What is going on in the Overwatch League?

In the past two weeks, 12 games have gone to a game five. That’s the most in a two-week span this season. Three of the four teams currently sitting in the stage three playoff spots didn’t make stage one or two playoffs. The London Spitfire are two games under .500, San Francisco Shock are in a playoff spot, and the Boston Uprising are now unbeatable.

What the **** is going on in the Overwatch League?

Uprising Industries

The Boston Uprising is the biggest story of stage three for many different reasons. Obviously, the team dismissal of talented projectile-DPS player Jonathon “DreamKazper” Sanchez due to inappropriate behavior with a minor, left a major void on the Uprising starting lineup. Despite a good start to the stage, it felt like the inevitable doom was coming for the Uprising.

Enter Stanislov “Mistakes” Danilov, a Russian-born player with many considerable functions in-game as the projectile-DPS alongside star Tracer-main, Nam-joo “Striker” Kwon. Since Mistakes took over the DreamKazper role, the Uprising haven’t missed a beat. He’s not only filled a need, but has in some ways excelled in areas DreamKazper wasn’t as proficient in.

The most improved team from bottom-to-top is the Uprising. Even before the DreamKazper release, Lucas “NotE” Meissner was starting to drastically improve, and a tank line that went under the radar began to make big impacts on games. Same goes for the support line Kristian “Kellex” Keller and Park “Neko” Se-hyeon, who are both producing more healing stats (mainly Kellex) and contributing extra damage and final blows (mainly Neko). And of course, the play of Striker has put his name right near the top of any MVP discussion.

Overall, the transition has been seamless for coach Da-hee “Crusty” Park and the Uprising staff. It’s been a combination of the rest of the team stepping up in his absence and the coaching staff finding ways to put Mistakes in the best position to produce. The Uprising is not only 6-0 in stage three with wins over the top three Korean-dominated teams (Seoul Dynasty, London Spitfire, and New York Excelsior), but bring in a 10 game winning streak from stage two, and are only four games back of New York for the first overall seed.

Shocking the Overwatch world

The Shock is a great feel-good story. Sitting at 10-16, six games behind the Philadelphia Fusion, their chances of a playoff run are rather slim. However, this is a new roster and they still have the stage playoffs. The Shock dropped eight games against the Dynasty and Valiant in the stage three matchups, but also have wins over the Gladiators and Fusion. It’s still a work in progress.

Signing Jay “Sinatraa” Won, Matthew “super” DeLisi, Min-ho “Architect” Park, and Grant “Moth” Espe added talent to an already talented player base. The early return on these players is looking great, and as teams like the Uprising, Fusion, and Valiant have shown, if the talent is there, it will only take time before they catch up to the rest of the league. It’s still uncertain what this new rosters ceiling is, but the way it’s constructed feels as if it can adjust to any meta-swings and has players still learning the pro-game.

Furthermore, it will allow Dante “Danteh” Cruz to be unleashed on the league. Adding Sinatraa will allow Danteh to flex onto other roles besides Tracer, mainly getting to play Sombra. The Sombra usage in the league is still being played with, but the advantages of having Danteh lets the Shock run it on most maps. The other signing of Architect is the Widowmaker this team has been looking for, and Super’s the space creating main-tank that Danteh has been looking for.

The strange results of the Dynasty, Spitfire and Excelsior

Lastly, the oddities associated with these three teams continue in stage three. The New York Excelsior continue to start bad and end with a smile, reversing sweep their last two games. The London Spitfire keep losing that game five, and the Dynasty can’t beat teams over the .500 mark anymore.

Expectations and reality are reaching a breaking point with these teams. The Seoul Dynasty and London Spitfire are only two games ahead of the seventh-seeded Houston Outlaws. The New York Excelsior have only dropped three games, but it’s clear that teams are catching up with them too. It’s a mad scramble among the Overwatch League playoff teams.  

Nevertheless, these teams will be big players at the end of the season, and this is more than likely a bump in the road. It’s the world of Overwatch balancing itself, as the non-Apex players have finally caught up with the level of competition being so high. The results clearly show that it’s not a three-team race. Any of the six playoff teams can beat anyone at any time. That includes the NYXL, who struggled in both stage finals as the favorite.

the great thing is the that the fans are getting one helluva show every single night in the Overwatch League. The margins of player skill are razor thin from top-to-bottom. Seemingly every team has a few sleepers ready to have a breakout performance, and that’s going to make stage four and the run towards the playoffs unbelievable.

