The second week of the 2021 season has wrapped and while it was a quieter week than the bombastic first week, it was nonetheless an interesting one to watch if only for the fact that some of the league’s teams were playing their first matches this week.
Production and Talent
I continue to be impressed by the production quality of this year’s broadcasts. I was also happy to see the VikkiKitty and Jaws casting duo make their debut this week for the East games. VikkiKitty even did a bit of solo casting when Jaws had some technical issues and dropped out of the broadcast. They absolutely killed it, looking forward to more of this casting duo in the upcoming weeks.
The compositions this week seem to be mostly the same rush or double bubble that we saw in the previous weeks. We did however see an uptick in Symmetra and Hanzo use in the league, specifically for Symmetra on maps where she isn’t usually played like King’s Row. The Chengdu Hunters continue to be an outlier as well with their use of Sombra/Pharah and I can’t really blame them as Jinmu on the Pharah is absolutely fatal to teams that can’t seem to take care of Jinmu and the other ever present threats like Leave’s Sombra or Ga9a’s Wrecking Ball. A triple threat as it were.
The Houston Outlaws opted for quite a bit of Happy on the Symmetra, sometimes to their own detriment. Using Symmetra in the current state of the meta is very feast or famine, sometimes Symmetra really gets the snowball effect going, other times teams take care of the opposing Symmetra immediately and the composition just falls apart without one of its major sources of damage. It was also amusing to see Houston use the Symmetra teleported to do things like flank shatters. In general, Houston seems to be the team most willing to experiment and adapt in this current meta which is not a statement I thought I would ever make but here we are.
As I mentioned earlier that this was a quieter week, no 3-2 reverse sweeps to be seen here and teams like the Houston Outlaws continue to dominate coming out 4-0 after the week was over which puts them at the top of the leaderboard for the West teams. In the East region, the Philadelphia Fusion and the Chengdu Hunters continue to terrorize teams and the two faced off on Sunday in a match that perhaps shows the current limits of the Hunters squad.
That said, I want to highlight matches this week that feature teams playing for the first time this season.
Los Angeles Gladiators vs London Spitfire [West]
Coming into this I was extremely curious to see what the current iteration of the Spitfire built on the storied British Hurricane squad from EU Contenders could do. Unfortunately for them their first opponent this year was a Gladiators squad that were hungry for a win after a 0-2 start from last week. This series was a 3-0 sweep for the LA Gladiators.
The Spitfire’s second match this week was against the dominant Houston Outlaws, another 3-0 sweep. Needless to say an extremely disappointing start for this Spitfire squad coming into this season. I hope to see this team improve as the season goes on because I don’t believe this team has reached their fullest potential in this first week.
Philadelphia Fusion vs Hangzhou Spark [East]
Hangzhou Spark’s debut was another somewhat disappointing one for a team with such a star studded roster. While the Spark were able to take a map off the Philadelphia Fusion, their performance overall left much to be desired.
Their second match was against the middling New York Excelsior. Another 3-1 series where they took a map but ultimately lost. This series is perhaps more disappointing than the last one as I would think at least on paper the Spark’s roster is stronger than or at least matching the Excelsior squad. Here’s hoping I see better performances from this squad in the future.
Boston Uprising vs Los Angeles Gladiators [West]
Of the four teams that made their 2021 debut this week the Boston Uprising was by far the worst. Their performance in this 3-0 sweep victory against the Gladiators was abysmal. At least this series was over quick. Since the Uprising have been a abysmal team for a couple of years now, I didn’t have any high hopes for this current iteration and yet I remain disappointed.
Their second match against the Dallas Fuel was another abysmal performance. If you had to ask me what needs improvement on the Boston squad, I would say…just about everything. The best player on the Uprising continues to be Myunbong who I am surprised is still on this team and wasn’t picked up by another team in the off season. For any remaining Uprising fans out there, I’m so sorry.
Washington Justice vs Dallas Fuel [West]
Things are looking up for the Washington Justice. In the offseason they signed the young Korean Contenders star Mag along with the veteran off tank Fury. That along with their DPS pickups like the newly signed Assassin along with returning DPS star Decay and the support line of Closer and Bebe meant that there was a high potential for this team to be the best iteration of the Justice yet. If you want to read more about Mag and Fury, I would recommend reading Bonnie Qu’s article in the Upcomer about them, it is quite good.
Their first match against the Dallas Fuel proved to be a good showing for this revitalized Justice squad and Mag’s tank play lived up to the hype. This was a 3-1 victory for the Justice which I think is unsurprising as the Fuel is a foe not to be trifled with this season.
Their second match against the Vancouver Titans was where some of the weaknesses and the sloppiness of the Washington Justice showed up, especially on Anubis which the Titans were able to win. While the Justice still won this series, it was messy and there is definitely room for tightening up and cleaning up their performance. There is a lot of explosive talent on this squad but it needs to be honed, here’s hoping their coaching staff is up to that task in the coming weeks of the season.
Overall a quieter weak for the league but since the May Melee tournament draws ever closer, all of these matches are important for the upcoming qualifiers which start next Sunday. I am looking forward to seeing some of the best teams in the league face off against each other.
See y’all next week!