Season 1 of the Overwatch League is nearly over. Only Stage 4 remains as teams battle it out to make the playoffs. As of now, the only team to have officially made it into the playoffs are the New York Excelsior. Their dominance has been well documented, as they have been to every stage final and won the last two.
Who can make the playoffs?
Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
Unlike the Stage playoffs, the Season playoffs will have six teams battling it out for the Season 1 title. As of now, the only team to clinch a spot is the aforementioned New York Excelsior. There are also three teams that have been eliminated. These teams include the Dallas Fuel, Florida Mayhem and the winless Shanghai Dragons. That leaves eight teams to battle it out for the five remaining playoff spots.
Stage 4 will feature many important match-ups as many of the teams will be playing for their season playoff lives.
You may be wondering to yourself: “what are the odds of my team winning it all?” Look no further, there are a bunch of trustworthy betting sites on sportsbettingdime.com that will provide you with the most up-to-date odds. Overwatch League is still a fairly new esports league, compared to others like Dota 2 and League of Legends so not all sportsbooks will have Overwatch League odds. Take your time to look over each site as they each have their own advantages. In this case, try to pick one that offers a sign-up bonus because if you’re planning on betting on a team that’s not the New York Excelsior and your team doesn’t win, at least you get some sort of compensation.
Here are the most recent odds:
Courtesy of: Overwatchleague.com
New York Excelsior (2/3)
London Spitfire (9/1)
Boston Uprising (9/1)
Seoul Dynasty (9/1)
Los Angeles Valiant (19/1)
Los Angeles Gladiators (50/1)
Philadelphia Fusion (100/1)
San Francisco Shock (100/1)
Houston Outlaws (100/1)
The most interesting odds are three of the last four teams. To start, the Gladiators having a better chance than two teams that have been ahead of them in the standings all year is surprising, to say the least. That also brings into question why the Outlaws and Fusions chances are so low.
Is it because of their below average performances in Stage 3? Or is it that all the teams above them are simply getting that much better? Either way, those might be odds worth betting on.
Another team of note is the Seoul Dynasty, as they have been slowly falling down the standings after having a very average Stage 3 with a 5-5 record.
Take ’em or Leave ’em
The Spitfire and the Dynasty.
Neither team has looked exceedingly strong as of late. This is due to teams finding their groove after a rough start, as teams have added talent either through pickups or players coming of age. Additionally, some of the talent that has been picked up has been at the expense of both of these teams.
The Uprising and the Fusion.
Boston was the best team for most of Stage 3 and should be able to make the changes necessary to put up a fight against the Excelsior. As for the Fusion, they had a down Stage but have been consistent for most of the season. Look for them to make some adjustments as they push for the playoffs and could surprise a couple teams.
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Stage 3 of the Overwatch League just finished this past week and the New York Excelsior took home a Stage Championship for the second time now. More impressively, the stage titles were back to back. And even though the Boston Uprising went an undefeated 10-0 in the Stage 3 regular season, the New York Excelsior got the best of them in the Stage 3 Finals. The NYXL have cemented that they are the best team in the Overwatch League. With only Stage 4 left and then the Playoffs, only one question remains: Will the New York Excelsior achieve the three-peat and win a third straight stage title?
As much as some teams are improving, no one can find a way stop the colossal NYXL. Even though Boston played well in the Stage 3 regular season, the NYXL took care of business and cleanly swept them in the Stage 3 Finals. The reasons are clear why the NYXL are the favorites to not only win the Stage 4 Championship title, but also the inaugural season of the Overwatch League. The NYXL have proven that they have talent, dedication, and team coordination to outplay any opponent that stands in their way.
The New York Excelsior’s track record since the start of the Overwatch League is astounding. In thirty regular season games – from Stage 1 until Stage 3 – the NYXL are 27-3 with a +68 map differential. Only three losses and huge map lead!
While all teams in the Overwatch League are highly skilled and consist of the best Overwatch players in the world, the NYXL prove to be a cut above the rest. Perhaps their most defining characteristic is the consistency of their domination over other teams. The NYXL have reigned victorious so often that the closest team in the overall standings, the Boston Uprising, are still five games behind. With only ten games left until the Playoffs, unless a drastic slip-up occurs, the NYXL will hold the top spot in the standings by the end of Stage 4.
