Saturday, 20 January 2018

The Fuel Pipes Leaking In Dallas

Week two is officially in the books and if there's one big story to talk about, it's the fact that the Dallas Fuel are not living up to expectations. Dallas were everyone's preseason favourites to be the best team from the west, with the right skill set to challenge the three Korean teams (Seoul Dynasty, New York Excelsor & London Spitfire). Two weeks in however, the Fuel are currently sitting at 0-4, have lost the battle of Texas and the first meaningful eClasico in Overwatch League history. 

Their first four games have involved losses to Seoul, LA Valiant, Houston & London. While Seoul are rated by most as the best team in the league, a lot of different people felt that the Fuel were stronger than the other three teams mentioned. I'm going to take a look at what I feel are the problem area's going on right now and what needs to be changed from week three onwards.

We Are The Meta
During week one, the Dallas Fuel came out and said that while the current Mercy meta isn't one of their favourites, it wouldn't matter as they would look to make the meta. While this may have been the case when they won APEX Season One and for last seasons North American Contenders. The bar has been raised in terms of competition for OWL and this is no longer the case with the worlds best players now being brought into a smaller pool of teams. Timo "Taimou" Kettunen is renown for his play on Junkrat and Sebastian "Chipshajen" Widlund is a great Mercy player, yet despite having players who can play the two strongest heroes right now, the Fuel are using Taimou more exclusively on Roadhog and Chipshajen has been rotated as sub and not getting enough game time. The team a whole are just not producing the results that are expected of them.

The Effect Affect 
Hwang "Effect" Hyeon is well known for his meticulous training regime where he practise for two hours before he even starts playing competitive modes. As  Felix "xQc" Lengyel suggested, he works so hard to improve, that when he losses it effects him more and the rest of the team. Lengyal explains more here, that the rest of the Fuel needs to step up and match his training intensity and drive. With the step up in competition, the fact that Dallas aren't training as hard or near to the same level as Effect is a worrying sign.

The xQc Experiment Needs To End
Speaking of  Felix "xQc" Lengyel, I've previously mentioned here that he is going to be a player to watch both in and out of matches as he is OWL's Terrell Owens. Lengyel has the ability to make huge plays out of nothing and cause havoc for opposing players. However, xQc doesn't know when enough is enough when it comes to his trash talk and overall behaviour. After previously throwing games in competitive and now his anti-gay remarks about Austin "Muma" Wilmot, (who handled the situation impeccably) both the Dallas Fuel and the Overwatch League have now fined $2000 and suspended him for the entire first stage of the league. While xQc has a huge following from his successful stream, his play in game and attitude outside isn't enough to keep him around. With mid season free agents available to be picked up in February, I wouldn't be surprised to see xQc being benched in favour of one of these free agents.

Mid Season Pick Ups
One potential saving grace for Dallas if they don't manage to correct the tailspin they're currently in, is that in February the free agent pool is available to be signed. It's in this period that the Fuel can really pick up a few players to turn their fortune around.

The biggest player in my mind not to be signed to an OWL team at the start of the season was French international and ex Rogue star DPS Dylan "aKm" Bignet. The Fuel's DPS duo of Taimou and Effect have not worked so far and aKm would provide a player who can play both the Hitscan and Projectile DPS roles. Not only would this would allow the Fuel to hide their strategies better but give them a lot more flexibility in their team compositions and give a great freedom to Taimou to Flex when needed.

The other player of interest if I'm the Dallas Fuel would be USA World Cup member, Russell "FCTFCTN" Campbell. FCTFCTN is the best main tank player available and one of the bigger surprises when it came to free agents in OWL. He's the perfect fit in the main tank role with his Reinhardt and Winston play and would pair up well next to Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod off tank and other main tank Christian "Cocco" Jonsson.

Overall Mentality
Under their previous identity of Team Envyus, the only team from the west that where perceived to be on their level or better was French team Rogue. With Rogue unable to enter OWL as a team this left Team Envyus as the best western team around and potentially caused them to get both lazy and over rate themselves. With the likes of the Philadelpha Fusion pairing up players such as George "ShaDowBurn" Gushcha & Jae-Hyeok "Carpe" Lee, it's starting to feel that Dallas may be getting left behind in terms of team strength. The other area that requires improvement is the team communication. Dallas have said that their communications have been lacking even with their original line up. With the Fuel now going into week three at 0-4, they need to work on themselves as a team and find that previously feared cohesion and form.

While the season is long and there is plenty of time for both the mentality of the Fuel and meta to change. Dallas are already in a precarious position they need to get out from.   

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