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Welcome to the Monday Morning Shotcaller column. For all you New Englanders, I hope you’ve shoveled yourself out and get a chance to build yourself a snow hero.
It’s been somewhat of a cluster for the Boston Uprising this year. Our new DPS player was suspended the first two games. Our star, called up from our minor league team, had to negotiate a new contract two games into the season. But no more! There’s nothing like waiting until 3 weeks into the season to have your house in order. Why have an offseason end at the start of the season?
That’s all in the past. Boston is 1-2 headed into stage 1 week 3. The starting roster is set. We’re locked in and ready to go. Fusions is in midseason form. Let’s get it started.
Boston Uprising (1-2) vs. Seoul Dynasty (1-2)
With all that drama as background, what was there to expect going into his match? First, we know Boston has failed time and time again against the Sombra play. After making Shanghai (and DDing specifically) look like the best team in the league, would Boston come prepared to counter the Sombra strat? Surely their supports, Kellex, Aimgod, and Alemao, would be prepared to take an EMP and twist it in Boston’s favor?
Second, would Fusions pick up where he left off? Clearly his last minute ejection from the starting roster had much to do with Shanghai’s win. Now that the Brit is under contract and had a week to prepare all the excuses are off the table. If he could continue his aggressive push into teams, timely Earthshatters, and possibly self-endangering shout calls (seriously dude, take a throat lozenge), Boston looked good.
But what about Seoul? First, they happen to have one of the best Sombra players in the league. Michelle as Sombra plays very aggressive – getting a lot of hacks but also a lot of deaths. Having a strong hacker would logically give Seoul an advantage. With wins against the LA Gladiators and the Chengdu Hunters and a loss against the Dallas Fuel, it’s been difficult to read the tea leaves on the Dynasty. They had just as much to prove going into this match as Boston.
Capture began for Boston with Fusions playing on the Winston. Picking up right where he left off against Houston, he leapt into Seoul territory. While he occupied the Dynasty, Boston got the first capture. Playing a solid defensive front, Boston held on until Seoul landed a Self-Destruct on Kellex that spiraled into a team wipe. Up 69% – 0% at that point, the Uprising bided their time. Accumulating enough ults, Boston eventually recaptured the point. After several exchanges (including this Self-Destruct from Note that catches the Lucio, Zarya, and DVa) Boston cruises to a 100% – 27% stage win.
Boston gets the first cap on stage two, but Seoul charges in with several ults in tow (grav, rally, trans, earth shatter) to take it back. The stage features even exchanges on both sides for most of the match. The broadcast’s caster, Monte, started begging Seoul to go to the Sombra. To no avail. Michelle lands an unbelievable 3k as overtime starts to lead to a cap. With Seoul up to 88%, the Uprising charge in with a set of ults only to have Jesce boop the team right into a Michelle Self-Destruct 4k. Despite a decent last second Wrecking Ball by Fusions the delay doesn’t work and Seoul wins 100 – 99%
In sudden death, Seoul decides they don’t want to let Boston be the aggresor anymore. Fortunately for the Uprising, the initial push fails and Boston gets the first cap. Typical GOATs exchanges rules the match until the game goes to Overtime. Fusions gets a critical shield from Colourhex’s Zarya and times a perfect Earth Shatter in OT to lead to a 100% – 99% win.
Boston’s first offensive push was highlighted by their playing mind games with their route to Point A. Taunting the high ground but running low, Kellex comes out of nowhere to boop some of the Seoul down to ground level to steamroll a capture. They capture Point B with less than a minute to go after Aimgod and Colourhex each get a 2k.
At long last, Seoul pulls out the Sombra with Munchkin taking the hacker role. With a Phar-Mercy combo running, Seoul steamrolls Boston for a quick Point A. Boston gets 4 players hit with the first EMP from Seoul, but, they’re ready. Aimgod, having hung back, pops the Transcendence. Unfortunately, they lose as Note getting picked snowballs the team. But everyone watching learned something – Boston could take the EMP.
Back on offense after Seoul caps Point B, we see the Uprising do the same strategy. This time the Overwatch League meme it:
Boston uses the boop and Point A capture to snowball to an incredibly far push. Back on offense, Seoul runs the same DPS heavy comp to get Point A. Unfortunately, they have to reset their ultimate economy to get back to 3-3. Boston didn’t. Punishing the Dynasty with shatters and gravitons, Boston stops Seoul in their tracks to win the map.
