Los Angeles Gladiator’s trade for Fissure is best value based on need

The Los Angeles Gladiators were one of the more disappointing teams in stage one. The lack of progress prompted a move towards London Spitfire backup tank Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung. With this trade for Fissure, the Gladiators shore up struggling dive and will help on both the front and backline.

Before the Overwatch League, Fissure was looked at as one of the best Winston’s in Korea. His play on KongDoo Panthera throughout Apex was considered the highest level tank play league-wide. In fact, he was the linchpin to four successful seasons with KongDoo Panthera. Even with all his past accomplishments, the London Spitfire had other ideas.

Benched for Gesture

Consider this, the London Spitfire had two of the best main tanks in Overwatch on one roster. It was an embarrassment of riches for one team. Unfortunately, with both tank mains having identical hero pools only one could play at a time. Early in the season, Fissure got more playing time, but as the weeks advanced Hong “Gesture” Jae-hee got most of the playing time.

Gesture and Fissure. Photo via London Spitfire Flickr

Comparatively, it’s hard to pick between the two players. Fissure is a more proven player, but Gesture came into the league leading the charge for the old GC Busan roster. Based on Lee “Bishop” Beom-joon’s coaching decisions, Gesture was the more consistent player and had the advantage of familiarity with the GC Busan lineup.

Keeping Fissure on the bench was not the best idea for the Spitfire anymore knowing he could start elsewhere. It’s tough sitting a supremely talented player like Fissure. Animosity in the locker room so the London management made the decision to move Fissure out to avoid controversy. It’s now the Gesture show in London. Similarly to moving backup Tracer player, Kim “Rascal” Dong-jun, who will likely start on the Dallas Fuel. Fissure will find more opportunity for the Gladiators.

Focusing now on Fissure’s future with the Gladiators, he comes in and fills a direct need and will fit in nicely next to Hyung-seok “Bischu” Kim on the flex tank. Combining the aggressive dive potential and precise movement of these two players will make it extra difficult on opposing defenses. Teams are in for a difficult time defending against this newly formed tank line. Allowing Fissure free reign will help alleviate some of the pressure put on the Gladiator’s DPS-mains.

Photo via LA Gladiators Twitter

In the meantime, Luis “iRemiix” Galarza Figueroa will move to a backup role. iRemiix’s new role suits him, and now he can specialize in certain situations or be used as a counter-pick Reinhardt. iRemiix was by no means bad on main-tank in stage one, but adding a player like Fissure immediately upgrades that tank line and helps in other areas as well.

Gladiators struggle to find consistent DPS lineup

Despite adding a real quality player in Fissure, questions still remain about their DPS-line. In two of three positions on this roster, the Gladiators are set. The two Finnish support players, Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara and Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni, were excellent in stage one; based on the newest updates to the meta and their hero pools, it’s likely they’ll improve in stage two.

However, with the tanks and supports looking strong, albeit, with little depth behind the starters, the damage mains will have to step up and make plays behind this new tank line. Fissure will be helpful in getting things opened up for Lane “Surefour” Roberts on Tracer or Soldier 76 or João “Hydration” Pedro Goes Telles on the Pharah. They’ll need more consistency from that group to contend though. 

The biggest problem regarding this Gladiators team is trying to figure out which two DPS-mains start on any given map. Stage one lineups were a mishmash of Hyrdation and Asher, followed up in the next game by Surefour and Asher. The substitutions lacked any real structure for the Gladiators and in most cases didn’t work out. Key for a Gladiators turnaround is getting everyone back on the same page. The rotations created a momentum issue and that unit never recovered. It’s for those guys to see if this team makes a stage two run. 

If this team wants to compete down the line, picking up another DPS isn’t such a terrible idea considering the need and DPS-heavy free agent market. The Gladiators already improved drastically by bringing in a straight up playmaker on the tank line and the same could happen on the damage side. Fissure, in terms of value, will be worth two or more wins. Freedom to create and playing time is going to make his Winston a sight to behold. Gladiators will be in contention for a playoff spot.

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Featured photo via LA Gladiators Twitter

Houston Outlaws steal the spotlight in stage one of the Overwatch League

The big story coming out of stage one was not the London Spitfire predictability winning the stage one finals. No, it was an upstart Houston Outlaws squad separating themselves as a playoff team. The only playoff team to not feature any players with Apex experience and is mainly American born players.

Seasoned Overwatch fans will recall at this years World Cup, two players from the United States made a loud statement in the match against Korea. Jacob “JAKE” Lyon and Matt “coolmatt” Iorio stood out amongst an American team that pushed Korea to the limit. It was foreshadowing what was soon to follow in the Overwatch League.

Houston Outlaws show continued improvement

First, the emergence of a mainly North American Overwatch team that’s challenging the best Korean players in the world is a first. The rigid training and playing schedule are seemingly leveling the playing field. That’s not to say the London Spitfire and New York Excelsior haven’t been a few steps ahead of even the Outlaws, but as we saw previously at the World Cup, the gap is closing.

The Houston Outlaws almost closed the gap entirely last week and showed the world that they’re a legit contender. Sweeping the London Spitfire to even stay alive in the playoff race, and then sneaking out a victory over the Boston Uprising to pull off the unthinkable and make the stage one playoffs.

Entering the season, any scenario where the Seoul Dynasty misses the playoffs and the Houston Outlaws jump both the Dynasty and Spitfire to earn the second overall seed would’ve been laughed at. The juggernaut Overwatch teams looked unstoppable early on in stage one. Dynasty jumped out to a 5-0 record and barely dropped any maps.

On the flip side, the Houston Outlaws started the season out 0-2. Falling in a close game to the Philadelphia Fusion, 3-2, and losing the following night to the New York Excelsior, 3-1. Fortunately, the next stretch of schedule after the opening losses was against all bottom feeder teams; and what happened in the coming weeks jump-started this climb to the second overall seed.

