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Happy Marathon Monday Uprising fans. Many New Englanders see the first pitch at Fenway as the first sign of Spring. Personally, it’s always been runners headed down Boylston that does it for me. Just as the warm weather erases all memory of the months of snow shoveling and cold weather, so must a new stage erase our memories of what’s come before. A new patch means a new meta. Teams will rise and teams will fall. And I clearly didn’t give the 3-5 Hangzhou Spark enough credit.
This new world looks different. Two weeks in and we see stage 1 playoff teams Toronto and Atlanta already falling to 1-3 stage 2 records. Suddenly those 2 reverse sweeps from last week don’t look so impressive. Where teams line up in the pecking order is in disarray. And though I thought this match would be a cakewalk for Boston, the Spark proved they were anything but.
Huk’s stunning trade before stage 2 continues to prove prophetic. Boston’s new off-tank rCk displayed his signature flexibility throughout the match. On DVa, we saw the Fin eat ultimates like on Anubis when Mei’s blizzard was tossed right into the Defense Matrix. How fun is it when you see the icon for devoured ultimates? Conversely, he lived up to his reputation as a great Sombra player. At Blizzard World, he hit a great EMP on offense that pushed the Point A cap, and seemingly within minutes started a steamroll through Point B. You could tell how paranoid the Spark were getting of him. Sitting on his EMP, he hacked just one player near Point C that spooked the Spark out of position. Boston got a team wipe from it without burning an EMP.
It’s safe to say that rCk was the bright spot in a sea of darkness this night. Boston continues to run most of their team play around him. The question is how do they decide to go DVa or Sombra? There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. While I believe he’s just as good a DVa as Sombra, Boston’s efficacy when he was on the DVa is suspect. Hopefully they can turn it around going forward.
As Sideshow pointed out at Halftime, Boston ran a fantastic offense around rCk on Anubis. Using his hacks on the off-tank Ria, Boston would dive the squishy targets knowing the Spark couldn’t peel to defend on Point A. On Point B, Boston did a great job coordinating onto the point and never letting go. After two matches in a row of futile assault maps, it was nice to see the Uprising come out and execute their game plan.
After a week of two matches that saw a mix of Winston/Hammond dive, Pharmercy, and DPS comps, Boston oddly decided that GOATs would be their approach. With little exception, Boston played the 3-3 all night. To little effect. I’m not sure the mentality here. Did they outthink themselves? Were they expecting Hangzhou to prepare for a mix of comps and then get leveled by GOATs? Did they think the Spark’s record suggested they’d get rolled by a simple GOATs comp? Regardless, it was disappointing to see, in a new patch/meta, such a fixation on GOATs. In their defense, we did see several teams go back to the well here so they’re not alone. But Hangzhou didn’t show such timidness, switching to a bunker comp on Oasis to great effect. Hopefully Boston loosens up next match and tries to switch it up.
What an absolute disaster. While I appreciate Boston not defaulting to the 3-3 and trying out the pirate ship, the Spark were ready. Again, Hangzhou showed superior coordination and synergy. Playing a triple DPS on defense, they made quick work of Boston once they got through the second turn on Point A. Offensively, they switched to GOATs once the payload got past the last turn on Point A. Boston strangely played a Roadhog/Moira comp on defense that did not work at all. Needless to say, I think the coaching staff need to go back to the drawing board when they play this escort map again.
Known for leading China’s Overwatch World Cup team to the finals this year, Hangzhou’s unused DPS Krystal certainly sparked the team when he hit the stage. Why did they ever substitute him out? They won every map he played on. Apparently he speaks Mandarin while everyone else speaks Korean. No matter. His Bastion on Oasis’ stage 3 was devastating. Between getting Nano Boosted and his tank ultimate, Boston had no response to their bunker defense.
Funny thing is, Boston has been rumored to be seeking a trade for Krystal all season. You almost could see a twisted irony in him being used against the Uprising. At this point the GMs across the league have to take Huk showing interest in a player as them having a diamond in the rough. Would Hangzhou have played the DPS stud had Huk not called? We’ll never know.
No one suffered more from going back to the GOATs well as Colourhex. After his unbelievable 41% critical accuracy last week, the sniper was stuck on Zarya almost the entire match. There were some low points there. A Graviton sucked up by a Defense Matrix on Oasis. Some bubbles that seemed untimed with teammates. But it didn’t get much better for the kiwi when he got on DPS. His Genji on Anubis wasn’t anything to write home about. Undoubtedly the low point came at the most crucial moment. Up 99% on Leijing Tower, Colourhex got spawn camped by IDK and booped off the map while sitting on his Graviton. To make matters worse, the very next life saw him Whip Shotted off the map by Brigitte. Not pretty.
You have to feel for Blasé being stuck in the Brig as I’ve seen it called. While he’s a serviceable Briggitte, he showed last week he has a wide enough DPS pool to warrant being let loose.
Even at the very end Boston was in it. On Leijing Tower’s third stage, Boston coughed up the point two times while at 99%. Still, you felt that this was just the type of pressure Boston had proven themselves adept at. What a disappointment.
Also about Leijing Tower – how do you have 5 ults after getting up 99%-0% and lose? I think Huk and company will be watching the film on that for awhile. The hubris to burn through those ults and lose the stage like they did was nothing short of embarrassing.
I threw a bit of shade at Fusions last week, wondering if he could stay as relevant in this new meta. I don’t think we have a definitive answer this week, especially because he stuck on the Rein so long. However, I do think he played well tonight, and had some great moments throughout the match.
I’m convinced Kellex is the best stall Lucio in the league. You saw him hopping around on Oasis and Leijing Tower several times. It’s always funny to see the other team have to track him down and kill him like having a fly in your food.
Was it me or did Hangzhou come out to some rap music entrance? Can we get on that bandwagon? Let’s get some Dropkick Murphys or something. Whatever it is we come out to just isn’t cutting it. There are some cool themes out there.
We see you Aimgod. He may not get the attention like Jjonak or get put on replay, but the flex support had some great picks this match. I also though he was brilliant in deploying his Transcendences tonight. He never got anxious and waited patiently to use it.
After an exciting start to Stage 2, Boston took a step backward this week. They can’t take any of their matches for granted. Next week they face London and Vancouver. Obviously the still unbeaten Vancouver will be a tough match, but London shouldn’t be taken lightly. Last year’s champions are 3-0 this stage. I’m just as guilty as anyone as reading too much into the Stage 1 results. Boston needs a win to keep pace with everyone else if they’re going to make Stage 2 playoffs. Here’s hoping this was just a small misstep on a long road to bigger winnings.
For more weekly columns and gameday banter, follow Loadscr33n on Twitter #BostonUp