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Feature photo via Overwatch League Twitter

The LA Valiant have failed their first test of the stage

The LA Valiant have been the talk of the town in Blizzard Arena, and not without reason. Their roster additions have clicked, their mechanics are sharp. A perfect start to the stage has reflected the immense effort the team has gone through to improve from their so-so start to the season.

The thing is, though, all that success has come against teams that had no right to beat the Valiant. Seoul has fallen from grace this stage. Shanghai and Dallas are… Shanghai and Dallas. The win against San Francisco was probably the most convincing of the bunch, given the Shock’s current 4th place standing, and the 3-2 win against the Gladiators was as even as could be. Josh “Sideshow” Wilkinson put it best- the Valiant are a bit overrated right now, especially with a host of other teams giving us strong showings lately.

That point was driven home this week against the London Spitfire. Like the Valiant’s match against the Gladiators, it was a close finish- but all series long, the Spitfire poked and prodded all of the Valiant’s uncomfortable vulnerabilities. It was the Valiant’s first true test- and they failed miserably.

 

a Negative profit margin

2018-02-10 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

A good Tracer player can often turn the tide of a fight, or even an entire series if you let them run free. The LA Valiant know this, and signed Joon-hyuk “Bunny” Chae from the Seoul Dynasty in between stages two and three. He’s been a real highlight player for the Valiant, and his synergy with the rest of his team has been impressive.

You know another Tracer with impressive mechanics and team cohesion? Profit. He’s been playing at a (T-Mobile) MVP level all season long, and made another strong case for himself here against the Valiant. Against Bunny (or anyone else in green,) Profit sliced his way through the noise with efficiency, and escaped situations that would normally leave him dead on the ground. Bunny just couldn’t keep up, and it showed in key 1v1 situations. Even when Profit was taken care of, Bunny could sometimes get a little ahead of himself. He’ll need to sharpen up in the Valiant’s last four games, three of the Valiant’s four opponents have world-class Tracer players (Logix, Snillo/Carpe, and Striker.) If he doesn’t, well… hopefully he likes In N Out.

 

Not So Agile anymore

2018-02-24 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Speaking of In N Out, Agilities had an interesting series here against the Spitfire. I wouldn’t say it was a good interesting, either. His Genji did work, and his Pharah shredded on Nepal, but you could tell that the Spitfire were making the adjustments they needed to handle him. On Oasis, they had his number. A spread out play style and the occasional stray sandal to the face proved to be all it took to keep Agilities from getting much of anything done, and in a key tiebreaker, minimizing one player’s performance is as good as gold.

The Spitfire never even ran a counter Pharah, or a Mccree. A Sombra was enough, and that says a lot about the Spitfire’s strategic thinking. The way they positioned themselves on Oasis kept the Valiant honest, and Sombra’s newly-strengthened EMP is a death knell for Pharah players everywhere. It may be time for the Valiant to take a second look at their playbook on Pharah-focused maps, especially with SoOn proving his mettle as a flexible hitscan specialist. I mean, look at this! How can you see plays like that and sub SoOn out for map five? The Valiant have come a long way in terms of structure and cohesion, but still have some lessons to learn at the strategic level- namely, the value of keeping a player that’s running hot.

 

Still a ways to go

This isn’t all to say that the Valiant are toast, mind you. All missteps aside, the hometown heroes have put up an impressive showing this stage, and have a lot more yet to prove as we approach the stage playoffs once again. They’ll just have to hope that they can fix their mistakes before they have to take on any more big names.

 

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Featured photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

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Overwatch League

Overwatch League: Have the Korean teams been figured out?

The Overwatch League is currently halfway through its third stage. For the majority of the season, the Korean teams have displayed a dominance that other teams were constantly trying to match. As the stages have progressed, more and more teams have been able to grab wins against these near unstoppable teams. With constant play and recordings available to the other teams, have the Korean teams been figured out?

Overwatch League Prediction: Seoul Dominates

As the inaugural season for the Overwatch League kicked off, many pegged the Seoul Dynasty to be the top team. Currently they sit in second place to the New York Excelsior. However, they kicked off the first season with a bang. They’ve gone 7-3 in both stages, going 0-4 against the other Korean teams.

Overwatch League

Seoul Dynasty by Robert Paul

Stage three has seen Seoul look much weaker than before. They opened the stage swept by a resurgent Los Angeles Valiant, and then dropped another game to the Los Angeles Gladiators. As of this writing they’ve yet to face the other Korean teams in stage three, but their diminishing dominance leads to a likely loss against both. Many believe that the Seoul Dynasty have dropped maps due to deploying a “b-team” during matches against weaker opponents, and they’ve been chastised for it.

