Monday, 16 April 2018

London Spitfire: Stage Three, Week Two - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I thing it's official to say that the Overwatch gods have forsaken the Spitfire when it's come to the schedule as it's one thing of the few things that hasn't gone in the Spitfires favour all season. Having to play two of our strongest opposition in NYXL & Philadelphia Fusion and out kryptonite in the Houston Outlaws means that we have a harder start to the season than almost anyone else. Week two started with a game against the Florida Mayhem and ended with that rematch from the stage two playoffs with the Fusion
Each week of the regular season, I'm going dive into both games and provide to you what I thought was good, what was bad and finally what was down right ugly about the London Spitfire's performance. If you've not already seen the games this week then leave now, as this will reveal the result and the starting line ups. So set your sights and pray that our aim is true as it's time to get into the week. 

Thursday 12th vs Florida Mayhem
Starting Line-Up: Bdosin, Birdring, Fury, Gesture, NUS & Profit
Result: 3-0 Win

The Good
After an unexpected draw to start the game off the Spitfire came out for game two with one substitutions for Numbani and took control of the match, that substitution was Woohyal and the team slowly looked better throughout the map. 

At end of stage one, Bdosin told me that he was looking to add Moira to his hero pool. While that has taken a little while to come into play on the stage. His use of her on Numbani point A was perfect, keeping Profit, Gesture and Woohyal alive to provide as much damage and support as possible was vital to help turn the game into the Spitfire's advantage. His Zenyatta continues to be one of the best in the league also. 

The Profit and Gesture dive combo just keeps rolling. Even in the draw on Volskaya Industries, the pair of them were on the same page a lot through out the game. Gesture managed to shake up and pressure the Mayhem enough to allow Profit the space and freedom to get the required picks on Junkrat and Tracer, hitting perfectly timed Pulse Bombs and RIP-Tyre's.

Adaptability was key for the Spitfire as it was the first time that they would be facing off against Mayhem with there three new acquisitions in aWesomeGuy, Sayaplaya and Zappis. It was clear on map one that a level of adjustment was required because while they were able to attack well, defensively they weren't at the races from the start and had to dig in against Florida to obtain that draw. 

The Bad
The Positioning of the supports on Volskaya is an issue that's come up before on The GBU as it's been something of a worry that they don't know where they should be in compared to the rest of the team. This once again was on show when the Mayhem were able to consistently to pick off both NUS and Bdosin on the map at inopportune times. While the map overall isn't a bad one for the team, it's one that does require work. 

Birdring and Widow in stage one and two were a beautiful combination. In stage three that same synergy between them has seemed off. Birding seems to be out of sorts with her at the moment and while the only thing that was damaged by Sayaplaya's 1v1 Widow wins verses Bridring is likely to be his pride. He wasn't able to string together he usual deadly precision and it's starting to see that Birdring maybe in a slump. 

The Ugly
Had the boys lost Volskaya vs the Mayhem for the second time in a row, then this would of been an easy ugly pick. However, the draw while an improvement over the stage two result, does show that there is work to be done here. 

Saturday 14th May vs Philadelphia Fusion
Starting Line-Up: Bdosin, Birdring, Fury, Gesture, NUS & Profit 
Result: 2-3 Loss

The Good
Woohyal! Enough said. Seriously though Woohyal was my personal MVP this weekend and had the Spitfire won this match then he had to be the match MVP. Woohyal's Self Destruct placement was impeccable and it seemed like he was getting a couple of eliminations with this every time he used it. He came in on map three and instantly helped turn the game around for the Spitfire and while I don't officially know this, it seems that when the team needs calming or a steady hand. Woohyal is the player they bring in to provide it, to me it's as if he's the teams (unofficial) leader. 

Hooreg has been getting some completely unfair criticism thrown his way for the last few weeks, but he finally showed the world what he can do with his best game to date. Hooreg also came in on Illios and he not only stepped up to the challenge of facing a red hot Carpe in the Widowmaker 1v1, he outright destroyed him. He then went on to show that while he is more of a support/clean up DPS player, why he and Profit were able to help carry GC Busan to an APEX victory. Hooreg's Pharah and McCree were both starting to look like they were in top form, so this is a very positive step forward. 

