Week 2 of the Overwatch League had many bombshell upsets. It started with the Toronto Defiant winning against the Shanghai Dragons. Then Florida took a surprising victory over the Spitfire. But the biggest upset of the week, came on Sunday when the Justice, who until Stage 4 had only two wins to their name, took a 4-0 victory against the Vancouver Titans. The Chengdu Hunters joined in on the fun, by taking a much-needed win against the New York Excelsior. Chengdu’s huge upset against New York indicates that their Week 3 and playoff chances are looking sunny.
As headline-making as the underdogs taking the lead is, it was the minor upsets of the week, that have helped Chengdu’s playoff aspirations. Now they have a viable path to the playoffs.
Seoul stole a win against the Los Angeles Valiant, making the Valiant’s chances to reach the play-in tournament even slimmer. Moreover, the Houston Outlaws lost to both the Fusion and the Reign, all but dashing their hopes of squeezing into the play-in tournaments.
For the Chengdu Hunters, these losses, in particular, are immensely beneficial for their own playoff chances. Earlier in Stage 4, the Outlaws and the Valiant were looking like they could overtake the Chengdu Hunters in the standings. But now, their chances of overtaking Chengdu are narrowing. If they want to squeeze their way into the play-in tournament, more shake-ups are needed. It is within the realm of possibilities, given the unprecedented games last week.
Despite a rough schedule this stage, the Hunters are looking to keep their seat, and their playoff hopes alive. The Hunters’ trademark chaotic and unpredictable style is ideally suited to the 2-2-2 meta and their DPS player Hu “JinMu” Yi has unbelievable “carry” potential. Don’t expect them to give up their hard-fought spot in the play-in tournament.
Last week, the Chengdu Hunters had matches against the Los Angeles Gladiators and the New York Excelsior. At the beginning of the week, both games seemed unwinnable. The Hunters’ playoff hopes looked grim. In light of these recent upsets, their playoff potential has brightened.
SUMMARY OF CHENGDU MATCHES, WEEK 2
The Gladiators’ highly flexible DPS duo, Lane “Surefour” Roberts and Gui-un “Decay” Jang, make them a formidable team this stage. The Gladiators took a win against New York in Week 1 and overall look suited to the Stage 4 meta.
Nevertheless, the Hunters had a relatively close series with the Gladiators, bringing the match to a map five, thanks to the heroics of DPS player JinMu. In the end, the Hunters weren’t able to take the win; they lost 3-2. Decay and Surefour played exceptionally well towards the end of the series on a double sniper composition and surely put a stop to JinMu’s heroics by Map 5.
After losing to the Gladiators, Chengdu’s chances of taking a win against the New York Excelsior seemed improbable. New York had a shaky start to Stage 4 when they lost to the Los Angeles Gladiators. Early in Week 2, New York looked revitalized against the Paris Eternal and their loss earlier in the stage looked like a fluke.
But the Excelsior lost in their first-ever 4-0 to the Hunters in the final match of the week. The Excelsior were off the entire match and played extremely uncoordinated.
For Map 2, New York subbed in Yeono “Fl0w3R” Hwang on Anubis — the fan favorite, who was benched for most of the season. After the map, the caster immediately criticized his performance on Sombra. They commented that he looked unpracticed on the hero and took over three minutes to charge his first EMP. Despite Fl0w3R’s weak performance on a single map, New York overall seemed entirely unprepared for the Hunters.
JinMu went practically uncontested on Pharah on multiple maps. For Map 3, the Hunters switched half of their roster for a specific strategy they run on Kings Row. Instead of playing Orisa and D.Va, they chose Reinhardt, Zarya and Pharah while on the attack side. It was the same strategy used against the Gladiators earlier that week, though it proved unsuccessful and they were forced to switch off. The Hunters completely steamrolled New York using the same strategy. There were also multiple instances of C9’s this series, highlighting how sloppy New York played overall.
Given the close series against the Gladiators and the unheard-of win against Excelsior, Chengdu Hunters’ week 3 is looking rock solid.
Looking Ahead to Week 3
The Chengdu Hunters’ week 3 schedule is, fortunately, rather light. They only have one match against a floundering Hangzhou Spark. Hangzhou were looking like a top tier team back in Stage 3, but have lost all their games so far in Stage 4. Although they have struggled this stage, they should still be considered a dangerous team and could be looking to recover in this upcoming match.
Meanwhile, the Spark have back to back matches this week, including one Friday night against New York Excelsior. This match is a prime opportunity to show they can bounce back with a win against an ailing New York Excelsior. A chance to show improvement and the adaptations they have made.
On Saturday, the Spark have a match against the Hunters. They may have less preparation for it, because of their tight schedule this week. After the Hunters’ major win against New York, they will be considered the favorites in this match up.
Since the Hunters need wins and a positive map differential, the Hunters should probably be looking to take another 4-0. The Spark is the Hunters only match this week, so they have time to prepare.
Featured photo from Robert Paul
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