Overwatch League Standings by the end of Stage 3
In addition to their amazing regular season play, the NYXL know how to adapt during high pressure series. Their ability to counter opponents is a big reason why they are successful during the Stage Playoffs. The NYXL have made it to all the Stage Finals so far. They have won Stage 2 and Stage 3, only losing their series in Stage 1 to a reverse sweep by the London Spitfire. Because of their continual dominance, one can expect the NYXL to make the Stage Finals again with little trouble.
The only question is – will they win it again?
Stage 4 Finals Prediction
With the final stage beginning this week, every map and win matters. Teams will be playing hard every game to secure their spot for the playoffs. Since the NYXL want to be sure that they are the number one seed, we can expect them to stay in form throughout Stage 4, eventually making it to the Stage 4 Finals as well. With Ji-Hyeok “Birdring” Kim back in the mix for the London Spitfire and the recent, streaky performance by the Boston Uprising, one of those two teams will likely play against the NYXL in the finals. However, the New York Excelsior are still the favorites and will take the series in the Stage 4 Finals 3-1.
Will anyone be able to slow the New York Excelsior or will they complete the three-peat? To find out, tune into Stage 4 of the Overwatch League.
For more esports news and coverage, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to keep up with my posts or myself, come check out my twitter:@J02Armstrong.
Featured Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment/Overwatch
While the Esports industry is very young, franchising has allowed for it to mature much faster than its traditional sports counterpart. With franchising coming into play there are many different groups and people buying in, and these entities want esports teams in their cities.
This means that many fans will start to want to see their teams in person and thus esports arenas are the next step, you can check out why that is here.
The teams in League of Legends have not officially stated what cities they will be based in, so some of this is a bit of guessing as either they were founded in these cities or have major investments from them.
Now here is a list of US/NA cities that already have multiple teams in them:
Boston Uprising (Overwatch League)
Celtics Crossover Gaming (NBA2k)
100 Thieves (League of Legends)
Cavs Legion (NBA2k)
Dallas Fuel (Overwatch League)
Mavs Gaming (NBA2k)
Clutch City (League of Legends)
Houston Outlaws (Overwatch League)
OpTic Gaming (League of Legends)
LA Gladiators (Overwatch League)
LA Valiant (Overwatch League)
The Overwatch League
Florida Mayhem (Overwatch League)
Heat Check Gaming (NBA2k)
Bucks Gaming (NBA2k)
FlyQuest (League of Legends)
Counter Logic Gaming (League of Legends)
Echo Fox (League of Legends)
Knicks Gaming (NBA2k)
New York Excelsior (Overwatch League)
Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area:
Golden State Guardians (League of Legends)
San Francisco Shock (Overwatch League)
Warriors Gaming Squad (NBA2k)
76ers GC (NBA2k)
Philadelphia Fusion (Overwatch League)
Raptors Uprising GC (NBA2k)
Team Solo Mid (League of Legends)
We will make sure to continue updating this list as more esports franchise, more teams commit to cities, and more teams join the already franchised leagues. An EU and Asia list will come out once a couple other franchising esports leagues finalize.
You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Robert!
The Overwatch League is nearly three quarters of the way done in its inaugural season and teams are bringing their best to qualify for the playoffs. Teams have not only refined their strategies but also their roster, so that they can get the most out of their large talent pool. Stage 3 was the pinnacle of this as many new faces were seen for the very first time. Teams have crafted new strategies around these players, taking advantage of their talent and catching teams off guard. Large rosters have helped some teams exceed and others struggle.
The Value of a Large Roster
NYXL Team Together
Large rosters are a huge help to teams who understand how to balance play time. With teams having so much talent it is crucial that players understand why they are needed and what significance they have on the team. If there is no balance between talent and purpose, teams can have an identity crisis and create a negative environment, which is happening currently to the Dallas Fuel. On the flip side, teams who find that healthy balance have improved and succeeded more often. Two examples of this are the New York Excelsior and San Francisco Shock. The NYXL have found much success after subbing Pine in on maps where he is favored, leading them to many game five wins and reverse sweeps. Similarly, the Shock have been constantly improving after finding a good balance between their four DPS players: Architect, Babybay, Danteh and Sinatraa. Teams who can balance talent and purpose are more successful in the Overwatch League.
