Overwatch League returns from it’s 10-day break on Wednesday, starting up the second leg of it’s first-ever regular season. The London Spitfire were the champions of Stage One, cruising through the regular season and completing a reverse sweep of New York Excelsior in the stage final.
With the new stage come changes to the competitive landscape. The biggest change is a new patch for Overwatch, and how the teams will adjust in a world where Mercy isn’t a mandatory pick. That could shuffle the deck in the standings, as some teams noticeably struggled without a Mercy main. A team like Houston, which surged up the standings thanks in part to Bani playing some of the league’s best Mercy, could take a step back in Stage Two.
The other biggest change will be the map selection. Overwatch League uses the same groups of maps for the entire stage, and the end of Stage One was a little boring for fans that had watched every day of action. The standardized map pool is essential in helping the players prepare, and it was interesting to watch strategies develop over the course of five weeks. Not only have the maps changed up but so has the order, as Control maps will be played second instead of third. Lijiang Tower was the tiebreaker map in Stage One, but now it will be Illios.
The game has changed, but so has the personnel. The transfer window opened towards the end of Stage One, and teams wasted no time making moves over the break. Dallas Fuel signed aKm to boost their DPS corps, and Shanghai Dragons signed a handful of players in an attempt to secure their first victory. Shanghai’s signees, who include the league’s first female player, may have their arrival delayed due to visa issues.
Will these changes lead to changes in the standings? Depends on where you’re looking. The top should remain unchanged, as London and NYXL should once again contend for a stage title. The real drama will be mid-table, which saw seven teams contest for the three stage playoff spots during the last week of the stage.
With Mercy out of the picture, it’ll be interesting to see what support combinations teams use. As noted by the folks at Winston’s Lab, there is a direct correlation between a team’s flex player and their team fight success. The flex player is traditionally playing a second support, so the players in these roles will have an even bigger impact with Mercy’s reduced role.
Without Mercy, the Lucio and Zenyatta players of the world can finally shine. We’ve already seen insane Zen play this season, but Lucio has been a situational pick up to this point. Teams like Seoul Dynasty, who have a world-class Lucio in Tobi but struggled with Mercy, could see better results in this stage.
Overwatch League Stage Two Predictions:
Stage Two Winner: Seoul Dynasty
Stage Two MVP: JJoNak
Best Roster Addition: Sayaplayer (Mayhem)
Stage Two Most Improved: Dallas Fuel
Stage Two Contender: Uprising/Valiant
Stage Two Disappointment: Houston Outlaws
Stage Two Standings Prediction:
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