The third season of Overwatch League began last weekend, kicked off by some intense games hosted by the New York Excelsior. If you caught the match between the NYXL and the London Spitfire, you may have spotted our favorite time-warping member of Overwatch.
Tracer has been a rare pick lately, with most compositions shutting her down with ease. NYXL played some serious mind games with their opponents, making for some highly entertaining Overwatch.
New season, new compositions
After the past seasons of Double Shield, it seems the mecha meta promised long ago is upon us. Reinhardt and D.Va are seeing some serious playtime, along with Mei, Lucio, and (surprisingly) Ana. The other DPS heroes played seem more map dependent. McCree is a common pick on a majority of maps, and therefore claims the title of “most played hitscan hero” so far. With the inclusion of long-range maps such as Junkertown, we also see a significant amount of Widowmaker being played.
The only heroes we didn’t get to see this weekend were Bastion and Roadhog. Bastion found himself a lot of playtime during Double Shield. The San Francisco Shock claimed the championship title with their bot compositions. Despite recent buffs, Roadhog is still not seeing play, most likely due to better options. D.Va can provide more utility against Mei by eating her Blizzard ultimate and denying the enemy a chance at an easily won fight.
A rise in hitscan heroes
Although Reaper falls into the category of hitscan, his range limits his playtime versus heroes like McCree. With the support of his team, McCree’s Flashbang provides more utility than anything Reaper can provide. One interesting composition that Reaper was found in was… Dive? Using the Shadow Step ability, he can position on high ground and leap onto the targets of Winston and D.Va. The Vancouver Titans utilized their Genji prodigy, Hyojong “Haksal” Kim to pick apart the Los Angeles Gladiators.
Although the ShadowDive composition is entertaining to watch, long range heroes such as McCree are effective at shutting it down. One hero that McCree has difficulty shutting down at long range is Widowmaker. Teams including the New York Excelsior played a healthy amount of the sniper on long range maps.
How to squash the spider?
Many Overwatch League teams have absolutely insane Widowmaker players. NYXL has Yeon-kwan “Nenne” Jeong, and the Paris Eternal has Ki-hyo “Xzi” Jung locking the spider. With all these insane Widowmaker players, maps like Junkertown, Rialto, and Havana can sometimes be decided by who has the best sniper.
NYXL got around this during their match against Spitfire by swapping their hitscan player to Tracer. Tracer is incredibly useful for dueling Widowmaker. Her ability to output high damage at close range can quickly deal with the enemy sniper, and her Blink ability can keep you from even appearing in the scope.
On maps where the high ground is accessible, Tracer can sneak to the Widow’s position and dispatch them with a single clip. Once the long range heroes are taken care of, Tracer can turn her attention to the tanks or supports. Pulse Bomb builds very quickly and with the right stick, it can win a fight before it starts.
The essence of counter swapping
We quickly saw this counter swapping turn into a mental battle between teams. Widowmaker would swap to McCree to deal with Tracer. The Tracer then had the choice to swap to either a Widow or McCree, depending on what their team’s goal was. Teams used this to force the opponent to play into the composition they were best at.
Confident Tracers even stayed on the hero after the enemy swapped to McCree. It’s good to see this depth of play in Overwatch League. Normally the first matches of a season are the most flexible and dynamic. Still, I hope we see many more mental games like this in the future.