Outside of the exposure that the play-in matches brought the Dynasty and the Spitfire, this weekend’s first two days of games were fans’ first glimpse into how the rest of the field looks going in. Some teams shined, with unsuspecting players popping off, while others failed to live up to expectations. To help make sense of things going into the remainder of the playoffs, here are the first impressions from the 8 OWL playoff teams.
Seoul Dynasty: A Marve1 to Watch, Despite the Loss
The Seoul Dynasty made their real first impression in a win over the Guangzhou Charge, a team that many saw making a real run at the playoffs. In that game, it was made very apparent that Min-seo “Marve1” Hwang was looking to be one of the better Sigma players in the league. While that fact has continued to ring mostly true, Marve1 is not as uncontested for that spot as he once was, especially after seeing players like Tae-hong “MekO” Kim and Blake “Gator” Scott on the hero. Outside of Marve1, Seoul’s Doomfist player, Dong-eon “FITS” Kim has looked impressive to start things off.
All of this culminated in their second game against the Vancouver Titans. While the 4-2 scoreline may lead some to believe that this was not a close match, the Dynasty were able to contend, despite the Titans having a scouting advantage on them coming in. Lucky for the Dynasty, losing this match pits them against the Spark in the lower bracket, who looked among the worst between the eight playoff teams. If they’re going to advance, they’ll need to tighten up their coordination and continue to see big plays from both Marve1 and FITS.
London Spitfire: History Repeating Itself?
The Spitfire is a team that is known for their inconsistency, but this level of it is truly outrageous. In their first game on the new patch, they took out the Shanghai Dragons in an epic brawl of a series. After that, since many had regarded Shanghai as among the best teams, London was considered to be frontrunners to repeat their Grand Finals run. Behind the clutch play of Joon-yeong “Profit” Park, London looked to be a lock against the NYXL.
But, in true Spitfire fashion, that was not the case. The clown shoes came on and London got shut down by the NYXL and their tricky Bastion plays. All in all, London has shown strides of brilliance and once again looks to be one of the teams with the highest ceilings. But, on the flip side, they also may have one of the lowest floors. If history really is set to repeat itself, London will have to defeat the Shock in the lower bracket.
Vancouver Titans: Throwing the Opposition for a TiZi
In Vancouver’s opener on the new patch, a familiar face wasn’t present among the starting six. At main tank, their new addition Jang-hyeon “TiZi” Hwang started in place of Sang-beom “Bumper” Park. This led to a bit of fractured coordination to start off the match against the Dynasty, but shortly after that the Titans took over the match and eventually took the victory.
In the match, Hyojong “Haksal” Kim looked absolutely tremendous, just as he has all season long. The newly crowned Rookie of the Year, if he can repeat that performance, should look to lead the Titans to another victory against the Gladiators.
Los Angeles Gladiators: A Hydration of Many Hats
— Los Angeles Gladiators (@LAGladiators) September 6, 2019
Without a doubt, the biggest standout from the Gladiators playoff opener was the flexible play of João Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles. His ability to play both tank and DPS at a high level allowed the Gladiators to show several different looks and play at different paces from map to map. This, alongside the standout play from Lane “Surefour” Roberts, propelled Los Angeles to a first-round victory against the Spark. They’ll be faced with a much more difficult task in their next match against the Titans, which should prove to be a good litmus test for each team.
Hangzhou Spark: A Spark Without Fire
The entire series between the Hangzhou Spark and the Los Angeles Gladiators seemed to have been played at a lower level than the others over the first two days. Pair this with the Spark struggling to find their footing, especially at the DPS position, and things are looking grim for the last remaining Chinese team in the playoffs.
They’ll get another shot against the Dynasty in the first game of the day today, but they’ll need to look much better to match the DPS play of FITS and Byung-sun “Fleta” Kim. Overall, the Spark are hoping their first impression isn’t a lasting one.
The NYXL shocked everyone when they announced that Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park would be in the starting lineup alongside Yeon-oh “Fl0w3R” Hwang. Fan-favorite SBB provided the NYXL with his signature veteran leadership, his joy-inducing smile, and a whole lot of Bastion play. One way to land a Spitfire plane is apparently with an anti-air turret, it turns out.
But, the cheeky Bastion strategies are not the only cause for the NYXL’s dominant win. MekO also demonstrated that he is among the league’s best Sigma players, showcasing an excellent understanding of the new hero. But in New York’s next matchup, he’ll have a very worthy opponent in Gator.
Atlanta Reign: The C9 Heard Round the World
In one of the most intense series of competitive Overwatch to-date, the Reign toppled the ever-powerful San Francisco Shock. Led by incredible performances from Joon “Erster” Jeong and Gator, the Reign continued to ride the momentum they generated in Stage 4. They combine a powerful ability to win teamfights on Control maps with good, coordinated plays on Hybrid and Payload maps and look to be immediate frontrunners for a deep playoff run.
The series was one that could have gone either way, but each team kept their composure until the last moments of sheer chaos. Atlanta, being on the better end of the C9, should go into their next match with their heads held high, while the Shock are forced to climb their way back through the bottom.
San Francisco Shock: The Best Loser in Town
The Shock have to be waking up today, well, shocked. After putting up an incredible fight against the Atlanta Reign in the final match of the night, the Shock now have to turn around and play another match tonight against the defending champs. This, if London shows up, could be a devastating end to what has been a spectacular season for the Shock.
The first impression from this team, however, is that Jay “sinatraa” Won played like the MVP that he is. Of all of the stellar Doomfist players that were showcased in the past two days, sinatraa reigns over them all. Pair that with some mighty main support play from Grant “moth” Espe, and the Shock still look like the team everyone hoped they could be this season. They should still be favorites against the Spitfire tonight, but after such a mentally draining series, things could be up in the air for the boys from the Bay Area.
As a reminder, games tonight will begin at 6:00 pm PST with the losers of tonight’s matches being eliminated from the playoffs. It’s now or never, so be sure to tune in!
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Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
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