Overwatch League teams will officially move to home cities in 2020

Robert Paul/Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch League teams will officially move to home cities in 2020

After almost spending the entirety of its existence playing out of the Burbank studio, the Overwatch League (OWL) will finally be ready to hit the road in full force by 2020.

According to OWL Commissioner Nate Nanzer during an interview at South by Southwest (SXSW), the geolocalization model will be put into effect with teams moving to their home cities, with home and away games scheduled throughout the season.

“In 2020, all teams will be returning to their home markets, and all matches will be played in one of the 19 cities around the world,” said Nanzer.

In 2020, Overwatch League teams will play matches based on scheduled “tours” that will be tailored to accommodate the demands of cross-regional play given the international nature of the league.

While the current system separates teams into two distinct divisions, Pacific and Atlantic, the future of the Overwatch League will feature teams playing home and away games in their respective regions to minimize issues with travel time and burnout. For example, organizations which call the North American west coast home such as the LA Gladiators, SF Shock, and Vancouver Titans will play within the region before going more international as the season advances into later stages.

Overwatch League teams will look to learn from the practices of traditional sports leagues such as ticketing, concessions and local brand building as they have been tasked with establishing a venue that will act as their home base for games played out of their city.

(Robert Paul/Blizzard Entertainment)

Several teams have already laid claim to pre-existing esports stadiums, renovating old theaters and even building their own from scratch to meet the standards set by the Overwatch League ahead of 2020. Given how several teams are operated by and have taken investment from high-profile figures in the world of traditional sports, such as, in the Fusion’s case, our parent company, Comcast Spectacor, there is a wealth of knowledge that will be leveraged to help with the integration of OWL teams into their respective cities.

Before the teams bid the Burbank arena farewell, the Overwatch League is taking the first steps this year towards geolocalization with three “home games” in 2019 located in Dallas, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.

The full Overwatch League schedule can be found here

How have Fusion been adapting to Stage 2 and the new meta game?

How have Fusion been adapting to Stage 2 and the new meta game?

Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

With two weeks of action completed for Stage 2 of the Overwatch League, the meta has had a chance to finally settle down and become clear for teams and fans alike. With a fairly diverse meta, quite a few teams have been able to thrive and find success early on in the season. For the Philadelphia Fusion, however, it’s been a mixed bag so far.  Entering Week 3 with a 2-2 record, let’s take a look at how the Fusion has been performing in the current meta of Stage 2. 

Goats are gone! (not really ...)

The main cause of the Fusion’s struggles during Stage 1 was their difficulties with playing a goats compositions. Luckily for them, things are going to be different in Stage 2. While the demise of the goats meta was greatly exaggerated, it has become weaker, opening the way for new team compositions on certain maps. 

However, goats compositions are still fairly prominent overall in the current meta as teams that are experts with the compositions such as the Vancouver Titans can still continue to run it in most situations. This becomes an issue for the Fusion as they continue to struggle with the execution of the composition such as in their series against the London Spitfire. While both teams struggled for most of Stage 1 with the goats meta, their rematch in Stage 2 was decided on who was better with goat compositions as well. In the end, the Spitfire had shown the most improvement with the composition as they took the series 2-1.

If the Fusion wants to find more success in Stage 2 they must face the reality that they need to improve their play with goat compositions. While it is possible to play other compositions into it, the overall strength of goat compositions is simply still too strong to match in certain situations. This was the case in the Fusion’s Week 1 match against the New York Excelsior, where the Excelsior’s superior play with goat compositions stopped the Fusion in their tracks as the Excelsior would take the series 4-0. 

Although the Fusion has found some recent success with goat compositions in their Week 2 victory over the Toronto Defiant, it’s still one of the weak points of the team. If they want to make a deep run in the playoffs, it will be an important aspect to improve on going forward. 

Hunker down for bunker compositions!

Blizzard Entertainment

One team composition that has gained popularity thanks to the arrival of Baptiste has been bunker compositions. Overall the composition has been seeing a lot of play on certain maps, with the Paris Eternals using this composition the most overall. 

While the Fusion has not played too many games with the composition yet, they did play a variation of it on Junkertown against the Florida Mayhem in Week 1. Overall, the team had a decent amount of success on the map as they would win it and take the series 3-1. 

While there hasn’t been much play of the bunker composition from the Fusion yet, that will likely change as Stage 2 progresses. It would be a better idea than playing more goat compositions as DPS players Jae-hyeok "Carpe" Lee and Josh "Eqo" Corona would be able to play and thrive on various DPS characters instead. 

DPS heroes make their return?

Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

The best news for the Fusion coming into Stage 2 was that DPS characters were making a return to into the meta. This has allowed Carpe and Eqo to dominate and have a more meaningful effect on the game. 

This was most apparent in their match against the Mayhem as Carpe and Eqo were amazing on DPS characters like Hanzo and Pharah on Temple of Anubis and King’s Row. While the Fusion’s triple DPS composition struggled to get the win on Oasis, the team as a whole looked great with their DPS compositions. 

While triple DPS compositions still struggle against goat compositions, the fact that DPS characters are available still provide a huge boost to the Fusion’s chances at having a strong finish despite a very tough Stage 2 schedule. Whether they find success or not will depend heavily on the play of Carpe and Eqo. 

Looking ahead

With some difficult matches still remaining against the Excelsior again and the San Francisco Shock, the Fusion’s chances at making the playoffs seem low. However, if they are able to improve on goat compositions, they could still find themselves with a low seed qualification. In the end, it’ll mostly depend on if players that have been underperforming like tank player Su-min "SADO" Kim can step up. Despite the odds, will the Fusion make a miracle run into the playoffs? Only time will tell.

