So Far, Seoul Good

Sometimes, one week can make a world of difference.

That’s how long the 12 Overwatch League teams had to get ready for Stage 2, with a new patch being introduced and new players joining various rosters. The Seoul Dynasty, who faded a bit towards the end of Stage 1, said they didn’t practice too hard during the break, but it became clear that they made all the right adjustments in a 4-0 win over the Los Angeles Valiant on Wednesday afternoon.

The last time the two teams met, two weeks ago, the Valiant effectively ended the Dynasty’s hopes of competing for the Stage 1 prize with a surprising 3-0 win. On Wednesday, the first match day of Stage 2, Seoul repaid the favor with a clean victory that was methodical while still showcasing some of the old Dynasty swagger that had gone missing in the Mercy-dominant meta.

“I thought we would win, but I didn’t know we would win so easily,” Dynasty DPS Byung-Sun “Fleta” Kim said, adding that the team was more suited to a playstyle that wasn’t built around Mercy.

The first sign that the old Seoul was back came on the second attack push of Volskaya. Jin-Mo “Tobi” Yang, back on his much-heralded Lucio, threw down a decisive Sound Barrier to enable a team fight win and a quick cap of Point A. From there, the steady execution and strong team coordination continued: a 2-0 victory on Nepal, a dominant King’s Row showing, and finally, a full hold on Route 66 secured by a bold re-engage when it seemed the Valiant would be able to push through.

“From what I remember, after losing the team fight before that, the team was saying we could fight one more time,” Je-Hong “Ryujehong” Ryu recalled. “Miro had his ultimate up, so Zunba said he would mark the payload. It went according to plan.”

Team communication is crucial to executing risky defensive plays like the one Seoul pulled off on Route 66, and it’s an area that the players say is improving with time. Playing in a more comfortable meta certainly helps, especially when a support player like Tobi can show off on his most famous Hero.

Fleta popped off on his usual range of Heroes, including Widowmaker and Genji, but he also demonstrated the game-breaking ability of Sombra on maps like Volskaya and Route 66, where the strategic hacking of large health packs gives teams a healing advantage, and one well-placed EMP play can determine the course of a team fight.

Later, in Dallas’ 3-1 win over Shanghai, Dong-Jun “Rascal” Kim also deployed Sombra to great effect on Route 66—so just one day into Stage 2, it’s clear that teams who can play well around her will have an advantage on certain maps. And with Mercy no longer a must-pick option, teams can now unlock a wider variety of team comps—dive, Deathball, Slambulance, you name it, they’ll run it.

“I think it’s going to have a positive impact on everyone,” Ryujehong said. “I don’t know what other teams think, but we certainly think it’s a bonus.”

Although Seoul feels good about the current meta, Ryujehong said that life as a healer wasn’t actually that much different. Indeed, Lucio may have returned with a vengeance, but other support Heroes haven’t, as Zenyatta and Mercy are still played often.

“No matter how you see it, if Symmetra and Ana got adjusted so they were more viable, it’d be good,” he said. “Also tanks. If more main tanks came out, too, ones that aren’t Reinhardt or Winston—I’d like for more tank options.”

Ryujehong and Fleta both admitted that they viewed the rematch as a chance for vengeance against a team that had previously thrashed them. But, as Ryujehong also acknowledged, “We know we have a really long way to go [in the season], every game is important.”

The Dynasty, like the other 11 teams in the league, are still hard at work trying to conquer this new Mercy-less meta. No time to watch the Winter Olympics happening back in South Korea, they say, although the players have looked up highlight clips of their countrymen and -women.

But with their revenge on the Valiant completed, it’s so far, so good.

The first week of Stage 2 continues today as the Houston Outlaws and London Spitfire face off for the third time in two weeks at 4 p.m. Tune in live on TwitchMLG.com and the MLG app, OverwatchLeague.com, or the official Overwatch League app.