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OWL Playoff Report: Injustice in the Overwatch League

Stage 4 of the Overwatch League is underway, and that means the playoffs are right around the corner. In this weekly playoff report, The Game Haus will cover the standings, highlight the most important games of the week and predict the 12 team playoff field.

Stage 4 of the Overwatch League promised to shake up the established order and delivered in a big way in Week 2. Upsets waited behind every corner and left most of the league’s presumed top teams searching for answers.

OWL Stage 4
Photo: Stewart Volland for Blizzard Entertainment

One team has taken to 2-2-2 like a Siberian Husky to freshly fallen snow. The Washington Justice, shunted to the bottom of the standings for three stages, are fresh off a 4-0 beatdown of the Vancouver Titans and undefeated through three games. The new meta and the release of Corey “Corey” Nigra and Ethan “Stratus” Yankel from their GOATs prison sentences have given the Justice new life. 

The problem for the Justice (and fans of Corey’s sublime sniper play) is they are already eliminated from playoff contention. If Washington keeps this up, the league is staring down a scenario where the best team in the current meta might not even make the postseason. That cannot be the goal for the OWL, and it could have easily been avoided. A change as drastic as role lock should have been implemented during the midseason break or not at all. Splitting the difference gives fans a peek at what could have been, then leaves them with teams that earned their spots during three stages that mean nothing to their form at the moment. 

The Top 6

Speaking of those teams pumped up by their GOATs prowess, New York and Vancouver both revealed serious flaws in unexpected losses. New York locked up the top spot in the Atlantic Division, but Vancouver fans have to be a bit nervous about the gap closing with the Shock. Those two meet in Week 5 when the Titans also take on NYXL. Vancouver has two winnable games in Week 4 and a chance to wrap up the Pacific Division crown.

Overwatch League
Photo: Stewart Volland for Blizzard Entertainment.

Hangzhou’s on-stage struggles continued in Week 2 amidst behind the scenes drama. An 0-2 start to the stage should put them in some serious trouble, but the teams chasing them keep slipping up themselves. The Spark have been given an opportunity to keep that top six spot, but they have to earn it over these final five games. 

Philadelphia, Shanghai and Seoul were all in a great spot entering Stage 4. Teams that never excelled at GOATs, they either scraped by feeding on weaker competition or, in the case of the Dragons, eschewed the meta and played their own way. This was their chance to earn a guaranteed playoff spot, and no one has stepped up to the plate. With games remaining against both the Fusion and Dragons, the Dynasty hold the fates of all three in their hands. 

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

The Play-In Spots

Week 2 was mostly about treading water for the teams on the bubble. The Valiant, Charge and Hunters all won once convincingly and acquitted themselves nicely in losses to top six teams. For the Valiant that might not be enough, sitting one game back in the loss column, they are quickly running out of runway. Even with some help from Guangzhou and Chengdu, they might be looking at must-win games against the Gladiators and Shock in Week 5.

The Atlanta Reign solidified their hold on the play-in slots with convincing wins that probably ended any playoff hopes for the Eternal and Outlaws. Atlanta has given themselves an outside shot at the top six if they can go on a run to end the season. They’d need help, but it’s not far-fetched with Jun “ErsTer” Jeong playing like the DPS superstar they intended.

Matches to Watch

Overwatch League
Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.

Thursday

London Spitfire vs Vancouver Titans (7:00 ET)

Paris Eternal vs Philadelphia Fusion (8:45 ET)

Guangzhou Charge vs Seoul Dynasty (12:15 ET)

Friday 

San Francisco Shock vs Shanghai Dragons (10:30 ET)

Hangzhou Spark vs New York Excelsior (12:15 ET)

Saturday

Houston Outlaws vs London Spitfire (3:00 ET)

Seoul Dynasty vs Toronto Defiant (4:45 ET)

Chengdu Hunters vs Hangzhou Spark (8:15 ET)

Sunday

Philadelphia Fusion vs Vancouver Titans (3:00 ET)

Guangzhou Charge vs New York Excelsior (8:15 ET)

Predicted Playoff Field

Top 6: Vancouver Titans, New York Excelsior, San Francisco Shock, Los Angeles Gladiators, London Spitfire, Seoul Dynasty

Play-InsHangzhou Spark, Philadelphia Fusion, Shanghai Dragons, Atlanta Reign, Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge

Missing Out: Dallas Fuel, Los Angeles Valiant, Houston Outlaws, Paris Eternal, Boston Uprising, Toronto Defiant, Washington Justice, Florida Mayhem

Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other TGH writers along with Bradley.

You can also follow Bradley @shyguyow.

 

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