The 18 map winning streak

Photo via Houston Outlaws Twitter

Let’s take a look at point differential. In the five-game span in which the Outlaws won 18-straight maps, they outscored their opponents by 29 points. In those five games, the Outlaws held their opponents to a staggeringly low number of points: only 10 points surrendered in 18 maps. Incredibly dominant performances that spring-boarded their confidence into the tough part of the schedule.

Soon after the streak ended, the Outlaws matched up against the Seoul Dynasty. The Outlaws took the loss, but it most certainly instilled fear into the minds of the Dynasty core. The best of the Korean players all seem to have one common saying between them regarding the Houston Outlaws and that’s the need to shut down Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin.

The legend of LiNkzr

Starting in the preseason, the pinpoint aim from Linkzr was a must-see. The Outlaws garnered plenty of attention because of the sheer skill of Jake and Linkzr, but now this team is being recognized as an actual threat. In a short amount of time, the Outlaws have developed an impenetrable defense. The defense along with the destructive aim of LiNkzr, the spacing with JAKE on Junkrat, and the diving with coolmatt on D.Va is pushing this team over the top. 

Each of those three players is in the discussion for stage one MVP, and look to be building more and more chemistry as the schedule moves along. The only question now is if this team can live up to expectations now that they’re no longer flying under the radar. It’ll be a test for these players, but one that they seem capable of handling in stage two and beyond.

Lastly, should the Outlaws make any moves during the transfer period, an extra support is about the only current need for this team; but don’t be surprised if any of the top teams get aggressive to solidify rosters for the rest of the season.

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Featured photo via Houston Outlaws Twitter

OWL Stage 1 Playoffs

Spitfire Take Flight in Stage 1 Playoffs

The last games of the Overwatch League Week 5 were underway as teams looked to clinch their spot for the Stage 1 Playoffs and a share of $125,000. Only three teams could make the playoffs, but as the standings currently stood five teams were in the running – New York Excelsior, London Spitfire, Houston Outlaws, Los Angeles Valiant and Boston Uprising. Two major games on the last day of the Stage 1 regular season decided what teams would be in the playoffs and which ones wouldn’t.

Making the Playoffs

The first game of Week 5 Day 4 was none other than the New York Excelsior vs London Spitfire, followed by the Houston Outlaws vs Boston Uprising. With hopes and dreams of being crowned the Stage 1 champions, these games were nothing short of competitive, both series going the distance with a Map 5 tiebreaker on Lijang Tower. The New York Excelsior ended up securing a Map 5 win, a 3-2 series win over the Spitfire and sole possession of first place. Even with the loss, the Spitfire managed to clinch a playoff spot based on map win differential during the regular season.

With two teams in the playoffs only one more team could make it. That team being the Houston Outlaws, who won 3-2 over the Boston Uprising. With the Stage 1 playoffs set, the London Spitfire tried their hand against the Houston Outlaws – one of the few teams who beat them in the regular season. The winner then looked for their shot to beat the kings at the top of the table, the NYXL.

 

Stage 1 Playoffs Semifinal: London Spitfire vs Houston Outlaws

Map 1: Dorado

After the regular season matches finished up, and a short break for the playoff teams, the first playoff match between the London Spitfire and Houston Outlaws commenced. In the first ever Overwatch League playoffs teams had to win to a best of five maps to take the series, with a potential sixth map as a tiebreaker. With the series maps revealed, Map 1 between the Spitfire and Outlaws took place on Dorado. Commonly known for his Jakerat, Jake “Jake” Lyon’s Junkrat play defined the Outlaws defense against the Spitfire on the first two points of Dorado.

With grenades and mines all around, the Spitfire couldn’t seem to get past the minefield and into the backline of the Houston Outlaws. With a stellar defense on Dorado, the Outlaws held the Spitfire to only one point. The outlaws then carried their defensive momentum onto their attack round where they pushed the payload and finished the map, taking Map 1 on Dorado 2-1 against the spitfire.

Map 2: Ilios

Birdring: Courtesy of London Spitfire

With an unsuccessful Map 1 win, the Spitfire look to take Map 2 Control Point on Ilios. Dominate and deadly, the Spitfire DPS players Jun-Young “Profit” Park and Ji-Hyeok “Birdring” Kim had their way with the Houston Outlaws. Controlling team fights and finding kills, the Spitfire swiftly take both rounds on Ilios to secure a 2-0 Map 2 win. To the Spitfire’s credit, at the end of both rounds on Ilios, Profit had 24 eliminations and only died once – a commanding performance by the DPS from the Spitfire. Even though they got off to a slow start in Map 1, the Spitfire manage to tie the series back up 1-1.

Map 3 & 4: Temple of Anubis/Eichenwalde

After a dominate performance by the Spitfire on Map 2 they carried that momentum into the next two maps. The DPS for the London Spitfire shined againas they took both points on Map 3 Temple of Anubis and managed to full hold the Houston Outlaws on their defense – not giving them a single tick of the control point meter – resulting in a 2-0 Map 3 win on Temple of Anubis. With the Spitfire flying high and the Outlaws batter and bruised, the Spitfire look to finish the series with a Map 4 win on Eichenwalde. Able to capture the point and push the payload, the Spitfire take a point on their offensive round.

However, the story of Map 4 was the Spitfire’s defense, they again manage to hold the Outlaws and not give them the first point. A 1-0 victory on Map 4 means that London Spitfire win the series 3-1 against the Houston Outlaws, guarantees them at least $25,000, and a rematch in the Stage 1 Finals against the New Excelsior who they lost against at the beginning of the day. With the finals set, who will be crowned the first ever Overwatch League stage champion: New York Excelsior or the London Spitfire?

