What's up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here and today I'll be analyzing the biggest Overwatch story of the weekend: Team IDDQD sweeping Melty Esports in the semi-finals of the Gosugamers EU Weekly Tournament. The upset came entirely out of nowhere -- prior to the Beta break, Melty eSports was the frontrunner for best EU team, even jumping the NA-based NotEnigma in Gosugamer's head-to-head rankings. With such a strong record, Melty seemed like an instant-lock for the finals.
However, along came IDDQD -- a group of friends who just recently formed during the Closed Beta -- who took the first Map in stunning fashion: shutting out Melty on the first checkpoint of King’s Row after a successful Offense. IDDQD would continue their defensive dominance on Dorado: holding steady at the third checkpoint and to win the map on tiebreakers and sweep the Tournament favorites. How did they pull it off? Did IDDQD discover something in the Patch Notes that other teams had missed? I'll answer these questions and more -- breaking down how IDDQD dethroned the Kings of EU Overwatch on their way to their first big Tournament win.
The Bash Brothers: Taimou and Bromas
I spoke with Melty eSports’ KabaL shortly after their match and he said that Melty simply had no answer to the Hitscan-Hero-heavy lineup that IDDQD brought on Offense and Defense. I’m sure when KabaL was describing their troubles, he was having flashbacks of Taimou and Bromas’ overwhelming fragger play. Bromas favors Soldier 76 -- spending almost the entire Tournament playing him -- but this hardly mattered with how well he utilized the Hero’s kit. Taimou similarly played primarily McCree at a similar, masterful level. Taimou and Bromas would both occasionally swap to Reaper -- a third, close-range Hitscan character -- when the situation required.
Together these two players abused two key elements of the changes the new Patch ushered in. First, the reduction in weapon bloom recovery time for Soldier 76 allowed Bromas to be extremely annoying while poking enemy team at long range and extremely deadly at mid to close range. Second, nerfing Mercy and indirectly nerfing the viability of the Mercy-Pharah duo gave Taimou’s McCree and Bromas’ 76 a weak spot in their Opponent’s lineup to attack. While some teams still favor the Pharah-Mercy combo, IDDQD’s team composition preyed on these lineups by pairing Zenyatta with the Bash Brothers. A Pharah or Mercy floating in midair is a juicy target for any Hitscan Hero, but toss a Discord Orb on either and they’re blown up in seconds.
One question looms: how do you counter strong, Hitscan-focused Team Composition? You’ll notice Melty tried several different lineups to try to break through IDDQD’s line, and they actually almost stumbled upon the solution: the Genji-Zenyatta combo. Melty refused to drop their Mercy/Lucio healer composition and while they did utilize a Genji from time to time, without an Orb of Harmony he would often be quickly taken out before he could escape. To take out IDDQD’s Bash Brothers, you need to get up into close range and take one of them by surprise -- but you need enough backup healing power to escape with your life when the other Bash Brother comes to their aid. Melty missed this, and paid for it.
The Swingman: Internethulk
While I was gushing about the Bash Brothers, I neglected to mention the real MVP of IDDQD’s King’s Row Defense: Internethulk. Internethulk’s piloted the third Hitscan Hero on the lineup, a Reaper, roaming back and forth seeking out the scouting Genji and making quick work of advancing Tanks. He ended the match with 25 eliminations, defending only the first Checkpoint for a whopping 58% Kill Participation rate. What’s most impressive, however, was Internethulk’s ability to fill any void in a team composition.
Here’s the secret: Internethulk doesn’t just play Reaper, he plays any and every Hero his team needs. When IDDQD was on offense, Internethulk played the essential Genji role to pair with Chipshajen’s Zenyatta -- wreaking havoc on Melty’s backline and giving freedom to Taimou and Bromas play their preferred Heroes. When IDDQD had pushed into the final Checkpoint (putting Melty’s back to the wall and providing little backline to harass) Internethulk swapped seamlessly to an Offensive Winston to give the team a stronger position on Payload for their final push. When the teams moved to Dorado, Internethulk played the entire Offense as Winston, then swapped between Winston and Genji on Defense.
What I’m getting at here is that if IDDQD didn’t already have their other roles already filled they could probably slap Internethulk in as their Main Tank, Main Healer, Bastion, or even a Torbjorn and he’d still kick ass. Every successful team wants a player like Internethulk who can step up to fill roster gaps and IDDQD leaned on his flexibility to respond to every composition Melty (and later, Reunited) would throw at them in the Tournament.
