In the history of the Overwatch League, there has never been a team quite like the 2021 Florida Mayhem. Never before has a team’s ceiling been so high, and their skill floor so dreadfully low. Never before has a team wasted untapped potential so thoroughly. And never before has an arguably all-star team gone 0-8 following a tournament qualifying peak. That is, until now.
Heading into the fourth season of the Overwatch League, the Florida Mayhem seemed unstoppable. Fans had incredibly high hopes for the all-star roster heading into the season. These hopes were affirmed by the Mayhem’s dominant 3-1 May Melee run, a performance which earned the team a trip to Hawaii to compete in the main tournament. The Mayhem did relatively well in this tournament, defeating the Chengdu Hunters to earn themselves a 3rd place finish. But this 3rd place finish would mark an end to what could even remotely be considered success for the Florida Mayhem in this season of the Overwatch League.
The Florida Mayhem imploded in the June Joust and Summer Showdown, going winless throughout the two tournaments. This appalling record would force the Mayhem down the power rankings, leaving them as the 3rd worst team in NA by the end of July. It seemed as if the Mayhem would need a miracle to return to form and make the post-season playins. But, following the first two weeks of the Countdown Cup, it seems as if a miracle has begun to form. The Mayhem fell 2-3 to the dominant Atlanta Reign, before ending their loss streak 3-1 against the Boston Uprising. To make the playins, the Mayhem will need to improve their record by defeating both the Houston Outlaws and the Los Angeles Gladiators later on this week. But what are the chances of the Mayhem accomplishing such a lofty goal?
Versus The Houston Outlaws (8/12)
Later today, the Florida Mayhem will have the difficult job of defeating the Houston Outlaws. Doing so would be no small feat- though it’s more likely than many OWL fans may think. Though the Outlaws have been a dominant team throughout the regular season, they’re currently on the back foot. Hero bans eliminated the teams signature double-shield style of play, and failure to adapt mid-match allowed the Atlanta Reign to sweep them in week 16. If these shortcomings continue into their match against the Florida Mayhem, it’s likely that the Mayhem come out on top.
When compared to the Outlaws, the Florida Mayhem seem rather comfortable in such a volatile meta. While Houston haven’t yet settled into Pharah compositions, the Mayhem have thrived in them, thanks in large part to their superstar DPS player, Kim “Yaki” Jun-ki. Yaki can run circles around many of the league’s more competent DPS players in compositions which handicap him. And in metas that favour his style of play, there seems to be no limit to how well he can perform. The Houston Outlaws’ DPS players, meanwhile, have seemed to lack this dominance in the Countdown Cup. Though certainly showing up against the Washington Justice, they ran scared against the Atlanta Reign, a team with which the Mayhem went 3-2.
If this theme persists into their match later today, the Mayhem will be given a major leg up. Of course, DPS play won’t be all that matters in this match. The Mayhem’s Support and Tank lines will need to step up if they want any chance of collecting the Outlaws’ bounty. But with how they’ve performed recently, it’s likely that there’s a new sheriff in town- and they’re donning pink and black.
VERDICT: A likely win for the Florida Mayhem
Versus The Los Angeles Gladiators (8/13)
But the Outlaws aren’t the only team that Florida have to beat to make their way into the post-season playins. They’ll also have to take down SoCal’s favourite team- the Los Angeles Gladiators. Though they tout a worse record than the Houston Outlaws, in the Countdown Cup, they’ve seemed like the better team. The Gladiators defeated the Washington Justice 3-0, just like the Outlaws. And, like the Outlaws, they were bested at the hands of the Atlanta Reign. But unlike the Outlaws, the Gladiators seem far more comfortable in this meta, and only barely lost to the Reign. The Gladiators were quick to master the new meta, and were incredibly adaptable throughout week 16. They seemed comfortable on every hero and composition, as they consistently understood their win conditions and managed to play to their strengths. This fluidity is why they’re so heavily favoured to win against the Florida Mayhem come Friday.
But fans of the Mayhem shouldn’t give up hope just yet. This match, though difficult, is still perfectly winnable for the Southeastern Savants. However, the entire game may come down to just a few crucial plays made by the Mayhem’s support line. Kim “Slime” Seong Jun and Kang “Gangnamjin” Namjin have proven themselves to be incredibly impactful players, both on and off the Mayhem roster. However, they have an incredible challenge ahead of them if they want to best the Los Angeles Gladiators. It’ll be on them to nullify the impact of the Gladiators’ brutal DPS, and create opportunities to collapse onto their bloodthirsty supports. Should they manage it, they’ll have more than earnt their playin spot. But if they can’t, all signs point them crumbling in the Gladiators’ arena.
VERDICT: A likely win for the Los Angeles Gladiators
The Last Resort
Of course, beating both of these dominant teams isn’t the Florida Mayhem’s only chance of making the playins. There’s one final way that they can keep their season alive past the Countdown Cup. But it certainly isn’t a preferable way of staying on life support, and will require a vast amount of luck. First, the Mayhem will need to make their way through the Countdown Cup knockouts. Even making these knockouts will be difficult, should the Mayhem lose to either the Outlaws or the Gladiators. Many teams have gone 2-2 in the Countdown Cup, and wether the Mayhem make it in or not may come down to the difference of a single map. But even if the Mayhem make it in, they’ll need to defeat two world-class teams to punch their ticket to Hawaii. Finally, once in Hawaii, they’ll need to clinch a 3rd place finish at the very least.
If the Mayhem can fulfill all these requirements, they’ll have collected 8 league points, just enough to make the playins. However, the entire sequence of events seem legendarily unlikely, should the Mayhem lose to either the Outlaws or the Gladiators. But if push comes to shove, it could be the Mayhem’s last shot at realizing their true potential- and they’re unlikely to give it up for the world.
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