They missed both stage one and stage two playoffs simply from map differential, and winning a few more against weaker teams could’ve pushed them into a higher tier of play. As the stages have continued, the Dynasty have looked less and less like the dominant team they were in the beginning. Many teams have figured out who the key players on the squad are, and make quick work on them during play. As their strategies and style of play is shown more and more, teams are able to study and counter it efficiently.

Spitfire Losing Altitude

The London Spitfire were another top projected team at the beginning of the season. Over the first two stages, they backed that prediction up. They managed to play three matches on the final day of stage one to win the championship. They followed that up with a one win better record in stage two, and fell in the semi-finals. Birdring has been one of the most consistently impressive DPS players over the course of the season. His teammates always find a way to make the right plays.

Overwatch League

London Spitfire from Overwatch League

Unfortunately, this dominance has come to a screeching halt in stage three. Going 7-3, then 8-2 over the first two stages, the Spitfire are close to doubling their losses. Midway through stage three, they’re at a paltry 2-4. Their wins have come from the Florida Mayhem and Valiant. They’ve lost to top teams in this stage, and their recent play seems to be a combination of factors.

First is the fact that many of the teams have been playing for a decent period of time now, and work more cohesively. Another is that teams have adjusted their rosters and styles to be more competitive. The Valiant aggressively retooled before the start of stage three, and are at the top of stage three. The Boston Uprising have overcome adversity and meshed new players seamlessly into their lineup. The San Francisco Shock had one of the most well-known Tracer player’s finally reach the age limit to play.

The Spitfire have added a single player since the season started, and bid farewell to two of them. Rascal went to Dallas, (since released), and Fissure has been the main-tank the Gladiators needed to be competitive. While those teams have had their ups and downs, they both look more impressive in stage three than the Spitfire have.

NYXL Reigning Champs

Overwatch League

NYXL from Overwatch League

The New York Excelsior have had their way with the Overwatch League. They lost one game in the first two stages, losing an extra in the first stage playoffs. They then came back with a vengeance in stage two, capturing the championship. They’ve been dominant, and they continue to look so, but the cracks are starting to appear.

In stage three, the NYXL have already lost a game. In a surprising upset, the Boston Uprising, (on the first match without released Dreamkazper), defeated NYXL. Without their top DPS, recently adjusting, the Uprising delivered a statement to the rest of the league. They exploited the NYXL by consistently targeting and removing Jjonak from the play, who has been an absolute game changer for the NYXL.

With a surprise upset handing the NYXL their first loss of stage three, and a close match against the Philadelphia Fusion almost doubling their loss total, the NYXL no longer look impenetrable. Teams have realized just how valuable Jjonak is to the team and their style, and the quicker he’s removed from a fight, the greater the chance to win the fight is.

South Korean Dominance End in Sight

Overwatch League

Top Six Team Stage Standing Comparison

These three teams were the apex model of teamwork at the start of the Overwatch League. Two of them have taken stage championships. Their dominance lasted through the first half of the season, but looks to be over. Seoul has had an ever-so-slightly decrease in play throughout each stage. London suddenly is close to doubling their total losses from two stages during stage three. The NYXL lost to a team that had just lost one of their best players, and couldn’t capitalize.

Meanwhile, the revitalized Valiant and Boston Uprising sit 5-1 and 6-0 in stage three, and look unstoppable. Boston has taken out both the NYXL and Seoul Dynasty, while Valiant swept Seoul and face London next. A passing of the torch to the teams that have figured out and studied their Korean opponents may be happening before our very eyes in stage three, and it has made the Overwatch League all the better for it.

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Featured Image courtesy of Robert Paul

Fusion

Almost a Great Team: Philadelphia Fusion

Week 3 of Stage 3 kicked off in the Overwatch League and there were many exciting matches to look forward to. One of those being the Stage 2 Finals rematch: Philadelphia Fusion vs New York Excelsior. After Philadelphia failed to take a third map, leading to their reverse sweep by the NYXL in the Stage 2 Finals, Philadelphia hoped to even the playing field in their rematch. Since the last time they met, both teams have continued to play well, taking care of business as usual and improving in the downtime. With their constant improvement, the Philadelphia Fusion were looking poised to beat the New York Excelsior in a rematch. But to no avail, the Fusion again found themselves in the same position.

