How can the Fusion still make playoffs? —Overwatch League Roadmap

Robert Paul Blizzard Entertainment

How can the Fusion still make playoffs? —Overwatch League Roadmap

Season 2 of the Overwatch League has been a mixed bag for Fusion fans, to say the least. Although the team got off to a good start in stage 1, the rest of the season hasn’t exactly been sunshine and rainbows. Stage 2 saw the Fusion faced with a fairly stacked schedule, including matches against Shock, Spitfire, and back to back games with NYXL. There wasn’t too much hope of coming out of that schedule with a positive record, but there was still room for improvement going into Stage 3.

However, improvement is not exactly what we got, as the Fusion got off to a stumbling start. When asked about their problems, the players and coaches all came back with the same answer, “We just aren’t playing as well on stage as we do in skrims.” Although the Fusion managed to finish the stage with a positive record their map differential took enough of a hit to drop them out of playoffs and straight to the bottom of a 5-way tie going into stage 4.

While Playoffs are certainly still within their reach by seasons end, they have an uphill battle ahead of them. The landscape of the league is changing thanks to the 2-2-2 role lock being implemented, but whether this is a benefit or detriment of the Fusion has yet to be seen. In order to get an idea of Philly’s roadmap to playoffs, we need to take a look at their remaining games and how role locking could affect the matchup.

What we learned this week

In their first role locked matches of the season, the Fusion gave up wins to the Guangzhou Charge and Chengdu Hunters. Both opposing teams have come to life in the new meta, giving their best performances of the season and playing to their strengths. While Chengdu has always been a strong DPS team, even in the full swing of GOATS meta, the newfound success of the Charge was a surprise.

For fans of the Fusion, the first thing to keep in mind is that it’s still very early in the meta. The Fusion played in the first two days of stage 4 preventing them from scouting any competition, or having any meaningful amount of practice against these newfound comps. Considering the amount of improvement we saw from them, even between their first and second game, it’s not unreasonable to think that we will be seeing a far more synergized Fusion going into week 2.

The other consideration is that the Fusion have a high number of new comps they are attempting to field while having no time to fine-tune their compatibility. Carpe alone ran Reaper, Tracer, Widowmaker, McCree, and

Houston Outlaws

In their first match of week 2, the Fusion will face off against the new and improved Houston Outlaws. Despite a terrible first half to the season, the Outlaws are back, and better than ever with season 2 pickup Dante “Danteh” Cruz finally able to show off his tracer skills.

For the Fusion to pull out the victory here, it may end up coming down to the DPS. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more talented Orisa than Muma, and Poko is already playing outside his comfort zone on Roadhog (and the occasional Reinhardt), so the tank matchup may in fact be lost before it begins.

To get around this, the pressure will be on Carpe to outduel Jake, and Eqo to run control on Danteh. If done well, we may see a match where every fight starts as 5 vs 6 in favor of the Fusion. Of the victories needed, this match may not be the hardest win, but it’s certainly not the easiest.

Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Toronto Defiant

The Defiant remain somewhat of a question mark in the league. It was hard to predict how they would perform on any given day in the GOATS meta, and that remains true with role locking. While the pickups of im37 and Logix certainly add strength to their DPS line, the team is coming off an 0-7 stage, and even with their top tier DPS line, I’d be hard-pressed to put any faith in the Defiant’s ability to upset the Fusion. I still hesitate to call this a free win for Philly, but if I were them, I might prep a bit harder for their next opponents.

Paris Eternal

Like many teams in OWL, the Eternal have been sitting on two star DPS all season with no opportunity to utilize their skills. This stage, fan favorites SoOn and ShaDowBurn have been able to come center stage and flex on the rest of the league. In their first game against the Houston Outlaws, the Eternal claimed 32 eliminations on Blizzard world 25 of which belonged to SoOn. This level of dominance is part of what made SoOn famous, and with no sign of slowing, we can expect a similar performance against the Fusion.

The key to victory in this match may lie in the Fusion’s (and more specifically Carpe’s) ability to shut SoOn down early and carry as much momentum as possible through the match. In the Fusion’s match against the Charge, it looked as though the DPS players were still trying to shake some of the rust off after a year of GOATS. If they manage to achieve a return to form, the Fusion have a solid chance to take a much-needed win off the Eternal, but it won’t be easy, and it probably won’t be convincing.

Vancouver Titans

As proven by the Shanghai Dragons in the stage 3 finals, Vancouver is, in fact, susceptible to DPS comps. With this in mind, along with the growing concerns about the Titans’ ability to smoothly transition metas, a match which would have once been considered an instant loss for the Fusion may be winnable. Considering the individual strengths of its players, I highly doubt that Vancouver will ever be considered bad, but now they at least seem to be mortal.