Stage 1 Playoffs Finals: London Spitfire vs New York Excelsior

Map 1: Junkertown

Map 1 took place on Junkertown and it was battle of the snipers. Birdring from the Spitfire and NYXL’s Do-Hyeon “Pine” Kim both contented for sight-lines, trading picks back and forth. At one-point Pine flanks behind the Spitfire with his Widowmaker and gets a casual four kills, nearly wiping the entire Spitfire team by himself. After the Spitfire regroup they manage to push the payload and capture all three points on Junkertown, with no time left. On NYXL’s attack they run triple tank with Seong-Hyun “JJonak” Bang on Roadhog, who normally plays Zenyatta in the support role, to mitigate the damage that Birdring could do. The NYXL quickly take all three points on Junkertown with just over four minutes left in their time bank to force an overtime round. With a very advantageous time bank left, the New York Excelsior take Map 1 on Junkertown with a score of 4-3.

Map 2: Oasis

Map 2 went to Oasis where the teams battled to control the point. The London Spitfire started off strong on both rounds of Oasis, getting the control point meter to 99 percent before having it flipped by the NYXL. To New York’s credit they fully held the point from 0 to 100 percent, locking out the Spitfire from both rounds and the map. After a Map 2 on Oasis that slipped out of the London Spitfire’s reach, the New York Excelsior were only one map away from being crowned as Stage 1 champs. And then they began to do it.

Maps 3, 4, 5: Horizon Lunar Colony, Numbani, Dorado

Map 3 Horizon Lunar Colony is where the London Spitfire began their reverse sweep. Unable to take down Birdring and the Spitfire’s overtime defense, the New York Excelsior fell to the London Spitfire. London Spitfire take Map 3 Capture the Point on Horizon Lunar Colony with a score of 3-2. Map 4 went to Hybrid on Numbani where the Spitfire displayed one of the most impressive defensive holds in all of the Overwatch League. Birdring was nearly untouched by the opposition during the match, dealing free damage and finishing off kills. With little success and unable to break the Spitfire’s defense the NYXL were full held, unable to take the point on Numbani.

The Spitfire walk away with a Map 4 victory on Numbani 1-0, series tied 2-2. Map 5 Escort the Payload on Dorado was the final map of the series and someone was walking away as the victors. That team was the London Spitfire. They completed the reverse sweep against the NYXL, winning Map 5 Dorado with a score of 2-1. What turned out to be a marathon of a day and a run through the playoff gauntlet, the London Spitfire took flight as they were named the first ever Overwatch League Stage 1 Champions.

 

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Featured Image Credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch

Overwatch Week 2/13 News

On the off week between the Overewatch League stages one and two, there’s still plenty of news and reports coming in. With game director Jeff Kaplan talking about upcoming hero changes, to reports of new players joining different teams, there’s something for everybody. After the exhilarating five weeks of Overwatch, many teams look poised to change-up strategies. Some teams like New York Excelsior and the London Spitfire are oozing confidence coming into the second stage. Others, like the Shanghai Dragons and Florida Mayhem will look to turn their season around.

Play Symmetra you cowards!

Currently Overwatch has 26 heroes available to play. Their roles vary between offense, defense, Overwatchtank, and support. Symmetra is placed within the support role. Many who play supports have a problem with this, as currently her only viable way to support is to use her ultimate. With this, she may either place a teleporter or shield generator. She has no ability to heal, and only a minor moving shield she can deploy. This is the main problem with her role as a support. She is not viable when compared with others like Ana or Mercy. These heroes can heal and sustain their teammates. Symmetra, for this reason, is incredibly difficult to fit into a team composition.

Because of all this, Symmetra was the only hero that did not see any playing time during stage one of the Overwatch League. This led to many humorous posts and posters clamoring for someone to show her some love, much like the photo to the right. The good news is that Jeff Kaplan knows Symmetra isn’t on par with the other heroes. In a recent forum post, Kaplan stated that, “Symmetra will require more work to get into a better place and therefore take longer to address”. Ideas for the hero have not been revealed, but it is a good sign that the development team knows there is more to be done to do her justice.

Hanzo, what could have been

Another hero that has been receiving tweaks and ideas for improvement is Hanzo. The main problem players have with Hanzo is that his ability scatter arrow rewards players for aiming at an enemies feet. This was not the intention of the ability. As a sniper, Hanzo and his abilities should focus on a player’s aim. Geoff Goodman took to the forums to share some of the ideas the Blizzard development team had been working on.

Overwatch

Source: Play Overwatch and Blizzard Entertainment

The first attempt they tried was giving Hanzo a fast-moving, shield piercing arrow. While it required aim, the team felt that it’s piercing nature was still frustrating to those utilizing the utmost positioning of barriers. They then focused on keeping scatter arrow but changing its properties. Instead of splitting into multiple arrows as it currently does, they tried making it a ricochet mechanic. With one or even two bounces, the arrow was deemed fair, although incredibly hard to use. It would require extreme knowledge of every map, and how the arrow would bounce off each area. While fun to use, it wasn’t a consistent enough ability that would lead to players feeling let down.

A final rework was a new ability. It would be a reload of his cooldowns, and would require around two or three seconds of animation to effectively use. While it seemed like a good fit for his scatter arrow, the recon ability of sonic arrow became to powerful with such fast resets. Ultimately, Goodman ends the post saying that while none of these have worked, they’ve narrowed what can be done to make Hanzo more rewarding to play.

