If the postseason playoffs began today, a record of 7-9 would qualify a team for the play-in matches, depending on their map differential (12th – Atlanta Reign, 7-9, +0 map diff.). To be secured past play-ins, a team would currently need 10 wins (6th – Dallas Fuel, 10-6, +4 map diff.). With 12-13 games left for each of the 20 OWL teams, there are very few teams that can consider themselves a lock-in for the playoffs at this point.
Those on the bubble should be especially worried. With so much time still left, this could reasonably be every team outside of the Shock, Excelsior or the Titans and perhaps the Mayhem or the Justice on the bottom end. Every other team from, Houston to London, could theoretically find a way to slip out of the playoffs. However, from a wide range of positions in the standings, there are three identified to be at the biggest risk.
Chengdu Hunters (6-10)
Current Rank: 15th
Seven Toughest Games Remaining: Vancouver Titans, SF Shock (2), NYXL, LA Gladiators, Hangzhou Spark, Seoul Dynasty
Estimated Final Record: 8-20
There is no doubt that the Hunters have among the toughest roads ahead of them. In addition to the games listed above, the Hunters also play the Fuel twice, the Fusion, and the Uprising before the season ends. They desperately needed to win their Stage 3, Week 1 matchups to set themselves up down the road and they failed to even keep them close (Losses to Charge 3-1, and Valiant 4-0).
Their estimated final record looks bleak in the face of the kinds of teams they have yet to play. It would be another thing entirely if the Hunters were looking promising. Instead, they have lost six of their last seven games, with the only exception being their thrilling win over London at the Dallas Homestead.
The Hunters new available players may be able to give them some extra oomph to close the season out but it may not be enough to propel them into the season playoffs. Cinese Overwatch has made its imprint on this season and will continue to flourish because of what the Hunters have been able to do. In that sense, this team has already achieved a great victory this season.
Dallas Fuel (10-6)
Current Rank: 6th
Seven Toughest Remaining Games: Vancouver Titans, Hangzhou Spark (2), NYXL, London Spitfire, LA Gladiators, SF Shock
Estimated Final Record: 15-13
The above-estimated record assumes that Dallas will lose to all of the teams listed above and will defeat all of the other six teams they match up against for the remainder of the season. At a 15-13 record, the Fuel would likely still make the playoffs, yes, but the Fuel still have much work to do, even just to get to 15-13. They would have to beat teams like the Hunters, the Reign, the Charge and the Valiant to achieve this. Dallas has shown that they can be better than all of these teams but they have struggled to be consistent, running into the occasional sweep here and there.
If Dallas wants to make the playoffs, they need to steal a win off of one or two of the seven teams listed above. If they can steal some of those, they can feel reassured of their playoff hopes and should find their way in, likely somewhere between 8th-11th to end the season. But, if they drop those seven above and don’t manage to stay clean in the remaining six games, they may just slide out of the top 12.
Los Angeles Valiant (4-12)
Current Rank: 17th
Seven Toughest Remaining Games: Vancouver Titans, SF Shock, LA Gladiators, Seoul Dynasty, Dallas Fuel, Hangzhou Spark, London Spitfire
Estimated Final Record: 10-18
The Valiant are a team that has re-tooled and have proven to be on the uphill swing. However, they have simply taken too long to fix their issues and still have some considerable challenges ahead of them. To make playoffs, they would likely need to end up with 14-15 wins, if the trend continues to be the same as it has been thus far. That would mean winning their six remaining games not listed above as well as four of the seven of those listed above. One thing is for sure, it would be a dramatic end to the season if they were able to pull that one off.
Don’t be too Careful
Teams like the Valiant, Outlaws and Justice all would have to make incredible runs in order to make the playoffs this year. On the opposite end of things, teams like Dallas, Philadelphia or London would have to drop off considerably if they were to fall out of the playoff picture.
In the end, fans of the NYXL would caution against thinking that things are going to go according to plan ahead of time. This is a chaotic league, and there are some teams with some fight left in them who sit out of the playoffs wight now. If they can fight and give the best teams a run for their money, there may be some big surprises when the end of August rolls around.
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Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
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