For many teams, the first season of the Overwatch League was a rollercoaster. With shifting metas, injuries, and integrating new talent, very few teams managed to maintain a spot at the top of the standings. Even the season champions, London Spitfire, were not immune, spending almost half the season in relative disarray. After a year of practice, and acclimation to this new competitive landscape, the top priority for most teams is to bounce back harder with a new gameplan, and in some cases, a new roster.
As season 2 kicked off, many veteran teams have shown they understand what went wrong previously, and have taken measures to adjust. As of this week, there may be no better example of this than the San Francisco Shock. In season 1 the team never managed to break into the upper ranks of the league. High profile additions to the team like Jay “Sinatraa” Won and Min-ho “Architect” Park certainly increased the team’s potential, but ultimately failed to push the Shock across the finish line.
In their matches this week they showed themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Throughout the week, players and coaches across numerous teams pointed to the Shock as the team to beat this season, putting them above season 1 favorites, the NYXL. To discuss the changes for season 2 I met with Shock flex support Nikola “Sleepy” Andrews and tank player Matthew “Super” DeLisi.
As the player responsible for the first kill of the Overwatch League, Sleepy has been around for every step of the Shock’s development. When asked about his perspective going into this season, Sleepy held to an old but true ideal.
“My perspective hasn’t really changed much, I still just want to make my mark on the game, and make my own style of play for Zenyatta. You’ve got your Jjonaks and your Bdosins and I want to make my own style as well. I still just want to pop off and do really well with my team.”
With the new season comes many new players as well, both in the Shock and in the league at large. San Francisco is no stranger to new faces. Due to eligibility issues and new signings, the Shock saw some the highest fluctuation of any roster in the league. This trend continued through the off season as the Shock made 4 new acquisitions encompassing every role. As a player who was added in mid season, Super shared his perspective on the changes.
“There were a lot of changes, a lot of new players added, new coach, I just think we are in a much better position than last year. It’s a really interesting experience your first time, it's really nerve racking taking to the stage, but the more [players] the better honestly. I think it’s a really good thing.”
Season 2 has seen the inclusion of 8 new teams filled with newfound contenders talent as well as some of the OWL old guard. After a year of playing together, it’s not uncommon for players to get close with one another, even across rival teams. With so many new faces lining the halls of Blizzard Arena, the social landscape is shifting alongside its competitive counterpart. With new players comes new relationships, rivalries, and spicy memes. When asked about these new additions to the league, Sleepy responded,
“I really like it! A lot of those players coming up are our friends from when we were coming up through ranked. It’s exciting to watch them play and see how good they do, to see them become these insane players that everyone looks up to.”
San Francisco Shock started their season this week, with a commanding 4-0 victory over the Dallas Fuel, and an extremely close 2-3 loss against the Los Angeles Gladiators. While it may not be the spotless start the team had hoped for, the Shock have yet to disappoint fans with the quality of their gameplay.