OWL Preseason Day One: SF Shock vs LA Valiant – Junkertown

Posted

With San Francisco Shock going up against the Los Angeles Valiant in the second of their double-header matches, the crowd erupts as the players head in-game onto the new escort map, Junkertown. Starting off, Junkertown is the most recent map release in Overwatch and has yet to see a whole lot of play at the professional level other than its appearance at the 2017 Overwatch World Cup at Blizzcon in early November. With the first point of the map being so open, there is a possibility of running many different crazy strategies, and players can delve deeper into their hero pools. The map also contains a large amount of verticality (high ground) as the payload travels into the second and third points.

San Francisco Shock’s roster has been criticized and highly underrated because of its lacking of formal off-tank players, with its roster consisting of many hit-scan specialists. However, Nevix’s performance on off-tank combined with all-star play all around the team really caused the Shock to shine even in spite of the outcome of this match. Although the Shock had better showings on some other maps, I chose to cover Junkertown because of the various strategies Shock chose to employ on this new map.

Round 1: Attackers: Valiant, Defenders: Shock

On defense, Babybay’s Widowmaker was seen set up atop a tall rock to the left of the attack spawn doors with Dhak’s Mercy pocket-healing him. Considering that this map is a fairly recent release, it was great to see all of the interesting strategies that teams integrated into their play. Unsurprisingly for the map, the Valiant chose to go for a spin on the protect-the-Bastion or “El Presidente” team composition using an Orisa, Mercy, Zenyatta, and a Bastion. These picks were accompanied by Envy on Roadhog and Soon on Widowmaker—with the Widowmaker pick coming out because of the long, open sightlines on the first point of Junkertown, which makes picks such as Widowmaker and even Hanzo perfectly viable.

Babybay’s Widowmaker spot on Junkertown Defense Point A

Babybay’s flank was quickly spotted by Silkthread and Envy, and he fell back; however, this was followed by an unfortunate pick off by Soon’s Widowmaker onto Iddqd’s Junkrat. This put the Shock at a significant disadvantage because it gave Valiant the time they needed to properly set up their Bastion-Orisa combo on the payload. Nomy also ended up getting picked off, but Dhak’s resurrection was used to revive Junkrat. Reviving Junkrat rather than Nomy was likely in an effort to break through Fate’s Orisa shield that protected Silkthread’s Bastion. Babybay even managed to pick off Soon’s Widowmaker in the back, but because Shock continued getting picked off and never decided to regroup and hard reset, they faced a brutal roll all the way through the first point. The crowd and chat erupted in response to the roll-through on point A; however, all seemed to be according to plan.

Going into point B, Babybay popped Infra-Sight and started off second with a quick pick-off onto Unkoe’s Zenyatta before the payload even made it through the doors. He then grapple-hooked behind Valiant, and it was clear that he aimed to take advantage of the high ground and set up for second with his team in an attack from all angles. Iddqd’s Junkrat then managed to take out the Bastion on the payload from high places while Kariv’s resurrection was already being used to revive Unkoe. The cart progress came to a stop as the Valiant were forced to back out and regroup. Nomy and Nevix’s Roadhog teamed up to flank and take out Envy, causing Valiant to become even more staggered, further delaying their regroup. Silkthread ended up having to swap from Bastion to Junkrat, as they struggled to make it through the high-ground choke, refusing to completely give up the high ground to Shock’s setup.

Compared to the first point on Junkertown, the second point is far easier to defend effectively because of the small chokepoints to get through if a team cannot afford to give up high ground.

SF Shock’s setup on point B with Babybay in the flanks

Babybay’s Widowmaker took out Unkoe again, and a two-man tire from Iddqd shut down Valiant’s next push with about 4 minutes remaining on the clock. Although they steamrolled their way through first point, Shock’s defense stayed strong as Envy attempted to flank once more and took out Sleepy, only to be tracked down and taken out once more by Nomy’s Orisa. Shock’s composition is described as the “death from afar” comp by casters, as they utilized the Widowmaker, Junkrat, and Zenyatta picks to deal damage from a long range without placing themselves in any significant amount of danger, especially considering that Valiant’s composition severely lacked in verticality because they chose to stick to Fate’s Orisa pick.

Although the cart eventually progressed more than half the way through second point, only 2 minutes remain on the clock. Even though Silkthread managed to take out Nomy’s Orisa with a rip-tire, Sleepy returned the favor with a kill onto Fate’s Orisa as well. The Valiant were not done yet though, and using both Valkyrie and Transcendence, they managed to break through Shock’s defense.