So Close

Philadelphia Fusion

Pine of the NYXL

After a dominating Map 1 on Temple of Anubis and Map 2 on Numbani, the New York Excelsior looked like they didn’t have any answers for the Philadelphia Fusion. However, after a halftime break, the NYXL were able to regroup and it all came crumbling down for the Fusion. New York made key player substitutions in the tank and DPS roles, most notably they put in the big boss himself, Do-Hyeon “Pine” Kim. The final three maps – Ilios, Junkertown, Oasis – favored Pine heavily, due to his exceptional play on Widowmaker and McCree. Pine helped elevate his team’s play and lead the reverse sweep of the Philadelphia Fusion. Fusion players and supporters were in disbelief again, as they let another victory against the NYXL slip away.

NYXL Is the Best Overwatch League Team

To the NYXL’s credit, they had many clutch moments and stepped up when they needed to. The New York Excelsior are at the top for a reason, they either dominate teams or take games to a close map five. When teams play against the New York Excelsior they know that nothing comes free, it is earned. If the Philadelphia Fusion want to be known as a top tier team or even the best team they must close out series, against teams like the New York Excelsior. This game in Week 3 of Stage 3 proved two things: the NYXL are the best team in the Overwatch League, no questions, and the Philadelphia Fusion have the potential to be a great team like the NYXL. The clip below is from Map 4 on Junkertown in overtime and it show just how close these teams are.

All the Pieces

Philadelphia Fusion has all the pieces to be a great team. The Fusion have the raw talent such as Carpe and Eqo, they have great communication and they also have very good strategical awareness as a team. However, they need to finish out series. Just think, if they closed out the series in the Stage 2 Finals and in this rematch, beating New York Excelsior twice, we could argue that they are the best team in the Overwatch League.

Looking Ahead

We have a clear answer that the New York Excelsior are the best team in the Overwatch League, but if the Philadelphia Fusion continue to play well we can confidently say that they are a high tier team as well. The Philadelphia Fusion have shown that they can strategize and play against the best, they just need to convincingly finish out the series against strong teams, to be considered great. Depending on how the latter half of Stage 3 goes, there is a possibility that the Philadelphia Fusion and New York Excelsior can play each other again in the Stage 3 Playoffs. Stay tuned to the Overwatch League to find out if the Philadelphia Fusion can make the Stage Playoffs again and have another chance to beat the New York Excelsior.

 

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Featured Images Credit: Blizzard Entertainment/Overwatch League

Videos Clips: Overwatch League

Mistakes

Boston remain unbeaten in week 2

Just days before the week started, The Boston Uprising were hit with the news about Jonathan “DreamKazper” Sanchez. The organisation investigated the allegations and quickly released the player from their roster. With minimal scrim time and a huge hero pool to cover, Stanislav Mistakes Danilov was the player to step in.

From an outside perspective it would require a herculean effort from Boston to even come within touching distance of their regional rivals. Somehow the team pulled it off, maintaining their 100% win record on Volskaya Industries. Boston went on to lose the next two maps and pulled out an impressive third point hold on Junkertown to tie the series up. 

The final map was Oasis and Mistakes on Sombra was the key difference maker. After winning the first point Boston were in prime position to win the map and the series. As Boston’s control meter rises, Mistakes runs up and baits JJonak’s Transcendence before he even has EMP. Leaving him to freely EMP the New York side a few seconds later and close out the map. 

Mistakes train pulling in

The first two matches on Saturday went to five maps and Boston Uprising vs Florida Mayhem was no different. 

Once again Boston won the control map. They full held on Temple of Anubis, thanks to patience, communication and a three rapid kills from mistakes’ Widowmaker. On their attack Boston took the single tick needed to win the map, but not easily. They finished with less than 30 seconds remaining.

The team now have a record of seven wins to zero losses on both Temple of Anubis and Volskaya Industries. The next map was Blizzard World. Florida Mayhem took point A quickly; however, Boston recovered time on Point B and Florida fought it out to take point B in Overtime and eventually get stopped on the final corner.

The Uprising then need to attack Blizzard World and get it past point B, which isn’t easy for any team. Initially Boston were held at point A for just under three minutes before Nam-joo “Striker” Kwon came up big, managing to continually hassle and stay alive to take the point. The boys in blue then continued through point B with very little slowing of the payload thanks to an EMP into a D.Va bomb from Mistakes and Lucas “NotE” Meissner.  Boston continue with three minutes remaining and push the cart to victory. 

Trouble after halftime

Florida were not ready to give up after the break. They were surprisingly dominant on Nepal, Boston took the point first and held it up to 68% Florida gained control and looked strong with some flashy plays as well, however Boston manage to take control once again with Florida on 95% and five team members alive. However it wasn’t to be for Boston as Florida flip in overtime and win the first point. 

On the second point, Boston once again gain control first, this time gaining one more control percent before Florida can flip. However this time Florida hold it in convincing fashion all the way to 100% to win the map.

