It’s been an uphill battle for the DC Justice so far this season, struggling at nearly every turn even though they occasionally shine briefly. In this chance, the Justice find themselves with a prime opportunity to finally get that first win and hopefully build some momentum into stage two, but Paris wouldn’t sit and watch, either.
Map 1: Busan (Control)
The Justice began with Janus taking way too much initial damage and giving the Eternal the point after an early death. In the next attempt, Janus was taken down again before Ado got wiped out by Soon and then Stratus taken down by Benbest. After some loose play, an ensuing team fight wound up in favor of the Justice, as a couple of timely ultimates played in their favor and Janus took a major offensive. Washington took the point from the Eternal with 75% in favor of the Eternal. Both teams converged on the point and swapped double kills, but DC found themselves getting pushed back after Benbest Shattered DC, giving Paris just enough time to close out the first round.
DC came out much more aggressively by taking down Benbest, but Stratus was sacrificed to do so. Both teams converged on the point for a prolonged bout, but Janus found himself dead again before Corey and then Ado got wiped out. After taking the side road and taking some damage, Paris then converged on Janus and took him down again before taking down Sansam. DC found themselves in retreat, coming back to the point but saw Paris use the high ground. After the failed fight from Paris, DC then utilized a couple of ultimates to wipe the point and get control. When Paris charged the point again, they focused primarily on Janus and destroyed his shield as he tried to utilize a drop down Shatter and was punished for it. DC was forced to retreat again. Paris then locked up DC on the point and wiped 4 of the team in short matter, punishing Janus again for risky play and leaving a massive hole in the DC defense. Paris took both rounds and went up 1-0 on the Justice.
Map 2: King’s Row (Assault/Escort)
Gido was subbed in for Stratus for DC. The Justice began map 2 on defense. Paris decided to take the high ground and Janus aggressively pursued them before retreating back into favorable position. Paris dealt a lot of damage, but DC went full defense and staved off the Eternal. After a very, very prolonged bout of separated fights, Paris eventually slowed the timing of their ultimates in order to target individual Justice and gain the upper hand. Then, the grind came into play- while Paris slowly pushed the payload forward, DC slowly pushed back and eventually took down 4 of the Eternal before finally wiping out Hyp and getting the whole team to push back. DC needed time to build up ultimates and pushed forward aggressively, slowly getting pushed back. In a pivotal moment, DC was at the payload and managed to somehow prevent the Eternal from getting the point by strategic play. However, when the Eternal charged back, DC couldn’t pull off a second miracle and, though they were taken down, managed to use a lot of time. DC found themselves pushed back to their spawn, but then came out swinging some bigger hammers, managing to force the Eternal back to the previous point and remaining in strategic position. However, the Eternal searched for their strategic picks, with Benbest removing Janus from the fight by charging him back. Paris focused on him quickly and took him down in short order and slowly grinding down the Justice defense. Soon managed to sneak onto the payload with enough of the Justice separated, and Paris took all 3 possible points, thus forcing DC to have a perfect offense in order to tie it up.
On the offense, DC found themselves back in the grind, with a special duel between Corey and Soon as they went neck and neck. While Soon almost got taken down, Paris converged on him and gave him a bit more defense to eventually win the duel. Sansam went ahead and used his ultimate and, while Paris was forced out of position, the ultimate took down 3 of the Eternal. DC then capitalized, with Janus Shattering the remaining Eternal and DC converged on them, paving a clear way to the point and getting some progress in for good measure. While the ensuing team fight initially went slightly towards the Justice, Paris eventually gained the upper hand after some untimely deaths on the Justice side. After a hasty retreat, DC came back swinging and immediately wiped half the Eternal, gaining control of the objective and pushing it forward a long distance. DC then played more aggressive, going well ahead of the payload. The aggressive play worked great, as Paris’ bad positioning left them open and DC punished them, forcing the Eternal to waste a grav. The payload was well far down and DC only needed a bit more of a push to seal the full offensive win, but the Justice needed to retreat and gain back some health. After securing some good ultimate ability, the Justice made a very strong push and got their picks extremely timely. Sansam’s ultimate certainly helped and while it didn’t secure any kills, it forced the Eternal into terrible position, which gave the Justice a wide open window to steal the round. DC did exactly that, taking down individual targets one by one until all that was left was a lonely de-meched D.Va and Zenyatta. All that DC needed was to gain the first point to win the map.
