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On Wednesday, February 28, the San Francisco Shock took on the Los Angeles Valiant in a classic Bay Area – Los Angeles rivalry match. Things started on a high note for San Francisco, as they were able to pick up Volskaya Industries to start the set. Unfortunately, whatever they had working began to deteriorate over the next few maps, eventually leading to yet another loss for the boys in orange. This has become a common theme for San Francisco, who now sit at an abysmal three wins and ten losses for the season. On paper, their roster and individual talent seem capable of more than that, though there certainly is some room for improvement. It’s going to take a couple of personnel changes and some tightening up of the comms to get San Francisco where they need to be.

Some issues with tanking

If you look at the best teams in the league, they’re more or less built around solid tanking. Teams like the Houston Outlaws, Seoul Dynasty, and New York Excelsior all have phenomenal vanguards that keep their supports safe and create plenty of space for their DPS to work with. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the Shanghai Dragons, Florida Mayhem, and, of course, the San Francisco Shock – all of which struggle in part because of sub-par tanking.

For San Francisco, one player in particular needs to start showing up more often. David “Nomy” Lizarraga Ramirez Osmar has a long and successful professional Overwatch career, but it hasn’t been without its share of issues. Being part of a stacked Immortals roster, Nomy’s positional issues weren’t too much of a problem. DPS players like Brady “Agilities” Girardi and Christopher “GrimReality” Schaefer were often able to snowball situations on their own, with or without their tanks falling in line. Eventually Nomy was dropped from the roster, which was a sign of the changing landscape of Overwatch esports as it transitioned to Overwatch League. A second-string tank at best, Nomy was subsequently picked up by NRG/San Francisco Shock, where is past follies still haunt him.

Whether it’s oddly-timed dives or the inability to retreat in time, Nomy dies a bit too fast and too often for the big stage, and the results often speak for themselves. San Francisco loses a lot of team fights before they even begin, regardless of the heroic efforts by DPS stars Dante “Danteh” Cruz and Andrej “Babybay” Francisty to keep their team afloat. It’s not that he’s a bad tank, it’s just that with the way Overwatch esports has developed, every single player is being held to a higher standard. Nomy’s small missteps must be erased if San Francisco truly wants to remain competitive.

“The Babybay Challenge” 2018-02-07 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

If there is a bright side to this, it’s that the door has been opened for Matthew “Super” DeLisi, who will be eligible to play in a couple of weeks. Coming from LG Evil, Super was one of the most aggressive and precise Winstons in the scene, and there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t work miracles for the San Francisco Shock. When the time comes for Super to take a starting role in the Overwatch League, expect San Francisco to start converting fights that they probably would have lost before.

Emotions and communication need to stay consistent

San Francisco is one of the easiest teams to read when it comes to their emotional state at any point of a match. Babybay has said on a few different occasions that they’re prone to playing on “tilt,” or being frustrated. Players from other teams notice this from their sloppy play after losing a fight or two. Agilities, now on the Los Angeles Valiant, said in a press conference last stage that once they identify that San Francisco is tilting, they make calls for more aggressive plays. Like in any other sport, opposing teams will take notice of things like fatigue or frustration and use it to their advantage. If San Francisco can’t keep their emotions in check, they’re in for one very long season.

Tied to emotions is the issue of communication. Some have said in the past that San Francisco has a tendency to go a bit quite over comms when they should be making calls. Sometimes you can notice this a little when Babybay is on Widow and unable to find his targets in time, but it’s also obvious when San Francisco loses a point due to a “C9”, or allowing the clock to wind down without contesting on the point, leading to a loss. Once San Francisco figures out the logistical issues on the fly, they’ll be in a much better position.

Even though teams probably aren’t quite taking the San Francisco Shock for granted, it’s still pretty safe to bet against them in fantasy predictions. Which is a shame, because they do have a lot of fight in them. Once Super and flex star Jay “Sinatraa” Won get called up, we’ll see if San Francisco can turn things around.

 

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