The Boston Uprising again had the opportunity to win the series. This time on Junkertown, a map that they had won against NYXL, however they were unable to stop Florida despite NotE’s best efforts, again he caught three in his self destruct. On the third point, Mayhem pushed the payload quickly, eventually being stopped for a few seconds. That brief pause was enough for Boston to set up their defences and eventually hold Florida just shy of point three.

On Boston’s attack they were slow to start, losing players early in fights took a lot of time away. Eventually the team were able to break through thanks to another big bomb from NotE. Their attack through point 2 is somewhat slowed but still end up in the final point with just under three minutes to finish the map. In the final minute Boston come within four meters of victory with a back cap from mistakes. However the team fight was already lost and Florida swooped in and scared him off the point. In the final fight Florida got early kills and staggered Boston. After a long overtime of Boston throwing themselves on the point one by one, Florida took the map and force the series into a tiebreaker.

 

Kings of the Tiebreaker 

Going in to the tiebreaker, Boston had the statistical edge, Boston had played a total of nine tie breaker maps and had won seven of them, compared to Florida who had played four and won two. Inevitably Boston won Oasis 2-0 with standout performances from Striker and Mistakes. Although notably still no Pharah which may be a concern when one is needed. The match was incredibly close and both teams looked strong, a testament to the parity between (almost) all the teams in the league now.

Looking forward

Boston Uprisings’ next two matches will be against London and Seoul in that order. Both of these matches are definitely winnable. With Boston recently having beaten NYXL, two slumping Korean teams should not be daunting. London are really struggling and have only recently brought in more coaching staff to help. With the way Boston are playing and the map selection for the matches it will likely be a victory for Boston.

Seoul have a better record on tiebreaker maps and have the Shanghai Dragons to face this week. They may have more time to focus on the Boston match. That said, the team seems unsure what supports to play and are really struggling in stage 3. Boston may well finish week three being unbeaten.

 

 

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Featured Image Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.

 

OWL Team Skins

Why the Atlantic Division in OWL is better than Pacific… by far

With almost three-quarters of the Overwatch League already done, teams are working hard to make the playoffs and separate themselves from the rest of the pack. However, when it comes to divisional differences, there is a huge discrepancy in success, one division is simply way more competitive. Teams in the Atlantic division are way more successful than their Pacific division counterparts. The overall standings are direct proof of these major divisional differences.

Standings

Courtesy of Overwatch League

Atlantic Division

Atlantic

Courtesy of Overwatch League

The Atlantic division consists of six teams, relative to the east side of the United States: Boston Uprising, Philadelphia Fusion, London Spitfire, New York Excelsior, Houston Outlaws, Florida Mayhem. If you have been keeping up with the Overwatch League, you would recognize that five out of these six teams have been in the top half of the standings every stage; not to mention that two of these teams are stage champions. So, what makes this division so much better?

One reason that teams in the Atlantic Division are so much better is because teams in the same division play each other more. With division rivalries such as Houston Outlaws vs London Spitfire or New York Excelsior vs Philadelphia Fusion; games are bound to be more competitive. One could argue that this could also apply for teams in the Pacific Division. However, the reality is that team play in the Atlantic division is way better. Simply, better team play within divisional matches increase teams’ skill capacity and makes the whole division better. It is no surprise that the only teams who have reached the playoffs, in all stages, are Atlantic teams.

Pacific Division

Pacific

Courtesy of Overwatch League

The Pacific division also consists of six teams, in relation to the west side of the United States: Los Angeles Valiant, Los Angeles Gladiators, San Francisco Shock, Dallas Fuel, Seoul Dynasty, Shanghai Dragons. Most of these teams have been struggling in the Overwatch League. Seoul Dynasty are not playing up to their expectations, Dallas Fuel are struggling to find their footing, and the Shanghai Dragons are still win-less in 24 matches. The only teams that have looked somewhat promising are both Los Angeles teams and San Francisco Shock, even then Seoul would still be more favorable than the Shock.

The real challenge for Pacific teams is when it comes to cross divisional play, almost all of them struggle. The only two teams that are consistent enough to beat some of the Atlantic teams are the Los Angeles Valiant and Seoul Dynasty. Both teams have enough individual talent and coordinated team play to rival the Atlantic division powerhouses. Yet as a whole the Pacific division is drastically weaker than its Atlantic counterpart.

