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Houston Outlaws Week 26 Preview: Double Trouble

Houston Outlaws wins

The Houston Outlaws are faced with their final two regular season matches in Week 26. Things are setting up for a less-than-ideal conclusion to their 2020 campaign.

The Outlaws come into the weekend following a devastating 3-1 defeat to a weak Washington Justice squad. At this point, Houston have only won three of their last twelve matches, dating all the way back to Week 10. Indeed, they could use a spark headed into the Countdown Cup and end-of-season Playoffs. The team desperately needs a victory to gain some positive momentum.

It’ll be no cakewalk though. Houston will play the Los Angeles Valiant on Friday and the San Francisco Shock on Saturday. The Outlaws’ two opponents have a combined 27-10 record. Just when the Houston boys could use a win the most, it’ll be the most challenging.

Valiant looking to fly high yet again

Houston Outlaws Preview
Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

The Valiant have had some sub-par showings as of late. They got knocked out of the Summer Showdown by Toronto Defiant in the Knockout Stage, and they got swept by the Atlanta Reign 3-0 in Week 24.

Don’t let these unfortunate results fool you though. The Valiant’s loss to Defiant can be attributed to the fact that they were missing both starting Main Tank Sanglok “Dreamer” Song and Flex Support Jung-won “Lastro” Mun. The sweep at the hands of the Reign was largely due to Valiant’s difficulties with adjusting to the hero pool of that week.

Now, with a complete starting lineup and no hero pool, LAV are looking dangerous yet again. Moreover, they’ll be extra motivated to secure a win on Friday. The Valiant are jockeying for position in the middle of the standings, so every addition to the “W” column matters.

Shock ‘n roll on a Saturday night

Houston Outlaws preview
Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

San Francisco had a historic match last weekend. They set the new record for the fastest match win in Overwatch League history against the Vancouver Titans. With a time of 19 minutes and 23 seconds, the Shock beat out the former record by over three minutes.

It’s no secret, San Fran are the top dog in the league this season. It has reached the point where they’re able to safely experiment with their roster and still achieve victory. The Shock recently played with Main Tank Matthew “super” DeLisi on Genji in matches versus Boston and Vancouver. They won both games.

Of note for Saturday’s match, Flex Support Minki “Viol2t” Park will be unavailable for the Shock. The team suspended him for one match following his toxic behavior in a ranked game last Monday.

Viol2t’s absence does sting a bit for the Shock, he’s been a fixture in their starting lineup all season. Nonetheless, it likely won’t have a major impact on the match’s result. San Francisco should be absolutely fine with Jooseok “Twilight” Lee and Grant “moth” Espe making up their backline.

The horse is back for Houston

Houston Outlaws preview
Image Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

The Outlaws need every advantage they can get with two tough opponents on the horizon. Luckily for them, Week 26 brings an end to the previous hero pool.

Houston ran into many problems with Orisa out of the rotation for the last two weeks. Main Tank João Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles never looked as adept on Winston as he did on Orisa. The Brazilian-American only ever seemed comfortable on Wrecking Ball. This led to a plethora of issues.

From a team perspective, the Outlaws had a hard time settling on a fixed strategy across their matches. They constantly rotated their DPS lineup, switching their Genji player multiple times, and they ran a multitude of team compositions. All to no avail. They struggled to stage teamfights with tanklines such as Winston-Zarya and Winston-Sigma.

With Orisa back in the picture, Houston can get back to a playstyle that’s given them success in the past. With a set meta comp of Orisa-Sigma-Baptiste-Brigette, the Outlaws will be able to focus on more micro strategies. Whether this change is enough to get Houston over the hump remains to be seen.

Match Predictions:

[Friday] Outlaws 3-1

[Saturday] Shock 3-0

The Shock are expected to plow through any competition they face, and Saturday’s game should be no exception. The real interesting match-up for the Outlaws this weekend will be against the Valiant. It should be a tight series, and it really could go either way. If Houston’s able to return to the form they had before the Week 24 and 25 hero pool, it’s certainly a winnable match for them.

Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

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