The Washington Justice have come close to wins a couple of times this season, but still haven’t quite clinched their first win yet. Seoul Dynasty, on the other hand, has a couple of wins, but has definitely underperformed in the first stage. Both teams had a realistic chance at securing a win tonight, but only one would walk away with it.
Map 1: Busan (Control)
The first map started with the Justice losing Ado quickly to Marve1, forcing them to retreat back before losing an ultimate race. While Janus was attempting to round the corner, the Justice followed closely behind, but Marve1 punished him with a Shatter, ending with Janus dying and once again forcing DC back. After a couple ult pops, the Justice finally took down Marve1 and Tobi, securing the point but allowing the Dynasty to have a 97%. Both teams were focused on rebuilding their ultimates. After losing Corey when Fits and Corey both used their Gravs, the Justice fell apart to the patience of Seoul, never being able to effectively come back and rebuild as intended. One point to Seoul.
DC got pushed into a hole early once again when both Janus and Sansam took massive amounts of damage, and Janus got taken down early into the fight. The Dynasty took the point without resistance. DC then regrouped and took the fight down from above, but Gido got taken down in the assault. While DC did managed to sneak the point away from Seoul, they badly lost the team fight following, losing the remaining five members. After a respawn, the Justice came in and wiped out four of the Dynasty very quickly (seriously, I looked away to deal with my cat for about 5 seconds and people were dead everywhere), retaking the point and building back up. After Seoul returned, Ado found himself a victim first, and Seoul followed up by targeting one moment at a time and Seoul played perfectly to counter any ultimate coming out from the Justice’s end. DC then found themselves down resources and rushed the point without focus, losing two members almost immediately and then everyone except Sansam, who then… got taken down shortly after. It looked like a mostly weak effort at the end, knowing there was no real chance to retake the point short of a miracle. Seoul took the first map.
Map 2: Hollywood (Assault/Escort)
Stratus was subbed in for Gido on DC. Washington began the first round on defense, deciding to lay back and guard the initial point directly instead of push forward. DC remained on the high ground initially while Seoul put up all their shields and rotated around the back way, coming up the stairs to get the high ground themselves, attempting to force the Justice out of position. Seoul really targeted Janus, finally nabbing him and then following up with Ado. It was seconds before Corey, Sansam, Stratus, and Fahzix got taken down after, and Corey wasted his Grav doing so. Once Seoul got the payload, Janus overextended and Seoul punished him heavily for it before following with wiping out the rest of the squad. At this point, both teams had plenty of ultimates. After an extended team fight, half of the Dynasty got taken in by Corey’s second grav, but they rebounded and killed Janus, Corey, and Ado. Quickly after, the rest of the team got killed while they respawned. The payload was only a few meters away, and Seoul continued targeting Janus as he continued to provide ample opportunity to get taken down without a sweat. Seoul finally teamkilled the Justice to end any threat, and the Justice found themselves down a round early.
DC began their attack but found themselves down health early, and they retreated when Sansam was de-meched. Janus and Stratus got taken down in the retreat. Despite a nice Earth Shatter from Janus, nobody on Seoul died from it and they countered him with a series of ultimates that wiped out the entire Justice squad. Knowing the Dynasty was low on resources, Washington charged in and took the payload without much of a fight, only needing to pop a Grav ultimate. After the Dynasty returned to contest the payload, DC punished Marve1 out of position and taking out three others, forcing Seoul to retreat. However, the following team fight saw DC lose Janus to Zunba’s D.Va ultimate, and Sansam followed after. The retreat was mostly effective, giving DC the chance to come in and counter push. Janus had a fantastic Shatter, managing weakening Seoul to the point of losing four just from his ultimate alone, with another dying during the retreat. Corey then punished the Dynasty’s push with a perfect grav, killing five in the resulting fight. After losing Janus to a ultimate-laden team fight, the Justice retreated immediately and then…. they Shattered the Dynasty and took the payload straight into a weakened point, after the Dynasty found themselves down five. DC managed a successful push and looked impressive, with some perfect timing with their ultimates and team attacks.
In overtime, DC was attacking and Seoul attempted to split up the squad. DC took a quick opportunity to heal a bit, but Seoul countered them. After losing some quick picks, DC found themselves down a tank in critical moments, unable to make an effective push and not getting the point. That left almost 3 minutes for Seoul to get the first point in their own overtime chance. For the Seoul attack, the Dynasty went double sniper for a few seconds to try to get a pick off an aggressive DC, but they left disappointed. After taking the initiative, Seoul took the high ground and then effectively split the DC squad, wiping out almost half the squad before turning their sights on the other half, team killing the Justice and securing a full first half win with two maps.
