Games

Parity Finds the Overwatch League in Week Three

As many teams prove they’re starting to hit their stride, the third week of the Overwatch League provided the most convincing evidence to date for its own legitimacy. While the first two weeks of play may have felt less competitive due to hallmark games, many matches delivered this week. In breaking those details down, here’s a look at where each team stands now that the dust is starting to settle.

No 1. Seoul Dynasty

If you thought that the top spot may belong to the New York Excelsior simply because they toppled Seoul, you should probably take a closer look at their match. While the XL came into the match swinging, displaying great confidence in their team compositions and their shot-calling, the Dynasty’s mechanics looked as crisp as ever. To top it off, while the team occasionally looked a little slow to adapt, the brightest sign of their future success was their ability to capitalize on New York’s mistakes.

Better preparation will come with time as the other teams in the league continue revealing information about their playstyles and preferences. Once that aspect of their game is locked in, their sharp skills and ability to capitalize on any sign of weakness will help them stay atop the standings. An actual concern for the team, however, is their struggle on control maps. They lost Oasis and Lijiang Tower to the XL, and they even gave up a point on the former against the worst team in the league. If they focus on improving one aspect of their play, it will likely be shoring up that hole.

No 2. New York Excelsior

How could the team that beat the best team in the league not be in first itself, especially with an equivalent record? Well, that’s because the Dynasty lost to the number two team while New York lost one in the middle of the pack. The Fusion’s stock is certainly rising, though losing to them takes away a bit of the XL’s shine. Their triple DPS composition on Numbani worked out despite feeling a bit cocky at times, but it was their inability to gain traction cost them. They found plenty of kills on Temple of Anubis, but they couldn’t translate that into points. And on Dorado, they lacked the offensive pressure to push past the first point. The decision not to sub Pine into map five may haunt them in the future as well, as they failed to take a single point.

That being said, New York’s performance against Seoul was extremely encouraging. Hae-Seong “Libero” Kim and Jong-Ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park easily kept pace with Byung-Sun “Fleta” Kim and Sang-Beom “Munchkin” Byun, and Seong-Hyun “Jjonak” Bang was a monster on Zenyatta. Their positioning was generally strong, plus the team committed to and won fights that many others would have abandoned. To top it off, their quad-tank composition on Horizon was a thing of beauty, blowing through the Dynasty like wet paper. However, there were signs of trouble in their win. New York repeatedly failed to stay on the objective, giving up points on Horizon that could have turned the 3-2 win into a total stomp. It was also infuriating to watch them attempt the same strategy three times and not expect their opponents to adapt. Fortunately, those errors should be easy to fix, meaning that they could end up as number one in time.

No. 3 Houston Outlaws

Records don’t mean everything, because sometimes momentum can go a long way. Yes, Houston has yet to beat a top-tier team, but they sure blew out the bottom of the barrel. The Outlaws were also the only team this week to win any set 4-0, and those two wins must look nice next to their other two 4-0s from week two. At this point, the only teams to beat them were an equally aggressive New York and a Philadelphia Fusion that is the only team of the three to have two wins against the others.

So, with that justified, the team’s DPS players remain their strongest asset. Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin was an absolute monster, tearing up Florida’s backline with Tracer and picking off anyone out of position with Widowmaker.  Even his Genji came in clutch on Ilios, where his switch to that hero helped refocus the team enough that they ran back control of the first point from a 99 percent deficit. Florida, on paper, never presented the Outlaws much of a challenge to begin with — but the Gladiators could have conceivably put up a fight. But despite that potential, and a fairly strong first map out of Los Angeles’ lesser team, Houston made quick work of them. In fact, on the last three maps of the set, the Outlaws didn’t give up a single point.

Ouch.

No 4. London Spitfire

The Spitfire were always going to roll over San Francisco, with the whole team outclassing their opponents. Seung-Tae “Bdosin” Choi shinned on Zenyatta through the match. They proved impenetrable on both the hybrid and assault maps, able to seize victory with only a single tick on the first point. But when it came to control, London struggled. This is something that most of the all-Korean lineups have demonstrated, and the Spitefire’s stumbled proved to be prophetic, in the end.

While they bounced back to defeat the Shock, the Boston Uprising exploited their Achilles heel for the victory. And while everyone knew one of the undefeated teams had to fall this week, no one expects it would be London. The real shame was that Birdring and Profit looked good — but Boston rose to the occasion. With Seoul on the horizon, they’ll have to fight hard to keep from losing pace with the top of the pack.

No. 5 Philadelphia Fusion

This team, which has had the least time together due to “logistical issues,” has finally started to click. Jae-Hyeok “Carpe” Lee and Georgii “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha continued to make a case for their status as the best DPS duo in the league, and their back-and-forth set with the XL gave viewers plenty of evidence. They got a little stuffed once the payload got involved on Numbani, but they almost stopped the triple DPS comp from New York, in turn. Temple of Anubis is where they really come to life, where they translated momentum from the good team fighting on the first point in taking the second. On defense, they held out for long enough on the first point that they were able to zone New York off of the second until time expired.

The team slipped on control, and they aren’t able to get more than two points on Dorado. But with superior use of ultimates and some timely dives into the back-line, the Fusion stopped their opponents from passing their point of progress. The XL decide not to bring Do-Hyeon “Pine” Kim back in for the second set of control maps, and that could have potentially been the difference-maker allowing Philly to snatch victory away from the then-undefeated Excelsior.