The Zenyatta of Dreams: Chipshajen
When you have a team full of skilled Hitscan-mains, a well-played Zenyatta is the key to executing your strategy. The recent Patch enabling Shields to be healed made the tiny mechanical monk barely tanky enough to fit into current lineups, and IDDQD warmed up to him immediately. Throughout the tournament Chipshajen popped Transcendence at vital times, saved his team, and preserved their defensive setups on Checkpoints. Half of the Plays of the Game seem to involve a huge Zenyatta Transcendence Ultimate leading to 4-5 assisted kills and a couple of solo-kills using Zenyatta’s ridiculously high damage left-click. Despite all the obvious, the real answer to how Zenyatta pushed their lineup to the next level lies in his Orbs.
Zenyatta has two Orbs: an Orb of Discord and an Orb of Harmony. Both of these Orbs last as long as Zenyatta is alive and have extremely powerful effects. Orb of Harmony sticks to a friendly target, healing at a rate of 25 health per second as long as the target whenever the target is damaged. This Orb can be used in two ways: the Zenyatta can either juggle it to whichever teammate needs healing the most -- playing a triage game -- or it can be slapped on a Genji to abuse the Orb’s sustaining power to enable more reckless attacks. Chipshajen does both: expertly juggling his Harmony Orbs when the team is set up defensively and making the -- somewhat easy to be honest -- decision to slap a Harmony Orb on Internethulk’s Offensive Genji when the time calls for it.
Orb of Discord is the real money-maker in Zenyatta’s kit: currently taking the award for strongest buff or debuff in Overwatch. Orb of Discord not only increases all damage done to the target it’s stuck to, but also gives the Zenyatta vision of the target wherever it goes. Strategically, this vision allows the Zenyatta to keep his team updated on a dangerous target’s position at all times, and the damage increase has its own more obvious effect. The Orb of Discord also functions as an important means for a team to focus their firepower. Consider this example:
You and a partner enter a 2v2 battle between four equivalent DPS Heros, but your side has a single Orb of Discord to be attached to a chosen target. In a normal 2v2, you and your partner would want to single out one of the enemies to kill them twice as fast. However, your Opponents would likely do the same thing -- resulting in a 1v1 stalemate where only skill wins out. If you add an Orb of Discord to focus your firepower and grant a 50% damage boost, your duo can now blow up your target before the other team eliminates either of you, giving your team the upper hand to finish off the remaining enemy.
This is an extremely simplified scenario, but this is exactly how many of IDDQD’s eliminations played out: Chipshajen Discording a target, Bromas and Taimou focusing it down instantly, leading to a cascade of subsequent eliminations as the enemy team suddenly found themselves at a numbers disadvantage. It’s amazing what a single purple ball can do!
Let’s not forget the “boring” Heros: Cocco’s Reinhardt and NBRGIBUP’s Lucio
There isn’t much to say about Reinhardt and Lucio that most Overwatch fans don’t already know. Reinhardt is every team’s de facto #1 Tank and Lucio sits as the game’s #1 DJ/Healer. Cocco and NBRGIBUP (who has the most confusing name I’ve ever seen) both excelled in their execution throughout the matches -- setting up combinations with Earthshatter and saving the team with Sound Barriers. It will be interesting to see if NBRGIBUP can abuse Lucio’s knockback in future matches as the two cliff-laden King of the Hill maps become more popular picks in competitive play.
I’m cautiously optimistic about how the competitive Meta has responded to the changes in the Balance Patch. We’re finally seeing more Zenyatta play, more Genji play, and less of the hated Mercy-Pharah “uber” combo. An interesting thing to note is that outside of Mixup’s Offensive Bastion on Dorado and a couple of Torbjorn Defenses, I saw zero successful utilization of either of these two Turret classes throughout the NA and EU Tournaments.
Unfortunately, I still noted that some Heroes like Lucio and Reinhardt were picked by nearly every team in every situation, leading to a bit of stagnation in Team Compositions. All of that said, we’re only on the second week of the Post-Break Meta, so maybe teams will find ways to counter the heavy usage of Lucio and Reinhardt, as well as develop a strategy to combat the Zenyatta-Genji duo that has emerged to fill the void that the Pharah-Mercy duo previously occupied. Until then, I’m going to sit back and enjoy some crazy Ninja plays.