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What changed before stage two of the Overwatch League?

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It’s a whole new playing field

Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

After roughly two weeks, Stage 2 of the Overwatch League is underway after a massive finale between the Vancouver Titans and the San Francisco Shock. Starting the stage off on the right foot is imperative if teams want to position well for the seasonal playoffs, which are set to begin this autumn. With that in mind, many teams have been proactive in the mini-off-season, retooling their roster between Stage 1 and Stage 2. Here is your primer for some of the most important changes that will impact Overwatch League’s second stage.

The Reign shuffle their deck

The Atlanta Reign made some sweeping changes that could be seen in their recent narrow loss against the Boston Uprising — but they weren’t all negative. Fan favorite and standout DPS player for the Reign, Daniel “dafran” Francesca, decided to step away from the starting roster to focus more on streaming. To fill the void, Atlanta signed former San Francisco Shock player, Andrej “babybay” Francisty.

What may have caught people off guard was the addition of Second Wind’s former flex tank Nathan “frd” Goebel. To cap off all of Atlanta’s shuffling, former British Hurricane support player Daniel “FunnyAstro” Hathaway, was signed to Atlanta Academy under a two-way contract.

Mayhem in mayhem

The Florida Mayhem announced on the 4th that the team would be moving to a full South Korean coaching staff and roster. This drastic change comes from having a fairly disappointing Stage 1 and a constant poor performance through the inaugural season. Effective immediately veteran European player, Kevyn “TviQ” Lindström, DPS player, Damon “Apply” Conti, and recently signed tank specialist, Caleb “McGravy” McGarvey, were all released as well as core members of the Mayhem’s coaching staff which included recently signed South Korean coach, Jung “yeah” Young-su and head coach Vytis “Mineral” Lasaitis.

To fill the void in the coaching staff, the Mayhem have signed Oh “Insight” Sang Min from the South Korean Contenders team 02 Blast. While Atlanta and Mayhem have respectively made changes, they were not the only teams spared from sudden mid-stage changes.

Toronto makes moves

After making the Stage 1 playoffs, the Toronto Defiant suffered some unfortunate news as Lee “Stellar” Do-hyung decided to depart from the team and retire from competitive Overwatch. To fill his shoes, fairly fresh-faced Overwatch Contenders player, Jin “im37” Hong, was called up to the starting roster. The bilingual DPS player now holds the league record from not having a team at all to joining the league, doing so in under a month.

However, the Defiant also said goodbye to strategic coach, Kim “Don” Dong-wook. With a fairly difficult schedule laid in front of them, including the San Francisco Shock and the Vancouver Titans, the Toronto Defiant and their new DPS player are going to have quite the crucible to overcome to match their Stage 1 heights. However hard their schedule maybe, their saving grace could in the form of some big changes landing just in time for their stage debut which includes a new hero making his first appearance in the game.

Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Washington’s wild card is ArK

After suffering a difficult schedule, the Washington Justice signed former NYXL support player, Yeonjoon “ArK” Hong. The lovable, yet experienced, main support’s addition not only will bolster their in-game performance but ArK will undoubtedly improve the team’s morale overall. After the team’s lackluster performance in Stage 1, mustering a 1-6 match record with a 9-20 map record, changes were all most inevitable. ArK reunites with former NYXL coach Kim “WizardHyeong” Hyeong-seok and former main tank Junhwa “Janus” Song on the Justice.

However, pundits question if this is enough to give the Justice wings to climb the ladder.

Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Boston and Dallas acquire new talent

Last but certainly not least, the Dallas Fuel and the Boston Uprising made moves, that included a trade that threw the community, and pundits alike, for a loop. Tenured D.Va player for the Boston Uprising, Lucas “NotE” Meissner, was traded to the Dallas Fuel for newly acquired Finnish flex tank player, Richard “rCk” Kanerva. The trade overall was viewed as a fairly lateral move giving both teams a slight bonus. For Boston, they became slightly more flexible given rCk large hero pool, whereas Dallas gained an experience leadership figure to play alongside long-standing main tank Son “OGE” Min-seok

Equally confusing, Boston additionally signed former Talon Esports support player, Zion “Persia” Yang. And on the Fuel’s front, they also acquired former head coach for the Paris Eternal, Julien “daemoN” Ducros, as an positional coach. DaemoN brings a mass of experience from his time in Europe and his time with the Los Angeles Valiant and will be filling in where former positional coach and player, Christian “cocco” Jonsson left off after his departure earlier this week.

Baptiste joins the fray

Overwatch’s 30th hero has broken out in his freshmen debut in a big way. Baptiste, a tactical healer focused on quickly reacting to enemy pressure, made his way into the Overwatch League during Stage 2. Primarily paired with many tank heroes as well as Orisa based compositions, fans have been given a small treat during the first week, but his playtime is expected to increase during the later weeks. With the inclusion of Baptiste, a new patch has changed the competitive landscape once again.

This patch adds numerous changes that have shifted the metagame around Baptiste, Soldier 76, Pharah, and Winston. Some of the more major changes revolve around the standardization of displacement, how armor works on a fundamental level as well as a rebalancing for beam-type weapons like Zarya and Winston, which has resulted in a much more Winston focused metagame For all the viewers who were not fans of the heavy tank focused metagame of Stage 1, fret not, more DPS heroes have already made a triumphant return. With that said, the 3/3 compositions have not completely left the rotation. The patch changes have already made a serious splash in what heroes have seen playtime. This difference could be the window needed for a certain bottom table team to coalesce a solid run through the stage.