London On The Brink
As the last matches of the regular season approach, the London Spitfire have something to worry about. Currently at sixth place with a 16-12 record, they’d be a lock-in for the playoffs if they happened tomorrow. However, just below them are the Atlanta Reign, at 14-12 with two matches left to play. All Atlanta needs to do is snatch two victories at the Kit Kat Rivalry Weekend. With their map differential advantage, they’ll edge London out of the top six. If the Reign knock them down to seventh place, the Spitfire will find their playoff hopes in jeopardy. There are only two spots available from the play-in tournament, and six teams fighting for them. How likely is Atlanta to sneak in ahead of them, and how will they fare if they have to go through the play-ins?
Atlanta On The Warpath
All the Atlanta Reign need to clinch a top six seed is to win their last two regular season games. Luckily for them, they’re playing against the Dallas Fuel and the Boston Uprising. Neither of these two teams have managed to put a win on the board this stage. Both Dallas and Boston, out of playoff contention, seem to be using their last few games to try and figure out which players to keep going into next year. With Atlanta playing in excellent form off the back of stellar performances from Joon “Erster” Jeong and Nathan “FRD” Goebbel, these wins should be easy to secure. After Atlanta’s dominant win over London widened their map differential to the point where it can’t be overtaken, London’s top six spot is in serious danger.
While London fans might be worried about the prospect of going through play-ins, it’s not all bad news. It could even be a blessing in disguise; the sixth-seeded team will have to play a San Francisco Shock that’s looked dominant all season. The seventh-seed team will instead be pit against a New York team that’s struggling to adapt to a new meta. If London can make their way up through play-ins and snatch the No. 7 seed, they might have a significantly easier path to semifinals than if they stay in the top six. But how likely are 2018’s champions to successfully fight their way through the play-in tournament?
If the Spitfire finish seventh, they’ll be facing the Seoul Dynasty, the Guangzhou Charge, the Philadelphia Fusion, the Shanghai Dragons, and one of either the Chengdu Hunters or the Los Angeles Valiant. It’s not an unbeatable lineup; if Ji-hyeok “birdring” Kim can play to his full potential, the Spitfire should easily put down a floundering Shanghai and an uncoordinated Philadelphia. Other teams, however, may pose a more serious threat.
The Seoul Dynasty have struggled to find an identity and a consistent starting roster. However, if the Dynasty’s coaching staff are able to find a style that suits the team and play to the strengths of Je-hong “ryujehong” Ryu and Min-hyuk “Michelle” Choi, they’ll be a very strong play-ins contender. The Chengdu Hunters, if they make it into the top 12, are notorious for causing upsets; on the other hand, the Spitfire would hardly want to face the Los Angles Valiant either.
The Valiant, hungry to make up for their disastrous first half of the season, have been playing every match with single-minded determination. Most dangerous of all are the Guangzhou Charge. The Charge look fearsome in a meta that enables their DPS stars Charlie “nero” Zwarg and Jung-woo “Happy” Lee. With Ou “Eileen” Yiliang as their secret weapon, the Charge’s play has been dynamic and explosive since the introduction of 2-2-2 lock.
Spitfire fans might be hoping for the Fuel or Uprising to manage an upset against the Reign. However, there will be at least one silver lining in being knocked out of the top six. If London can overcome strong contenders like Guangzhou and Seoul in the play-ins, they’ll have a much easier path past a faltering NYXL than they would against an indomitable San Francisco Shock. The only question is if they’ll be able to get to that point.
Spitfire fans will be watching the Atlanta Reign’s next few games with bated breath. If you’re curious about what’s coming for the Reign in the next year of the Overwatch League, The Game Haus covered it here.
Featured photo courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.
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