The good news is, Bumper is finally being forced to play something other than Reinhardt. With one of the Titans’ major strengths removed from consideration, it once again comes down to how well the DPS will face off with each other. Even with all this going in the Fusion’s favor, this challenge may very well be the toughest they will face prior to playoffs.

Seoul Dynasty

Of all the teams fighting for a playoff spot, none mirror the experience of the Fusion as closely as the Dynasty. Two teams that have identical match wins, star Widowmakers, incredible support lines, and D.vas that can place bombs with the best of them. Considering this, both teams ultimately have the same win conditions when they meet at the end of the season, kill the DPS.

Fleta’s Widowmaker along with Ryujehong’s Ana are going to be immensely threatening, and while Carpe is certainly capable of winning that Widow duel, it may be down to Poko’s inexperienced Roadhog hooks to handle the Seoul backline.

Of all the matches the Fusion have ahead of them, Seoul is easily the hardest to predict. The team has been wildly inconsistent basically since the orgs inception, however, it’s hard to deny the individual skills and talents of the Dynasty players. It’s somehow appropriate that the ultimate gatekeepers of Fusion’s playoff spot may, in fact, be the team that most closely.

Final Thoughts

With the start that the Fusion have had this stage, things are looking rather grim, but that is no reason to give up hope. Of all the matches yet to be played, only the Titans look to have a clear advantage over Philly in terms of previous success. With a 4-3 record, a play-in spot seems likely, and considering the amount of time Fusion will have to adjust to this new meta, that seems like an entirely possible outcome.

For fans that have hopes of seeing the Fusion play in Philadelphia at Grand Finals, don’t give up hope, the Fusion boys certainly haven’t, so neither should you. One way or another we have an exciting stage still ahead of us, now it's just a matter of seeing if my poor little heart can handle the stress.

Experiencing the Overwatch League for the first time and why you should too

Experiencing the Overwatch League for the first time and why you should too

The Philadelphia Fusion finally played in front of a home crowd for the first time Saturday at the Met. It’s been a long time coming but with a near sold out venue, it was clear that the city was ready for the league to make it’s way there during their regular season. 

And after the 2019 Overwatch League sold out Wells Fargo Center in September, I finally realized it may be time to pay attention to something that was taking over the nation … I just wasn’t sure how. 

Fast forward to this weekend of events. Still knowing nothing about the league, Overwatch in general or really what to expect at something like this … I decided to go. I wanted to see what it was like, essentially as an outsider, to see how things go. Here’s what I took away from the day:

First impressions

I arrived about a half hour before the initial start time and it was packed. Between the lobby, merchandise tables and gaming stations, the atmosphere was electric. It almost seemed like a mini ComicCon, or in this case BlizzCon — with fans in jerseys representing their favorite players, cos-plays of characters in the game and even a fake Gritty (the real Gritty was there too, but we’ll get to that later).

How does it differ?

One of the biggest questions I had heading into things was how different would this be from a regular sporting event? Turns out — it’s not. Two teams of six compete on three separate maps, with three games within them. It’s highly competitive and very intense. 

The crowd was also as Philly as it gets. The entire event went on for nearly four hours and the energy never died down. The first match of the Mayhem and the Outlaws had an interesting dynamic, where fans cheered for both teams. Everyone was just there appreciating the game and the atmosphere, but boy did it take a shift as soon as the Fusion and Justice took the stage. 

It was loud. I mean loud. From booing the Justice from the moment they stepped on the stage, to cheering on the home team for the very first time. It was the same energy you’d see from Flyers, Sixers, Phillies and Eagles fans. 

Not to mention, there was even an E-A-G-L-E-S chant that broke out, so it’s safe to say the Fusion were officially initiated into the Philly sports world. 

What I took away

I’m familiar with Blizzard Entertainment, having played World of Warcraft since my middle school days, but before this weekend I had held off to being open-minded to any other games they put out. If I had a better understanding to Overwatch overall, the way I do with WoW, chances are I’d probably become pretty invested into this. To be a player and to be able to watch some of the best in the game is a pretty cool concept. 

Not to mention, an appearance from Gritty is an automatic win in my book. 

Is it worth attending?

 If you’re open to trying new things, I’d suggest giving it a shot. Since this was the first time I was there and was still pretty much unaware of everything going on for the first few hours, two matches seemed lengthy. Luckily, if you wanted, you could’ve gone for just the Fusion that was set to start two hours into the event. 

