Analysis of Attack: Point A on King's Row
2016 has come to an end. Overwatch is on the brink of a huge year for 2017. As we close in on Overwatch’s first birthday, and the upcoming Overwatch League, there is a topic I feel is still sorely discussed.
Previously in an article, we talked about the completely undervaluing and the seeming lack of experimentation in regards to the current maps. More research needs to be done in using the entire map to your advantage. The puzzling thing that quite a bit of VoD review has done, is that teams do approach differently, but not by a large margin. It seems to be region specific to how teams tackle this first point.
In this series we are going to look at differences in attacking and defending on certain points, while also trying to spotlight why the players have a preference towards these strategies.
We arrive at one of the mainstays of Overwatch esports: King's Row. Debuting as one of the earliest maps, we are going to focus on the strategy and overall approach of attack for Point A. King's Row features an interesting staging point for a hybrid map as well as an protected - catwalk - flank - high ground, which can be used to flush out defenders from above. It does fall however to the trope of a “2 choke map”. The only entrances to the courtyard are from the large gateway and small window above the hotel that leads into either the courtyard or into the elbow, via a small drop.
Ace in the Hole
Each map has it’s own personality. With that comes a select few heroes that may be more popular depending on the map. King's Row is no exception. Here are a few heroes you may not be completely familiar with.
Widowmaker has some of the best pick potential right off the start of the map. Whether in Quick Play or in the middle of a professional match. You have to respect the potential for her to peek out of the top window perch off of spawn.
Widowmaker’s great vertical mobility allows her to use the many perches to quickly reposition if someone is to challenger her, and can create openings on the map through picks. If she latches on and finds to many picks she could spell “doom” for your Point A hold.
No one in particular stands out when we talk about her specifically on King's Row. I do enjoy how the Korean team “The Meta” uses her with swift map rotations to allow her some easy picks. Watch out for Zebosai and Korean rookie, Sayaplayer in the future.
Hanzo performs a similar role as Widowmaker. However, Hanzo is better when it comes to mid range brawling. With more early utility in Recon Arrow and the damage to Reinhardt’s shield with Scatter Arrow. Hanzo despite not being a tank, could see more play this point moving forward.
There is one name at the top of Overwatch right now that is synonymous with Hanzo and Point A on King's Row: Taimou of Team Envyus. Currently Taimou is a force to be reckoned with on Point A, somehow always finding clutch kills and providing absurd amounts of damage. Team Envy’s has found their composition to beat out Triple and Quad Tank on this point. With correct positioning and a steady hand, Taimoo and company “de-throne” anyone left on Point A with ease. Team Envyus vs C9 at MLG Vegas was mere glimpse into the utter destruction, this man brings with a bow.
Pharah gets a small bonus by using the scaffolding on the spawn give her a nice boost to maximize her flight time. She also can hop over the small brick wall that separates the “cubby” from the defenders. In theory this opens the choke up and adds another attack path.
These past few months have not seen much Pharah play, but a small resurgence at the NGE Winter Premiere has raised questions about her future. IID from Team Liquid, Shadowburn from Faze Clan, and Hyped from Immortals all have played her with varying degrees of success.
Last but certainly not least we have Junkrat. More of a fringe pick, during NGE and previously in APEX we have seen him come out with mild rates of success. Both Immortals and the old Rogue roster have shown that Junkrat has some merit.
Used more as a long range tank buster, his needs careful aim and nice high ground to assist him in shelling the point. His consistent damage, if not checked, can leave teams in “shock and awe”.
Not many teams stray away from the standard. King’s Row Point A on attack goes a little something like this.
Rhino’s Gaming Titan puts on a clinic on how a “standard” push for Point A looks. Note the quick courtyard control, into a pick, and they immediately attack off of that. Need to rebrand this team to Rhino’s Gaming Sharks, because they definitely smelled blood in the water.
A majority of teams forfeit the hotel as an entrance to the point, in favor of a more straight forward approach. Since OGN’s APEX Season 1 Finals, 83% of team chose to attack directly through the main gateway, and take control of the statue. From there, 35% of team take cubby as their staging ground while 16.6% of teams actually use the elbow and catwalk areas.
Let that simmer for a second.
A majority of teams only use 55% of the map. The Catwalk area is sorely underused, and it is understandable why: not all teams have great rush down flankers. But this just puts it into context where we start off when we talk about the map. Rather than go around the sides, using superior positioning, teams favor going straight up the middle. Blitzkrieg style.
Direct or Cubby Push
While the hotel is a bit more protected, for an entry point the majority of the players push through the main choke and into the courtyard. After taking control in the courtyard it's fairly split on what happens next. Some teams like to strafe behind the statue and try to make picks. While others use the small hotel or “cubby” near the point as a flank or a potential flank. Pushing through the cubby is a bit greedy, however if quick enough the speed at which you come around the corner on the flank could easily catch teams off guard.
This could be a result of the controversial D.Va patch bringing out the prevalance of tanks in the meta. On average, teams are running three or more tanks, which results in maps being played differently. It seems like a commitment to push through cubby without a pick or some form of an advantage. The cubby push may be made easier however, with D.Va literally and figuratively pushing the enemy team away. While the catwalk path is largely unused, D.Va again may be culprit to that falling out of favor as well. D.Va’s defense matrix literally takes up the entirety of the catwalk’s field of view, effectively making her a highly mobile second Reinhardt.