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Fusion's Poko discusses the Stage 2 meta, moving away from 3-3, and playing Torbjorn

Robert Paul/Blizzard Entertainment

Fusion's Poko discusses the Stage 2 meta, moving away from 3-3, and playing Torbjorn

Stage 2 of the OWL started off with a bang as teams took to the stage with a renewed vigor. The slew of balance changes as well as a new hero introduced between stages had fans tuned in excited by the prospect of seeing their favorite DPS players back on their preferred role. Some teams chose to field the new hero Baptiste alongside the ever underutilized Bastion, forming a rock-solid defense at the first point of assault maps. Others finally let their Widows off the leash to wreak havoc in a head clicking frenzy.

Although this change of pace was refreshing, the 3x3 meta of the last stage had certainly not disappeared yet. Teams that excelled at the comp like SF Shock and NYXL relied on the tried and true strategy to great success. It seems that no nerf bat is strong enough to kill the rolling thunder of the infamous GOATS comp. 

Among the more experimental teams was our own Philadelphia Fusion, fielding some of the weirder comps seen this week. D.Va specialist and self-proclaimed one trick Gael “Poko” Gouzerch flexed onto two new heroes in a bid to get ahead of this new meta. After the matches, Poko met with me to discuss the changes to the competitive landscape and what it takes to adapt.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Adam: Can you tell me a little about how your team has adapted to this new meta?

Poko: We are not sure actually (laughs). I feel like there are so many compositions that can be played right now, it's not only GOATS anymore. Really good GOATS teams like NYXL or Shock are obviously going to want to play on GOATS, but they will probably want to put Baptiste in instead of Brigitte. 

We are not that good at GOATS, so we tried to find some other option DPS wise. That's tough since we have to change everything to do that, we have to work on everything, and we are lacking in practice time. That's why we got hard stomped against NYXL, but we did play a bit better against Mayhem, so overall I'm happy.

Adam: Tell me a bit more about that transition, because we are still seeing a lot of 3-3 especially after first points are taken. Is this an aspect of comfort or optimization?

Poko: I'm not sure honestly. I think some teams are a bit lazy to adapt or to try new stuff, because why would they? 3x3 is still really strong, so they will only play one comp and try to carry as that comp, or they can play a bunch of comps and try to see what works and what doesn't. I think it's way more difficult to play stuff other than 3x3 right now because there are so many possibilities and so many variables. You have to know where to go and where your teammates going to be, so with more comps you have to think a lot more. It's so much work, that's why I think teams are lazy to adapt to a different style.       

Adam: Considering the sheer volume of changes made going into this stage, how long do you think it will take before the meta actually stabilizes?

Poko: I don't know, a few weeks at the very least. However, I think some of the lower teams are going to try to copy some of the stronger teams, so the Shock and Titans for example. Those teams like to play GOATS so people will try to copy that, but it's hard to be as good as them in the composition, so lower teams may attempt some DPS comps and get some upsets, which would push people in that direction. It's really hard to say right now.

(Credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment)

Adam: We saw you hit the field this weekend with some interesting hero picks, how did it feel to finally be off D.Va in favor of some DPS Heroes?

Poko: (Laughs) Well, yesterday we were thinking about what we could play on Temple of Anubis, and we didn't know what to do. Then people were like, "Wait, new Torb, is he not good?" and I said I didn't know since I never play him. I checked my profile, and I had like three minutes of Torbjorn play ever (laughs), so I just said, "Eh ... Fine, LET'S GO!" so we tried it and it went surprisingly well. For Sombra, I've played her a few times now, all you have to do is poke shields and try to be annoying.     

Adam: You are pretty well known as a D.Va specialist. What is it like expanding your hero pool all this time?

Poko: You play a lot of solo queue to figure out what you can do, and more importantly what you can't do with a character. You have to know your limits before you try it out in a team environment. It's really different in a team environment, people are actually really good. There's actual communication so you can't just do random stuff. So there are two ways to practice, but it's all just playing the game.

Adam: Was there anyone on the team that was particularly helpful in your transition?

Poko: Everyone really, but every time I play Sombra the coaches are watching me a lot closer to help me play better. They give me their opinions on when I should attack versus waiting, they let me know when I should have hacked one target instead of another, they just do everything they can to help.

Adam: After the first week of competition are there any strats or comps that you've seen that deserve closer examination?

Poko: I think the GOATS variation with Baptiste instead of Brigitte is really powerful. At the beginning, we thought it wouldn't be that good, because you can just play Brig and push engagements instead, but we realized the Lucio nerf hits that comp really hard. You can't just boost forward, bash, and kill the Reinhardt anymore, and Baptiste has ultimate like every fight, so it's really tough. Baptiste's E, where nobody dies, it's just ... (Sighs). I just think that 3-3 with Baptiste is going to be the most annoying comp.

Adam: Baptiste ult allows Reinhardt's Fire Strike to one shot squishy targets. Will that be a big consideration when deciding paths of attack?

Poko: Just dodge it (laughs). I mean, it's a hard one to play around, so we just call it and expect everyone to dodge or you're a dead man.

Adam: This week we saw a lot of different DPS comps. Do you think this trend will continue?

Poko: I feel like every team has a counter to DPS comps, some include Monkey, D.Va, Pharah, and Moira. You may run four DPS to counter GOATS, but you can be countered back. I think you can run the Bastion/Orisa on first point, that's petty solid, but that’s about it.