Closer is a player who I've been wanting to step up since Lucio became more of an option in stage two. While this hasn't happened so far, Closer too a step in the right direction after he came in on Blizzard world and showed the best play we've seen so far on Lucio and paired up with HaGoPeun and later Bdosin really well. We've needed to see either Closer or NUS step up and into the shot caller role and I'm hopeful Closer will now start to do so. 

Yes we lost, Yes it's a game I expected us to win and yes the stage hasn't started well. I am impressed with the never give up attitude the boys showed in this match. They were 0-2 down at half time and it may have been on two maps they weren't comfortable playing, but when Illios came around they came out fighting and with a chip on their shoulders. With the harder games out the way for stage three, the Spitfire need to keep that chip and use it to prove a point the rest of the stage. 

The Bad
Birdring and NUS seem to have hit a dip in form at exactly the same time. While it's worrying that it could be due to potential burnout with the amount of games they've played, the two of them haven't looked sharp to start stage three at all. 

Birdring has always been a very streaky player, this hasn't changed since his days on Kongdoo Uncia where he put too much pressure on himself to be the hyper carry that needed to lead the charge for the win each game. While I do think that the transfers of both Fissure to the LA Gladiators and Rascal to the Dallas Fuel have been a factor in his form, due to them both being former Kongdoo Panthera team mates. Birdring needs to gain that same level of trust with Profit that he had with Rascal and allow himself to be carried at times. 

NUS is an interesting case, because when he came over to the team prior to the season, he was known as a very good and vocal shot caller. While he's played the majority of games this season, the game against the Fusion showed that it Bdosin was calling the shots in the first two games, which isn't ideal at all considering his his aggressive nature. While I like what NUS brings to the table, I feel that he's not going to show us his full potential, until Ana makes a return to the meta. 

Gesture has been playing to MVP levels all season and has played all but 3 maps since the start of OWL. His ability to switch between attack and defence has been rivalled by few others in the league. However, on Saturday Gesture was not at his best. Which it was due to frustration or a lack of communication, Gesture was more often than not diving in on his own and leaving himself and the supports open to attack too often. 

The Ugly
While Woeasis has been a horrible map for the Spitfire throughout the season, we do have a few wins and are currently sitting at 3-5 on the map. Having it was the fifth and decisive map, really puts the team at a disadvantage and provides a need for the team to not go to five games, otherwise it feels like an automatic loss. Another map that's potentially giving me the same vibe is Blizzard World. 

Blizzard World came into the stage three pool but it was also available for the team to practice in the two weeks between stages two and three when they where back in Korea. While it has a mixture of styles per point, it's one that we've not been able to crack yet after a few weeks of learning and I don't feel this will change any time soon. 

Fan reaction. While I can fully understand that as fans we can have an opinion and it's frustrating when results don't go our way. We've been immensely lucky to have put together a team from two of Korea's best teams with two different play styles and for them to have won stage one and come third in stage two. Some of the reactions to the 1-3 start to the season have been over the top and at point unnecessary. As fans we need to be mindful that the Spitfire won't win every game, they will have slumps in form like the current episode and we may not be in the stage playoffs every time. We need to look at the bigger picture and while all teams will have a funk in form at some point. We are still second in the standings and still in a very good position for the end of the season.  
Also it's time to accept that the Fissure and Rascal deals mean they won't be coming back. Fissure played a total of three maps for the Spitfire because Gesture was the better player and Fissure didn't look comfortable without Void and Rascal wasn't happy with being a bench player after coming from a top three Korean team in Kongdoo Panthera. Gesture an Tizi once he has practised with the team more will be a great main tank pairing and Hooreg is a more than serviceable sub. There is also every chance that DDing is announce later to arrive for stage four as he was rumoured to be our signing prior to the transfer window being closed. 

While I'm not saying you can't be unhappy or express your views on play. Saying that the Spitfire is in trouble is far from the mark and in the long run won't help the team. 

Stage three hits the half way mark in week three with another two slightly easier games. They start at 2am BST on Friday 20th April against an in form but not unbeatable Boston Uprising and then again on Saturday 21st April at 9pm BST against the Los Angeles Valiant who are unbeaten in stage three. This week is really make or break for the stage so I fully expect the team to go out and give it their all. 

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