In the Overtime round, DC was on the attack. They had just shy of a minute and a half to work, and decided to play it safer. Paris knew one death would end the match and played particularly conservatively, waiting for the Justice to make the mistake. Justice… did just that. In a more panicked attempt to gain ground, the Justice found themselves at the mercy of a Paris team with some good resources, and they utilized them to force the Justice into bad position. Finnsi’s D.Va ult killed Corey, and Janus was soon to follow with his own death. It was short work after that, with DC faltering and failing to secure the win. The map ended in a draw, despite DC’s great offensive push in the offense round. 1-0 in favor of the Eternal.
Map 3: Volskaya Industries (Assault)
DC began the map on defense, and went to strategic hidden position against a non-GOATS squad. Paris came in with Sombra, Widowmaker, Wrecking Ball, Mercy, Pharah, and Tracer and wrecked some havoc on the Justice. While DC made an effort, they found themselves too split and unable to support each other. Paris only took about a minute to take the first point. Paris then made an eco push onto the second point to start building their ultimates, and DC wiped them out in short order. In the second team fight, Paris found themselves pushed back once more and down their resources again, as most of the ultimates they had built were wasted or unoptimized. Corey used a Grav and most of the Eternal was caught. Janus came in and attempted to Shatter those in the Grav, attempting to get Finnsi so no defense matrix would be available. It didn’t matter, as the Justice took down 5 of the Eternal in seconds, and Finnsi followed after. The Justice then found themselves facing a regrouped Eternal, but continued to force the Eternal into terrible position and continued to take out 5 at a time and force Paris to continue to waste their own resources. DC then made a ridiculously miraculous effort to defend the point from a highly aggressive Paris squad, managing to exchange kills and get people back onto the point just in time to secure the point from the Eternal. Unfortunately, a second push from the Eternal found DC in a bad spot: Benbest Shattered the team and most of the Justice were pinned, giving Paris a window to kill a few of the Justice and secure the point. With the point over 90% already in their favor, it only took a second with almost all 6 of the Eternal on after wiping out enough of DC. After an amazing defensive effort, the Justice found themselves unable to clinch a full win going into the offensive side.
DC began with an aggressive push to the side of the initial point, but both teams found themselves taking too much damage and began playing more conservatively. Janus played too aggressively and got picked, and the team spread out a bit to get Paris to be unable to focus by interfering with their sight lines by being on the high ground. Kruise then came in and double killed Ado and Fahzix with a boop, leaving the Justice without almost any real support and giving the Eternal a window to come in and wipe most of the Justice roster. After regrouping, the Justice then came in and took down 4 of the Eternal, forcing the remaining 2 to retreat and taking the first point. Janus used his Shatter and the Justice took down Benbest, with the Justice coming in hot to try to win the second point with as big a time bank as possible. Unfortunately, Gido, Janus, and Corey found themselves dead, and Sansam killed himself to get his mech back. Despite their best efforts, the Justce utilized too many resources in an aggressive, risky push, and found themselves in unfavorable ultimate economy. However, the Justice then came in and began another aggressive push, building up ultimates and then somehow tricking the Paris Eternal into just… walking off the point. While DC managed a couple of picks on the Eternal, Paris then… simply retreated to favorable position, but then never made a push onto the point again, and DC simply walked onto the point and secured a full 2 points with almost a full 3 minutes in the bank.
In the overtime round, DC defense began on the full offensive to the offense-heavy Eternal squad they ran the previous round. Paris found themselves down resources early and the Justice simply needed to outlast most of them, which they did. Sansam’s ultimate wiped out 2 of the Eternal and the remaining Justice wiped out the remaining Eternal. 3 minutes for DC to take one tick off the point, with the Eternal’s playoff hopes on the line. DC then baited the Eternal into thinking they were taking the high ground, but Corey dropped down too early and got taken down. After regrouping, Corey then got taken down in the next team fight, and the Eternal then cleaned up the remaining Justice except Sansam. The Justice then regrouped and took a new route to the first point, and then after taking a long time and building ultimates, the Justice then converged and took down Kruise, coming in and popping as much as they could in timely fashion to take down Benbest and picking off the rest of the Eternal, securing a full team kill to secure the point and get the map win in overtime. It was a full concentrated effort that eliminated the Eternal from the Stage 1 playoffs, fending off some truly desperate play from the Eternal to secure the map win and tying up the series 1-1.
