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Illegal Overwatch Play Has The Internet Divided

The Overwatch League (OWL) has officially become the first esports league to play using an open beta of its game. The League has decided to use a beta test of "Overwatch 2" in official matches. Even though the new iteration of "Overwatch" plans to work out some of fan's biggest concerns, it's not completely finished just yet. Unfortunately, this led to some unforeseen consequences. During Opening Weekend, Florida Mayhem exploited a bug to essentially dive bomb Paris Eternal. OWL referees ruled it an illegal play, much to the dissent of fans and participants.

In the illegal play, the Mayhem used a combo of Mei's Ice Wall and Symmetra's Teleport to launch their team over the roof of a Circuit Royal building and rush Paris Eternal. At the time, casters and viewers thought of it as just an innovative play. However, Florida Mayhem was eventually forced to replay the attacking round because referees ruled it an illegal play. 

Florida Mayhem's Head Coach Jordan "Gunba" Graham later posted the reason for the replay on Twitter. "No exploits of known bugs are allowed. This includes roof surfing (Doomfist on Midtown), or any other known and unknown exploits," read the Overwatch League 2022 handbook snippet.  

"According to Blizzard, this is the rule we violated during the match. We genuinely weren't aware it was an exploit," Gunba said. "I think this rule is super vague but in the future we'll check with Blizzard to make sure."

What makes the situation even more controversial is the fact that similar plays have existed before this ruling without teams getting reprimanded for using them. According to the general manager for the opposing team, Paris Eternal didn't even ask for the replay. In the end, the replay didn't change the outcome of the match. Florida Mayhem won 3-1 and the internet still considered the "illegal play" a win. Fans and professionals alike took to Twitter to voice their opinions on the play.

The ruling didn't change the outcome

Many fans, and even professional players, joked about the incident on social media with exaggerated tweets about the ruling's effects. Players from Atlanta Reign, LA Gladiators, and other teams chimed in with their own takes on the ruling, almost all of which sympathized with Florida Mayhem. 

Others followed suit with their own overreaction stories, including one from Florida Mayhem's Assistant Coach, Caleb "McGravy" McGarvey. "I was watching with my three-year-old son who is an avid Mayhem fan, and the agony in my heart when I had to calm him from breaking out in tears the second he saw the Mayhem blatantly cheating in REAL-TIME was quite disturbing as both an OWL, and Mayhem fan. Do Better."

Despite the memes, the Overwatch League stood behind the decision and hasn't addressed it since. "While we understand this was a fun play, the ruling here is that using a Mei wall to reach unusable locations with the Symmetra teleport is an exploit and has never been allowed in OWL matches," said Sean Miller, Head of the Overwatch League. "This rule has been shared with teams and players prior to the start of the season."

On May 13, Florida Mayhem will play the Vancouver Titans and Houston Outlaws. We'll have to see if their creative thinking carries over to these matches.