The Summer Showdown offered the Houston Outlaws respite from what has otherwise been a tough season overall. The Outlaws managed to string together some strong performances in their qualification matches, so there was a sense of optimism surrounding the team headed into the tournament.
Houston’s first round matchup would be no cakewalk though. They’d be facing off against a team that had just beat them in Week 21, the Florida Mayhem.
Outlaws win the rematch against Mayhem
In a show of confidence, Florida selected Houston as the team they’d play in the Knockout round. They felt as though they could replicate the results they had last time the teams played. Unfortunately for the Mayhem, Houston came into the match ready to bring the fight to them.
Both teams share a preferred composition they run most often: Tracer-Ashe/Widowmaker-Orisa-Sigma-Baptiste-Brigitte. Whichever team could win this mirror matchup would likely take the series.
This time around, the Outlaws dominated Mayhem on the comp.
Houston Flex DPS Dante “Danteh” Cruz was a key factor for his team. He did an excellent job keeping Florida’s lauded Flex DPS Jun-ki “Yaki” Kim in check.
Both Danteh and Yaki played Tracer for most of the match. Given Danteh’s skill on the hero, he was able to effectively take the Tracer duel against Yaki. A big part of Mayhem’s success in the past has come off of Yaki bullying the opposing team’s backline on Tracer. With Danteh keeping Yaki occupied, the rest of Outlaws had more freedom to focus on winning the 5v5 battle.
And winning the 5v5 is exactly what Houston did. They were the ones setting the tempo for a majority of the match. Their combos with Orisa’s Halt were on point, and they used their ultimates aggressively to win teamfights decisively.
Houston full-held Florida on both Blizzard World and Rialto en route to a 3-1 victory in the Knockout round.
The Philadelphia Fusion would be next up for the Outlaws in the Quarterfinals.
A disappointing finish against the Fusion
After an early exit in the May Melee Semifinals, it’s no secret that the Fusion were looking for redemption in the Summer Showdown. They’d be looking to prove their doubters wrong and make it to the Finals this time.
In order to have that opportunity, they’d first need to take out an upstart Outlaws team.
Philadelphia should be thanking their lucky stars that this tournament was played on the June 16th patch. Genji received massive buffs that patch, and they have renowned Genji player Josue “Eqo” Corona on their roster.
Fusion would go on to take full advantage of Eqo’s Genji in the Quarterfinals.
Philly came into the series with a comp identical to the one the Outlaws usually run, but with Tracer swapped out for a Genji. This proved to be a deciding factor, as the Fusion got far more value out of running Genji.
With the Eqo Genji, Philly could brawl far better than Houston. Genji’s buffs made him a powerful frontline hero that deals consistent damage. His fast-charging Dragonblade forces the enemy team to invest all of their abilities to deal with it. As the Outlaws eventually came to learn, it’s difficult to win in the current meta without a good Genji.
Beyond Houston’s lack of a Genji, things still went really poorly for them this match.
The Fusion were able to stomp all over the Outlaws’ frontline. Danteh and Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin got absolutely shut down by Philly’s superstar DPS Jae-hyeok “Carpe” Lee. Houston struggled to full-cap a single map.
In the end, the Fusion swept the series 3-0 (with a draw on Volskaya) and sent the Outlaws packing.
Hope for the future
The result of the Fusion match shouldn’t keep Houston fans down in the dumps. The Summer Showdown was by all means a success for the Outlaws. They proved they’re capable of taking down a high-level team like Mayhem.
Philly ran a superior comp to Houston in the Quarterfinals. There’s a world where that series is much closer if the Outlaws had a better read on the meta. If Houston can continue their steady improvement, they might be in a position to beat a team of Fusion’s caliber come time for the Countdown Cup.
For now though, the Outlaws should have their sights set on Week 24. They’ll be taking on the Dallas Fuel in the ninth edition of the Texas showdown.
Can Houston carry their positive momentum into the final stretch of the season?
Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
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