Looking Ahead

The question isn’t about talent; there is more than enough talent in the Overwatch League. The question comes down to team play and coordination. Are teams willing to adapt to an enemy’s playstyle and are players looking to improve? Likewise, will teams from both divisions perform more consistently to deliver high level play? With the final playoffs coming in the next couple of months, division leaders and overall standings become much more important. Only six teams get into the playoffs and the Atlantic and Pacific division leaders getting an automatic bid. From the way teams are playing right now, there is a very high chance that we could see five Atlantic teams and only one Pacific team in the final playoffs. To see if the Pacific teams will step up or if the Atlantic teams will continue to dominate, tune into the Overwatch League.

 

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Featured Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment | Overwatch League

 

With KyKy Gone, the Head Coach Hunt is on in Dallas

The Dallas Fuel are wasting no time after announcing the release of Head Coach Kyle “KyKy” Souder. The Fuel announced in their April 15th press release that a new coach should be announced within the week, with several candidates on the list in negotiations already.

The coaching pool in the Overwatch League is probably not as deep as the Fuel would like it right now, but there’s no shortage, either. Who will the Fuel deem worthy to take the helm? More importantly, who will be willing to step into the most chaotic franchise in the league?

Ex-OWL coaches, current Contenders coaches, and even certain players may be a good fit for the Fuel. I’ve compiled a short list of potential candidates that Hastr0 and Co. might have their eyes on this week. As always, stay tuned to The Game Haus for more developments as they break.

 

Bishop to DF

Photo courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Perhaps the highest profile candidate to consider would be Lee “Bishop” Beom-joon. The London Spitfire’s former Head Coach has a history of success, and despite mentions of interpersonal conflicts within the Spitfire, he maintains that he left the organization on good terms. Bishop also tried out for the Fuel’s Head Coach position in the early phases of the league, though KyKy got the spot in the end. It would make sense for the Fuel to give Bishop a call, and his track record is hard to ignore.

A Korean coach might also be a boon for the Fuel’s lone remaining Korean, Hyeon “EFFECT” Hwang. He recently took to Twitter that he might leave the team altogether if things don’t improve. With a sword like that hanging over the Fuel’s head, Bishop might be their only hope to keep their star Tracer player.

 

Who’s better than MESR

Across Texas, the Fuel could find their next Head Coach in former Team USA star Adam “MESR” De La Torre. He’s made a name for himself as the assistant coach and support coordinator for the Houston Outlaws, and players under his purview have plenty of good things to say. MESR also played with Seagull on Team USA in the first Overwatch World Cup- that goes back a ways, but would be a good stepping off point within the team to help build some synergy early on. For the right price, the Fuel could bring on a sharp mind with the right experience to rally the scattered boys in blue.

 

Actually, This head coach is fine

Dallas could always choose to keep Peak in his new spot, and build around him. Their interim Head Coach has experience with Misfits and Arc6, and could potentially fix a lot of the Fuel’s problems. With Peak at the helm, options to take his old spot would be much more flexible, and probably less expensive.

Daniel “Gods” Graeser, center, sits with Ruben “ryb” Ljungdahl (far left) and Lucas “Mendokusaii” Håkansson (right) in an Apex Season 2 match. Photo courtesy of OGN Apex.

New assistant coaches could focus on player synergies or feedback, and could come from places with more in-game experience than other candidates. Potential tryouts could include NRG flex Daniel “Gods” Graeser, XL2’s Adam “Adam” Eckel, or Orgless and Hungry manager Thomas “Morte” Kerbusch.

Morte is one of the most experienced and level-headed members of the competitive Overwatch community. He would carry a lot of respect in an old-school organization like the Fuel. Adam is a historic player in his own right, and has struggled to find his place in the league itself. His fairly successful tenure within XL2 could dissuade him from abandoning his aspirations as a player, though.

Gods has prior experience with Seagull on NRG and Luminosity, two of his first teams, and has some of the best game-sense in the scene according to BishopThat sort of recommendation could get him a shot in the league at last, even if it isn’t as a player on stage.

 

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Featured photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

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The battle for L.A.: Gladiators and Valiant go for round three

Throughout the Overwatch League’s brief history, the Los Angeles Valiant and Los Angeles Gladiators have met for some intense games. During stage one, the Valiant were able to reverse sweep the Gladiators in a five map thriller. Fans of both teams were thoroughly engaged, and the first rivalry of the league was born. The Gladiators, not satisfied losing to their regional rival, took their stage two match-up by storm. With a 4-0 thrashing, the Valiant were left scratching their heads. Since they last met almost a month ago, both teams have fresh faces to challenge for the win.