Just like on point B, San Francisco opened up with a huge pick-off before the payload even made it through the doors, except this time with one of Sleepy’s devastating right-clicks onto Silkthread’s Junkrat. Kariv’s resurrection got forced out as a result, and Babybay’s Widowmaker instantly came in with a pick off that was almost like deja-vu onto Unkoe’s Zenyatta. Talk about a rough time. Soon after (pun intended), Soon managed to finally shut down Babybay’s monstrous Widowmaker and baited out Dhak’s resurrection, but Sleepy came in with another huge right-click on Silkthread’s Junkrat once again. Babybay landed some sweet revenge on Soon’s Widowmaker, but the cart kept progressing in spite of Nevix’s big 2-man clear with Whole Hog.

As the cart progressed toward the end, Sleepy landed another huge right click from the flanks onto Kariv’s Mercy, then again onto Soon’s Widowmaker, then even again onto Silkthread’s Junkrat. But in spite of this, Envy desperately stuck to the payload and forced out ultimates from Shock. In the end, he fell, and Valiant failed to reach the payload in time, finishing out their round just meters away from the end.

San Francisco held point C dangerously near completion.

Round 2: Attackers: Shock, Defenders: Valiant

Unsurprisingly considering its overall effectiveness, San Francisco chose to run the same exact composition that Los Angeles had used on their first attack: Bastion, Orisa, Roadhog, Widowmaker, Mercy and Zenyatta. In addition to this, Los Angeles Valiant started their defense running the exact same composition that Shock attempted with their first defense, respectively. Valiant’s defense composition consisted of Orisa, Widowmaker, Roadhog, Junkrat, Mercy and Zenyatta.

Valiant attempted to use the same Widow flank with Soon that Babybay used on defense, but with a perfect read, Nevix’s roadhog went straight for Soon as he got hooked instantly and picked off. This gives a lot of free distance for San Francisco, as Valiant repeated the same mistake that Shock did themselves—allowing the Bastion to set up on the payload uncontested.

Valiant then attempted to remove Bastion from the payload with Orisa’s Halt!, but to no avail, as they failed to capitalize on the displacement of Iddqd’s Bastion. Silkthread and Iddqd traded lives as Babybay and Sleepy killed off both of Valiant’s supports with a couple of beautiful snipes (if Zenyatta can fall under that same category, that is). As the payload reached the first checkpoint, Babybay even threw out the emote BM in an attempt to stagger Roadhog, but ended up getting picked off as the crowd erupted in laughter.

Orisa’s Halt! being used to pull Bastion off the payload

Valiant swiftly made three hero swaps, putting Fate on Winston, Soon on Tracer and Envy on D.va. This meant they would dive the Bastion in an effort to break Shock’s own protect-the-Bastion comp. While a dive composition was far from a “bad” idea, Fate’s Winston got melted instantly, Sleepy absolutely deleted Soon’s tracer and Envy got de-mech’d and taken down as the payload keeps on moving. With Soon being the only one who attempted to stall the cart, San Francisco took him down, having rolled through point B all the way to the end.

Fate switched back to Orisa, and Nevix’s Roadhog powered through Silkthread and Soon, but the teams continued to trade. Nevix finished off two more with Whole Hog, and his team cleaned up as they continued to roll through point C.

With Iddqd still on top of the payload as Bastion, both teams popped Transcendence as the payload closed in on the end. But a huge 2-man D.va bomb came out from Envy (who picks up 4 total) and Shock’s push came to a halt right before they could finish it out.

With over 4 minutes remaining on the clock and only about 8 meters left, Shock seemed to be in a great position if not for the fact that they are behind in ult economy (the team’s overall ult percentage), and the impossibility of getting Bastion back on the payload since they pushed it so far already.

Iddqd switched to Tracer, Nevix to D.va, Nomy to Winston and Babybay to McCree, effectively making their gap in ultimate economy even larger. Although it is good to make swaps while the ultimate economy is already low, Shock still suffered a severe disadvantage. In spite of this, Sleepy got a huge right click on Unkoe to open the fight, but Soon landed a pulse bomb on Iddqd’s tracer, and Kariv popped Valkyrie, cleaning up the rest of the team and building up nearly 4 more ultimates. Shock’s 4 swaps prove to be troublesome for their dwindling time bank (now at about 3 minutes), as they were then forced to fight at least 2 dry-fights ( fights where their team uses no or very few ultimates) before their ultimate economy matched that of Valiant’s. Shock did, however, force Valiant to use their Valkyrie just as Dhak’s was about to come up with Valkyrie being arguably one of the strongest ultimates in the current meta because of its double resurrection capability.

