The Dallas Fuel have emerged from their long hibernation to give fans a truly remarkable run of matches in the past three weeks. After taking the win over the LA Valiant back in week nine, the Fuel demonstrated that they’d had enough of being at the bottom. They were victorious against the Washington Justice 3-0, and last week battled the San Francisco Shock to a fifth map. Though they couldn’t clutch it out against Shock, the Dallas Fuel are still playing the best Overwatch they have all season.
“I think people will look at this match, they’ll look at this scoreline and say, “Well the Shock almost lost to Dallas. The Shock aren’t a good team anymore. I cannot stress enough how much this was the Dallas Fuel really elevating their gameplay. Two very good teams going at it.”
– Brennon Hook, at the conclusion of the Shock vs Fuel match
The Battle for Texas
This week, the Fuel face off against their home state rivals. The Houston Outlaws, who themselves have been struggling with their own issues the past few weeks, have not played against the Fuel since April 28 of last year. Both teams are markedly different from their 2019 iterations, and both are playing a higher level of Overwatch even compared to the beginning of the season.
Dallas, to not put too fine a point on it, is playing much, much tighter. They are finally functioning as a team, putting their minds together, and operating as a single unit. Their coordination has massively improved. While much credit is deservedly given to Decay and Doha, the stars of the match vs the Shock were Gamsu and NotE.
One of Houston’s major weaknesses is their history of putting players in roles that they appear uncomfortable in. Shifting their players who have historically excelled in one role into another is not ideal for a team to gel together.
Texas Rosters and Hero Bans
In many ways, the nature of this week’s hero bans may signal a return of a pre-hero ban meta. With Blizzard’s decision to include ranked play as a factor in deciding hero pools, this week’s bans reflect decisions by casual players to choose which heroes sound fun, rather than which heroes would win a professional game. This week’s DPS bans, though disappointing with Echo out of rotation, represent a return to form for both the Outlaws and the Fuel. With hitscan heroes, Doomfist and Sombra back on the menu, this week’s hero pools play to each team’s strengths. With Orisa unavailable in the tank slot, fans can expect to see a lot of Reinhardt/D.va, or Reinhardt/Sigma. Both support lines are in their element running a classic Ana-Lucio combination.
Prediction: Dallas 3 – Houston 2
Houston and Dallas are two Texas teams that have very talented rosters and play at a comparable level of skill. Even the slightest edge may tip the scales in favor of the Blue or the Green. That being said, the Battle for Texas rests in the hands of the off-tanks. Both teams have excellent Doomfist players in Doha and Blase. Both teams have excellent hitscan players in Linkzr and Decay. Should the two teams pull out Doha and Blasé on Doomfist, it’ll be up to MekO and NotE to shut the other down. Should Houston play the long game and rely on their hitscan talent, NotE’s job will be to peel and eat up as much damage as he possibly can. NotE in particular has proven that he can deliver when his team really needs him.
Player to watch: NotE
For a player known for his performance on D.Va, NotE’s Sigma play came in clutch for Dallas on multiple occasions. The Fuel steamrolled the Shock on the last point of Numbani, during which NotE negated Rascal’s Blizzard, and saved his team from Choihyobin’s Gravitic Flux, both players on Mei and a rival Sigma respectively. Allowing two such powerful crowd control ultimates to go through may have cost Dallas the final point.