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Three Teams and Only Two Will Make it: The Playoff Chances of Valiant, Hunters and the Dragons

Every day as playoffs get closer, one more team will clinch their spot for the playoffs or reach the cut off for the play-in. For some, however, their spot may be slipping away. Other teams are closing in and could overtake them in the standings. The Los Angeles Valiant and the Chengdu Hunters are in a dead heat. Even so, a third team may find themselves creeping out of contention, the Stage 3 champions and fan favorites, the Shanghai Dragons. Take a look at these three teams playoff chances.
While the Shanghai Dragons are the safest of the three teams, there is still a world where they fall out of the Top 12. Saturday’s matches will be important for both Shanghai and the Hunters; both are MUST wins and preferably dominant wins. If both of them take these wins, then they’ll be that much closer. Meanwhile, the Valiant will have to win at least two of their three upcoming matches to land a spot in the play-in.

The SHANGHAI DRAGONS (13-13): The Safe Bet

playoff chances teams
Photo credit to Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

It’s almost impossible to think that the Shanghai Dragons, could slip out of the Top 12. It seems like only yesterday they were crowned the Stage 3 Champions. Going into Stage 4, many had them pegged as a shoo-in for the Playoffs. But, Stage 4 has not been kind to them. They have struggled in the current meta, especially when Reaper and Mei are required. While it still seems unlikely that they will completely drop off, it is still possible.

Their next two matches are against Paris Eternal and the Hangzhou Spark. They only need to win one. With how the Dragons have been playing, they could lose both. Depending on how the two other teams perform, a worst-case scenario is being completely out of contention.
Their match against the Eternal is most likely, winnable. But the Eternal are no slouch. They did sneak up and steal a win from Philadelphia Fusion last week. The Eternal have looked improved in the 2-2-2 meta, and if the Shanghai Dragons don’t take them as a serious threat to their playoff hopes- they could squander their chance.
Meanwhile, the Spark are looking like they may have finally figured it out. Friday, they took a win against the Los Angeles Gladiators. The Spark had struggled at the beginning of the stage, but they bounced back with a decisive victory against the Hunters last week. Hangzhou will not go down easily and will be favored to win against the Dragons. Basically Shanghai need a win against Eternal, to secure themselves a playoff spot.

The HUNTERS (12-15) Holding Out

Chengdu's playoff chances
photo credit to Stewart Volland for Blizzard Entertainment

Unfortunately for the Hunters, their playoff hopes are looking grim. Especially after a 4-0 loss to the San Fransisco Shock, they looked despondent in Friday’s match. The loss further hurts the Hunters map differential, which could end up losing it for them; currently at negative 12.

The Hunters final match of the season will be against the Houston Outlaws. The Outlaws fell out of contention last week when they lost to the London Spitfire. Houston have certainly had their ups and downs, but they are a tricky team. It is likely that Chengdu will be favored to win this matchup, but most agree it will be close. If the Hunters win, they must hope that the Valiant lose two matches for them to stay in the Top 12.
However, a win against the Outlaws is not a given as Houston have nothing to lose. The pressure is off them — just the opposite of the Hunters, who have their whole season on the line. The Outlaws, most recently, lost a close series to the new and improved Washington Justice, who look dominant in the 2-2-2 meta. While the Outlaws could not secure a win, it went the distance. Houston would probably revel in the idea of playing spoiler for the Chengdu Hunters and dashing their playoff hopes.

The VALIANT (11-14) The Long Haul

Valiants playoff chances
Photo Credit to Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

The Los Angeles Valiant have undoubtedly recovered from their 0-7 Stage 1. They are on the cusp of making it to the play-in tournament. Of the three upcoming matches in the Valiants near future – two of them are potentially winnable. They face a struggling Boston Uprising Saturday, which barring a HUGE upset is a win for the Valiant. Next, they take on the Los Angeles Gladiators in the highly anticipated rematch – the so-called, Battle for LA. The match may go either way, but given the Gladiators recent loss to the Spark – the Valiant might be favored to win. LAV’s last game of the regular season is against the San Fransisco Shock, which to most teams is an automatic loss. But, some are even suggesting that the Valiant could take the Shock.

Overall, the Valiant have ample opportunity to put themselves in the play-in tournament and knock out the Hunters. But again, those upcoming matches may be close. If the Hunters win against the Outlaws, the Valiant must win at least two games to overtake them. But the Gladiators and Shock could end their playoff chances.

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