 

Overwatch League receiving Girl Power

Rumors and reports are abound that the Shanghai Dragons are looking to add some more players to their roster in an attempt to perform better during stage two. One of the most intriguing of these are reports of the team signing professional Overwatch player Geguri. Geguri is actually Kim Se-yeon, a South Korean pro player. If these reports turn out to be true and the Dragons do sign Geguri, they will add the first female player to the Overwatch League. This is exciting news as it would allow a breaking of the gender barrier. Geguri is an extremely talented player who can add a new energy and dynamic to a struggling team. Her play as Zarya is actually so well executed, many professional players reported her for cheating. Geguri was cleared of any cheating by Blizzard, and many who accused her issued apologies for doubting her ability.

(Update: She has officially been signed according to reports)

Check out a few highlights of her play on Zarya here.

The Dragons are also reportedly in the mix to sign a few other Korean players. Both  Lee “Fearless” Eui-Seok and Cheon “Ado” Ki-hyun are set to join Geguri in signing. If this is true, that would mean that Shanghai is not ready to call it on their Overwatch season and that they’ll continue to tweak their roster to find the best fit. With three more stages to go, there is plenty of time.

A Shift in the Meta?

Overwatch

(Photo Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment)

Stage one of the Overwatch League featured the latest patch applied before the stage began. Now, the teams will have to adjust to a different patch. Two of the key heroes of stage one have been nerfed.

Mercy is the most notable, as her Valkyrie will no longer be the focus of every team fight. With a fixed one resurrect charge, her time in the meta may fall out of favor for other supports. This could allow Ana and Moira to shine. Their abilities fit a more up-tempo style of play that could see teams like the Dallas Fuel having a better record. Junkrat is also receiving a nerf to his concussion mine damage. Instead of doing a flat-rate of damage, the damage will now fall-off with distance from the mine. While this does make Junkrat technically weaker in general, the aiming abilities of many of the top players should still be able to utilize his mine’s effectively.

Sombra has also had some new tweaks placed on the public test realm. Her hacked medpacks will no longer give her ultimate charge. To balance this, her hacking and EMP would now effect more abilities. While this is a balancing act, many feel that it will allow Sombra to flourish more in a competitive scene. With a key support in Mercy receiving major changes from stage one to stage two, many teams may switch their play styles. This is what Overwatch is all about, constantly shifting the meta. The dive meta will most likely reign supreme, but Mercy may find herself sitting on the sidelines.

 

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London Spitfire Win OWL Stage One: Defense is name of the game

The players that make up the London Spitfire have enjoyed a wealth of success in their short careers. Following the royal road to an Apex title, earning the title as the best team in Korea, and now winning the stage one championship in dramatic fashion over the New York Excelsior. A pattern is forming and it involves the heart of the Spitfire roster and winning everything.

BDosin happy after winning the stage one championship. Photo via https://www.flickr.com/photos/londonspitfire/with/39319450275/

London went down two games to a New York Excelsior team with a nearly unblemished record, on the biggest stage. The Spitfire needed to rally to become the first Overwatch League champion. This was a team that struggled to find their footing and lost winnable games due to lack of teamwork in stage one. It was a process, one that required serious trial and error.

Fortunately for London, they employ the strongest defensive unit in Overwatch history. A suffocating, relentless defense that’s been the main driver behind the success of GC Busan and now the London Spitfire. In fact, throughout all of stage one, the Spitfire had the most shutouts on non-control maps.

Now, this type of defensive effort goes back to the Apex days. GC Busan made a living off strong defensive holds. Even with an uncoordinated offensive attack, GC Busan would always find a way to hold offenses on the first point. The GC Busan spirit is embedded into this team. Add in the helping hands of Kim “Birdring” Ji-hyuk and Choi Seung-tae (to name a few), who have helped elevate an already ridiculously talented GC Busan roster. 

Shutting Down the NYXL

In game four on Numbani, the Spitfire got off to a rough start on offense, barely capping the first point and failing to reach the second point. At the end of that attack, it felt like the momentum had suddenly shifted back to the Excelsior. The lack of ultimate kills despite good ultimate economy was the difference, but Kim “Rascal” Dong-jun out positioning the Excelsior on the high-ground with Soldier 76 turned the last and most important fight.

The Spitfire’s Numbani offense only lasted a few meters longer before getting shut down. The reverse-sweep hanging in the balance on a map that’s notorious for easy offense was London’s most dangerous situation. Only a world-class hold against a team fielding Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-yeol and Kim “Libero”  Hye-sung would do the job. Luckily, Birdring is one of the most dangerous Widowmaker players on the planet and stepped up in the moment.

The Excelsior continued to dive at Rascal on Junkrat, who was isolated on the high-ground near the first point on Numbani, spraying down the street. The dive exposed Rascal, but it gave Birdring easy shots onto he NYXL healers. JJoNaK struggled to avoid Birdring using Widowmaker’s grappling hook to get the extreme height and tracking BDosin on the low-ground targeting him on Zenyatta. It was scary a one-two punch.

By the same token, Hong “Gesture” Jae-hee played a fantastic zoning Winston. In the event of a disadvantaged fight, the Spitfire would disengage around the backside of Numbani first point and re-engage with a dive, led by Gesture pushing the Excelsior into bad spots. The use of ultimates on defense for the Spitfire is much more organic and valuable. Gesture’s primal rages were game changers.

Dorado

Heading into game five, the Spitfire were riding a wave of momentum entering a map they’d beaten the NYXL on earlier in the day. The pressure was also flipped over to the Excelsior who were scrambling to avoid the reverse-sweep. The Excelsior stuck it out with Saebyeolbe and Libero on the dive and the Spitfire moved back to Profit on Junkrat over Rascal.

However, the formula for the Spitfire closing out the series was similar to their Numbani and Horizon defense.  Give Birdring Widowmaker sightlines and protect him by using the tanks aggressively. Kim “Fury” Jun-ho on D.Va combined with Birdring to dive on every player Birdring weakened from the backlines. It was a beautifully choreographed play from the Spitfire defense.  

