The Houston Outlaws’ regular season has concluded as of last Saturday. It certainly wasn’t the finish the Outlaws were looking for. They ended the season riding a five-match loss streak, and they’ve only won three of their final fourteen games. Nonetheless, the Countdown Cup offers Houston the opportunity to enter the postseason Play-In bracket on a positive note.
A major obstacle stands in the way of the Outlaws and tournament achievement: the Los Angeles Valiant. Much like their Summer Showdown Knockout match-up versus Florida Mayhem, Houston has been chosen to face off against a team that beat them the previous week.
Can the Outlaws make the right adjustments and come out of the rematch victorious like they did in Summer Showdown? Or are they doomed for a repeat outcome of Week 26?
Week 26 Fallout: Another Map 5 Heartbreaker for The Outlaws
“KSF, the blade, it’s going to have to be gigantic. He’s pushed back, the Immortality Field ruining the initial assault. He goes in, sets up McGravy and Dreamer. The Valiant are not done yet! The Valiant roar back in! And now the Outlaws are at death’s door…” Overwatch League Caster Andrew “ZP” Rush had the call on the match-winning play for the Valiant.
The Outlaws and the Valiant played a tight series, no doubt. Houston took map wins on Hybrid and Payload, while LAV had the upper hand on Control and Assault. In the end though, Houston dropped the ball in the final round of Map 5.
It’s becoming a disturbing trend for the Outlaws, as the exact same thing happened in their game versus the Dallas Fuel just two weeks prior. It’s definitely a habit Houston has to kick to be successful in tournament play. Whether or not this previous result will loom over the Outlaws in the Knockout Round remains to be seen.
An important takeaway from all this: the Outlaws are capable of beating the Valiant, so long as they can close out the match.
Keys to Victory
For Houston to take the series against the Valiant, they’ll need have their team coordination back at the level it was in the Summer Showdown.
The Outlaws have looked rather disorganized in their play recently. In particular, their ultimate usage has left much to be desired. It’s no secret, Houston has struggled to synergize together when Main Tank João Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles has been on heroes other than Orisa.
Without Orisa’s Halt to coordinate ults and abilities around, the Outlaws have looked lost at certain points. Fortunately, the team’s had a week’s worth of scrims to work on this issue. If they can clean up their execution on compositions such as Dive, they’ll be in a much better spot.
Another thing Houston can use to their favor is the element of surprise.
Last Friday, the Outlaws came out with a unique Junkrat strategy on King’s Row defense that caught the Valiant off guard. LAV were simply unable to find an answer for Houston’s comp. They kept Off Tank Caleb “McGravy” McGarvey on D.Va the entire attack, a questionable decision given the value lost from not running Sigma. The Outlaws took advantage of Valiant’s confusion and held them on second point, winning the map.
If Houston can come up with more creative strategies to employ on Friday, they can gain an edge in the contest. The Valiant have demonstrated problems with mid-map adaptability. Now’s the time for the Outlaws to capitalize.
Match Prediction: 3-2 Houston
Sure, at this point it seems absurd to predict the Outlaws to win a Map 5. But this series is bound to be close. If Houston wants to advance to the Quarterfinals, they’ll likely have to face their Map 5 demons head-on.
The Outlaws have shown the ability to come out on top in a rematch. They’ve done so in the Summer Showdown, and they can do it again here.
The Countdown Cup is Houston’s last chance to make a mark on the 2020 season before the Playoffs. They’ve got to make it count.
Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
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