Overwatch on Ice

Feeling the holiday spirit and interested in the competitive Overwatch scene? Then this week should be a treat for you! TESPA, a collegiate gaming organizer, is a holding a tournament for an intriguing game mode that’s quickly rising in popularity: 3v3 Elimination on Ecopoint: Antarctica. The map, smaller than most and designed specifically for 3v3, consists of a wide open courtyard with elevated bridges of various heights and two large buildings flanking the approaches (you can check out the map for yourself by creating a Custom Game and setting the gametype to 3v3 Elimination). There’s no ranking system or ladder for this game mode yet, although much of the player base would love to see a more competitive version of it stick around. If you want a sneak peek at what many consider the next big Overwatch innovation, read on for details and analysis!

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The tournament takes place over two days, Monday (Dec. 27th) and Tuesday (Dec. 28th) of next week. The games should begin at 12 PM PST and the first day will feature five rounds of round-robin play, after which teams with three wins will advance to day two! Tuesday will see the best of the best face off across four rounds of single elimination. There’s also a $900 Battle.net credit prize pool, with 1st place taking $40 of credits for each player!

If you’re a college student who wants to create a team and sign up with friends, visit this website for more information! I’ll be casting the tourney on my Twitch.tv channel

Format Analysis

The 3v3 format is already developing some interesting quirks and a basic metagame, though since there’s no ranking of any sort people tend to play whatever they want. There are no health packs on Ecopoint: Antarctica, so heroes that can self-sustain are rocketed to the top of the tier list. From what I’ve experienced, the holy trinity of 3v3 consists of Soldier: 76, Roadhog, and Ana. Why these three? Well first off, a disclaimer: this isn’t set in stone, and in no way am I able to prove that this trio is the best due to lack of statistics and results. Nonetheless, I would say these three are safe picks as they all have healing abilities to compensate for the reduced team size. Let’s go more in depth, starting with Soldier: 76.

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Soldier has the best ranged damage in the game, beaten only by snipers like Widowmaker and Hanzo. Compared to his hitscan counterpart, McCree, Soldier better in most situations at the moment with his self-sustain (Bio-Field), burst (Helix Rockets), and mobility (Sprint). McCree’s sole advantage comes when does dueling flankers in close quarters with his Flashbang. So with Soldier’s consistent damage and well-rounded skillset taken into consideration, we move onto Roadhog! This guy offers a mixture of bulk and damage, whose main gimmick is his ability to displace enemy targets and kill low-health enemies in one shot. Even though he’s hard to bring down and has huge pick potential, I believe he’s the most expendable of these three: he could be replaced by a Reinhardt or D.Va with a good healer. Of course, Roadhog is still a fantastic hero: he is very similar to Pudge in DotA, surprising enemy targets with his hook and killing them far away from their teammates. Utilized correctly he’s very effective at carrying a game by punishing poor positioning.

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The support role belongs to Ana, indisputably the best support in the game. She heals and damages at long range (subject to line of sight), can sleep a target for five seconds, and able to throw a grenade that heals teammates, amplifies their own healing, and blocks enemy healing all at once! This diverse skillset makes her ideal for almost every situation: she can effectively fight duels as well as offering her team the best single target lockdown in the game. I don’t see how any other supports can match her in a vacuum and especially in the smaller games of 3v3. Niche picks that I would like to see include snipers like Widowmaker / Hanzo to find pickoffs and flankers like Genji / Tracer who aim to get around and disrupt the enemy team. There’s also the possibility that we might see a Pharah and Mercy combo, as against certain compositions they can rain down death and fire.

Map Analysis

As I said before, Ecopoint: Antarctica is generally very wide with three conventional avenues of attack. However the odd thing is that the map is not mirrored along the usual lines, so take note that I will be speaking as if the spawn is for blue side. Starting in the middle, you can either choose to go up onto the bridges, a good spot for long-range encounters, or under the bridge for flanking opportunities. For example, Widowmaker, Hanzo, and Soldier are all great choices to hold the middle of the map as they have plenty of range and have ample opportunities to get kills when enemies expose themselves. Flankers and elusive heroes might prefer going under the bridge, Roadhog especially because he can hook a target down from high ground and really separate them from their team. Also D.Va and Winston find it easy to move between high and low ground with their fantastic mobility; they negate much of this disadvantage and turn it to their benefit.

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When you go right (again, from the perspective of Blue team), you will be on the higher bridge of the two. High ground is pretty much always an advantage, so generally you’d prefer to be on the right unless you expect the enemy to go push left hard for a surprise play. Otherwise, the right side is generally more favorable for ranged compositions as it’s an open high ground area, while the left is more cramped and better to get up close and brawl. But take what I say with a grain of salt, as it all depends on team composition!

The 3v3 meta is very underdeveloped so many will be watching to see what competitors have decided on. Regardless of whether we see staple picks or niche strategies, Overwatch has a very diverse hero pool and the players with the ability to understand their opponents and utilize the environment to their advantage will exceed in this game! Once again, the tournament will be broadcast on my Twitch.tv channel and I’ll be casting, hopefully with a co-caster TBA! You can also follow me on Twitter for more info on future TESPA matches and consider booking a lesson with me to up your Overwatch game!

Hope to see you guys again soon: follow me on the links above for future content, and happy holidays everybody!