Together with the strength of Birdring and the tank play, Profit’s laser focus on taking out the Excelsior supports stunted many NYXL attacks. On multiple occasions, Profit’s delayed rip tire got to the backline and took out Hong “ArK” Yeon-joon on Mercy and JJoNaK on Zenyatta to ruin the Excelsior’s day. Profit’s play was incredible, single-handedly forcing the opposition to back up and stay aware of Profit’s positioning.

In the final analysis, it’s clear the Spitfire still haven’t completely gelled as a team offensively. However, the players on that roster have a talent for zoning defense and ultimate usage. It’s scary because this squad is only going to get better from here on out. The players of the London Spitfire keep winning. No matter the situation, they pull it out. That’s a strong trait for a team to display early on.

Overwatch League stage one playoff scenarios

Stage one of the Overwatch League is coming to a close this week and the scramble for the playoffs begin. The New York Excelsior and London Spitfire currently sit at the top of the league, but the fight for the final spot is still very much in play.

Bubble teams

Currently, four teams sit at 5-3 and one game behind the Seoul Dynasty (6-2). Los Angeles Valiant, Houston Outlaws, Boston uprising and Philadelphia Fusion have an outside shot of sneaking into the playoffs. Each of these teams are not only 5-3, but are at least in striking distance in the game differential.

For one of these teams to pass the Dynasty, it’s going to take some serious help from the San Francisco Shock and Valiant. Fortunately for the Valiant, their chances at a playoff spot are in their hands. The Valiant and Dynasty will match up in the most important match of week five. The Valiant will not only have to win, but win several games.

If the Valiant find a way to beat the Dynasty, losing more than one game is not an option. A win will get them close, but it will require a dominant effort. Avoiding a game five is imperative, especially with Seoul facing a bottom four team to end out the season. All of the teams sitting one game outside of the playoffs will be huge Valiant fans on Friday.

Based on the schedule, the Valiant have the best shot of any team to make a playoff spot. The rest of the teams will either play each other or face the top-two teams in the Overwatch League. However, the Fusion and Valiant end stage one against the Shanghai Dragons (0-8) and Florida Mayhem (1-7).

Photo via Overwatch League Twitter

In the Houston Outlaw’s case, they went on an 18 game winning streak, and are now in the best position to overtake that third spot. Despite a tough ending to stage one, their +14 almost secures them a tiebreak victory if both teams end with the same record. It will take some crazy bounces of good luck, but there’s a chance the Dynasty miss the stage one playoffs. It all comes down to Friday.

Battle for the one seed

Yes, the battle for that final spot is intriguing, but even more important is the battle for the one seed and the first-round bye. The London Spitfire and New York Excelsior took care of business against the Seoul Dynasty, but a loss here would force the loser right back into a rematch with the Dynasty.

Obviously, that’s not a death sentence. Both teams are capable of dispatching the Dynasty, as they did in week three and four, but earning a free walk to the title game and avoiding a potential upset at the hands of the Dynasty is important. Even the Outlaws and Valiant look dangerous enough to sneak out a few playoff wins.

The first round bye most likely decides the winner of stage one. At this moment the London Spitfire sit atop the leaderboard at 7-1. A win on Saturday will clinch the title, as it will for the Excelsior. Nothing is set in stone for the final week of what’s been an incredibly exciting stage one of the Overwatch League.

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Featured photo via Overwatch League Twitter

 

Overwatch League Power Rankings

Overwatch League Power Rankings: Stage 1 Week 4

We will be releasing these weekly before the week’s matches get started, so make sure to check back in.

As we head into week 4, we saw some surprising results last week. With the top dogs going down, the power rankings have been shaken in a major way for the first time since week 1.

12. Shanghai Dragons 0-6 (matches against excelsior & spitfire)

Overwatch League Power RankingsIt is not only their record that is keeping them in last. Just about every match they have played so far hasn’t been close. They have won a total of four maps this entire season. Overall, they just look completely overpowered and out of sync. Their DPS can’t seem to keep up with the many strong duos throughout the OWL.

That being said, they have looked better. Going into week 3, they had only won one map. This past week, they won three and sent the Fusion into a map five. While they lost, they looked more coordinated and like they were starting to get into a groove. It is possible that they have figured out some of their major issues and may be able to pick up a win, but we highly doubt it will be this week as they face the Excelsior and Spitfire.

11. Florida Mayhem 1-5 (Matches against Gladiators & Shock)

Overwatch League Power RankingsOne would think that this team would be doing much better. They have struggled mightily, and last week was no different. They seem to always give a fight at the beginning, then once they get down, they putter out. Their team chemistry doesn’t seem to be there, and that was their main advantage over most of the other teams heading into this season.

This week, they play against two beatable squads in the Gladiators and Shock. San Francisco in particular could be a good matchup for them. If they can come together as a group and win their games this week, they could climb up the power rankings pretty quickly.

10. San Francisco Shock 2-4 (matches Against Outlaws & Mayhem)

Overwatch League Power RankingsOn our preview and recap videos, we have been saying for awhile that the Shock need to get away from just relying on Babybay. Well, they have that part down, but sadly, he is dying at a very high rate as teams are focusing him. He has died 437 times, which is about 200 more times than Birdring. They need to protect him and just try to win as many games as they can until Sinatraa is old enough to play sometime around the third stage.

San Fran starts off this week against one of the hottest teams in the league. If they can upset them, that will help their stock quite a bit. As for their match against the Mayhem, this is an opportunity for them to get their third win against a team that has struggled. If the Shock can pull out a win this week, they will have separated themselves from the bottom tier.