Cutting it so close against Shanghai was worrisome, but it’s likely the Fusion spent most of their time focusing on New York. The lack of preparedness and the Dragon’s steady — but minimal — growth made for some close calls. The worst part is that Philadelphia almost had the set closed out, but they couldn’t take the game-winning point on Oasis. Fortunately, they learned enough from their mistakes to take Lijiang Tower without dropping a point.

 

  1. Los Angeles Valiant

The relative weakness of the Valiant’s opponents this week is what puts them below the Fusion, and their play wasn’t exactly inspiring. They were beaten back hard in the first two maps against the Gladiators, and they barely eked out victories on the next two. If it weren’t for the fact that their in-state rivals completely fumbled their defense on Junkertown, they never would have made it to Lijiang Tower. There, however, they showed enough resilience to overcome the poke-heavy, triple DPS composition that the Gladiators ran. The same strategy ends up failing them the second time around, but the Valiant catch Shaz out enough on the third point that they can dive into their opponent’s backline and steal the win.

Their match against Florida isn’t super notable, other than the fact that the Valiant give up Dorado after they’d already sealed up the win. It may seem like a minor error, but that kind of sloppiness can be telling — especially considering they won the previous matches with ease. It seems entirely possible that they could drop both of their games next week.

  1. Boston Uprising

This team had a slow start to the first stage of the Overwatch League, but a clutch win against London served as a testament to their potential. Jonathan “Dreamkazper” Sanchez, in particular, had a huge impact on the set, and the team’s collective efforts on the Temple of Anubis is a perfect example of Boston at its best. They blow through on offense with six minutes remaining and shut out London in the map’s time bank phase. Control goes their way too, thanks to their ability to capture the point early. That way, even though possession of the point flips back and forth, Boston comes out victorious. Junkertown almost went their way, too, but Ji-Hyeok “Birdring” Kim and Jun-Young “Profit” Park caught Kristian “Kellex” Keller out enough to break their defense.

Winning against such a strong opponent was incredible, but what really cements confidence in their roster was their ability to overcome Dallas. While the Fuel had a terrible start to the season, there is enough raw talent on the team that defeating Boston wasn’t out of the question. All the same, they survived the even exchange of blows and proved for the second time this week that they have a strong command of Lijiang Tower. Their comfort with that map will surely aid them going forward.

  1. Los Angeles Gladiators

It all looked so promising for the Gladiators, until they found themselves on the wrong side of a reverse sweep against the Valiant. They played so close against their rivals that there were multiple moments where it seemed as if they would triumph. Jun-Sung “Asher” Choi, Lane “Surefor” Roberts and Benjamin Ville Aapeli “BigGoose” Isohanni all had excellent showings, and Aaron “Bischu” Kim looked much better than he had in previous weeks. But unfortunately for the Gladiators, Horizon was the last map they won all week. It made perfect sense that Houston smoked them, as their shields were smashed to pieces against the superior team. At least Florida should give them an easy win next week, which will provide a warm-up for another test against Boston. If they want to actually contend for the playoffs, they’ll need every win they can get from here on out.

  1. Dallas Fuel

After plenty of problems in and out of games, it seems Dallas finally came to play with something in their tank. Brandon “Seagull” Larned played Junkrat well enough to rival that of Houston’s Jake Lyon, and Pongphop “Mickie” Rattanasangchod played out of his mind on Roadhog. At the same time, the Shock have been uninspiring. If it weren’t for Dallas’ painfully slow start, this result wouldn’t have surprised anyone. Their match against Boston, a team that is also trending upward, was much more telling. There are still problems to work out (and signing Dylan “aKm” Bignet may help with those problems), and things don’t get any easier next week. If they manage to win even one of their games, though, it will be a sign of continued progress.

  1. San Francisco Shock

Not getting 4-0’d against London is probably the best result the Shock could have asked for, but they still failed to gain any traction unless they were escorting a payload. The first point on Horizon eluded them once again, though they finally broke through against a struggling Dallas. Engaging in team fights seems to be a continual problem for them, and their passive play has now cost them four games. The worst part of the week came against Dallas, where they failed to take the first point of Eichenwalde with four minutes left in the time bank. They stayed competitive for the most part, but the whole week was a mediocre effort that doesn’t inspire much confidence going forward. To climb this list (and keep winning), San Francisco will have to make some changes.

  1. Florida Mayhem

There were some good looks from Mayhem on offense, especially from Kevin “Tviq” Lindström’s McCree. Unfortunately, they still lack the staying power to win team fights and take objectives. A good sign of improvement is their willingness to experiment, which Andreas “Logix” Berghmans demonstrated on Numbani by sneaking around the back of the first point as Pharah to take out LiNkzr’s Widowmaker. The downside is he whiffed the execution, which made the whole attempt moot. The likelihood that they’ll notch another win this stage is evaporating, though. San Francisco, who they face second next week, might be their last chance to inject some energy into the rest of their season.

  1. Shanghai Dragons

The only upside of being in last place is that the crowd seems to genuinely want the Dragons to win. In fact, anyone watching probably wants that at this point, as it looks bad to have a team perform so poorly. That being said, it’s unlikely that anyone wants that first loss to Shanghai on their resume. To make matters worse, they face New York and London next week — two teams that seem untouchable by comparison, despite their weaknesses. Until they get a better handle on coordinating their ultimates, they’ll keep struggling to win the fights needed to for an overall victory. It doesn’t help that, at this point, their best map is escort — which they only get to play so often.

Who knows, though? Maybe Dallas, which hasn’t been anywhere close to meeting expectations, will trip up against them. I doubt they’d land a second win this stage, but the boost in confidence is sorely needed at this point.

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