shanghai couldn’t wipe them all out. Specifically, Axxiom showed up with a minute to spare, caught Gamsu out of position, and Earthshattered the Dragons. After the mop up, Boston took Point B with seconds to spare.
With all the time in the world, Shanghai methodically pushed through the two points. DDing continued to quickly gain EMPs, thwart the Uprising’s ability to respond, and have his main tanks swarm in and clean up anyone else. Notably, Kellex started to show his ability to counter the EMP. He played away from the rest of the team and dropped in after the EMP with his Sound Barrier. As a result, this helped the Uprising sustain until the EMP wore off and delayed the inevitable capture.
With only a minute on the clock, Boston’s chances of getting both points were slim. However, they were able to push up to two ticks on Point A. Shanghai, with over two minutes, had more to play with. Sadly, they were up to the task.
What do you do when you’re the first team to ever lose to Shanghai? When you’re a map away from getting swept? First thing you need is attitude. And holy hell did Boston have the attitude down:
Attitude may help but you still have to perform. And, well… with Boston on offense, they were unable to get to the second point. Kellex seemed tilted and was the first to get picked off by the Dragons in nearly ever fight. A full sweep seemed inevitable.
On defense, Boston started by hiding off-path of Shanghai’s spawn. While a novel idea, like everything else, DDing spotted them while cloaked and called them out. After getting swept out, Shanghai had little to do to secure victory. But as the round wore on, the Uprising did something they couldn’t pull off all night – consistently stomping DDing. Kellex wall ran around the map and swooped in again with the Sound Barrier after one EMP. In another misfire for Shanghai, Blasé stunned DDing right as he popped the EMP. Where were these EMP counters all night? And look what it got them – Boston held the point and saved some degree of face.
What an absolutely horrendous night. Just about everything that could have gone wrong, did. It’s hard not to feel as an Uprising fan that you got kicked in the gut. I wish I could say a few days separated from it happening has made it easier to accept, but that’s not the case. Let me go through, rapid fire, the bad. Don’t worry, I’ll leave something hopeful at the end so you know there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
1. Colourhex didn’t seem to integrate onto the team well. He had his moments where he pulled some plays, but he isn’t meant to play Zarya. With Axxiom forced to go from Zarya to Rein last minute, the whole team seemed uncoordinated. How much of that is Colourhex, last minute craziness, or the Dragons can’t be clarified.
2. Good god did DDing have a day. These numbers may stand the test of time. 152 enemies hacked? This guy must work for the Russians or something because he is a hacking savant. The Uprising have struggled against Sombra all season and until the meta shifts, they need to look at those few times it they countered the EMP and build from there.
3. Excuses are a dime a dozen and worth less, but it’s hard not to wonder about ‘what if’. Specifically, what if Fusions is in this game? Does his aggressive style keep Shanghai in check? Without a last minute addition of Axxiom on Rein, do the Uprising play the way they scrimmed all week?
4. Where was Alamou? It seems like at some point Kellex wasn’t getting the job done and a change at support may have helped. The Brazilian is a Lucio main, and may have been better at dropping Sound Barriers to counter the EMP.
5. Blase did not bring any birthday magic. Sad.
6. Remember when we thought a charge of prostitution on the team’s owner would be the biggest drama of the night?
7. Be happy for Gamsu. The former main tank was a great player for Boston and established a winning culture here. He gave us his all and was a part of many of the best moments from our first season. We shouldn’t harbor any ill feelings towards him. Maybe he was offered to go into coaching and thought he had something left in the tank. He clearly does. It’s nice to see him get a chance to play and show what he can do. You just wish it wasn’t against Boston.
8. Goodness must these guys have a chip on their shoulder. Losing to Shanghai is more than just lighting a fire under them, it’s like igniting a nuclear bomb under their collective rear ends. We’re going to learn very quickly how these guys respond to adversity. With a 1-2 record, there’s no time left to waste if they’re going to make it to stage 1 playoffs. The motto stays the same. PROVE. THEM. WRONG.
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