The OWL playoffs are approaching, here's a recap of week 3 of Stage 4.
The third week of Stage 4 of the OWL is over and the race for playoffs is closer than ever.
Wednesday: NYXL and LA Valiant confirm their dominance while the Dragons show some creativity.
The week kicked off Wednesday with the New York Excelsior facing the Philadelphia Fusion which resulted in a one-sided 4 – 0 for the Koreans. NYXL displayed its impressive DPS power, subbing in Pine for his insane Widowmaker after game 1 and alternating between Libero and Saebyeolbe for the entire series. Of course, JJoNak largely contributed to the damage output on his signature Zenyatta, dealing the most damage of the team across the series. The sniping power of both Pine and JJonNak didn’t leave much room to manoeuvre for the Fusion which where already looking shakier than usual because of the absence of their DPS Eqo and his injured wrist.
Match 2 of the night saw Seoul Dynasty facing off against the Shanghai Dragons. Still looking for their first win, the Dragons tried out new strategies with unorthodox heroes, bringing Bastion and Mei to the mix. Commanding the high-ground on King’s Row and Dorado, Fleta shone on Widowmaker, precisely picking apart the opposition one headshot at a time. Though unable to take any map off Seoul, the Dragons displayed a decent performance and showed they still had gas left in the tank.
Match 3 was the shock between the two Los Angeles teams, both running and gunning for the Pacific division title. On fire since the beginning of Stage 4, Valiant looked to continue its clean run and solidify its place as the Pacific division top team. Evenly matched, the uncharacteristic mistakes from the Gladiators was mainly what swayed the series in favour of the Valiant. Usually able to adapt to whatever is thrown at them, the Gladiators fought well but after a 3 -3 tie on Blizzard World, the squad fell short by one point on each of the following maps to the relentless Valiant.
Thursday: Boston still can’t find a win and the Gladiators survive in the arena.
Thursday started off with two of the top 4 teams in the standings facing each other for a chance to stand out from the competition. Both entering the week with 22 match wins, the Boston Uprising and the London Spitfire both needed a win to break away from the pack.
Both struggling to find their pace so far in Stage 4, the games went back and forth and after a tie on the second map, the series was still open. Oasis was the third and deciding map. Up by one, the Spitfire could end the Uprising’s hope with a win and did just that. Despite a strong effort from Boston in overtime on the second point, the squad lost its footing on the last, giving London the 2 – 0. The final map which mostly counted for the win/loss differential did however go Boston’s way.
The night went on with the Dallas Fuel taking on the San Francisco Shock and the Philadelphia Fusion taking on the LA Gladiators. The Gladiators managed to secure a much needed 3 – 1 win after their loss against their LA counterparts, leaving the Fusion at the same number of wins they had last week with 21.
Friday: An upsetting day for the top teams.
An upsetting day as in a day full of upsets! Indeed, beside Houston and Seoul beating the bottom two teams, Shanghai and Florida, Friday wasn’t a good day for the league’s top teams. Boosted by their victory against the Fuel the day before, the Shock reiterated in the same fashion against the Uprising, inflicting them their 6th loss in the stage. Fortunately for Boston, the clean run they had in Stage 3 is still keeping them afloat despite crumbling in Stage 4.
Next up was London vs. Dallas and although the Fuel seemed like they have recovered from their disastrous Stage 3 run, people were expecting the Spitfire to take it home. With Unkoe and Oge reinforcing the lineup, the Fuel are looking like a new team with a proper tank line and dedicated DPS players. The series started with Blizzard World and Horizon Lunar Colony with the same scenario. Defending first, Dallas fought London off the first point both times before capturing it themselves in a minute and sealed the deal on Lijang Tower in a 2 - 0 fashion. The fourth and final map was Gibraltar on which the Spitfire made a tough but vain comeback - Dallas 3, London 1. Unable to make playoffs anymore, Dallas Fuel still played their hearts out in this series. With Oge as the main Tank, Mickie and Seagull as Flex, Taimou back on DPS and Unkoe as a strong Zenyatta player, the team seems to have the right pieces to finish Stage 4 on a high note.
The final match of the day and probably the most awaited, featured NYXL and the LA Valiant clashing to keep a clean sheet in the stage. The series went back and forth all the way to map five. NYXL took a first stab at the Valiant on Blizzard World to which they answered on Horizon Lunar Colony. Game 3 on Oasis went to New York where Pine and Libero popped off on Widowmaker and Hanzo, suffocating the LA squad. Game 4 was comeback time for the Valiant on Watchpoint: Gibraltar who stopped the payload two meters before the third point. Pine went for cheeky last play during overtime, using his grappling hook to get behind the enemy team near the defending spawn but was shutdown by Soon on a Widowmaker of himself. Finally, LA Valiant dealt the final stroke on Nepal, inflicting NYXL their first loss of Stage 4 and fourth in total.
Florida Mayhem vs. Houston Outlaws concluded the week on Saturday. The Outlaws won the match for an easy 2 – 0 in what was probably one of their less challenging week so far.
The OWL standings at the end of week 3, Stage 4.
Regarding the standings, NYXL still stands as the only outlier at the top of the league. LA Valiant are the new runners-up thanks to two huge wins against the Gladiators and the Excelsior. London Spitfire’s upset loss against the Fuel placed them at the third place, still above the Boston Uprising who stagnate at the fourth place, seemingly unable to win any match. The standings haven’t really changed for the middle teams besides Seoul Dynasty making a comeback from 7th to 5th place, tied in number of wins at 21 with LA Gladiators and Philadelphia Fusion.
Week 3 was interesting to watch regarding the shift in the meta as teams are implementing the newest support into their comps more and more. The addition of Brigitte to the heroes’ cast and the nerf to Tracer’s Pulse bomb, the meta has been shifting from dive to a more tanky style with Reinhardt and Zarya making a case for the most popular tank duo in the league, a title Diva and Winston held for a long time. Triple support team compositions involving Brigitte being played by a DPS or Flex player is making the games more about teamfights rather than picks which is more associated with dive comps. The change to Hanzo’s scatter arrow ability which hasn’t been applied to the OWL yet could also mean players such as Libero will shine even more in the following weeks.
That is all for this week’s recap of the Overwatch League. As always, there are a lot of matches to look forward to in week 4.
This week, look out for the following matches in particular:
Seoul Dynasty v. Boston Uprising – 1:00 AM CEST
Can Seoul take Boston’s 4th place or will the Uprising turn up for their first win of Stage 4?
Los Angeles Valiant v. London Spitfire – 1:00 AM CEST
Los Angeles Gladiators v. New York Excelsior – 3:00 AM CEST
Valiant and Spitfire clash in a 2nd place decider match.
Philadelphia Fusion v. Seoul Dynasty – 5:00 AM CEST
London Spitfire v. Los Angeles Gladiators – 10:00 PM CEST
Find your local times on the site of the OWL.
Again, expect more OWL coverage every Monday as we near the finals of Stage 4 and ultimately the Playoffs. Let us know your predictions below and if you’d like more aspects of the league to be covered in future articles!