Even though Valiant was at a huge ultimate advantage, Shock chose to pop Valkyrie and Deadeye, but Shock funneled into a small room and Dhak easily got picked off before making any good use of his Valkyrie. Sleepy was forced to use his transcendence to keep his team up the second he got it, but Shock had already lost two players. Soon after this, Iddqd landed an amazing pulse bomb that took down both Silkthread and Fate, but Shock still suffered a deficit in players, making the entire engagement extremely messy and putting themselves in another ultimate disadvantage.

Shock took another fight with 2 minutes remaining, but Nomy’s Winston got quickly picked off, leaving the rest of his team vulnerable as Valiant popped Valkyrie and cleaned up the fight with both their D.va and pulse bombs.

With the ultimate economy advantage finally laying in Shock’s hands, but only about a minute remaining on the clock, stakes were high. Almost like a call to action, Babybay’s McCree landed a huge 1-tap headshot opening pick on Soon to force out Kariv’s resurrect. But a fatal error was made—Shock let Dhak’s Mercy get taken out when they moved into an enclosed space even though Dhak’s ultimate was 93% charged.

Despite this mistake, Shock was possibly put into an even better position with 40 seconds on the clock and 4 available ultimates, with a 5th to come up soon compared to Valiant’s 2 available ultimates. Soon went in for the flank and missed his pulse bomb onto Dhak, but forced Dhak to pop Valkyrie in panic. Nevix launched an impressive D.va bomb and took out Soon who was without recall. Babybay took out Fate with Deadeye. Kariv got his two resurrections off with Valkyrie, but Shock continued to plow through Valiant’s final defenses.

Unkoe, however, who had been picked off fairly early ran out with transcendence to save Envy and Silkthread just as Silkthread’s Genji hit 100% on his ultimate and popped his Dragonblade to land two clutch kills on Shock’s backline and another two onto Mercy and D.va’s mech, fending off Shock’s final push in overtime.

Final Thoughts

Even though both the San Francisco Shock and the Los Angeles Valiant were without parts of their rosters due to Overwatch League age requirements (Shock was missing Sinatraa and Super, and Valiant was missing Agilities and Space) both teams had insanely close games throughout the series. Going neck-and-neck, the teams ended up 2-2 and going to a tiebreaker match where Valiant won the series 3-2. Because the San Francisco Shock had to play against the Florida Mayhem before facing the Los Angeles Valiant, there is surely a possibility of fatigue coming into play, but regardless, both Shock and Valiant put up a great display of the talent that exists in the Overwatch League. Junkertown in particular is a map that showed off the deeper hero pools of a lot of the players and highlighted Shock’s ability to flex to many different heroes for which they were once criticized.

With Babybay and Sleepy popping off nearly every map in the series, and Iddqd and Danteh landing some insane pulse bombs, Shock proved themselves to be “stacked and nutty” even without their all-star player Sinatraa who cannot play until the spring. Nevix’s impressive D.va and Roadhog display throughout the series filled the imaginary void in the team many had been speculating about, saying prior to the matches that Shock had no dedicated off-tank player. And of course, Nomy and Dhak proved to be a great foundation for the team as the casters praised Dhak’s great attitude for making the youngsters of the team feel comfortable on stage. The San Francisco Shock are truly looking like a force to be reckoned with, despite their 1-1 record for day one.

Although many fans have worried that San Francisco Shock would prove to be a jack of all trades but master of none, Shock brought the Valiant all the way to the tiebreaker match, even after playing against Mayhem earlier in the evening. The Los Angeles Valiant had been rated #5 by ESPN in the Overwatch League Preseason power rankings, right under the 3 teams with primarily Korean rosters and Dallas Fuel. With San Francisco Shock coming in at #10 (second-to-last) on the ESPN power rankings. Their decisive 3-1 victory against Florida Mayhem and toe-to-toe performance against the Los Angeles Valiant show that it’s safe to say that nobody should sleep on the boys from the bay. Keep an eye out for the San Francisco Shock in the inaugural season of Overwatch League!

About the Author

Hey, I’m Sey! I’m a passionate writer, former competitive League of Legends/T2 Overwatch player, and long-time eSports fan and follower. I currently manage for the team HTC (Hoist the Colors) in the T2 Overwatch scene and study Computer Science. I also design custom emoticons and moderate channels and Discord servers for Twitch streamers in the competitive Overwatch community. I’m an aspiring digital illustrator, animator, Twitch streamer, and novelist. You can follow me on Twitter @Seyeumi.

Leave a Reply