Thoughts on week 1 of Overwatch League 2020 Playoffs

Here we are folks! The Overwatch League 2020 season playoffs have officially begun and we are already off to a very exciting start! Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Production

One bit of production related news:

I am very happy to have Frankie as a guest host on the OWL desk, she has been doing a fantastic job and bringing a lot of hilarious joy to the desk!

The Playoffs Format and Our Brackets

The playoffs started with two rounds of single elimination knockout matches and then we had one round of double elimination matches this week. All matches this week were first-to-3. First map of each series was chosen by the higher seed, loser of the previous map will select the next map based on the next game mode.

The following teams have been knocked out of the playoffs so far:

  • Houston Outlaws
  • Vancouver Titans
  • Toronto Defiant
  • Boston Uprising
  • Dallas Fuel
  • Los Angeles Gladiators
  • Paris Eternal
  • London Spitfire
  • Chengdu Hunters
  • Hangzhou Spark

10 teams remain.

Some of these teams I expected to get knocked out early in the playoffs but a few of them were not. Teams like the LA Gladiators, Paris Eternal and the Hangzhou Spark, these I expected to stay in longer. Paris as an example was knocked out by a surging Washington Justice in a 3-0 loss. The Justice appear to be the dark horse of the playoffs so far, I’m extremely curious to see just how far they can make it through in the upcoming weeks.

I think the double elimination format of the playoffs makes for a very exciting postseason as teams get two chances to make it to the very top and it provides opportunity for teams to claw through the losers bracket to the end like the San Francisco Shock did last year in the 2019 playoffs.

These are the bracket predictions I made before all of this started. Needless to say it was in shambles the first day of the playoffs. The real winners are the folks who didn’t make brackets. But the fun part of making brackets to me is to watch them get destroyed by unexpected upsets.

The Meta

The playoffs have a new meta and Roadhog is in it. Yep, you heard that right folks. The new hot meta in the Overwatch League (and apparently on ranked) is a Roadhog/Zarya tank line.

We got to see which tank players are really really good at Roadhog (like Gesture) and ones that were not comfortable on the hero (like Hanbin). Star Zarya players got to make their mark again, notably Decay on the Washington Justice who got all the resources of his team and a nano-boosted high energy Decay was just melting enemy teams like ice cream left outside on a hot summer day.

I am curious to see how the remaining teams continue to evolve this new meta and what sort of modifications and variants we see as the playoffs continue.

The Games

Lots of good games to pick from this week so let’s get started!

Toronto Defiant vs LA Gladiators [NA Playoffs Round 2A]

This 3-2 series marks the end of the 2020 season for the Toronto Defiant. The Defiant has consistently a team with slightly below average performance throughout this season and I expected them to be knocked out early. This series was very close and honestly the Defiant could have won it but they were thwarted in a map 5 by the Gladiators. I hope the Defiant have a better season next year.

Washington Justice vs San Francisco Shock [NA Playoffs Round 3C]

If you told me last week that a series between the Washington Justice and the San Francisco Shock was going to be a shockingly close series, I would have laughed at you. But here we are, this series was extremely close and the Justice could have sent the Shock to the losers bracket but ultimately they lose the series 3-2. The Justice continued to terrorize in the losers bracket with their 3-0 win against the Paris Eternal. Like I mentioned earlier, the Justice are a team to be feared by anyone facing them at this point.

New York Excelsior vs Shanghai Dragons [APAC Playoffs Round 3A]

This one is only a map 5 series because of the draw on King’s Row and what a disappointing draw for the New York Excelsior. The Dragons continue to show why they are the top seed in the APAC region. On the other hand the New York team looked a bit shaky as they avoided playing current meta compositions and opted to play the Winston/D.Va tank line instead of the Roadhog/Zarya. NYXL’s loss puts them in the losers bracket and I think they will have to start adapting to the new meta if they want a chance of continuing their season

The Dragons continue on to face the Seoul Dynasty who appear to be extremely dominant in this meta as well and I’m looking forward to watching that match next week.

Wrapping Things Up

Overall, it was a very exciting start to the OWL postseason and I expect it to continue heating up in the coming weeks as only the best of the best teams remain. For example, we have a match between the SF Shock and the Philadelphia Fusion coming up in the NA winners bracket and that one promises to be a banger of a match. Whoever loses that will end up as a new monster in the losers bracket.

For now I leave you with this:

https://twitter.com/hanthebammer/status/1302726721171488769

See y’all next week!