Map 3: Temple of Anubis (Assault)
Gido returned to the Justice for Stratus. DC began on the defense, and both teams began turtling as neither wanted to give up ground, but Seoul eventually split the defense and wiped out half the squad, forcing the other half to retreat. Seoul took the first point and then stalled around a corner before making a push on the second point. Janus used a Shatter just on Marve1 to punish his aggressive push, with Sansam cleaning up. Seoul made a retreat shortly after, as they let their resources build back up. Seoul then began grinding out individual kills as the Justice contested briefly with individual members repeatedly. If the Justice were taking this second point seriously, it certainly didn’t show in their play as they barely registered any kills and their efforts at turtling were constantly being thwarted with aggressive attacks from the Dynasty.
For the DC attack, they decided to work their way around the point off to the right. Janus managed to pick off one of the Dynasty before Sansam picked off Fleta, with Corey following up shortly after, but DC wound up the winner even after losing a mech. Attempting to secure the second point quickly, DC pushed very quickly and both teams began popping ultimates, but nobody died from either push until Corey finally fell to Zunba’s D.Va ultimate. DC was hesitant to attempt a full on offensive, likely thinking Seoul had more resources than they actually did. It gave Seoul enough time to actually regain some of their resources, who then wisely waited until after Corey had fallen in a backline fight. Fits constantly pestered the Justice with well-timed attacks and pushes of his own. Despite having 2.75 minutes to play with, DC found themselves lacking resources compared to Seoul’s eventual 4. Once again, Corey fell early to a timely pick from the Dynasty, and then Janus was eliminated in the retreat. Despite Fleta falling in a team fight, 3 of the Justice ended up falling in the ensuing chaos, although Seoul did drain all of their resources doing so. DC needed one final push, which was successful when Janus Shattered nearly everyone on the point to gain advantage. The Dynasty then went full troll-mode, attempting to buy as much time as possible for a Grav. However, Gido used Zenyatta’s Transcendence to counter it, giving the Justice enough of a push to end the threat and walk away with a win.
Despite the circumstances, it became impossible for DC to win the match, as their best hope would be a draw, meaning the other two map wins already cost the Justice the match. It didn’t matter. The Dynasty immediately broke down Janus before wiping out another 3 of the Justice, slowly whittling down Sansam before immediately killing Fahzix to end the map with a loss to the Justice.
Map 4: Dorado (Escort)
Beginning the map on the defense, the Justice found themselves victim of an alternate strategy from the Dynasty, who went snipers to try to get picks early. It didn’t necessarily work at getting a pick, but it did force DC back as they had no effective counter for it. DC couldn’t manage enough of a pushback to get the Dynasty back and the Dynasty secured the first checkpoint, before the Justice found themselves victims of a major team fight loss, losing 5 to it. Returning to the fight on the high ground, DC then found themselves victim of a D.Va ultimate, losing Corey to it and then getting split. Seoul took advantage of the chaos and killed a few more of the Justice, forcing DC back once again. DC made an effective push back only a few meters from the second checkpoint, securing a couple of kills on Seoul, but some strategic play from the Dynasty utilizing the high ground ended up with an unsuspecting Justice squad getting backended and losing a few to the attack. After losing the second checkpoint, DC then rebounded and got a number of good picks off the Dynasty, forcing them back past the checkpoint in order to regroup. At this point, both teams had roughly the same amount of resources. After an extended team fight, the Dynasty built up resources and the Justice found themselves victim to a perfect setup for Zunba to D.Va ultimate 3 of the squad, and the rest of the team fell shortly after to an aggressive Dynasty push.
The Justice began the attack in a more predictable fashion than the Dynasty, but after combating the Dynasty at the choke point, the Justice made quick work to the first checkpoint and effectively batted away most of the Dynasty squad, getting multiple kills and securing the first point. DC then took down Marve1 and Ryujehong in an ensuing team fight, despite losing Corey, and got the payload over halfway to the second checkpoint. Both teams went up to the high ground to counter each other, and both used their ultimates to fight each other, turning down to raw team fights. DC ended up this team fight the winner and secured the second check point. After multiple prolonged team fights, DC bounced back and managed to outlast the Dynasty on several occasions, never losing a member in the process. Seoul didn’t take too many losses in their fights, but their losses were extremely timely and cost them the final checkpoint, with DC capitalizing perfectly on the opportunities at the end.