Unique Hero Pools
Not only does a large roster provide more talent, it also promotes more strategies due to the unique hero pools that players have. On almost every Overwatch League team there is a player who specializes one character. For the NYXL that player is Pine on Widowmaker, the San Francisco Shock have Danteh on Sombra, and for the Outlaws Jake on Junkrat. These players drastically impact how the game is played. They dictate how aggressive teams can be, how teams should approach eliminating these players, and how they are going to sequence their Ultimates in fights. Teams that have a “one-trick” player can bring a lot of value, if used in the right situations. The clip below is of Pine from the NYXL and showcases how he can impact a single fight.
Lastly, teams with larger rosters can help prevent player burnout and can overcome injury obstacles if anything were to happen. Even though Overwatch League players are professional athletes, they are also regular people too. They are subject to the ups and downs of a long season. They deal with physical and emotional issues just like anyone else. Large rosters can help teams compensate when a starting player may be going through something, is injured, or must leave for some family emergency. Ideally, team organizations should try their best to help players live a healthy balanced lifestyle so that they don’t get burned out; but bad situations do happen and teams need to be prepared when they do.
Like any professional league, there are many demands that must be met, by both the team and players. The Overwatch League has a long grueling season. It is only going to become more difficult in the future as teams look to push towards playoffs and the league expands, if they aren’t adequately prepared. Large rosters, when used in the right situations, help teams improve and succeed. Large rosters provide teams with a greater amount of talent, unique hero pools, and help compensate for player burnout as well as injuries. If teams can find the right balance between talent and purpose, they will succeed more often. To see how teams use their large rosters effectively and set themselves up for long term success, tune into the Overwatch League.
For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to keep up with my posts or myself, come check out my twitter:@J02Armstrong. Thanks for reading!
Just days before the week started, The Boston Uprising were hit with the news about Jonathan “DreamKazper” Sanchez. The organisation investigated the allegations and quickly released the player from their roster.With minimal scrim time and a huge hero pool to cover, Stanislav Mistakes Danilov was the player to step in.
From an outside perspective it would require a herculean effort from Boston to even come within touching distance of their regional rivals. Somehow the team pulled it off, maintaining their 100% win record on Volskaya Industries. Boston went on to lose the next two maps and pulled out an impressive third point hold on Junkertown to tie the series up.
The final map was Oasis and Mistakes on Sombra was the key difference maker. After winning the first point Boston were in prime position to win the map and the series. As Boston’s control meter rises, Mistakes runs up and baits JJonak’s Transcendence before he even has EMP. Leaving him to freely EMP the New York side a few seconds later and close out the map.
Mistakes train pulling in
The first two matches on Saturday went to five maps and Boston Uprising vs Florida Mayhem was no different.
Once again Boston won the control map. They full held on Temple of Anubis, thanks to patience, communication and a three rapid kills from mistakes’ Widowmaker. On their attack Boston took the single tick needed to win the map, but not easily. They finished with less than 30 seconds remaining.
The team now have a record of seven wins to zero losses on both Temple of Anubis and Volskaya Industries. The next map was Blizzard World. Florida Mayhem took point A quickly; however, Boston recovered time on Point B and Florida fought it out to take point B in Overtime and eventually get stopped on the final corner.
The Uprising then need to attack Blizzard World and get it past point B, which isn’t easy for any team. Initially Boston were held at point A for just under three minutes before Nam-joo “Striker” Kwon came up big, managing to continually hassle and stay alive to take the point. The boys in blue then continued through point B with very little slowing of the payload thanks to an EMP into a D.Va bomb from Mistakes and Lucas “NotE” Meissner.Boston continue with three minutes remaining and push the cart to victory.
Florida were not ready to give up after the break. They were surprisingly dominant on Nepal, Boston took the point first and held it up to 68% Florida gained control and looked strong with some flashy plays as well, however Boston manage to take control once again with Florida on 95% and five team members alive. However it wasn’t to be for Boston as Florida flip in overtime and win the first point.
On the second point, Boston once again gain control first, this time gaining one more control percent before Florida can flip. However this time Florida hold it in convincing fashion all the way to 100% to win the map.
The Boston Uprising again had the opportunity to win the series. This time on Junkertown, a map that they had won against NYXL, however they were unable to stop Florida despite NotE’s best efforts, again he caught three in his self destruct. On the third point, Mayhem pushed the payload quickly, eventually being stopped for a few seconds. That brief pause was enough for Boston to set up their defences and eventually hold Florida just shy of point three.
