Coming off of a long, midseason break, the OWL finally returned to action this past Thursday. It was a weekend that certainly did not disappoint, either. Legends previously told of a fabled married man meta were resurrected to the Blizzard Arena stage, map win-streaks were shockingly ended and players wore new jerseys that recaptured the imaginations of fans. There’s no doubt that there are going to be some interesting storylines coming out of this weekend that may even carry through the rest of the season. Here are a few to keep an eye on, in particular.
Sombras and Saebyeolbes
The opening weekend of Stage 3 saw the return of NYXL’s league-favorite, Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park. He returned, however, on Sombra in place of Tae-hong “MekO” Kim, NYXL’s D.Va specialist and usual started. New York struggled with this Sombra composition against Houston but absolutely rolled London with it. The Shock also ran their fair share of the Sombra-GOATS composition in their matchup against the Reign, which may signal a slight pivot in the current meta.
It will be interesting to track which teams make the move to incorporate Sombra, which teams opt to stay with traditional GOATS and which teams dedicate themselves to DPS compositions.
The Two-Faced Dynasty
It now appears to be confirmed that the Seoul Dynasty are running two completely different starting rosters based on who they are facing match-to-match. Moving forward, this raises a lot of questions concerning which roster would play in playoff-type situations or what would happen if there were to be an injury or suspension. Either way, it’s an ambitious endeavor that could pay off big if Seoul is able to pull it off. It would force teams to scout them, in theory, twice as much before a match. After sweeping both the Mayhem and Hunters in week 1, it seems to be working so far, at least.
The Shock, Golden no More
It only took one map in Stage 3 for the Shock to lose their coveted map win-steak. While fans would have expected them to lose it to a foe like NYXL or the Titans, they managed to lose it to the Reign. The Reign have consistently managed to give the top teams in the league a hard time, even though they dropped both games this week to the Shock and Titans. The Shock’s failure to dominate the Reign could prove to be an interesting storyline moving forward. They play Houston, who just took NYXL to a fifth map, in the same slot that they played the Reign this past weekend. Some will say this one is a freebie but this may turn out to be a very interesting series.
Consistently Polarizing Results
Only two out of the 16 matches played this weekend managed to go the distance to a fifth map, including eight sweeps. Considering that several of the teams playing each other this week were at similar spots in the overall playoff rankings, it was surprising to see games be as one-sided as they were. Teams like the Spitfire, the Hunters, the Fuel and the Fusion need to get to a point where they can deliver more consistent results if they are going to remain in the playoff hunt.
Fresh New Threads… for 75% of the League at Least
The OWL unveiled its new alternate jerseys which they call the Third Kit Collection. Teams were able to design their own jerseys which produced some stellar, and some questionable, designs. Yet, only 15 of the 20 teams received jerseys with the Vancouver Titans, Seoul Dynasty, Guangzhou Charge, Chengdu Hunters and Shanghai Dragons opting out of the new jerseys for Stage 3. Seeing as how big of a hit these jerseys were, it’s hard to imagine these five teams will be without them for long. Regardless, it will be interesting to see which five games each team chooses to wear their jerseys this Stage and when the remaining teams decide to opt in and get their own stylish new threads.
To see the development of these storylines, be sure to tune in when OWL action returns on June 13 when the San Francisco Shock take on the Houston Outlaws. The Game Haus will continue to provide coverage on these storylines, and more, moving forward throughout the 2019 season and beyond.
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Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
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