Overwatch

Latest Meta Sparks Role Changes & Huge Shift in Power in Overwatch League Season 2

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The first week of the Overwatch League Season 2 has passed, during which many changes took place. The London Spitfire, the winning team of last year’s Grand Final, started the new season with 2 losses and no wins - a result far from fans’ initial predictions. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Reign and Hangzhou Spark, new additions to the OWL, brought a fresh breeze to the League with their awesome victories. It is still just the early phase of the League, yet this season is already quite different from the last one.


Why exactly is Season 2 so different? The roles of many players have been either changed or became even more diverse with the rise of the 3 tanks/3 healers meta and counter-strategies. The teams with more players who are able to pull off their new roles were naturally able to get good results. There have even been some cases where main tanks renowned for their Winston plays don’t perform as well in the current Reinhardt-favored meta.


At the same time, there are some pro gamers who have delivered outstanding performances and solidified their reputation. JJoNak was selected as MVP for his crazy Zenyatta plays in Season 1 where he was both a healer and a DPS at the same time. Quite similarly, players who can manage to pull off a variety of roles in Season 2 have been gaining attention from the crowd. This article is a review of the players who have shown such skill in the first week of the Overwatch League.

 


No More Distinction between DPS and Secondary TankNenne, Carpe, aKm, MekO

 

▲ How does NYXL’s new DPS Nenne play Zarya?

 

The biggest change between last season and the current season is that DPS players have been picking Zarya, a secondary tank. As Zarya, players have to deal damage like a DPS, use her barrier like a tank, and support while keeping a high amount of energy throughout the whole game. She is a hero that is hard to play well with just surface understanding. Also, many DPS picked Zarya to go along the 3 tanks/3 heals meta but there weren’t many who were able to perform extremely well with her.


However, the DPS players who have been playing well on secondary tanks certainly stood out. Nenne, who is playing in the OWL for the first time as part of NYXL, made sure he played his Zarya skillfully. The fact that a rookie such as Nenne got to play as part of the starting lineup shows how important it is to be able to pull off a new role. Of course, he and the other DPS players using Zarya still need to be capable of switching back to a DPS hero; Carpe and aKm both proved they could pull that off with their strong hero switch plays.


Carpe showed as once again why he is part of the OWWC National Team as well as the key player of the Philadelphia Fusion. He stood at the center of the team as Zarya for the 3 tanks/3 heals comp. He swept the map, getting a bunch of energy as Zarya and then picking up kills like he was playing a DPS hero. It seemed like he wanted to use his plays to prove what he said before: "I want to be the MVP for the new season."

 

▲ MekO, Libero, and Carpe at the OWWC qualifiers.

 


▲ Sniping competition with Carpe? Bring it on! (Video from Official Overwatch Highlights)


One of the things that stood out the most about Carpe was that he did waver when his enemies decided to focus on him. He did not pick DPS first in many games since he was fully confident of utilizing the 3 tanks/3 heals comp. However, if the enemy team suddenly changed to a DPS hero to play against him, Carpe would also switch to a DPS hero to outplay his enemies. Atlanta tried to be strategical by using several DPS heroes and players, but to no avail; Carpe’s plays were too strong. However, there were times where Carpe would get killed by an enemy ambush. Despite such setbacks though, he took a bunch of kills to make sure his team was able to turn the tide and stop the enemy from winning the game even when the control point was at 0:99%. Carpe’s ally Mercy also focused on resurrecting Carpe, which was also a sign that the team was confident in Carpe’s ability as the DPS.


Much like Carpe, aKm also made sure his team won by playing a variety of heroes including Zarya, Sombra, and Widowmaker. Before, aKm was a player who was renowned for his Soldier: 76 and McCree plays; in the last season, he would mostly create openings with his 76 since his performance on other DPS heroes was rather unstable.


However, he successfully played as Zarya in place of EFFECT in this season. His EMP as Sombra incapacitated Seoul Dynasty’s tanks, perfectly countering the 3 tanks/3 heals comp. Even though aKm may have been quite unstable when he joined the Dallas Fuel in middle of Season 1, he began Season 2 with both stability and carry potential in his plays. This is why many Overwatch fans look forward to seeing more of his plays in the future.


Just like the DPS players changed their roles to secondary tanks, the players who were initially the secondary tanks changed their roles as well. MekO, the secondary tank for NYXL caught the eyes of many fans with his outstanding Sombra play in their very first game. The 3 tanks/3 heals comp was focused on rushing forward, and Sombra took them down by flanking them either from behind or their open side. Even though the role he had to play as Sombra was completely different from that of his main pick, D.Va, his play was successful and helped bring his team to victory.


It’s not just MekO; other D.Va players like Seoul’s Michelle and London’s Fury have been trying different picks like Sombra. One thing is certain: the Overwatch League seems to require players with the ability to play both secondary tanks and DPS nowadays. These players are bringing change to the current 3 tanks/3 heals meta.

 


Let’s break it down! The Lucio StageAnamo, BigGoose, Masaa, iDK, Kruise

 

▲JJoNak and Anamo, the NYXL heal duo (Image from NYXL Official Social Media Account)


What most of the top teams in Season 1 had in common is that they had a good Zenyatta dealing a lot of damage on their team. JJoNak dominated the early season with his overwhelming damage, and he was later joined by Shaz from the Los Angeles Gladiators and Boombox from the Philadelphia Fusion.


Now it’s all about Lucio in Season 2 -- this hero has been having a big impact on games with his super plays. He is no longer a healer that has to only play the beat. We were able to find something interesting about the 10-minute average stats for healers from last year and this year. Anamo, who achieved a 0.57 average kills per 10 minutes until last year, managed to get 18.89 average kills during the first week in Season 2. He did play other heroes; he has been making his presence known mainly with Lucio. He was followed by Masaa (15.56), Kruise (14.29), iDK (13.36), and BigGoose (13.15). This is similar to this year’s record for JJoNak, a player who scored 13.55 average kills per 10 minutes in last year’s season. These scores are good enough to be compared with other DPS players as well, save for the ones at the very top.


Many Lucios have been giving similar performances this early season -- from BigGoose and Kruise, who played for their national teams at the OWWC, to iDK from the Hangzhou Spark and Masaa from the Atlanta Reign. The speed at which they managed to fill their ult gauge and their amazing pushes have surprised many fans.


Once the teams were getting unexpected kills from their Lucios, they started having dominance in the game. Lucio created many openings depending on the player’s abilities and decisions, which is shown in the video below. Many fans say BigGoose played the biggest part in guiding his team to victory, saying “Lucio did it all,” when his Lucio pushed the team’s enemies to their death. Lucio players are building up the expectations of the viewers with their various skills.

 


▲ BigGoose’s mastery of pushing as Lucio (Video from Official Overwatch Highlights)


The general flow of Season 2 is definitely different from Season 1. Some of the top players haven’t matched their Season 1 strength due to roles changes, while newer players have been dominating because of the role changes. With many of the new teams delivering such strong and unexpected plays, the OWL is growing more exciting with each match.

 

For all the players in the OWL, it is vital that they find their place in the changing meta. Those who are falling behind must actively adapt; the previous meta that suited their strengths is now gone and they don’t have much time left to find their place in the new one. This is also a great chance for the rookies to prove themselves and spread their names. If the players can adapt to the new meta and break past their limits, we may bear witness to the birth of new star players.


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