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.
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.
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
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
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.
Featured Image courtesy of Robert Paul