The gaming community continues to evolve. If you’re a fan of Twitch — an online streaming site for players, this may be something to look into. It’s basically the live version of it but with the addition of a live sporting event atmosphere. 

I rather enjoyed my time there and look forward to the next time the Fusion are home (May 23-24). Now that I know what I’m going into, it’ll be exciting to be back with a new perspective. 

Meet your new Philadelphia Fusion roster for OWL 2020

The Philadelphia Fusion

Meet your new Philadelphia Fusion roster for OWL 2020

The Philadelphia Fusion has officially announced its main roster heading into the 2020 season of the Overwatch League. Overall, the team has five returning players and four newly signed players along with a new coaching staff.

Players Leaving

Image credit courtesy of The Philadelphia Fusion

Leaving the Fusion roster are DPS player Finley "Kyb" Adisi and support players Elijah Hudson "Elk" Gallagher and Alberto "neptuNo" González.

Kyb leaves the roster after not seeing any play with the Fusion roster since being traded to the team from the Guangzhou charge just before the start of Stage 4. Meanwhile, Elk leaves the team after struggling on the Fusion Academy roster after rejoining the contender roster when they moved to Korea.

Finally, neptuNo leaves the roster after playing a huge role as one of the key supports for the Fusion. During his time on the Fusion, neptuNo was one of the starting supports through both seasons, acting as the main Lucio and Mercy player. He was considered one of the core members of the roster and played the most maps out of all players in season one of the Overwatch League.

There haven’t been any rumors about the landing spots for any of these players at the moment. However, it has been rumored that the Toronto Defiant decided not to trial neptuNo due to feeling that he may be too toxic.

Returning Players

After a mediocre 2019 season, the starting DPS and tank duo for the Fusion in DPS players Jae-hyeok "Carpe" Lee and Josue/Josh "Eqo" Corona along with tank players Gael "Poko" Gouzerch and Su-min "SADO" Kim. Finishing off the group of returning players is support player Isaac "Boombox" Charles.

While Poko, SADO, and Boombox were brought back fairly quickly, the DPS duo was a different story. For Eqo, it was originally announced that he would be leaving the team after two long seasons with the team. The announcement was a shocking one at the time and left fans wondering what the future would hold for both the Fusion and Eqo. Meanwhile, after weeks of rumors since the start of the beginning of the offseason, star DPS player Carpe signed a 3-year contract to rejoin the team as the face of the franchise.

Overall, the return of these five players allows the Fusion to head into the 2020 season with a solid core that has great synergy together as a team. Along with that, the return of the DPS duo in Carpe and Eqo ensures the Fusion will have the ability to default to a tested duo that is capable of carrying the team to victory.

New Players

The biggest pickup for the Fusion during the offseason is the former tank player of the London Spitfire Jun-ho "Fury" Kim who is widely considered one of the best offensive tank players in the league. During the offseason, Fury was sought after by other teams as reported by Halo of Thoughts in the New York Excelsior. While the NYXL had initial talks with the Spitfire, the asking price was too high for the team.  Along with Fury, the Fusion picked up two more Korean players in Seung-hyun "Ivy" Lee, the former DPS player for the Toronto Defiant and support player Kyungbo "Alarm" Kim, who has been brought up from the Fusion’s contender team in the Fusion University. Finishing off the new players joining the roster is a former support player for the Atlanta Reign, Daniel "FunnyAstro" Hathaway.

Image credit courtesy of The Philadelphia Fusion

Along with the new players, the Fusion also announced new members of the support staff. Taking over the coaching duties after both Se-hwi "NamedHwi" Go and Elliot "Hayes" Hayes left the organization is Dong-gun "KDG" Kim, the former coach for the Seoul Dynasty, along with him the returning assistant coach Christopher "ChrisTFer" Graham will continue to contribute to the team. Along with that, the Fusion also announced Roston “Roston” Yoo as the new assistant general manager.

With these changes the Fusion roster heading into the 2020 season will be:

Support: Alarm, FunnyAstro, Boombox
Tank: Poko, SADO, Fury
DPS: Ivy, Carpe, Eqo
Coach: KDG (head), ChrisTFer (assistant)

With the new players, the Fusion could potentially field a nearly full Korean roster depending on the meta with a single non-Korean support which would likely be Boombox. One big concern that still exists in the roster is the lack of a substitute for the main tank role as SADO could continue to struggle once the 2020 season begins. Overall, the roster has made some solid upgrades and should look much better heading into the new season. The question now will be if these changes are good enough to push the Fusion into title contention once again.

The Fusion’s 2020 season begins on February 15th in Philadelphia.