9. Dallas Fuel 1-5 (Matches against Fusion & Excelsior)

Overwatch League Power RankingsYes, it is a little odd to have a team with one win above the 2-4 Shock, but records don’t mean everything. The Fuel have had a tough schedule and have struggled more than just about any team with their chemistry. They have plenty of talent and showed it last week by getting a win. If they can bring themselves together and finish out maps, which are things they have struggled to do, then they will be looking a lot better.

This week, their schedule does not get any easier. They play against a solid Fusion team to start it off and then against the Excelsior, who knocked off the Dynasty last week. If they can pull out one win this week, they will be looking a lot better and could maybe finish the stage with a decent record.

8. Los Angeles Gladiators 2-4 (Matches Against Mayhem & Uprising)

Overwatch League Power RankingsWe are having a hard time completely reading this Gladiators team. They show so much promise in some games, like when they went toe to toe with the Valiant. Then they got swept by Houston, who is a good team to be fair, but the Gladiators just looked overpowered in those games.

This week, LAG face a very beatable Mayhem and should be able to play a competitive match against the Uprising. If they can finish this week at .500, they will move up the power rankings. Also, it will make their playoff chances a lot higher, which is something we have to start looking at as we head into week 4.

7. Los Angeles Valiant 4-2 (Matches Against Fusion & Uprising)

Overwatch League Power RankingsThis Valiant team is almost starting a trend for themselves. They went 2-0 in week 1, 0-2 in week 2, then 2-0 again last week.

Could they fall victim to themselves this week? Superstition aside, this team is similar to their LA counterparts, but better. They have more positive moments and look like they could beat anyone at times, then they look very beatable at others. If they can stay even keel, expect this team to make some noise.

In their week 4 matches, the Valiant are playing two teams on the rise in the Fusion and Uprising. This could be the week where we see who the Valiant truly are. Winning both of this week’s matches will put the Valiant very near the top and show they are a true force in the league. Losing both will may point out where they will need to improve for the next stage.

6. Boston Uprising 3-3 (Matches Against Gladiators & Valiant)

Overwatch League Power RankingsBoston pulled off probably the biggest surprise of the Overwatch League thus far. Beating London proved that this team is starting to put it together. Not only that, but they went on to beat a Fuel team that is looking much stronger than in previous weeks. This could be a team to watch in their last four matches as they could be giant killers for the rest of the stage.

This week, they play both of the hometown favorites in the Gladiators and Valiant. If their win against the Spitfire wasn’t just a fluke, then their winning streak could easily go to four games. This is a scary team if they catch fire, and everyone in the league should be on the lookout for them.

5. Philadelphia Fusion 4-2 (Matches Against Valiant & Fuel)

Overwatch League Power RankingsPhilly beating New York was amazing. It showed they are actually a good team. Everyone had wondered going into week 3, and they made their mark by going 2-0 and beating arguably the best team in the league. Their goal now is to make sure they solidify their spot as a a top-tier team and make the Stage 1 playoffs.

This week, the Fusion will be facing two teams that are looking to build off their week 3 success. Overlooking either of them would be a huge mistake for Philly. They will have to bring their best and win both games to have a chance to make it into the top three and have a chance at the Stage 1 title.

4. Houston Outlaws 4-2 (Matches against Shock & Dynasty)

Overwatch League Power RankingsIs there a hotter team than the Outlaws? Probably not.

Jake and LiNkzr are showing why they are one of the best DPS duos in the league. They have won four straight matches and 16 straight games. All of that being said, they have not played a top six team in the last two weeks. We know they can beat lower-tier teams in a convincing fashion, but they will need to do more in the coming weeks.

This week, they start off against the Shock, who they should be able to beat relatively easily. Then they play their toughest team since they played New York in week 1, the Seoul Dynasty.

Houston is right outside of the top three because of their two losses, but their map wins are 19-6, which is second only to the Dynasty’s 20-4. They need to win their first match and take at least a map or two off the Dynasty to push their way into the top three.

3. London Spitfire 5-1 (Matches Against Dynasty & Dragons)

Overwatch League Power RankingsLondon suffered their first loss of the season to the Uprising. They had been looking beatable, but were still easily a top-tier team. Most are assuming their loss comes from a lack of playing together and having many good players on one team. They will need to keep working on team cohesion in order to stay in the Stage 1 playoffs at the third spot.

This week, they face arguably the best team in the league in Seoul. Then they face the worst in the Dragons. If they can win their first match against the Dynasty, they will be sitting pretty not just in the power rankings, but they will also most likely make their way into the Stage 1 playoffs because they should easily beat the Dragons.

2. Seoul Dynasty 5-1 (Matches Against Spitfire & Outlaws)

Overwatch League Power RankingsIt was really hard putting this squad at No. 2. They’re the only Korean team with a loss to another top Korean team. The Excelsior showed the Dynasty’s weaknesses last week, and trust us, there aren’t many. That being said, they easily deserve a top-tier spot and will most likely continue to stay up here.

Seoul has the hardest schedule this week. They will face the other Korean squad in the spitfire and then face arguably the hottest team in the league, the Houston Outlaws. The Dynasty will get to show the league what they are made of. Will they crumble to another Korean team and the top US team, or will they prove everyone who said they were the best team in the league correct? We personally cannot wait to find out.

1. New York Excelsior 5-1 (Matches Against Dragons & Fuel)

Overwatch League Power RankingsAt No. 1 we have NYXL. Even though this team lost to the Fusion, they were able to beat the Dynasty.

What does that means? Who knows? It probably doesn’t matter though as they were able to win without playing Pine at all. It might be that Pine is exclusively used on Ilios, but either way, New York proved why they are the top team with that win.

This week should be relatively easy for the Excelsior. They play a Dragons team that they should 4-0 and a Dallas team that has failed to put everything together. We expect the Excelsior to win and most likely hold this top spot as they prepare for the Stage 1 playoffs.