Temple of Anubis
Boston and Seoul put on a GOATs buffet for fans of the 3-3. Discoordination and inability to combo ults doomed Boston from the get-go. Taking 3 attempts to get the final point, Fusions decided it was time to show everyone what they were missing from the Shanghai match:
Seoul decides they don’t want to get thrashed in front of the whole audience and put everything on the line. Punishing Boston’s choice of the Winston, they roll through Point A onto Point B using their cult advantage and picking off the right supports. They take Point B with a huge (5 minute) advantage.
After stopping the Uprising from capturing Point B, the door is open for Seoul. Note does a notable job on defense, particularly surviving as baby DVa long enough between team fights to call down the mech and push with the rest of the Uprising. Unfortunately, Seoul gets a 4k with the Self Destruct that they snowball into a Point A & B capture to win the map.
Boston says they’ve had enough of the Sombra comp and pull it out themselves. Their first EMP hits 5 and allows them to get past the Bastion on offense. Munchkins’ first EMP does hit Aimgod, but Kellex is there with a Sound Barrier. The cat and mouse between Aimgod and Munchkin continues through to the last point, where this beauty happened:
After making it through to the end, Boston shows an impressive defensive effort. Between Note’s Self-Destructs and Fusion timing his Earth Shatters, Boston nearly gets a full hold. Seoul gets their act together enough through Point A, but the Uprising put an end to any thoughts of a reverse sweep.
Boston Uprising fans were served a smorgasbord of deliciousness to chew on this night. Goodness gracious. Let’s start with an unsung hero in Kellex. First, his Lucio was seemingly in the perfect position all night. Whether it was hitting a boop to set up an ultimate combo or knock Seoul out of position, Kellex’s offense was fantastic. Additionally, he staggered the Uprising’s losses all night by wall riding into tough places to get picked off. Supports don’t get enough love and here’s some shine for our main support.
Aimgod and Kellex both did a great job showing that the Uprising were up to the Sombra challenge. The two positioned themselves outside of EMP range masterfully all night. In the future, when scholars look back at why a seemingly overpowered hero like Sombra wasn’t nerfed, they’ll study this game’s tape. Seemingly every time an EMP hit from Seoul, Boston triggered a support ultimate to weather the storm. Aimgod in particular baited Munchkin’s EMP all night and seemed to win each bout.
Our captain also showed he had something to prove. Has any Rein ever had over 100k in blocked damage on 4 maps? That stat is unbelievable. But the numbers don’t tell everything. Anyone with eyes could see Fusion was leading the Uprising into each battle, hitting his charges, sweeping the hammer, and knocking his Earth Shatters with surgical precision. If anyone thought the NYXL & Houston matches were a fluke, they are all certainly paying attention now.
At 2-2, with their full roster finally available, Boston was in the driver’s seat.
Boston Uprising (2-2) vs. Toronto Defiant (2-2)
After the high of beating Seoul, Boston was feeling invincible. They’ve got the starting roster they waited all season for. Sombra no longer posed a threat. Fusions was destined for league MVP. NYXL was sweating playing Boston in the stage 1 playoffs. What could possibly go wrong?
Enter Toronto. Themselves waiting for their star player, Neko, to come off a suspension. Tonight was their coming out party, five games into the season. Who is this Neko guy? If you don’t know, Neko is the star off support Boston plucked from obscurity and built into a juggernaut last season. I’m sure that he has nothing to prove going up against his former team. In his first game of the season. With Boston playing the guy (Aimgod) that replaced him in the starting roster. Just another normal game!
Boston walked out in this game with their pants down. Weird/nervous switches from the very start from a tank heavy to a damage heavy and back to a tank heavy team comp. I haven’t seen such indecisiveness since I asked my wife what movie she wants watch on Netflix. More importantly, by the time they got their act together, Toronto had the point. Both teams ran the traditional 3-3 and saw the typical grav/self-destruct/earthshatter combos we’re used to. Only thing I saw that was interesting was Aimgod popping trans in a team fight towards the end of the stage that was too late to save Colourhex. They had baited Toronto into popping theirs, but lacked the coordination to fully counter with their own. Toronto ends up winning 100%- 84%.
