Tonight, the DC Justice took on a Philadelphia Fusion team that has seen its fair share of troubles and roster complications this season so far. While the Justice had multiple chances to seal the first victory of the season, their lack of resource discipline and mistimed plays ultimately cost them a win as the Fusion proceeded to take advantage.
Map 1: Ilios (Control)
The first two rounds started off splitting the favor of the Justice, seeing them both take and lose a round in the first map. However, their continued push to the point and coordinated defensive tactics saw them overtake the Fusion in a 2-1 win for DC. In a bit of a strange turn, it usually saw the team exchange some pretty even team fights, with both the Fusion and the Justice losing one or two members apiece, before the opposition would manage to split the other side and then capitalize by taking out at least one more before pushing the team off the point and driving them back. Map 1 was… really quick, honestly, despite the first two rounds being split. Janus saw himself blocking over 15k damage with over 13 eliminations, doing almost double of Sado’s own performance with Winston on nearly every front. It was close at every point, but DC looked poised and in control from start to finish, keeping themselves from panicking and finishing the job in pivotal moments.
Map 2: Hollywood (Assault/Escort)
DC spent the first minute or so finding themselves getting pushed back from attempting any push onto the objective, losing both Sansam and Janus almost immediately. After a quick regroup, Sado popped his ultimate and began to wipe out Janus and Corey, with the rest of the Fusion coming down hard shortly after, killing GIdo, Fahzix, Ado, and Sansam. After waiting for everyone to respawn, the group then charged forward and exploited a massive hole in the Fusion’s defense, sitting on the point and pushing the Fusion off. Both Lucios killed each other and DC secured the point seconds later, with Philadelphia forced back and needing to concentrate their efforts further down. After the objective started to move, Corey timed his Zarya’s Graviton ultimate and the team descended quickly upon them, carpe being the first victim. Corey managed to sit behind most of the Fusion and gather energy to wipe out multiple members. Closer to the checkpoint, Fusion pushed back- popping their own Grav and breaking apart the Justice’s push. A team fight ensued that saw Janus getting taken down, with Corey and Ado shortly after. After a few good pushes, the Fusion had had enough and picked off Gido before he could use Zenyatta’s Transcendence. DC mistimed their plays, and Philadelphia capitalized to prevent the payload from being moved further.
Starting round 2, the Fusion had a more traditional push to the point, forcing DC back a bit and Boombox using Zenyatta to get some headshots from safe distances. DC then began their counterpush, preventing some time, and Gido then began his own picking off the Fusion with his own Zenyatta. After a couple of eliminations, DC then forced the Fusion back to the start to regroup. Despite being down Gido’s ultimate from the previous fight, DC managed to push back the Fusion once more by forcing Sado to waste his Earth Shatter and then wiping out carpe and others as they retreated. At this point, every DC member had their ultimate and popped two- wiping out carpe, eqo, and Sado before picking off Boombox during the retreat. Unfuriatingly enough, the Justice only had to close out the round with seconds left, but the team let Janus get flanked and the Fusion took the point after getting a triple kill on the Justice and forcing them to retreat. Shortly after, Philly capitalized on DC panicking and the Fusion coordinated a perfect strike that took down multiple members of the Justice. Respawning and regrouping, DC then needed to force the Fusion back, but failed miserably- getting entirely team killed to add to the failure of the earlier lack of closing the round out. What could have been a solid map win turned into the Justice getting rolled over, and the Fusion saw themselves tying the match with a map win. 1-1 at halftime. The Justice absolutely wasted and opportunity here- they had the resources to put a pin in the Fusion’s fate, but found themselves the victim of a comeback. carpe led virtually everyone with 28 eliminations.
Map 3: Temple of Anubis (Assault)
Stratus subbed in for Ado for the Justice. The Justice began by forcing the Fusion back a bit before getting almost immediately team killed in halves- the first three going down to Zenyatta orbs, the second by everyone else. The Ana setup was clearly not working for DC’s favor. Philly then just needed to secure the second point, having over 6 full minutes to do so. DC continued to meet up against fierce resistance on the second point as the Fusion divided the Justice into halves once more, picking them off and securing the second point with ease, leaving DC in a large deficit to start their own offensive side as the Fusion secured both possible points to take round 1.
The Justice began round 2 playing fairly conservatively- particularly after Fahzix got taken out by a long shot. After a quick team fight, the Justice then began to execute their own plan, coming onto the point after taking down Sado and targeting other Fusion after to scare them off the point. carpe, eqo, and others escaped shortly after. Corey popped his grav and although Sansam had used his D.Va’s ult, the Justice did manage to push off the majority of the Fusion and then continued an aggressive push on the point, forcing the Fusion back and taking down one member at a time, preventing them from mounting much of any defensive comeback. DC managed to secure the second point without much resistance.
Round 3 started off with the Justice pushing very aggressively to the first point, forcing the Fusion back after Poko got wiped cleanly. Carpe followed shortly after with eqo and Boombox. The Justice showed great patience by targeting Sado, carpe, eqo, and Boombox in order to maintain a concentrated push. Unfortunately, DC finally got taken down after a few ill-timed kills on their side, allowing the Fusion to set up defensively with the majority of their ultimates. During the push, Janus used his own Shatter to basically immobilize the entirety of the Fusion in an impressive display of skill. Unfortunately, it went to waste as the team could not clinch the point and the Fusion began targeting Janus before he could regain his Shatter. The Fusion then wooped in and Neptuno in particular used his Lucio to force the Justice into unfavorable position and giving his team the chance to push DC back. In one final push, the Justice attempted to come in with everything they had left, but Philadelphia popped a grav ultimate on them, giving the Fusion the chance to have a surge. They capitalized and the Justice only managed to get 1 point and 86% of the second. DC would need pretty perfect defensive play in order to secure a map win.
