The NUEL season opened last Thursday with three featured matchups on the stream. None of the games were particularly competitive but each team will have walked away with points to iterate and learn from. As with every NUEL season, the most impressive feature of each of the games was the names the university teams came up with: the exception being Hertfordshire’s choice for the opening game, which started on the casters’ favourite map: King’s Row.
Hertfordshire Blue vs. Resident Sleeper (Aberdeen)
Resident Sleeper’s defense was anything but bland: Suhelotufa’s widowmaker was placed deep on the enemy side of the choke and found himself immediately picked off. Both teams had run Mercy in spite of the nerfs, but the fight ended shortly after the Sleepers’ other DPS fell. Hertfordshire capped the point after just 40 seconds. Aggressive defence was a consistent problem for Sleeper: an Orisa shield placed too far up on the streets phase cost them any hope of a defence there, and MattVader’s more mobile Reinhardt carried Hertfordshire through a dominant first half.
The second half proved no less dominant for Hertfordshire: wary of the widow pick, they positioned towards the back of their point to defend. Although their Zarya got picked early by Suhelotufa, they were able to hold strong. Hertfordshire’s great ultimate management made the point almost impenetrable, and Sleeper just couldn’t find purchase on any key pics. A nice Graviton Surge by Sleeper nearly cost Hertfordshire the point, but Hertfordshire reclaimed control just in time following an excellent stalling transcendence from Team Captain SneezyDwarf. MattVader’s great pressure onto Aberdeen’s less mobile composition makes him my MVP of the match. NUEL is not at the level of play where off-meta picks are unviable, and MattVader proved that on Thursday.
Brighton Honey Badgers vs. Shomebody Toucha My Spaghetti (Sheffield Hallam)
I’ll reserve judgement on bad names for now: my team last season was called ‘The Cavalry’s Beer’, but Sheffield, wow. Sheffield were the first team of the night not running a Mercy, which suited the tighter spaces of Lijiang Tower. The game opened on Gardens with two Winston dives. Sheffield Tilted played around his shield well, driving the DPS off the point and away from their healers, whilst Brighton’s attempt was less successful. Sheffield’s dive composition proved excellent at zoning the Honey Badgers off the point. Minion’s Genji and 2Shoes’ Tracer never let Brighton group as six players: Brighton switched to Pharah, but it proved too late to make a significant difference.
Brighton’s more successful swap came on Control Center. Their Junkrat put huge amounts of damage onto Sheffield, gaining them the point early. A swap to Soldier gave them an excellent anti-dive to deal with Sheffield. A prolonged early fight had earnt Minion his Dragon Blade though, and Sheffield reclaimed the point and never seemed to let go. Their coordinated positioning allowed them to eventually absorb pressure from the Junkrat (despite not changing heroes,) and keep the point. Minion killed five on one occasion with his Dragon Blade, and his impactful kills, especially on key support targets, earnt him my MVP award. This game might have been a little closer, but the domination was just the same. Congratulations to Sheffield, who have proved themselves more than just a stupid name.
Fusion Waiting Room (Durham) vs. Reservoir Hogs (Aberdeen)
Both teams went Mercy-less for the end of the night. The Hogs had perhaps predicted Durham’s Reinhardt/Orisa pick, and Yahaha’s Junkrat made it hard for Durham to even get on to the first point. Aberdeen played the map well, retreating slightly to force the backline of Durham to expose themselves each push. That said, as Durham mounted a final assault, both supports from Aberdeen blew their ultimates early, leaving nothing to protect against the Dragon Blade that followed. Durham capped with fourteen seconds remaining, but couldn’t even get a third of point B due to the dual threat of Yahaha’s Junkrat and Katsune’s Soldier pumping out consistent damage onto the point. SaintFoxx’s swap to Widowmaker at the last minute was questionable against such a coordinated team.
Aberdeen’s attack was stellar, I’ve chosen to clip it here: notice how Yahaha uses the high ground ensure he stays alive and can pressure Durham without much return fire. Aberdeen They Katsune on to Tracer and boxed Durham on to the point with limited mobility and opportunities to create space. Yahaha wore them down and had his Blade ready for Point B, where the game ended. He might have been the flashiest player for the Hogs, but Katsune was the most consistent. Be it on Soldier or Tracer he clearly had an excellent understanding of his role and communicated well with his team. His 38 eliminations earn him my MVP.
…And that was it for the first of four weeks of the Swiss format for NUEL. Join the Broadcast next week on our Twitch Page for more Overwatch action, starting Thursday at 7pm GMT.