Thursday, February 14th @ 8:30 P.M. – Boston Uprising vs. New York Excelsior
Sunday, February 17th @ 3 P.M. – Boston Uprising vs. Houston Outlaws
Boston Uprising vs. New York Excelsior
Whoever is running the Overwatch League clearly knows the Boston – New York rivalry is import. Boston’s match opens up the season right after the Grand Finals rematch between Philadelphia and London. How does the Uprising follow up an inaugural season where they claimed the only undefeated stage and surprised everyone by making the playoffs? If you’re Robert Kraft’s team you charge headfirst against the juggernaut that is the NYXL with a chip on your shoulders looking to silence your critics. And there are plenty out there with things to say about the Uprising.
It’s High Noon
Criticism isn’t unwarranted. The offseason has been tumultuous for the Uprising as DPS Notes and Striker have left for greener pastures and main support Neko has joined the Toronto Defiant. Additionally, team captain Gamsu was just sent to the Shanghai Dragons two days ago and Fusions has been called up from Boston’s minor league Contenders team. Along with the departures of bench players like Kalios, Avast, and Snow, Boston is coming into its second season with a lot of question marks. They have promoted main tank Axiom, also from their Contenders team. He’ll be under pressure to live up to the performance of Gamsu. Also, DPS players blasé and Colourhex were picked up along with Alemao as a backup support. How these new players will meld with the returning core of Aimgod, Note, and Kellex will be the story of how this season plays out.
When facing the NYXL, the Uprising have to hope the past stays in the history books. Posting a 2-3 record against the Excelsior last year, the Uprising have their work cut out for them. Unfortunately, that losing record includes that crushing defeat in the Stage 3 Finals all the way back on May 6. New York didn’t post the league’s best regular season record by being slouches. Seven out of their ten players made last year’s Atlantic All-Star team. This includes league MVP Jjonak, human highlight machine Pine, and arguably the best DPS player in Saebyeolbe. NY is a coach’s worst nightmare to plan against, and President of Gaming Huk and his staff have their work cut out for him.
Odds are not in the favor of the Uprising against the NYXL. Getting the new players to gel with the returning core likely will be a season wide struggle. Starting the process against the inaugural season’s best team, who will come into the season with a lot to prove after disappointing in last year’s playoffs, is less than ideal. If you want to be an optimist, the path for the Uprising is very clear. With Colourhex’s suspension, they’ll be playing GOATS. We know it, they know it, NYXL know it. If somehow Axxiom steps up and plays out of his mind, Alemao and Aimgod gel right away, blasé plays well on Birgitte, and they win those coin-flip type team fights, they may have a chance.
Realistically, if the Uprising can put together a solid gameplan and put up some degree of resistance they may likely steal a map. But fans should temper expectations – expecting the Uprising to win the entire match may be unfair of a roster of strangers playing together for the first time. Consequently, if they can walk out of the match showing some signs of life, fans have reason to be hopeful for the season. But if the NYXL’s roster flattens the Uprising, fans may have to #riseup to get their team to put it together as the season may unravel before it even gets started.
Boston Uprising vs. Houston Outlaws
While they’ll be facing an unstoppable force in the NYXL their first game, the Sunday matchup against the Houston Outlaws is a different story. The Outlaws are the Overwatch equivalent of vanilla ice cream. First, they posted a slightly above the mean 22 – 18 record. Second, their sole post-season experience was losing to London in the Stage One playoffs. Though they made up significant ground in Stage Four, they were on the outside looking in when it came playoffs time.
Justice Rains from Above
If the Outlaws are vanilla ice cream then consider their rainbow sprinkles to be the unofficial league spokesmen Jake and Rawkus. Appearing seemingly everywhere – these two haven’t shown the performance that warrants the attention they get. Jake’s “Jakerat” play may be popular with fans, but it’s unlikely to do anything against the presumed GOATS comp the Uprising will run. There is no statistical evidence to show that Rawkus is an elite Zen, Ana, or Sombra player. Additionally, their much hyped main tank Muma is more style than substance. Looking at his stats, he didn’t actually show anything outside his Stage One Winston play. His inability to adapt to past the dive meta portends poorly for the Outlaws.
Given this background what exactly have the Outlaws done to improve? More than any other team in the league, the Outlaws doubled down on their roster. While scrapping several bench players, all their core starters from last year have returned. Given their middle tier status, that decision is questionable. Their only notable roster change was to add former San Francisco Shock dps Danteh. As he mentioned in a Players Lobby post – his inconsistency throughout the inaugural season gives no reason to fear he’ll be the Uprising’s undoing. As a result, the Outlaws enter the 2019 season thinking their experience, team camaraderie, and growth will carry them through this season. Considering Boston has had a nearly complete roster overhaul, a meta battle of team building strategy will be fought in Sunday’s game.
If the Houston Outlaws are the sliced white bread of mediocrity than why are they seemingly favored by all the predictors? Nothing in their history last year should give any reasonable fan confidence in picking them over the Uprising. While Boston’s current roster may not go into the match with a history together, they’ll have already faced NYXL by Sunday. Given that experience on the stage and all their scrims in between, there’s no reason to doubt their preparation. While Houston’s sole bright spot from season 1 was their Stage One performance, 2019 is a different story. Jake’s DPS abilities, regardless of what you think of them, are largely irrelevant in the GOATS meta. Muma has not shown elite level tank play. They are who they are and there’s no reason to think they’ve changed.
While there may be hope for a single map win in their battle against the NYXL, the real litmus test for the Uprising in Week 1 will be the Outlaws. Houston is as plain as a $1 Cumberland Farms coffee. If they can squeeze out a win they will instantly put all their doubters on notice. Most pollsters are expecting a decimation throughout the first weekend for Boston. However, I think the Uprising rebound from the NYXL match and show what they’re made of. Axxiom makes Uprising fans start to forget about Gamsu. Blasé shows that Hex is the GOAT of talent scouting. Who knows – crazier things have happened.
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