In overtime, DC began on the attack, and Janus landed a perfect charge on Marve1. The team actually performed perfectly in their effort here, coordinating a perfect push that made Seoul constantly retreat well past the first checkpoint until Seoul could respawn, and the ensuing team fight ended up very well for DC, as they utilized ultimates with caution and took down members as raw as possible. Corey having a lot of charge certainly helped. It was a fantastic result getting as far as the payload did in only 60 seconds, and even though they couldn’t quite get all the way to the second checkpoint, securing checkpoint 1 in such a short time was fantastic and getting so far up towards the second checkpoint required a lot of poise, polish, and cohesive effort. DC played their attack round amazingly well here. On the defensive side, DC opted to play a bit more aggressively as they had a large time and distance advantage. They made some good poke damage on Seoul before retreating back to a legitimate strategic advantage point. Only 20 seconds remained for Seoul and they wound up stuck at the choke point. DC very effectively forced Seoul into the choke point, and when Seoul attempted to circumvent it, DC adjusted to perfect position, with Corey building more charge and Janus making very timely plays on anyone who attempted to come down the side stairs. DC closed out the overtime as the winner of the final map.
There was a particular pattern throughout the match that found me annoyed: Janus was consistently overextending his Rein play, and Seoul- a competent team, even if their results don’t necessarily show it- consistently punished him for it. The current meta of Overwatch does not favor individualistic styles of play. Janus doesn’t appear to understand this. His chances to use his Earth Shatter were few, and Seoul was, for the most part, playing patiently and conservatively. Janus’ aggressive play was constantly being punished as his health was being wiped clean over and over. In fact, until the final map, Janus played… pretty terribly here, and if he was the one calling the shots, many of the resulting plays were totally ineffective.
There were two DC Justice teams on display here: the one present in maps 1-3, and the one present for the final map. The Justice team that played that final map was a cohesive, well-performing, and well-timed team that executed plays perfectly, managed to make the Dynasty struggled to make any play of their own, made their opponent panic on multiple occasions, and even came back against a grinding defensive effort to make the final push and secure a victory. The other 3 map performances? It was the opposite: the Justice mis-timed their plays, mismanaged their resources, were constantly being pushed back or out of position, and were the ones seeming to panic. It seemed as though the Justice were totally unprepared for Seoul’s mostly B-team appearance here, and their strategies were being read easily by the Dynasty until the end. By that point, though, it was already too late.
With this “home” loss, the Justice are eliminated from Stage 1 playoff contention. It’s well earned, to be honest. Perhaps the team viewed this stage as the “experiment” stage, as many of their tactics were less-than-ironed out and their play certainly needed some better team cohesion in nearly every match so far. The recurring pattern has been that the Justice have shown glimpses of brilliance, where their play could even be ranked among the elite of the league, but it’s too rare to end up being a difference-maker. In fact, it’s usually throughout one full map that we can see that elite-level play. But only one map is not good enough in the Overwatch League- you need a full match effort. It’s difficult to pinpoint what the problem is specifically, mostly because there are multiple. Various team members need to step up- Janus included- and it needs to happen for a prolonged period at this point. It’s too late for stage 1, but the Justice can still regroup and at least perform better for the remainder of the season. It’s still tough to have the worst map differential in the League, though.
To end here, I’d like to note something: dear Justice social media team, please either change your hashtag, or don’t use it when you tweet about a loss. My reasoning is the same as follows:
I do like the positivity, but I gotta point out something mildly amusing…using your hashtag after a loss makes it sound like justice means you lose. Which I know isn’t the case, it’s just amusing.
— Plaggy (@PlaggyBoy) March 10, 2019
It’s not fun to have it implied that justice was served when you lose. Kinda sucks the positivity out of it, too.
And another thing, people are speculating that the Dynasty were flexing on the Justice by utilizing a mostly B-team here, a roster teabag, if you will. I don’t think that’s the case, particularly when you factor in their playoff contention. This match was a vital win for the Dynasty- you don’t place your playoff hopes on a B-team just to flex on an opponent, that’s an absolutely idiotic strategy. The likely scenario is more complex: rest your starters in hopes for the playoffs, and experiment with a more defensive strategy based on patience when facing a team notorious for being overly aggressive and having one of the most aggressive-minded main tanks in OWL. As you can see, that strategy did work in favor of the Dynasty, and it’s likely carrying lessons for them further in the future as they fight for that playoff spot. And if it is the case that the Dynasty used their roster as a sign of disrespect (unlikely), then congratulations on being the team stupid enough to risk your playoff appearance on one of the dumbest asshole flexes you could have done, I guess.