 

We hope you have enjoyed our power rankings! Please let us know where you have the teams or let us know if you disagree with where we put your favorite team. Check back next week to see where we place everyone after what is sure to be an exciting week 4.

 

Featured image from alpha.wallhaven.cc

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Do the London Spitfire have a roster problem?

In this week of completely logical, and non-overreaction reactions, one (successful) team seems to have an eventual roster issue if things stay as they were in week one. The London Spitfire did come out and dominate to no one’s surprise, but the lack of substitutions raised some questions.

Birdring and Profit coming to stage in Burbank, CA. Photo via of London Spitfire Twitter

The first question, and the most important question moving forward, is if this starting roster will continue to play the majority of games? There’s a good chance that the starting six will stay: Kim “birdring” Ji-hyuk and Park “Profit” Joon-yeong on the damage heroes, Kim “Fury” Jun-ho and Hong “Gesture” Jae-hee on the tanks and Choi “BDosin” Seung-tae and Kim “NUS” Jong-seok as support mains.

In all eight games, the Spitfire stuck to this group. No substitutions throughout the week. Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung, who’s notably one of the best Winston mains in Korea, sat on the bench behind Gesture all weekend. In the same vein, players such as Jo “HaGoPeun” Hyeon-woo on support, Jung “Closer” Won-sik sitting back NUS on Mercy and another well-known player in Kim “Rascal”  Dong-jun all sat on the bench.

Will it change in week two?

Based on interviews, it feels as if the Spitfire is running with two separate groups. In case anyone didn’t know, the Spitfire is made up of primarily one of two of the best Korean teams at the time of the signing period for the Overwatch League. It seems as if there’s internal competition, and while the starting lineup is made up of some GC Busan players, it still feels lacking.

Now, a scenario could arise where the Spitfire go with an entirely different unit than in week one. It doesn’t seem likely, but it’s a possibility. Remember, this team has the maximum number of players on one roster so there’s the option to start a different six than before. It feels even less likely that Fissure or Rascal will continue to ride the bench.  

Here’s another scenario, the Spitfire coaches are carefully watching to see how each unit works against what teams and comps. It’s early in the season and the Spitfire knew they matched up with a bottom six team in the Florida Mayhem and the Philadelphia Fusion who missed the preseason entirely. It’s a good chance to see what they are up against.

Is this the best starting six?

Coach Park Chang-geun setting the starting lineup. photo via London Spitfire twitter

Lastly, the question needs to be asked if this coaching staff will role with this six considering the hero pools of each player and skill level. Yes, the lineup they went with in week one is considerably better than almost any combination from any other team in the league.

Looking at these names, Profit is arguably the best Tracer and birdring the best Widowmaker/Soldier 76. Gesture and Fissure are as equally gifted Winston players, but Gesture’s only role is on the dive-Winston. In any scenario where that’s the play, Gesture will outshine Fissure. Same goes for Fury on the D.va instead of taking Sung “WOOHYAL” Seung-hyun.

It goes without saying, but BDosin has a long-standing history of incredible Zenyatta play. It will take quite a turn from BDosin to be forced out in favor of HagoPeun, especially after week one. I expect Closer to get some run at Mercy over NUS.

So, in essence, this is likely the best starting six possible based on the composition and game planning strategy this team runs with. Regardless, don’t expect this lineup to stick forever. There’s plenty of talent on the bench to give this team a needed push when called upon.

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Featured photos via London Spitfire twitter

And the Overwatch League Week One MVP is…

The opening week of the Overwatch League has now come and gone, and after two games a piece the teams are already starting to separate themselves. In similar fashion, certain players stood out amongst the talented group and flashed early on.

It is no surprise, the best teams in the league are the heavy-Korean teams such as the Seoul Dynasty, London Spitfire, and New York Excelsior. All of whom ended the first week at 2-0. The other undefeated team is the one surprise from this week, the Los Angeles Valiant sweept their matches ending the week up 7-0 in games.

Who was the week one MVP?

After the dust settled, four players stood out among the rest of the player pool. The first player to be mentioned is Kim “Fleta” Byung-sun for the Seoul Dynasty. Unlike any other player this weekend, Fleta went above and beyond with his hero pool. Seven unique characters all combining to do massive amounts of damage and help carry the Dynasty to a 6-1 weekend.

Pine signing autographs after the win. Photo via the Overwatch League

As for the unsung heroes of the opening week, how about Terence “SoOn” Tarlier and the Valiant taking the league by storm? Led by SoOn and his backline Tracer play the Valiant rolled through the San Francisco Shock and came out victorious even though they were the underdog against the Dallas Fuel. SoOn’s presence made the difference with his constant pressure that worked wonders alongside Valiant’s dive composition.

Looking at the New York Excelsior roster, there are a few names that took a big step this weekend. Kim “Pine” Do-hyeon’s flashiness on the Widowmaker and McCree or Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-yeol rolling on Tracer made it a tough decision to make. One Excelsior separated himself from some of the other support mains in the league

Bang “Jjonak” Sung-hyeon was responsible for huge picks, a great deal of healing, fight winning transcendents, and a ridiculous amount of healing on Zenyatta. It truly was an all-around great performance. In terms of best Mercy play, one half of the Dynasty dynamic support-duo, Jin-mo “tobi” Yang, was nasty with Valkyrie, moving in-and-out of danger in a flash.

It’s hard to pick a favorite of the London Spitfire roster considering that roster still feels very much in the air. Keep an eye on the Spitfire to have a more fluid starting roster in the future.

Drumroll Please

As for the best of the weekend, it’s quite simple, Fleta was the workhorse for the Seoul Dynasty. Anytime the Dynasty needed a hero switch and a big push, Fleta would switch and the Dynasty would win. It’s nice to see a wide variety of top-end talents at multiple heroes and position making a name for themselves. Now let’s see if they do it again in week two.