Another possible hitch that the “cubby push” hinges on is Mei. Slowly but surely, she's coming back into the limelight. She brings a tank-like play style coupled with a potential high DPS for the role she plays. The effect of her giant ice wall, in recent months, makes it incredibly easy to take the main choke point and continue on to the statue.
An expertly drawn example of a standard defense on Point A.
Mei not only creates space with her wall, but slows down the enemy attack. With this setup being sorely used, it is much easier to barge straight into the courtyard and take control of the statue. Mind you, most team still check for this setup. Hanzo will shoot his Recon Arrow right about where Mei is positioned in the picture above, providing pivotal information about how the defense wants to play the map.
Previously we have seen a slight bias towards using the high ground advantage that the catwalks gives us to attack from multiple angles on Point A. Using this to players advantages may hold more fruit than currently accepted, but it is understandable why they can’t or don’t use it as often as they should.
In the current meta, agile flankers such as Tracer or Genji would thrive here. Using the high ground to poke and prod at the enemies below. We have also seen entire team’s push through and use Mcree to surgically remove any bystanders left on the point. We however don’t see much use of this anymore. Aside from a few teams who, in theory, could pull this attack off (Faze, C9, Rogue), many drop this strategy for 3-4 tanks and a quick shove into the courtyard. While the meta and tanks in general has the community divided, there is some hope. An “outlier” could be spelling omens for what King’s Row and the entire game may look like in the future.
During the promotion series for South Korea’s APEX Season 2, many teams took their own creative spins on redefining team compositions. Mostly using Mei to create space and allow their Reinhardt to safely start to clog up the point. Very reminiscent of a slow siege tank push from StarCraft. Slowly inching their way up the map, using Mei walls to cover and key areas of the defense. One team, in particular, stood out in how they attack Point A.
The Meta is an upstart team that would rather use their brains then raw aim. One of their signature paths, is to run Widowmaker sat on top of Hotel or on the top window in spawn, and send five others through the Catwalk. Once they jump down to attack from behind the point, the defenders have to either choose to fight or back up sending them right into Widowmakers sights.
Something we haven’t seen is how a dive composition (Winston, Genji, Tracer) would do on this map. Coming out from Hotel, you should be able to take Catwalk insanely quick and drop down and on top of the enemies below. It is a bit gimmicky, but it serves a purpose. The defended Catwalk with the speed of the heroes could lead to a nice snowball and split spawns. Would be interesting to see, nonetheless.
While we did establish that Mei isn’t used in a majority of games, where we do see it being used is in the east. Koreans seem to always use Mei on attack for Point A on King's Row. It is a bit odd, but there may be some weight in why they do this.
Reinhardt is a staple of the game, he has been since the inception of the game. One of the best counters to Reinhardt is Mei. Because of where Reinhardt players need to position themselves it leaves them vulnerable to aggressive Mei walls. Mei also synergizes well with Reinhardt.
Reinhardt’s Charge is tricky to land. While risky, Charge can spell disaster for the enemy team. Because of how long the travel time is on charge, an allied Mei can use her Wall to stop you early. Very hard to execute properly, we have seen it done with moderate success in the Promotion Series for APEX Season 2. A certain play from League of Legend’s Worlds of 2016 is a succinct companion.
Not only are their picks innovative and may be ahead of their time, but the way they chose to play the map is also quite “a-mei-zing”.
We discussed how “The Meta” showed a distinct style on how they viewed Point A on King's Row. Another team from the same region, also showed a knack for creatively approaching something that has been pretty bland.
Might AOD might not have made it to Season 2 of OGN’s APEX League, but they seem to be a strong gatekeeper. The follow suit in how The Meta used Widowmaker, they also coupled the French sniper with Mei. This is a bit odd however, conceptually it may even be better then the composition The Meta used. A perfect Ice wall after dropping down from the catwalk, to divide the team in half, while also forcing the other teammates into Widowmakers sights, seems far fetched, but possible. If anything, South Korea has shown us time and time again that anything thing is possible if enough time and effort is put forth.
Watch this with only one thing in mind: concept. In theory, this is some of the best and most creative Overwatch I have seen in awhile. While Widowmaker doesn’t actually make any picks, the potential is still there. A quick push through catwalk with Widowmaker sat on her perch, force the team out into the open. This is a great example of a strict gameplay executed with near precision.
Recently the Detroit Renegades added the Kingdom Esports Overwatch team to their roster. In their inaugural performance, with a substitute, they look stellar. Overwhelming Complexity with patience and precision. I will go out on a limb and say that Mangachu, is the Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Renegades. Welcome to Michigan, Mangachu!
What calls are made are entirely dependent on what happens in the game. Everything depends on decision making. What heroes are picked? How are the enemy playing today? Are the players well practiced against them? The only thing not in question is the map. King's Row is a favorite of many, and for good reason. With the Winter Premiere adding a little spice to our lives, I am excited to see how King’s Row looks in the future.
Written by: @Volamel
Images courtesy of Blizzard
VoD’s courtesy of GosuGamers.net