Defiance is Eternal. Toronto Defiant 3 – 1 Paris Eternal

OWL 2020 began this weekend with a two-headed Homestand. NYXL hosted their North Division rivals at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Across the country, Dallas Fuel hosted the four other Pacific West teams at Arlington Esports Stadium. The honors of kicking off the Third Season fell to the Toronto Defiant and Paris Eternal.

Production Issues

Before we jump into the game, let’s discuss some growing pains OWL is currently experiencing. While some issues were expected, the switch from Twitch to Youtube somehow broke….something in the graphics department. On multiple occasions, some of the graphics seemed off. Player names remained defaulted, and map selection was wonky.

Screencapped from the OWL Youtube Live feed
Screencapped from the OWL Youtube Live feed

There were other moments where the action took a backseat to a sponsorship. I’m sure this is just some growing pains the production team is going through. As the season progresses, I fully expect to see these issues fixed.

Toronto v Paris

Toronto comes into Season 3 with an all-new look. Dragonite broke down the Defiant’s roster during the off-season, and LG65 gave us their thoughts on the lack of noise surrounding Toronto between last season and now. The new-look Defiant wanted to remind the OWL world that the Great White North has two teams.

Paris brought home their boy SoOn, and hoped to create their own new look. While one of two teams representing Europe, the Eternal is following in the Spitfire of Season 1’s footsteps and bringing in well known talent from Korea to bolster their European base. As the season progresses, they will have some even newer faces. Currently Paris has not reached their final form.

Map 1: Lijiang Tower

Starting out the match, Toronto looked lost against Paris. With faster reactions, and better execution, the Eternal seemed far dominant. That said, neither team had their fan favourite DPS in. Surefour was left on the bench in favour of Logix, and SoOn took a back seat to XZI//NICOGDH.

Toronto Defiant 0 – 1 Paris Eternal

Map 2: Eichenwalde

Going into Map 2, Toronto and Paris both made some substitutions. Toronto identified an issue at DPS, replacing Logix with Surefour. On the other side of the stage, Paris tried a new look at Support, subbing Greyy in for HYP.

Overwatch League 2020 Season2020-02-08 / Photo: STEWART-VOLLAND For Blizzard Entertainment

On attack first, Toronto was able to grab the cart quickly. Using that early advantage, the Defiant pushed to a respectable finish of the map. Defensively, the team didn’t show up at first. Other than a couple decent holds, Toronto’s pedestrian defence allowed Paris a full map with just over a minute remaining in the Eternal bank.

Overtime saw a different story. Toronto’s defence executed a full-hold of the cart. Without letting Paris gain any control, their stout defence allowed the Defiant a quick finish. On the attack, they needed only to take a third control of the cart.

Toronto Defiant 1 – 1 Paris Eternal

It should be said, between Maps 2 and 3 the production crew cleaned up some of the graphics.

Map 3: Horizon

Coming into Map 3, both teams kept their lineups the same. Without a change, the Defiant executed another strong attack. On the backline, Kariv showcased why he is one of the most exciting flex supports, utilizing Ana’s kit to beat down the enemy just as much as he healed his teammates.

Overwatch League 2020 Season2020-02-08 / Photo: STEWART-VOLLAND For Blizzard Entertainment

On the Eternal’s side, Benbest seemed to oft overextend. A competent Main Tank, there have been some rumblings within the community as to whether he really is the best option for Paris. While Benbest, FDGod, Nicogdh, and SoOn bring French flair to the Eternal, the team is no stranger to bringing in talent from around the world. Perhaps it’s just a cold start, but the Paris Tank-line is one to watch, especially when Hanbin comes of age.

Throughout the map, the attacking team seemed to have the advantage. While both teams managed a full take of the map, Toronto’s defence held longest. Going into overtime for the second time in two maps, Paris’ lack of a chance on the attack ultimately ruined them.

Toronto Defiant 2 – 1 Paris Eternal

Map 4: Havana

Not wanting to hold any of their cards back, Toronto made another substitution to showcase a third DPS look. Looking to capitalize on flexibility, Logix subbed in for Agilities.

As the map opened, The Defiant attack seemed neutered for the first minute or so. Another map, another composition, and this one started out slowly. Logix came out on Reaper (and went back to him), but gave us multiple Widow duels against XZI after his first Death Blossom. Logix absolutely popped off alongside Surefour on both offence and defence. The DPS line of Toronto looks very strong this year, regardless of who is playing.

Overwatch League 2020 Season2020-02-08 / Photo: STEWART-VOLLAND For Blizzard Entertainment

Not to beat a dead cheval, Toronto’s Tank play clearly surpassed that of Paris. Nevix and Beast just seemed to always have the upper-hand on Benbest and NoSmite. It’s possible it was a language issue for the Eternal, and I for one am excited to see what happens on Feb 20 (Happy Birthday Hanbin).

Toronto Defiant 3 – 1 Paris Eternal

Overwatch League 2020 Season2020-02-08 / Photo: BEN-PURSELL For Blizzard Entertainment

Conclusion

Coming into this match, both Paris and Toronto have been hailed as middle of the table rosters. Afterwards, I don’t think much changes. While the Defiant outperformed the Eternal, both teams showcased some question marks. Toronto’s DPS lineup may carry them forward, but I suspect some matches to be lost due to their Tank and Support players. Throughout the rest of the season, I expect Toronto to challenge for the top 10 and finish above their French rivals. A short playoff run is possible.

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