Overwatch League at Mid-season: Upsets, retirements, and the same meta

We're halfway through Season 2 of the Overwatch League and it has not been without its moments. Player and management retirements, upsets, multiple teams going 0-7 in a stage, we’ve got it all! Except for an exciting meta.

It's hard to keep up with it all considering there's also Fortnite, League of Legends, StarCraft, CS:GO, and so many other esports, so here's your quick roundup of everything Overwatch League Stage 1, Stage 2, and what to expect moving forward.

If you need a refresher on basic Overwatch League terms, check out our previous guide on it.

Mid-season results

There have been clear winners and losers of the GOATS meta. Vancouver Titans, SF Shock, NYXL, and the LA Gladiators are the clear winners. Each team has adjusted well to the 3-3 meta, flaunting their best tank and support players in some riveting Overwatch. Okay, not really that riveting after two stages.

But after 2 stages of the GOATS meta, it has become clear that these teams are a step above the rest, with the SF Shock and the Vancouver Titans being even a step higher. The Titans took the Stage 1 title in a brutal slugfest versus the SF Shock after having a perfect 7-0 stage.

Frustrated with the loss, SF Shock bounced back and had a perfect Stage 2 winning all seven matches and didn't even lose a single map. Considering they ended up in ninth place out of twelve in the inaugural season, this is quite a turnaround for the team. Once more the Titans and the Shock met in the finals with the Shock taking it in a decisive performance.

SF Shock players Super and Sinatraa share a moment after winning the Stage 2 finals

Unfortunately for others, things did not go so well in the first two stages. Stage 4 champions, the LA Valiant, went 0-7 in Stage 1, spawned more memes (I.E. Scott “Custa” Kennedy is too smart for the team), and fired their head coach.

Stage 2 also saw the Houston Outlaws and Florida Mayhem going 0-7, while the Washington Justice barely squeaked by with a 1-6 record after an upset against the Boston Uprising. It's fair to give Washington some slack, considering it's their first season, but the Outlaws and Mayhem should not be at the bottom of the standings.

The Outlaws have an excellent roster to work with that are experienced and synergize well. Most of the blame has fallen upon the management. As for the Mayhem, they switched to an all-Korean roster for Stage 2 much to the distaste of their fans. After all, founder and CEO of Misfits Gaming (owners of Florida Mayhem), Ben Spoont, said they would not be fielding an all-Korean roster.

There's too many teams to go over what happened to all of them, but here's the remaining few highlights:

  • Shanghai Dragons are no longer winless and went to the Stage 2 playoffs
  • Everyone loves Chengdu Hunters because they run non-GOATS comps and do well with them
  • London Spitfire are gaining steam after a dismal Stage 1 and now look like the team that won Season 1
  • Dallas Fuel are no longer a bottom-tier team

The Meta

If you hoped for something besides the GOATS meta, bad news for you. According to players and coaches, we’re going to be playing GOATS for the majority of Stage 3.

That said, teams are starting to experiment more with DPS compositions, but until those compositions can consistently win against GOATS don't expect major waves in the meta.

There have been rumors about the 2-2-2 meta lock (2 DPS, 2 Tanks, 2 Support), but don't expect Blizzard to implement a 2-2-2 lock for ranked or for Overwatch League any time soon. It's too drastic of a change to make mid-season that would completely change how teams perform and approach the game. If this ever gets implemented, it will be after the regular season of Overwatch League comes to a close.

The one upside of a consistent GOATS meta is that it allows teams to perfect one meta and really get on another level with it. It's something that doesn't happen if the meta consistently changes every 2-3 weeks.

Retirements

There have been some high-profile retirements from Overwatch League in the short time Season 2 has been going. Most notably, Atlanta Reign's Daniel "Dafran" Francesca and Toronto Defiant's Lee "Stellar" Do-hyung retired at the end of Stage 1.

Dallas Fuel's Hyeon "EFFECT" Hwang also announced he would retire from professional Overwatch in an emotion post to Facebook (you can see a fan-translated twitlonger of it here.)

I should just forget about it and do productive/positive things, but I can't do it. I get filled with endless negative thoughts and the idea that everything is meaningless. My life is a bucket with a hole in the bottom. No matter how much I try to fill it, and fill it again, my greed knows no limits, and I found something to temporarily block the hole but the weight grows bit by bit until it eventually breaks apart and it all spills out again.

Additionally, Washington Justice's Assistant General Manager, Kate Mitchell, retired at the end of Stage 2. She detailed her reasons in a heartfelt post on Medium. Here's a snippet:

It’s impossible to ignore, though, that I’ve also been confronted with toxicity and casual cruelty from strangers that outpaced anything I saw in years in gaming and politics, especially from people on Reddit. I’ve been on Reddit for over ten years, and have seen both its strength as a tool for community building and solidarity and its dark side, empowering false rumors, giving attention and ad revenue to muckrakers and liars, and fostering a culture where fans delight in the pain and ‘juice’ from voyeuristically watching for negative moments in the professional careers of players and staff.

EFFECT and Kate paint a picture of a mental health crisis that will soon hit the Overwatch League, if it has not already, if something is not done. There are already numerous other players that have taken mental health breaks to cope with the stress.

What to expect moving forward

Stage 3 of OWL starts back up on June 6 with a match between the SF Shock and the Atlanta Reign. As I said above, expect to see more of the 3-3 GOATS composition for all of Stage 3. The only way that is changing is if Blizzard does something drastic to the game before then and that doesn't seem likely.

Stage 3 also means OWL will be traveling to Altanta for the second homestead weekend of the Overwatch League. The Dallas homestead was an unqualified success of a test run, as long as you ignore the power outage that was the city's fault, and puts the pressure on the Atlanta Reign to match the hype. Stage 4 will bring it back to Los Angeles for the final homestead weekend at LA Live hosted by the LA Valiant and KIT KAT.

The Grand Finals will be on Sunday, September 29 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The two qualifying teams will compete for a $1.1 million grand prize. Tickets for the Grand Finals go on sale June 7.

If the meta doesn't change by the time the Grand Finals come around, expect the following teams to be in contention: Vancouver Titans, SF Shock, NYXL, LA Gladiators, and London Spitfire. Dallas Fuel, Seoul Dynasty, Philadelphia Fusion, and Hangzhou Spark should all make it to playoffs, but any of them winning would be major upsets.

After that, it's off to the Overwatch World Cup that will travel around the world and then end up at BlizzCon for the final matches. And for the 2020 season, there will be no further team expansion, though the eventual goal is to get OWL to 28 total teams. Instead, the current plan is for teams to head to their home cities and play from there.

Little more is known about the upcoming geolocation than the fact that it is planned, which worries everyone not in the know. But Blizzard has been preparing for this since before Season 1 and I expect that they have a grand plan that will solve all the potential problems geolocation will bring: scheduling, travel, facilities, Visas, broadcast talent shortages, press, and player stress.

Until then, check out all the VODs at Overwatchleague.com.