DC began a bit of a copycat strategy of the Fusion, Janus utilizing Winston to flank the Fusion. Philly appeared unsure of how to initially approach, pushing back and pushing forward to feel out the Justice. Corey built a ton of energy with his Zarya and then proceeded to cause massive damage on the Fusion members trying to push, giving the Justice a window to force them back. Janus found himself taken down and the strategy of the Justice was clearly faltering, Corey wasting his grav and Gido wasting his Transcendence. It left a wide open hole, as Janus was the only Justice with an ultimate at the hands of three Fusion ultimates. DC then continued to break apart, mistiming multiple plays as the Fusion pushed forward. Despite the breakdowns, multiple members of the Justice managed to survive through the push, until the continued surge of ultimates began to break the entire team down. The Fusion didn’t need to exert much effort after that to finish off DC’s hopes, pushing back the remaining members until 86% passed, securing a Fusion map win. Philadelphia then led the match 2-1.
Map 4: Route 66 (Escort)
Ado was subbed back in for Stratus for the Justice. Route 66 saw the Justice start playing defense, but they immediately found themselves split as the Fusion wiped out Ado, then Janus, and then Corey. Fahzix, Gido, and then Sansam found themselves victim shortly after (with some disrespect from carpe along the way. For fun and all.) as the Justice regrouped. As DC returned to the action, they managed to take down eqo’s Brigitte and forcing the Fusion to retreat slightly off the payload. Mostly continuing to hold the high ground on the roof and bridge, the Justice then capitalized on the Fusion popping ultimates untimely. Janus responded with his own Shatter, giving the Justice a huge chance to take out multiple members of the Fusion. Corey popped his ultimate on three members of the Fusion during their attempt to push, giving DC a chance to wipe out all three. At this point, Philly seemed less coordinated and more panicked as their time was expiring. Corey dropped onto the payload, but the Fusion counterpushed successfully and Gido foolishly wasted his Transcendence to stall 0.2 meters from the point. This decision would be a factor later, as DC continued to lack in resources and found themselves victim to a big push onto the final point from the Fusion. DC continued to mistime their plays and the Fusion continued to capitalize on chances given to them by the Justice, and Philly took all three possible points.
DC finally managed to have a solid push forward, taking down one-two members of the Fusion at a time and forcing them to retreat before picking off those who retreated. The Fusion certainly panicked at the first point, and the Justice continued to push forward. Corey in particular used some great positioning and his charged weapon to take down the Fusion multiple times. As far as the Justice got, however, the Fusion managed to kill the majority of the Justice at 2/3rd of the way to the second point. Some great, coordinated play was disrupted multiple times by more mistimed plays, and the Fusion were given more chances to regroup on the high ground and frustrate the Justice players. However, the Justice took a path the Fusion weren’t expecting, and four of the Fusion got taken down. Gido, however, popped his transcendence early again, and the Justice found themselves deprived of resources. Fahzix was forced to use his sound barrier early, which ended up not helping much as the Fusion used overwhelming force and multiple ultimates to take the victory of both the map and the match over the Justice.
We have arrived at a certain point in the season where we can identify a lot of problem points with the Justice. Their synergy was certainly much improved over earlier bouts of the season- particularly on Ilios- but the Justice mistimed so many plays that left them completely open. DC’s support line needs some heavy work and restructuring- Gido wasting so many Transcendence ultimates was a problem throughout every single map they played tonight, and Stratus’ debut was… poor. Nobody on the support line made any noteworthy plays at any point, and Gido’s performance tonight might be his worst of the season so far. It left the team devoid of resources multiple times and in situations that were nearly impossible to recover from in the long term flow of the match.
Meanwhile, the Fusion merely just needed time to get back into the rhythm with a rejuvenated line-up that had been missing some key parts from earlier in the stage. Once that Fusion team synergy came back, the Justice appeared to struggle much more even in match-ups that favored them previously. While Janus and Corey had pretty beastly performances in this match, mostly everyone else lagged in key moments, and those key moments are what cost the Justice maps. Fahzix had some untimely deaths, and he did manage to out-heal neptuNo, but he still lagged behind in key moments while neptuNo appeared to flourish in his own support role.
At the end of the day, it was a team failure that led to this loss. The team wasted multiple chances to close out not just round wins, but map wins. DC had many opportunities to shut down the Fusion, whether it was through utilizing resources available to them or by making timed plays against the Fusion, or simply by using strategies that had already worked against Philly. DC did none of these in the second half, and even made it worse by wasting their own resources in a panic after the fact. Relying on Janus and Corey alone is not going to secure many wins, and the playoffs are merely dreams for the Justice at this point. Starting 0-3 is poor, and although the Justice have had moments in this match to get it together and pick up their first win, coming close isn’t good enough. The Justice need to find a way to clinch maps where they have the chance to win, and really need to focus on situational discipline, since a lack of resources allowed the Fusion to complete a comeback and steal away rounds and maps from the team. Something needs to change, and it needs to happen now. As it stands, it might already be too late, as the Washington Justice sink to 20th in the league.
The Justice will have another chance this week to get that elusive first win, playing against the San Francisco Shock on Saturday, March 2nd at 6pm EST.