REVIEW: Top 5 Moments of the Overwatch League All-Star Match – Los Angeles 2018

The first season of the Overwatch League officially ended this past weekend with an All-Star Weekend. The hosts and shoutcasters took a turn playing on Overwatch teams; players tried their hand at Mystery Heroes; and it all culminated in Sunday’s All-Star Match.

Part exhibition match, part popularity contest, the All-Star Match was an opportunity for League players to let loose and have fun, which they did in spades. While the entire four-hour match was a wild, hilarious ride, some moments stood out more than others, and those absolutely deserve some recognition. Here are my top five highlights of the All-Star Match! (Just the match; if it was the whole weekend, it’d easily be a top 20 list, and we don’t have time for that. Yet.)

5. Talking Trash

Tilt: (verb; slang) To become so angry it negatively affects your gameplay

While the League doesn’t usually take time out for pre-game player interviews, they made an exception for All-Star Weekend, and the one before the match itself on Sunday was a doozy. Pre-game interviews are a time for quick jokes and lighthearted smack talk, and Seoul Dynasty’s Ryujehong took full advantage of the opportunity, easily needling Philadelphia Fusion’s Carpe.

Carpe is best known for his top-tier sniper play; he’s one of the best in the League and has proven it time and time again. Carpe is also known for occasionally tilting so hard he falls over. His response to Ryujehong’s taunting was, of course, calm and coolheaded.

(Someone forgot we were streaming live on Disney XD.)

Carpe, of course, handled himself with class and dignity as Ryujehong walked away the victor of most of their encounters, at one point asking for a one-on-one duel to settle their differences.

Honestly, as much as I laughed at the rivalry, I do have to admire them both. Ryujehong’s smack talk was a masterful example of provocation, and though Team Atlantic (read: Carpe’s team) lost that map, Carpe was still able to walk away, calm down, and be all smiles when he played his next map. It’s hard to cool down from a tilt, and Carpe did it with style. Additionally, the through line of the Ryujehong/Carpe rivalry made an already exciting first map that much more interesting to watch.

4.. Symmuma

I made you something~

Muma, the Houston Outlaws’ main tank, has been gleefully baiting Overwatch League fans for most of the season in one very specific way: he’ll pick contentious but well-loved character Symmetra during setup, faff around for a bit, and switch to the character he’s actually playing before the match begins. It’s been his ongoing bit for the season, and the fans have noticed.

And finally, on Sunday, he put his money where his keyboard is and played Symmetra for a map.

And it was beautiful.

Even though Muma admitted in an interview afterwards that he still doesn’t think she plays well, and odds are he won’t be playing her again anytime soon, he still finally gave the fans what we’ve been asking for for months on end, and we were completely stoked to see it.

3. Saebyeolbe Goes Skydiving

Totally Intentional is my new excuse for everything

Overwatch is no stranger to environmental kills; in fact, the game has some maps where the environment has massive holes in the floor, just to make it that much easier to take a fatal fall. It’s nice to know that not even the pros are immune to accidental cliffdiving, as New York Excelsior’s Saebyeolbe proved when he backed up a bit too far and took a long fall into a bottomless pit.

(Look at that cheeky smile. He knows what he did.)

What made it special – aside from the fact that most Overwatch League environmental kills are the result of being pushed as opposed to a simple misstep – is Saebyeolbe’s followup interview. When asked what happened and whether it was intentional, Saebyeolbe said it was his plan – “It’s fanservice.”

Thanks for looking out for us, man, because that was the best laugh I’ve had in a good long while.

2. Stop! Hammertime

Yes, that just happened. Yes, it was the first.

There’s a small set of characters that simply don’t get played for one reason or another in most Overwatch League matches: they’re unbalanced, or they don’t fit into the current meta, or nobody on a team is well-versed in pro-level play with them. Of those characters, Torbjorn is one of the most oft-demanded by League fans. As a whole, we’ve simply decided we really want to see a short angry Swedish engineer use his hammer to utterly wreck someone.

Fury, of the London Spitfire, knows that, and he gave us exactly what we wanted on Sunday.

Playing Torbjorn, and powered up by fellow character Ana’s power boost, he hunted down the opposite team’s Reaper, played by Shanghai Dragons’ Geguri, and hammered him into oblivion. And it was *amazing*.

It’s difficult to convey in text what ridiculous meme fulfillment looks and feels like, but between Muma finally playing Symmetra and Fury giving us the first-ever League Torbjorn hammer kill, the fans walked away from this match very happy indeed.

1. Players Just Want To Have Fun

Turns out the real Overwatch was the friends we made along the way

“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” It’s an adage that gets bandied around a lot, and is disproven fairly quickly by the Overwatch League. These gamers may enjoy playing Overwatch, but they definitely work hard at it. Your average Overwatch League match tends to be intense, well-played, often down to the wire, and exciting. Very rarely can you describe a League match as simply “fun” – the players are working too hard to achieve victory, enjoyment coming from a job well done rather than the love of the game.

The All-Star match was fun.

It was a wonderful change to see these professional gamers play not necessarily to win (though they were all still playing to the best of their ability), but for the love of the game. The Atlantic and Pacific teams threw players together with people they often played against, and they rolled with it with panache. People made jokes about awkward situations – Los Angeles Valiant shotcaller Custa talked about his five-minute crash course in Korean right before the start of the first map, so as to better communicate with the mostly-Korean Pacific starting lineup – and played outside of their usual roles – Kariv, Valiant support player, played a terrifying Widowmaker in the second map – and smiled the whole time.

The good humor came to light in Ryujehong and Carpe’s rivalry; in Muma finally fulfilling his own meme; and in Fury deciding that Torbjorn deserved some time to shine and setting a league record in the process. The single best picture of player relaxation and enjoyment came from Saebyeolbe, scooting a full three feet back from his place at the desk and playing a map with his mouse and keyboard situated in his lap.

For an audience that’s followed months of intense matches and serious battles to make the stage and series finals, it was a relief and a pleasure to watch skilled players just have a good time. After all, Overwatch is just a game; when you’re not competing, you should really just relax.

All-Stars Weekend, culminating in the All-Stars match, was a fun way to cap off a fantastic first season of the Overwatch League. With any luck, we’ll get further exhibition matches, possibly during the off-season; either way, it’s nice to see League members have as much fun playing the game as we do watching it.

What were your favorite moments of the All-Star Match? Hit us up on Twitter and let us know!

— Katie Cullen

Follow Katie on Twitter