On Boston’s attack they were slow to start, losing players early in fights took a lot of time away. Eventually the team were able to break through thanks to another big bomb from NotE. Their attack through point 2 is somewhat slowed but still end up in the final point with just under three minutes to finish the map. In the final minute Boston come within four meters of victory with a back cap from mistakes. However the team fight was already lost and Florida swooped in and scared him off the point. In the final fight Florida got early kills and staggered Boston. After a long overtime of Boston throwing themselves on the point one by one, Florida took the map and force the series into a tiebreaker.
Kings of the Tiebreaker
Going in to the tiebreaker, Boston had the statistical edge, Boston had played a total of nine tie breaker maps and had won seven of them, compared to Florida who had played four and won two. Inevitably Boston won Oasis 2-0 with standout performances from Striker and Mistakes. Although notably still no Pharah which may be a concern when one is needed. The match was incredibly close and both teams looked strong, a testament to the parity between (almost) all the teams in the league now.
Boston Uprisings’ next two matches will be against London and Seoul in that order. Both of these matches are definitely winnable. With Boston recently having beaten NYXL, two slumping Korean teams should not be daunting. London are really struggling and have only recently brought in more coaching staff to help. With the way Boston are playing and the map selection for the matches it will likely be a victory for Boston.
Seoul have a better record on tiebreaker maps and have the Shanghai Dragons to face this week. They may have more time to focus on the Boston match. That said, the team seems unsure what supports to play and are really struggling in stage 3. Boston may well finish week three being unbeaten.
London Spitfire likes to keep the league interesting. Spitfire are easily the second best team in the Overwatch League. With an impressive 15-7 league score so far and a +30 map differential it’s impossible to deny they are among the best. However they are not perfect by any means. They have three more losses then their rivals New York Excelsior, and they have now lost three matches in a row. They lost to rising stars Philadelphia Fusion, then long time road block Houston Outlaws, and then their aforementioned rivals, NYXL.
London are one of the most dominant teams, but they struggle in odd match ups and often lose to opponents considered much worse then them. But admittedly, their inconsistencies have made them a very interesting team to watch. NYXL looks amazing with flashy plays by Park “Saebeyolbe” Jong-ryeol and Kim “Pine” Do-hyeon, but if you’re anything like me, seeing them win every day is a bit…boring. But a team like Spitfire, well anything can happen.
London’s abysmal start to stage 3 places them with the bottom two teams in the League. Courtesy of the Overwatch League website
Losses against lower teams
It sounds weird praising a team for their losses, but this does make the whole league a bit more interesting to watch. They lost to two teams I would argue they should’ve easily won. That was Boston Uprising and Los Angeles Gladiators. Now since then both have proven themselves as forces to be reckoned with, but neither team has even managed to make it to stage finals before. The Boston match was a heart pounding 2-3 loss for London. It was an amazing game that lead to their first loss. At that point we thought the three Korean teams were going to dominate the league. London vs Boston was the first sign that wasn’t going to happen.
And when they lost to the Los Angeles Gladiators, they lost by a bit of a margin, 1-3. But it again really fit a story line of Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung claiming victory over his old comrades. In both scenarios, although disappointing for London fans, was actually incredibly hype to see them lose, and totally went against what everyone was expecting.
Roadblock with Houston Outlaws
At this point it’s fair to say that London have a problem with Houston. Maybe it’s that Houston is known as a great anti-dive team. Maybe it’s because all four times they have played Houston it was the same week that they play New York. Or maybe there really is just a mental road block at this point. No matter what it is, if you’re just looking at the regular season they are 0-3 against Houston. Now why is this interesting? Story lines. People like a good story, and a dominant tyrant brought down by a somewhat mediocre (at this point) team is exciting. On top of that once they do win, it’ll be even more exciting since we won’t be expecting it. It was super exciting when they tasted revenge beating Houston 3-1 in the Stage 1 finals. Next win will be just as satisfying as well…if they win.
