The Overwatch League returns this weekend, finally hitting its stride after two weeks of remote broadcasts in an online tournament model. The focus for the April 11 and 12 games is finally back on the competition instead of the significant lack of homestands and audience hype.
This “new normal” of online exhibition has bred new rivalries and enhanced the storylines of regional dominance. The Philadelphia Fusion and Paris Eternal fight against the Atlanta Reign for the top Atlantic position while the Pacific, or North American West, region is more competitive than many fans ever dreamed.
In addition, multiple teams with South Korean players have decided to move their rosters back to their homeland for safety amid the coronavirus crisis. This weekend, we see the first of many competitive interjections in the Pacific East region as the Vancouver Titans face off against two Chinese Overwatch League teams. In the coming weeks, the London Spitfire and the New York Excelsior will join them.
Hero Pools may actually have a noticeable effect on teams this weekend, with omnipresent DPS Reaper and off-tank D.Va disabled from play. Support Ana and sneaky DPS Sombra, who saw high pick rates among Chinese teams, are also out this week. With all this change and drama in mind, we’ve highlighted a few matches to keep an eye on this weekend.
Vancouver Titans vs. Guangzhou Charge
As much as fans enjoy seeing the four China-based Overwatch League teams try to one-up each other with wild compositions each week, the interjection of a straight-laced team like the Vancouver Titans will spice up the competition. As last year’s runners-up, the Titans have a lot to prove after only playing two games earlier this year.
This game, which begins at 5am CT on April 11, will give fans a peek into the Titans’ game plan for the rest of their stay in the Pacific East division. Will Vancouver stick with their tried-and-true method of predictable compositions with immaculate teamwork or will they yield to the call of creative hero picks? The Guangzhou Charge have also been putting up a fight in their region and should give the Titans a raucous welcoming party.
Houston Outlaws vs. Boston Uprising
This match, at 5pm CT on April 11, isn’t so much a guarantee of top-quality Overwatch as it is an absolute guarantee of entertaining content. The last time the Houston Outlaws and the Boston Uprising met, they broke the Overwatch League record for the amount of maps played in a single match at seven. It was a drawn-out war of questionable quality, sarcastically labeled “El Classico” by casters Brennon Hook and Josh “Sideshow” Wilkinson. These two teams, both at the bottom of the league leaderboards, are here to prove they can supply more than just legendary meme content.
Philadelphia Fusion vs. Atlanta Reign
When a king falls in battle, there’s often a “power vacuum” that emerges as his underlings fight for the throne. With the New York Excelsior reportedly taking their team back to South Korea, the Atlantic Division crown is less contested than it ever has been.
Philadelphia has been rolling through teams in their division, coming into this weekend with a 6-1 record. The Atlanta Reign, despite having played fewer games, have shown incredible dominance with their DPS line. Neither of these teams have faced off this season. If quality Overwatch is what you need, this match at 5pm CT on April 12 will absolutely deliver.
San Francisco Shock vs. Los Angeles Gladiators
Two weeks ago, the San Francisco Shock fell to both Los Angeles teams in the same weekend. For the formerly dominant 2019 Overwatch League champions, it was an embarrassment, even though their Pacific West colleagues had upped their game since last season.
We can’t scientifically prove that the Shock are motivated by spite, but they turned their 1-3 loss against the Los Angeles Valiant on March 28 into a 3-1 victory on April 4. The Los Angeles Gladiators are next up on the San Francisco Shock revenge tour and they should be concerned about it. This final match of the weekend, at 7pm on April 12, will be explosive and personal.
The action begins this weekend at 3am on April 11 when the Hangzhou Spark takes on the Chengdu Hunters. North American games begin at 3pm CT with the Paris Eternal facing the Philadelphia Fusion.