Stage 2 was even worse for Boston. Kellex did a nice camp on top of the point to delay a Toronto cap at the start, but to no avail. That summed up the stage, too. Boston never seemed well coordinated, mismanaged their health and ultimate economy, and couldn’t hit their ultimate combos. Toronto wins the stage 100% – 43% for the map win. A pretty decisive first map win for the new expansion team.
After getting rolled on the first map, Boston came up flaccid on the second. Unable to pull off any ultimate combos or meaningful engagements, the team looked dead. Defiant’s Ivy on Zarya got several picks, especially on Fusions and Blasé. Note was Boston’s bright light, getting some great picks on Zarya and DVa. Once again, Note showed throughout the day how quick on his feet and improvisational he is. This is special, as his team operates based on set plays. Unfortunately, Aimgod was outmatched by Neko on Zen, as was Colourhex by Ivy. Defiant won handedly.
Temple of Anubis
Coming back from halftime, Boston faced a daunting task in having to get a reverse sweep. On offense, Kellex played a crucial role getting a pick on Neko that allowed the Uprising to cap Point A, and immediately snowball to Point B to finish the round with over 5 minutes in the bank. Taking note of how they just got rolled, Toronto pushes Point A and ropes the team wipe they unleashed into a snowball of Point B – also with over 5 minutes in the bank.
Back on offense, Boston had to keep up the pace from their first go-around. The back and forth on point A prolongs the round, but they capture it with under 3 minutes to go. Toronto holds several times. In fact, with nearly all six of their ultimates, Toronto pushes out past the entrance to hold off Boston. Unfortunately for them, Kellex booped them off the high ground and the Uprising feasted off the ensuing chaos. Boston pushed to the point and…
Toronto pulls one of the most egregious pauses in the history of eSports. Yes, we don’t know what happened. But after Toronto gets cocky enough to push out with six ultimates, under a minute to go, get steamrolled, and are about to lose the Point, who else did it? Regardless, Boston finished the push and went up 4-2.
Having to push back Toronto or else face another round on offense, Boston nuts up and pulls off a full hold. Toronto actually picks Kellex off at the last team fight first and eats the graviton. Unfortunately, they fail to put someone on the point just as the team fight is turning their favor. That’s Boston’s first C9 of the season!
Coming out of halftime with something to prove, Boston was looking good. They turned things around coming out of Point A and put Toronto on their heels. Reverse sweep was hanging over Blizzard Arena. Uprising were not going to go quietly into that good night.
Then Rialto. What is there to say? Envy got a quad kill with the Self-Destruct. Oops wrong team. Boston didn’t give up the third point. Yeah! That’s it! Toronto couldn’t bring the payload home. There’s that.
Boston didn’t give up. It certainly looked like they were going to get full held at the first point. Leave it to Note to come in and pop a Self Destruct that clears the way for a cap. There was at least that. But not much else. Toronto wins the map and the match.
Coming back to reality hurts. Whether you get a bad test back from a teacher, get scolded by your parents, step on the scale, or look at your bank account. Sometimes all the hubris and positive thinking in the world can’t obscure the painful reality of things. And that’s what this game was for Boston. Remember when the Boston Celtics used the fact that the Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kendrick Perkins squad never lost in the playoffs? Those excuses ended against Seoul for the Uprising. While the Celtics had injuries and nostalgic memories of championship glory, the Uprising had to put their nose to the grindstone. And they didn’t deliver.
Where do we go from here? We’ve got Fusions. We’ve got Colourhex. Axxiom and Alemao, who have each shown moments of brilliance, are sitting there on the bench. Maybe Boston spent too much time training for Sombra. The fact that Toronto didn’t pull it may have hurt them. But there is enough tape out there on Toronto to not justify such a shortcoming.
Also screw this guy. Neko sprayed the Uprising logo throughout the match. In a post-game interview, he claims he hadn’t switched his setting. Right. And I have crouch speed-binded to the wrong key because I let my wife use my computer. This guy has put himself on top of the Uprising hit list. Public enemy #1.
I’m not hitting the panic button yet. This type of humility, early in the season, could be good for them. At this point it seems likely that stage 1 playoffs are off the table. Short of a collapse by one of the higher ranked teams, Boston needs to prepare for stage 2. With only Florida and Dallas left to play in stage 1, there’s no reason they can’t build up some confidence. I’m sure the coaches are already looking at the PTR, studying Baptiste (and his Immortality Field), and drawing up strats. Still, today is a pretty dark day. It’ll be a long week before next Sunday’s match.
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