Since Last We Met: Overwatch League Rival Recap

Overwatch League

Agilities and Bischu, from Overwatch League

The Gladiators are not so changed from their last match against the Valiant. They have newcomer Void, a flex player known for his D.va play. He adds an extra layer of flex tank to play alongside Fissure. They also received Silkthread from the Valiant before the trade window closed. These were the only moves that the Gladiators made from stage two to stage three.

The Valiant are a different story. Since the last match, they have five new players, and one that’s finally of age. Space, who has been on the roster since the team’s inception, turned 18 during the stage break between stages two and three. Two others have come through trades, Bunny, a DPS, was obtained from the Seoul Dynasty. The other player, Custa, was obtained from the Dallas Fuel. To land Custa, the Valiant sent a fan favorite, and fellow countryman of Soon, Unkoe to the Fuel.

This trade was one of the most looked at as a potential to backfire for the Valiant, as it was believed that Unkoe was more mechanically sound than Custa. However, the opposite has been true, as Custa has fit perfectly with the Valiant. The other three players were picked up for depth, KSF, a DPS main, Finnsi, a flex player, and Izayaki, a support main.

Who has the advantage?

Looking for any advantage or insight to this series is hard. The Valiant have looked dominant throughout stage three, with a 4-0 record through the first two weeks. The Gladiators have played the same teams as the Valiant through the first two weeks, and have a 3-1 record. The San Francisco Shock were the one team that the Gladiators could not defeat. With such similar records against similar opponents, it’s hard to narrow down a clear advantage for either team.

Overwatch League

Shields Up by Robert Paul

Looking at straight records, the Valiant appear to be the stronger and more confidant team heading into this rivalry. They aggressively retooled their roster to make the team more competitive, and the rewards have been flowing in for them. Alternatively the Gladiators have tweaked and added to their roster at the end of each Overwatch League stage, and have steadily improved. Throughout the entirety of the Overwatch League the Valiant sit 15-9 and Gladiators at 13-11. The Valiant lead the pack for stage three so far with their 4-0, +13 map differential. The momentum sides with the Valiant, but it’s no clear cut.

Overwatch League

Valiant Fans by Robert Paul

 

The great thing about rivalries is that each team has extra drive to win. The Gladiators and Valiant have extra fuel to burn trying to win the hearts of undecided Los Angeles fans. With the recent poor showings of both Southern California hockey teams, sports fans will want to dive in to a great rivalry. There’s no fiercer one in the Overwatch League than the L.A. Valiant and the L.A. Gladiators. Whether you have your wings up, or shields raised, be ready for one intense match to kick off week three.

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Featured photo by Robert Paul

Los Angeles Valiant

Los Angeles Valiant roster overhaul paying off

Before stage three of the Overwatch League started, the Los Angeles Valiant made a flurry of moves. Bunny, Custa and Space joined the team while mainstays like Unkoe, Envy and Silkthread departed. The drastic change has worked wonders and has made the Valiant look incredibly strong this stage.

Los Angeles Valiant Roster Recap

Los Angeles Valiant

Space and Soe courtesy of Robert Paul

Quick recap of exactly what happened to the Valiant roster. To kick things off, they announced they had acquired Bunny from the Seoul Dynasty. Next, they made a trade with the Dallas Fuel and swapped support Unkoe for Custa. Their next move remains clouded in mystery to exactly what the reasoning behind it is, but they “mutually” terminated Envy’s contract. Following this announcement was that backup DPS GrimReality was moving into an assistant coaching position, removing him from the roster. During the off-stage break, flex-tank player Space turned 18, and became an active player for the Valiant. Their final move was to trade with their rivals, the Los Angeles Gladiators, by unloading Silkthread from their roster.

Los Angeles Valiant

Custa by the Los Angeles Valiant

So for those keeping track, two players from the Los Angeles Valiant’s starting roster, Unkoe and Envy, were removed. Two DPS that weren’t being given a chance anymore, Silkthread and GrimReality, get moved off the roster. With Envy gone, Space takes the D.va role. Bunny starts to challenge Agilities for the second DPS spot behind Soon, and Kariv goes back to being a support alongside Custa.

Has it Worked?

Fans looked on at what the Valiant were doing to their team, and wondered how exactly things would play out. Many weren’t expecting these kind of results however. At the end of stage three, week two, the Valiant have gone 4-0. They played two teams many don’t give much of a chance to, Shanghai Dragons and Dallas Fuel, but they also played up-and-coming San Francisco Shock as well as near-dominant Seoul Dynasty. They rolled through every team 4-0 except for the Dallas Fuel, who looked vastly improved with OGE in the lineup. With a total map score of 14-1 throughout two weeks of play, the roster moves have worked out incredibly well.

