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We’re an hour away from Overwatch League’s inaugural Battle for Texas (patent pending), and here are five big questions that should determine who comes out on top.

What will Effect’s role be?

Monte made a very interesting point about Tracer’s pick rate last night while casting the Shock vs. Fusion match. He noted that she is slowly being phased out of the meta as teams are realizing that her backline harass is no longer as effective considering how Mercy can simply negate the early pick with her resurrect. Further, the risk of running a solo Tracer into the opponent’s backline is greater than ever: If your Tracer gets picked behind enemy lines, your Mercy won’t be able to resurrect. This isn’t an issue for Tracer players like Soon because he was never a flanking Tracer to begin with. Instead, Soon plays close to his teammates and likes to clean up kills in concert with his tanks moving in. Because Effect is largely responsible for creating his own kill windows with Tracer, I think it’s safe to assume that is why we’ve been seeing much more Widowmaker and McCree out of him. Dallas’ opponents today are equally as passive in their engagement strategy and will likely be running less mobile comps. Will the Fuel counter with Effect on McCree and Widow and ask him to simply outplay Linkzr, one of the best long-range hitscan players in OWL? Or will we see a new look entirely coming from Dallas where they commit to the dive, giving Effect some attacking support? I think Effect is one of the best DPS players in OWL, but I don’t know if I love his chances if it all comes down to a Widow vs. Widow battle with Linkzr.  

Can Jake make an impact outside of Junkrat?

I don’t think anyone would discount the fact that Jake has come up with some huge plays on Junkrat this season, but if Houston are going to come away with the upset today, he will need to have some spotlight performances on other heroes like Soldier and Pharah. The map pool for this afternoon includes Horizon, so we should expect a heavy dose of rafter Junkrat. The Fuel and Outlaws will also be taking the fight to Oasis and Eichenwald – two maps that could easily tilt in Houston’s favor if they can exploit one of the Fuel’s major weaknesses: countering Pharah. Jake had a nightmare performance going up against Shadowburn’s Pharah on Oasis Gardens last week, and there is always the possibility that Fuel elect to run Seagull in that role today. If Jake can win that individual battle and give Houston a constant airborne threat, Dallas will likely continue to struggle on these maps.

How does Mickie respond to a slow start?

Mickie’s Dva play has been a very underreported storyline coming out of the first week. Maybe it’s the fact that Dallas’ off-tank specialist is one of Overwatch League’s most celebrated personalities? But I know what I’m seeing, and Mickie has already made several huge mistakes that cost Dallas severely in their Week 1 matches. In my opinion, one of the reasons that Mickie was such a strong Dva player in the past had a lot to do with Chips’ ability to provide consistent healing with Ana. Chips plays one of the strongest defensive Ana’s in Overwatch and there’s no question that the lack of ranged healing has changed the way Dva is used. But Mickie hasn’t adapted to the Dva re-work and the new meta as well as Overwatch League’s other great Dva players have. The nerfs to her defense matrix combined with less ranged healing require Dva players to be more selective with their dives and pressures – just watch how good Houston’s Coolmatt is choosing his spots to be aggressive and knowing when he needs to disengage and where to. Mickie has been de-meched in so many compromising positions early in team fights that it feels like he’s still half-expecting Ana’s biotic grenades and healing rifle to support. He has been caught peeking around his Orisa shield in a few situations too. I know that we all say he isn’t half the Winston player that xQc is, and most of the tanks he plays are only situationally viable right now, but are we ever going to see Cocco? Am I the only one who thought Cocco had Dallas’ best tank performance yet against Valiant on Horizon?

Can the Outlaws exploit the obvious weakness in the Fuel’s tank play?

It’s no secret that there is a large disparity in tank quality between these two teams. On one hand, Muma and Coolmatt are always held in the highest regard as far as pairings go, whereas Dallas can’t seem to find any stability with their tank players. It’s no longer a secret that the Fuel’s tanks are being pinned as the source of uncertainty in focus call-outs and their anchor tank play has been incredibly lackluster. So how can Muma and Coolmatt capitalize? One of the problems the Outlaws have been having to this point has been their need to counter enemy dives into their own backline. Because their opponents have generally been more aggressive, Houston’s tanks were usually forced to peel back rather than engage offensively. I know we’ve been talking about how Houston will likely play passively around Linkzr, but Jake and Linkzr have both been very good at landing the first pick in team fights. If Dallas fails to pressure Rawkus and Bani, I expect Muma and Coolmatt will make Harry/Chips/Custa’s lives hell.

Which team goes outside of its comfort zone?

Two teams, both from Texas. Neither can run dive, and neither can defend against it. Surely something’s got to give today, right? Dallas, or at least the core of their team, has always performed best with Effect on Tracer but the Mercy meta is proving difficult for backline Tracer players to crack. Houston looks much more comfortable with Linkzr on McCree and Widowmaker, but they’ve also been very susceptible to strong dives when they run these less mobile comps. So what approach do these teams take today? If either team is to break the mold, I think we’ll see Dallas experiment with more mobility than Houston for two reasons. First, I’m sure Dallas knows it has the better Tracer player in Effect and so maybe they will see if they can get a dive attack of their own going. But Houston likely believes they have the better Widowmaker and I would be really surprised if they don’t live by his long-range hitscan today.  

 

Dave is the Creator and Editor-in-Chief for The Benchmob. He primarily writes about Soccer, the NBA, esports, and Pop-Culture.