 

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Featured photo via Overwatch League

Overwatch League roster breakdown: Boston Uprising

The Overwatch League is fast-approaching. The rosters have been revealed and the dates for preseason and the regular season are set. The world is ready for the league to start in January 2018. In this series of articles, I look to give new fans a valuable and in-depth look at all the franchises and players to prepare for opening week.

Image via Boston Uprising

In the inaugural season, the twelve teams will compete in a six-month long season and crown the eventual champion in July. The entirety of season one will be played at the Blizzard Stadium located in California. The OWL will not only be a pioneer league in the esports scene, but a centralizing force in creating the best player pool imaginable.

I wanted to start with the consensus worst team in season one of the OWL: Boston Uprising. And it’s not that this team can’t succeed, it’s that the roster is filled with unlikely heroes. A team of relatively unknown players, in a league this stacked with talent, isn’t tough. But, Overwatch is a team game. Individual names don’t win championships, teams do.

Let’s talk about the Boston Uprising

Ownership

Robert Kraft, chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group, and owner of the exceedingly successful New England Patriots franchise, was one of the first big names to show interest in the Overwatch League. Alongside some of sports’ most venturous owners, Kraft being attached gave the league some pomp and stability.

Obviously, the league is filled with sports ownership groups buying up franchises, but Kraft was undoubtedly one of the biggest names to sign on. If anything, his involvement made other potential investors seriously consider joining in. It also helped raise awareness and will continue to do so as more potential fans find the OWL.

Coaching staff

Yes, believe it or not, the OWL has coaching. It’s like any old sport; there’s a head coach and an assistant coach, and they make all the important roster and strategy decisions. It’s been proven how effective a good head coach can be in Overwatch, as teams in Korea’s Apex league have had make-or-break seasons with different head coaches.

Luckily, Boston’s lack of roster talent doesn’t transfer over to the coaching staff. Da-hee “Crusty” Park has plenty of experience coaching inexperienced (NC Foxes) teams. The original head coach, who was demoted back to assistant coach, is Jason “Shake” Kaplan. Shake spent his early playing days on Gale Force, Code 7, Complexity Gaming and eventually found his way to CLG.

It’s imperative that this coaching staff finds the right combination to make this all work. Shake and Crusty are both extremely capable of taking this team to another level this season.

Image via Boston Uprising

Boston Uprising Roster

Noh “Gamsu” Yeong-Jin; Tank
One of the more recognizable names and leaders on this roster. A former League of Legends player turned FPS-star, and is now the main-tank on Boston Uprising. Gamsu has spent the majority of his Overwatch career playing on the Korean team CONBOX Spirit, and moving back and forth from Apex Premiere to challengers because of relegation.

However, Gamsu was a brilliant choice for this new team. A player whose experience in the esports space dates back to an entirely different game. Gamsu will help new players transition into this league. He’s also valuable for his play style. He’s known to not take bad engagements and usually has a pretty low death total.

Kwam “Striker” Nam-Joo; DPS
The best hit scan player on the team, and similar to Gamsu, a recognizable and interesting player to watch heading into the season. The former ROX Orcas player will now have to help carry the Uprising franchise with his big play potential from Soldier:76 and McCree.

Stanislov “Mistake” Danilo; DPS
In a world of good Tracer mains, Mistake will have to step up and become a reliable back-line Tracer to compete. The Russian born player, and one of the more recognizable players on the team, will have to continue to play that disruptive Tracer style we’ve seen in the past. There’s a growing consensus that Mistake is much better than people realize. He’s a player to watch this season.

Kristian “Kellex” Keller; Support
In terms of production, it’s hard to say another player on this Uprising team has done more than Kellex. He’s consistently been one of the best Lucio’s in Europe. Despite not being on any successful Overwatch teams, Kellex has found a way to stick out among the crowd of good Lucios. He’s a name that could surprise some people in season one.

Shin “Kalios” Woo-yeol; Flex
Now here’s an interesting player, one that sat on RunAway’s bench for a season and played on Afreeca Freecs Blue for a season. Most likely the Uprising’s starting D.Va player, and could be used as a flex player with his variety of hero choices.

Joseph “DreamKazper” Sanchez; DPS
The third and final DPS-main and only player with a quality pocket Genji. DreamKazper is also one of the few American-born players in the OWL. He leaves Tempo Storm to (presumably) play a backup role to Mistake and Striker, but will be handy as a projectile player with Genji for certain matchups.

Park “Neko” Se-hyeon; Support
One of the few players to play in Apex, and the only player to experience the Apex playoffs. The upstart NC Foxes, who almost took the royal road to a title, lost 4-0 to a more experienced and talented Kongdoo Panthera team (London Spitfire). Neko on Support was a big reason for their success.

Mikias “Snow” Yohannes; Support
Enter one of the two Toronto Esports signings. Snow was a Support player for Toronto Esports, which was ran by the current Uprising president, Chris “HuK” Loranger, who is mostly responsible for bringing the support main over. Snow is undoubtedly a questionable roster decision, but he’s one of the few Uprising players with plenty of Mercy experience. He should slot in as a nice bench player.

Lucas “NotE” Messier; Flex
Similarly, NotE signed from the Toronto Esports organization. NotE will be behind Kalios as the team’s flex. It’s tough for NotE, having a smaller role on this team with the D.Va slot being filled. He’s one of the bubble players, and will have to work to get some recognition and an extension moving forward.

Connor “Avast” Prince; Support
Avast is a candidate to surprise some people in year one. His ability to stay alive and turn fights was a staple on the Luminosity Gaming Evil roster. For now, Avast will have to earn his roster spot as a Lucio main over Kellex.

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Featured image courtesy of Boston Uprising