If nothing else, the second stage of the second season of the Overwatch League proved that the NYXL are not unbeatable. They have clear weaknesses that the Atlanta Reign have exploited, not only once but twice. Despite this, the Excelsior came back from their embarrassing losses and were able to come back with a 3-0 victory against the Los Angeles Gladiators in their first playoff matchup.
The Excelsior fell twice this stage, against a team that otherwise hadn’t won even once all stage. The Reign managed to topple New York. Once seemingly with ease and again with visible difficulty, but nonetheless, Atlanta managed to overtake the Excelsior.
When you’re the two-time, it’s hard to choose a Top 5 when every play is highlight worthy…but we’ve managed to channel the ‘ol razzle dazzle & do just that!
— Atlanta Reign (@ATLReign) May 7, 2019
New York, seeming exhausted and burnt out, did not seem like themselves in their first matchup against the Reign. Seonghyun “Jjonak” Bang, the league’s MVP of the inaugural season, seemed out of sorts and constantly misused his ultimates. The boys in blue seemed confused and messy. They relied too hard on Jjonak to set up their plays and wasting too much time.
Additionally, the NYXL were easily separated and dismantled, which the Reign capitalized on with ease. Together, the Excelsior is strong, but in this game when they were split apart, the Excelsior looked incredibly weak.
In their second matchup against the Reign, the Excelsior seemed stronger and more determined to win. However, seemingly still reeling from their losses only a week before playoffs, the Excelsior fell yet again. Despite a closer matchup, the team still seemed messy and apprehensive. The Reign focused down the NYXL’s main supports, especially Jjonak. Their fault was often their lack of adaptability; the team had a habit of running the same strategy into the ground, even when it was clear that it had stopped working.
The New York Excelsior are far from untouchable, but they’re also far from easy to beat, especially upon their return to the main stage. New York came back with a vengeance, looking to prove themselves once again, and they succeeded.
Nothing but education. Nothing but the first step to something better. This weekend made us just more hungry. #EverUpward
— NYXL (@NYXL) May 7, 2019
Their strengths shined through on the stage stronger than before, especially after two weak performances. Before, their weakness in lasting through long team fights was often a very big issue. If even one team member had been picked off, more often than not the NYXL were unable to push through and even out the fight. This time around, the Excelsior stood their own against the Gladiators, often fighting very long battles and coming up on top nearly every time.
Additionally, New York’s tank line showed massive improvements going into this matchup. Dong-Gyu “Mano” Kim, a player who often was caught out of position, falling early and ultimately causing the Excelsior to lose team fights, secured massive Earthshatters against the Gladiators time and time again, playing on his tendency to get caught out by himself and setting up huge round-winning plays.
By taking their weaknesses, which the Reign exploited like crazy in their two matches, and turning them into strengths, the Excelsior rose above a lot of adversity. Many analysts expected the Gladiators to move forward. However, the Excelsior took their losses and turned them into rocket fuel, recharging and learning from their mistakes.
Given their turnaround after their two losses, the Excelsior were certainly poised to give the Vancouver Titans a fight to remember. Unfortunately, they were outplayed in the semifinals and fell to the Titans. If they’re able to hone in on these strengths, though, and exploit them as much as they exploit their opponents’ weaknesses, the Excelsior could stand a real chance against Vancouver and the victors of stage two — the San Fransisco Shock — in stage three.
Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.
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