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.
The London Spitfire had maybe the best Week 1 of any OWL team. Not necessarily due to their own performance – though they looked strong against two bottom table teams – but because their closest competition stumbled. Shanghai fell to the Titans, whose lead over NYXL is only widening in 2-2-2. Then they turned around and beat up on Seoul. The Gladiators and Spark lost unexpectedly, and neither looks bulletproof in the new meta. In short, everything was coming up London in Week 1.
Jaehui “Gesture” Hong is back on Orissa, Junho “Fury” Kim is looking like the best off-tank in the league and Junyoung “Profit” Park is styling on DPS. It all sounds a lot like the recipe that made them Season 1 champions. Their schedule isn’t full of cupcakes, but they have a strong chance to ride the Stage 4 meta into a playoff spot.
The Top Six
The chaos of Week 1 and the uncertainty of 2-2-2 have delivered quite a playoff race. After the Gladiators took down New York to start the week, they seemed to be poised to distance themselves from the pack, especially after Shanghai and Seoul suffered losses of their own. Instead, they couldn’t handle the Outlaws and now they have to fight for their spot.
For the Spark, the story is much the same. Even though a strong Stage 3 placed them briefly among the league’s elite, their struggles in 2-2-2 and a slow start to the season could put them in danger of slipping out of the top six. A tough schedule down the stretch means that their position is by no means safe.
Of the teams on wrong side of the bubble, only Seoul and Shanghai really have the chops to make a push for the top six. Seoul were the victims of a brutal Week 1 draw, falling to the Shock and Dragons, but are still very much alive. The Dragons are still the best bet to make that jump. If London, Los Angeles or Hangzhou slip up, the Dragons will be right on their heels.
The Play-In Spots
The middle of the pack has somehow only gotten tighter after Week 1. Every team currently in the play-in tournament is within two losses of each other. No one can rest easy. Even the Fusion, who looked like a lock for play-ins a week ago, need to find wins fast after starting 0-2 against the Charge and Hunters.
Those two both looked solid against the Uprising and Fusion, but Guangzhou has a bit of an edge at the moment. Week 2 will be the chance for them to prove they belong against stiffer competition. All four Chinese franchises occupy playoff spots at the moment, but Chengdu and Guangzhou could easily find themselves on the outside looking in next week.
The three teams right on the bubble – the Reign, Fuel and Valiant – all played just one game in Week 1. Early returns aren’t great for Dallas, but they still have time to make the turnaround. The Valiant looked decent in their win against the Eternal, but they need to be nearly perfect from here. Atlanta is in the strongest position of the three by far. Hangzhou should have been one of their toughest opponents of the stage, but they handled them easily. Now their schedule becomes quite manageable to end the season.
Houston and Paris are still clinging for life, but the odds are certainly against them. The Outlaws were a mess at times against the Eternal but managed to keep their season alive with a clutch win over the Gladiators. Paris started strong but faltered in a close loss to the Valiant. Both need wins now and are running out of second chances.
Matches to Watch
Guangzhou Charge vs London Spitfire (7:00 ET)
Seoul Dynasty vs Los Angeles Valiant (12:15 ET)
Paris Eternal vs NYXL (7:00 ET)
Houston Outlaws vs Philadelphia Fusion (8:45 ET)
Chengdu Hunters vs Los Angeles Gladiators (10:30 ET)
Guangzhou Charge vs Hangzhou Spark (12:15 ET)
Atlanta Reign vs Paris Eternal (3:00 ET)
Los Angeles Valiant vs Dallas Fuel (6:30 ET)
Atlanta Reign vs Houston Outlaws (3:00 ET)
Chengdu Hunters vs NYXL (8:15 ET)
Predicted Playoff Field
Top 6: Vancouver Titans, NYXL, San Francisco Shock, LA Gladiators, London Spitfire, Shanghai Dragons
Play-Ins: Hangzhou Spark, Seoul Dynasty, Philadelphia Fusion, Atlanta Reign, Guangzhou Charge, Los Angeles Valiant
Missing Out: Chengdu Hunters, Dallas Fuel, Houston Outlaws, Paris Eternal, Boston Uprising, Toronto Defiant, Washington Justice, Florida Mayhem
Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.
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