This article is part of our Overwatch series.
Stage 1: 6-4 (7th Place)
Stage 2: 7-3 (3rd Place)
Stage 3: 5-5 (8th Place)
Overall Record: 18-12 (6th Place)
The Philadelphia Fusion, how the mighty have fallen. Okay, mighty could be a bit too strong of a word. But after making a Cinderella run all the way to the Stage 2 Finals, the team floundered their way through Stage 3 to the surprise of many. As we head into the final stage of the inaugural season here in the Overwatch League, let’s take a look back at just what went wrong (and right since it wasn’t all bad news for this team) and get an idea of how the team might perform down the stretch.
No Carpe diem
Honestly, I have no idea if that title makes sense, but I’ll never turn down an opportunity to make a pun.
All jokes aside, when the Fusion don’t have Lee “Carpe” Jae-hyeok in the match, or if he is simply slumping, they struggle immensely to pick up wins. Having an amazing player like Carpe is certainly never a bad thing, but when you have to rely on said player to carry your team day in and day out, there’s a bit of a problem. You just can’t expect someone to play lights every single game, as the Cleveland Cavaliers are surely learning (no, I’m not a Cavs fan bitter over our Games 1 and 2 losses to the Celtics).
“But what about Simon “Snillo” Ekstrom and Josh “Eqo” Corona, those guys are solid DPS players too, right?” You’re completely right, dear reader -- to an extent. There’s almost no question that Eqo is the better player of the two. When he stepped into the starting lineup for the Fusion during Stage 2, it was the biggest factor in turning the team around after a pretty lackluster Stage 1. Snillo, on the other hand, is a bit different.
Whereas Eqo has a positive impact on the game, Snillo often has a negative impact or no impact on the game. He played well enough during the Stage 2 Playoffs and during Eqo’s suspension to start Stage 3, which led many to believe that he could be a solid option in the long-term. That simply didn’t turn out to be the case, however. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have his moments, as he frequently pulls off some incredible flanks with his Tracer.
Tracer flanks aren’t the end all be all to warranting inclusion in the starting lineup, however. While surely does have a better Tracer than Eqo, the Tracer is undoubtedly what he’s strongest at playing. You don’t see him on many other heroes, which could lead to some problems come Stage 4 where Brigitte will be running rampant. We may not know exactly what the meta will look like in this final stage, but it’s quite possible that Tracer could be seen much less than ever before and Snillo’s inflexibility very well might force him out of the lineup. As such, Eqo still remains as the more flexible of the two, which allows the team to play a great variety of team compositions in a given series.
Flexibility will be key
Speaking of the ability to play varying team compositions, that will likely be a big deal for this team heading into Stage 4 where the meta will be uncharted territory. The introduction of Brigitte into the hero pool is looking to turn the team compositions we know and love (well, do we really love dive at this point? Probably not) on their heads in favor of good old deathball comps.
We didn’t talk about Eqo a ton above, but I think it’s in this flexibility aspect that he’ll likely be the most useful. As we’ve seen ever since he made the switch into the starting lineup, the man can play just about anything. He’s played the typical DPS heroes of Genji, McCree, Soldier: 76 and Widowmaker, but also has been known to pull out Roadhog or even D.Va in rare situations. While he won’t be taking over Gael “Poko” Gouzerch’s spot as off tank anytime soon, being able to slide into a slightly different role could be huge in this upcoming meta. You could even envision a lineup where he picks up D.Va while Poko runs Zarya and Joona “Fragi” Laine holds down the frontline with Reinhardt.
It’s not just Eqo who is flexible, however. Just about every member of the starting lineup has a fairly deep hero pool, which will surely be fully tapped into all throughout Stage 4. Fragi can play more than just Winston -- he was simply forced to play the big monkey due to the prevalence of dive -- and he’ll show that by unleashing his devastating Rein, while Poko can play Zarya if need be. Granted, we haven’t seen much of either hero in Stage 3, but they were both good enough in Stage 2. Carpe is Carpe and will do just about whatever his team needs him to. Both supports, while not impressively strong in the case of Boombox, are also fairly comfortable in their roles and shouldn’t be too bothered by the meta shift.
While it’s hard to know how any of these teams will adjust to life in Stage 4, you have to feel that the the Fusion are in a good spot to bounceback from a lackluster Stage 3. As long as they can give Carpe some help, that is. Throw the man a lifesaver and they should be able to hold onto that final playoff spot this Summer.
Stage 4 Prediction: 6-4