In the Overwatch League’s 2019 season, fans have come to expect a certain lineup: triple tank, triple support. We’ve seen a lot of Brigitte this year. Tons of Lúcio. Plenty of D.Va. Once staples in competitive Overwatch, DPS heroes like Genji, Soldier: 76, and Widowmaker have been missing from professional play — until the Washington Justice vs. Chengdu Hunters match on Sunday.
Together, the two teams set a record for the most hero diversity, with 27 out of 30 heroes played for more than a minute at minimum across the four map series.
The only heroes missing from the action? Ashe, Roadhog, and Reaper. And two of the most important heroes of the match were some of the most unlikely: Torbjörn and Bastion. The match between Washington and Chengdu certainly wasn’t the cleanest Overwatch we’ve seen in a while, but it certainly was entertaining.
Wait, what year is this? pic.twitter.com/R4O5LY970d— Chengdu Hunters (@ChengduHunters) April 8, 2019
Coming into the match, Chengdu was heavily favored to take the win. They had decisively defeated a tougher opponent — Paris Eternal — the previous night. Meanwhile, Washington sit toward the bottom of the Overwatch League standings, with only a single win so far this season. The Justice, with a new player in former NYXL healer Hong “Ark” Yeon-joon, is still figuring out what works best for them, but Chengdu has found their stride in creative strategies.
Chengdu relied on unconventional hero picks and tight mechanics to land their 3-1 win over Washington over the weekend, playing around Ding “Ameng” Menghan’s bulldozer-like Wrecking Ball. Ameng, on Wrecking Ball, acted as a consistent over the four map series, allowing the other players to showcase their flexibility on other heroes. (Ameng didn’t only play Wrecking Ball, but the team played best when he did.)
Luo “Elsa” Wenjie’s Torbjörn, specifically on King’s Row, stood out for working in a way that it really shouldn’t have. (For reference, Torbjörn had a .8 percent pick rate in the Overwatch League this week, according to stats website Omnic Meta, only above Symmetra, Doomfist, Reaper, and Ashe in the least-picked heroes list.)
On the Washington side, it was Corey Nigra’s Bastion that caught Chengdu looking confused; a “bunker” strategy based around Bastion earned Washington their one map win on Temple of Anubis, so they brought it over to King’s Row, too. And it worked. Chengdu threw a bizarre attack at Washington using Symmetra, Baptise, Junkrat, Hanzo, Orisa, and Mercy—using Symmetra’s teleporter, Chengdu kept trying to approach Washington’s Bastion from a flank, repeatedly getting wiped out by the sheer amount of damage-dealt from the protected Bastion.
After being full-held on attack, it looked bleak for Chengdu’s chances of scoring a point on King’s Row. But then there was Torbjörn.
Elsa set up a tricky Torbjörn turret on defense, just peeking out of a building’s doorway near the point. With Lo “Baconjack” Tzu-heng cleaning up anyone that steps into a sightline, Washington struggled to even get close to the turret. Elsa stayed holed up in his King’s Row corner for the entirety of the match and racked up nine turret kills.
Chengdu was able to capitalize on Elsa’s expert turret placement, which was backed up by support from the rest of the team. The Chinese team had damage coming in from all angles, which made it hard for Washington to play together as team. There were few big pushes, just smaller scraps around the map—and that’s likely exactly what Chengdu wanted.
In what was probably the shortest run-through of King’s Row yet so far in the Overwatch League, Chengdu’s weird strategies won what was deemed near impossible. With wins on Oasis, King’s Row, and Watchpoint: Gibraltar, Chengdu earned enough points to nab the win in the series.
It’s only fitting that the weirdest match-up we’ve seen so far in the Overwatch League’s 2019 season ended with Ameng, the Wrecking Ball master, crushing an orange — of all fruits! — over analyst Brennon Hook’s head. And with orange juice still dripping down Hook’s face, Ameng was named player of the match. The only thing that would have been more fitting, of course, is if Elsa’s turret could have been awarded the honors.
Washington will face the New York Excelsior on April 11 in what will be a very challenging match-up for the team. Chengdu plays again on April 13 against the Shanghai Dragons; after such an utterly bizarre cap-off to the first week of stage two, expectations are high from Chengdu fans. Perhaps they make up for lost heroes and play Doomfist, Ashe, and Roadhog just to even things out?