Map 4: Dorado (Escort)
Shadowburn was subbed in for Soon for the Eternal. The DC Justice began on the attack for Dorado, and faced some strong resistance at the initial choke point. Fahzix was the first victim as he was booped by Kruise, and it became apparent that the Justice were not concentrating their fire appropriately. The Justice held on to all their ultimates and managed to team kill the Eternal as they finally began to effectively concentrate their fire, taking down targets one by one until nobody was left standing in their way. The Justice continued a very aggressive push, popping their ultimates to secure the first point and killing all of the Eternal in slower order to force them to remain back. After securing the first point, the Justice pushed forward aggressively again and picked their targets effectively once again, forcing massive amounts of timely damage onto the right targets. It took a bit of time, but the Justice continued to break down the Eternal’s defenses one by one, and did so again in the ensuing team fight to secure the second point. In a very strange sense of restraint, the Justice showed heavy focus by utilizing ultimates in efficient fashion, not simply popping them all at once. Paris then began to control the choke. While Janus got a big Shatter on the Eternal, Benbest didn’t die in the chaos, and he responded with his own Shatter. The Justice regrouped and then pushed the payload forward even further, as the Justice desperately came in to finish the job, but Janus got taken down by Finnsi’s D.Va ultimate and the best DC could do was stall. While unable to get the final point, DC did manage to come up to only a few meters away from full victory, 2 points secured. It was enough of a window to win the map if their defense was perfect.
DC began their defense very aggressively, forcing the Eternal to really focus, but Paris came out swinging hard and steamrolled the Justice by singling out Janus and forcing the Justice to retreat. Despite their efforts, the Justice continued to find themselves constantly being pushed back. Corey and Janus constantly found themselves victims, and DC allowed themselves to come down with untimely picks that gave up the choke for free. Corey used his grav to get Shadowburn and Nico killed, forcing the Eternal to retreat once more and shaving off a full minute from the Eternal’s time bank. However, Paris then regrouped effectively and utilized a couple of timely ultimates to get DC off the payload, buying just enough time to secure just enough distance to win the map by overcoming the Justice’s distance and winning the map. Paris wins the match 2-1.
This might be the most consistent match that the Justice have played all season. Instead of my usual analysis, I want to focus on a few different talking points:
Sansam was an absolute beast today. He made absolutely perfect decisions regarding his ultimate use, getting a ton of final blows from his ultimate use and doing insane amounts of damage in virtually every situation. He was the Justice’s true MVP today, and Ado was easily the second best. Ado managed to contain his deaths and provide plenty of support to his teammates while dishing out plenty of timely damage himself. These two provided one hell of a tandem that worked well throughout the whole match.
On the flip side, Janus was simply too aggressive and predictable. He hasn’t been playing Rein’s best throughout this meta, and his plays are easily outdated and risky now. While the risk has paid off tons in the past, there are times when his plays simply… don’t work. This match, the only times his risky plays worked were when they were easily almost unavoidable for Paris to dodge, like in the choke at Dorado. His damage was easily minimized, and Paris constantly converged upon him, frequently picking either him or Corey off first and leaving a massive hole in the plan for DC. Paris had his playbook, and negated most of what he did throughout the match unless he had perfect openings. That’s not a recipe for success.
At the same time, nobody for Washington played badly, either. Even Gido showed much better ultimate management, coming in at proper times with Transcendence to give the team the best chance at success. Once again, we saw these glimpses of brilliance, and this time, it typically paid off much better than in the past, but it simply wasn’t enough throughout the match. DC made too many mistakes along the way, ones that were very costly. This also might have been one of Corey’s least impressive outings in awhile, and even though he didn’t play bad, it was, once again, not enough. This match was certainly winnable for the Justice, but they simply didn’t clinch. This is another frustrating and recurring pattern, and it happened multiple times again where victory was in reach and DC simply couldn’t close.
There is certainly a positive effect happening right now, where even though the Justice are still without a win, they are showing signs of evolving. It’s going to be a long season, and the Justice still have plenty of time to get it sorted, but they need to start racking up some wins now and get that momentum going- particularly before the meta changes once again. The last chance for a stage 1 win will be tomorrow against the Florida Mayhem, who might be playing worse than the Justice right now and might be the perfect rebound for a hot Sansam and Ado.
The final Stage 1 match for the Justice is tomorrow, March 17th @ 4:30pm EST against the aforementioned Florida Mayhem. It would do well for the Justice to cause their own Chaos by securing a win and avoiding a shared winless fate the LA Valiant occupy.