New stage, new patch, new rosters and new Overwatch League. Fans of the league saw the results of one of the more interesting aspects of the new esports league this week: It is not going to be the same game all the time. The between-stage changes will require teams to be flexible in their strategies, character usage and roster construction.
So let us look at two of the biggest changes after Week 1 of Stage 2.
Mercy out, Lucio in
As was anticipated, Blizzard's rather significant changes to Mercy changed the way the Overwatch League operated in Stage 2. After being picked 97 percent of the time in Stage 1, seven percentage points higher than the next highest played character (D.Va) according to Winston's Lab, the removal of her automatic revivals during Valkyrie limited her playing time to 17 percent this week.
So who replaced Mercy? According to Winston's Lab, Lucio, the speed-enabled, music-loving support saw his pick rate shoot up to 74 percent in the first week of Stage 2 from 11 percent in Stage 1.
Here comes Tobi
Seoul Dynasty's Jin-mo "tobi" Yang entered the Overwatch League as one of the world's best support players. However, the patch the league played on in Stage 1 forced him into nearly eight hours of playtime as Mercy, according to Winston's Lab. In Stage 1, tobi ranked 11th among 22 players to play at least an hour on the character.
With Mercy effectively done away with by the new patch, tobi was able to move back to Lucio, his main character. The switch paid immediate dividends in Week 1 of Stage 2, as tobi's Lucio ranked as the fourth-best support character in the league with a minimum of one hour of playtime (1,200 player rating on Lucio, according to Winston's Lab).
The Dynasty went 2-0 this week and posted a plus-six map differential, second in the league (Fusion - plus-eight).
Gladiators acquire Fissure
The Los Angeles Gladiators traded for London Spitfire's backup main tank Baek "Fissure" Chan-hyung between Stage 1 and 2. After fewer than two weeks of practice with his new team, the Gladiators showed confidence in their new player by using him on every map in Week 1 of Stage 2.
This makes it look as if Fissure may have replaced Luis Galarza "iRemiix" Figueroa as the Gladiators' main tank. When looking at some of the stats from Stage 1 it is not a huge surprise why. Eighty-seven percent of iRemiix's playtime in Stage 1 was on Winston according to Winston's Lab. In that time, he posted a 799 player rating, ranking 11th out of 14 players with at least an hour of playtime on Winston.
After the first week of Stage 2, Fissure's 1,117 player rating is third out of the 13 rated Winston players. Fissure posted a 1,000 rating in both of his matches in Stage 2, something iRemiix only did twice in all of Stage 1.
Instead of trading for a main tank, the Dallas Fuel decided to try Timo "Taimou" Kettunen (aka "Mr. Good Aim") on the role. Taimou already showed in Stage 1 that he is more than a capable of playing Roadhog. According to Winston's Lab, he had the highest rated Roadhog in Stage 1 (minimum 30 minutes played). Now it looks like the Fuel want to see what Taimou can do on some of the other tank heroes in Stage 2.
In the Fuel's first two matches of Stage 2, Taimou had over 37 minutes and 78 percent playtime on Winston. That comes after having under four minutes on Winston in his competitive Overwatch career before last week.
The other change the Fuel made were the additions of two new DPS players: Dong-jun "Rascal" Kim (traded from London Spitfire) and Dylan "aKm" Bignet (free agent signing). In Week 1 aKm showed off his Soldier: 76 play. According to Winston's Lab, he put up the highest player rating on the hero (minimum 10 minutes played). Rascal was more up and down in Week 1, with a 1,149 player rating in the first matchup vs Shanghai and an 858 rating against the Gladiators.