Working as a team

Los Angeles Valiant

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

One of the main differences that the Los Angeles Valiant have shown through this stage is their team communication. Custa was constantly touted as a leader in Dallas, and he seems to have brought those skills to the Valiant. Alongside with Kariv, they’ve barely missed a beat together. Space has jumped in and performed as well if not better than Envy, and if the rumors about personal issues were true, the team mindset may be cleared with him off the team. Bunny and Agilities have also been great swapping in-and-out depending on the map. Bunny specifically has given Soon the ability to flex on some different heroes, as his McCree and Reaper have been producing great results lately.

With a new looking roster missing zero beats throughout stage three, the Valiant could easily be contending for the stage three championship. They’re producing great results against both challenging and “easy” teams, showing that they have the drive to win no matter the team. If anything, it’s a great time to be a Los Angeles Valiant fan, and the future looks bright.

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Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul

London Spitfire

Does London Spitfire’s inconsistency make the league more interesting?

London Spitfire likes to keep the league interesting. Spitfire are easily the second best team in the Overwatch League. With an impressive 15-7 league score so far and a +30 map differential it’s impossible to deny they are among the best. However they are not perfect by any means. They have three more losses then their rivals New York Excelsior, and they have now lost three matches in a row. They lost to rising stars Philadelphia Fusion, then long time road block Houston Outlaws, and then their aforementioned rivals, NYXL.

London are one of the most dominant teams, but they struggle in odd match ups and often lose to opponents considered much worse then them. But admittedly, their inconsistencies have made them a very interesting team to watch. NYXL looks amazing with flashy plays by Park “Saebeyolbe” Jong-ryeol and Kim “Pine” Do-hyeon, but if you’re anything like me, seeing them win every day is a bit…boring. But a team like Spitfire, well anything can happen.

London Spitfire

London’s abysmal start to stage 3 places them with the bottom two teams in the League. Courtesy of the Overwatch League website

Losses against lower teams

It sounds weird praising a team for their losses, but this does make the whole league a bit more interesting to watch. They lost to two teams I would argue they should’ve easily won. That was Boston Uprising and Los Angeles Gladiators. Now since then both have proven themselves as forces to be reckoned with, but neither team has even managed to make it to stage finals before. The Boston match was a heart pounding 2-3 loss for London. It was an amazing game that lead to their first loss. At that point we thought the three Korean teams were going to dominate the league. London vs Boston was the first sign that wasn’t going to happen.

And when they lost to the Los Angeles Gladiators, they lost by a bit of a margin, 1-3. But it again really fit a story line of Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung claiming victory over his old comrades. In both scenarios, although disappointing for London fans, was actually incredibly hype to see them lose, and totally went against what everyone was expecting.

Roadblock with Houston Outlaws

At this point it’s fair to say that London have a problem with Houston. Maybe it’s that Houston is known as a great anti-dive team. Maybe it’s because all four times they have played Houston it was the same week that they play New York. Or maybe there really is just a mental road block at this point. No matter what it is, if you’re just looking at the regular season they are 0-3 against Houston. Now why is this interesting? Story lines. People like a good story, and a dominant tyrant brought down by a somewhat mediocre (at this point) team is exciting. On top of that once they do win, it’ll be even more exciting since we won’t be expecting it. It was super exciting when they tasted revenge beating Houston 3-1 in the Stage 1 finals. Next win will be just as satisfying as well…if they win.

 

The most interesting rivalry in the league

New York Excelsior is the final boss of Overwatch. With an immaculate 20-2 record and a staggering +54 map differential, they are the top dogs. At this point there aren’t many teams who really put up much of a fight towards NYXL. Heck, only two teams in the entire league have ever actually won against them. Those being Philadelphia Fusion, and of course, London Spitfire. The Spitfire are actually the only team to win twice. Once in the Stage 1 finals and a second time in Stage 2. Unfortunately after a pretty one sided loss against NYXL, they are now 2-2 on sets. Like I said, NYXL always winning does get boring, but as long as London is around, they will never sit too comfortably a the top; if they slip up even a little, London will be looking for blood.

 

Why is this good for the league?

People like to see change; if you watched the same episode of the same show every day it would get boring. Watching the same three teams win day in day out is exhausting and uninteresting. That’s why a team like London is good for the league. Keep it exciting, keep the fans on their toes. There’s a reason in Football no one wants the Patriots to win, they always win. No one wants to see the same result everyday. So London both being the only team to go toe to toe with NYXL while also being a team that any team can strive to beat keeps the league a bit more balanced.

 

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