The most interesting rivalry in the league
New York Excelsior is the final boss of Overwatch. With an immaculate 20-2 record and a staggering +54 map differential, they are the top dogs. At this point there aren’t many teams who really put up much of a fight towards NYXL. Heck, only two teams in the entire league have ever actually won against them. Those being Philadelphia Fusion, and of course, London Spitfire. The Spitfire are actually the only team to win twice. Once in the Stage 1 finals and a second time in Stage 2. Unfortunately after a pretty one sided loss against NYXL, they are now 2-2 on sets. Like I said, NYXL always winning does get boring, but as long as London is around, they will never sit too comfortably a the top; if they slip up even a little, London will be looking for blood.
Why is this good for the league?
People like to see change; if you watched the same episode of the same show every day it would get boring. Watching the same three teams win day in day out is exhausting and uninteresting. That’s why a team like London is good for the league. Keep it exciting, keep the fans on their toes. There’s a reason in Football no one wants the Patriots to win, they always win. No one wants to see the same result everyday. So London both being the only team to go toe to toe with NYXL while also being a team that any team can strive to beat keeps the league a bit more balanced.
Wow. That’s all I can say after this match. The Boston Uprising were doing well early in the stage… and then Dreamkazper happened. Without their offensive linchpin, plenty of people had their doubts (myself included) about the Uprising’s chances in their next game against New York. New York! How cruel! A team that looked like it could be falling apart, forced up against the most dominant force in the Overwatch League?
Things looked grim, to say the least. Turns out, we needn’t worry. Montecristo said it best- the New England Patriots’ “next man up” philosophy is alive and well in Boston, and the Uprising have proven that they have the depth to make their mark no matter who they put on stage.
Blizzard World is the newest map to be inserted into the Overwatch League map pool, and the hybrid map early on has facilitated strong defensive play and made it tough on attacking teams. Seven games have been played on Blizzard World and only three teams have reached the third point. Each team has similar strategies with slight differences, here’s how each team plays this map.
The first Point
The first point on Blizzard World is a long run for the attacking team, with many open sightlines and back alleys to avoid them. The majority of teams in the Overwatch League started off positioning themselves on the backside of the dock building, towards the mini health pack. Similarly to Hanamura, Kings Row, and Eichenwalde, teams will play near the back of each point.
One reason is to go anti-dive and make getting onto the backline a journey just to get into a position to dive that far. Secondly, it makes the attacking team come to them and stay organized. An attacking team lacking cohesion on the first point of Blizzard World will come to a swift and brutal end. Lastly, it makes healing easier, especially on this map where there are more doors and buildings to enter than just about any map.
As for how pro teams play this first point, it depends on the team, we will use a couple of teams as examples. On attack, the strongest strategy so far has been the triple-tank composition that pushes up through the right or left buildings and slow pushes aggressively onto the point. The Seoul Dynasty are the only team to run this, but unlike other strategies that rely on a Sombra hack or Widowmaker pick, the tank composition has more room for error.
Dock building where most teams set up for on defense for the first point. Photo via Overwatch Wiki
Moving closer to the standard, the three characters that often get picked on this long stretch of a first point is the best mobility characters (Sombra and Tracer) and the character that covers the most ground (Widowmaker). The San Francisco Shock ran Sombra throughout the entire map but were hard countered in some instances by the Dynasty’s tank lineup.
As for the most forward-thinking setup, that belongs to the Dynasty on defense as well. It was the same tank composition but switching Jin-hyuk “Miro” Gong from Winston to Orissa and shielding the small pathway on the attacking right side. On the attacking left side, Byung-sun “Fleta” Kim on Sombra hacked the big health pack and with Jin-mo “Tobi” Yang on Tracer forcing the attacking team to the attacking right side, right into Seong-beom “Munchkin” Byun waiting behind the Orissa shield with Roadhog’s hook.
The most efficient team throughout week two on the first point was, you guessed it, the New York Excelsior. Facing the London Spitfire, who sat behind the dock building, Jun-hwa “Janus” Song forced them off with direct dives, leaving Do-hyeon “Pine” Kim free shots on retreating support players. Widowmaker is not a must-pick on Blizzard World, but the tight shots with heavy cover make it hard to pass up.
Pylon Terrace second point
The second point on Blizzard World was the doom bringer for offenses in week one. It’s a long point, with many doors to escape and a giant wall that helps defenses set up on the high ground with cover. The Pylon Terrace section is a great section for defenses and five of eight teams were stranded in this middle section.
Why is it so difficult? First off, it gives the close quarter heroes a serious advantage. The D.Va players last week tore up the second point. Matt “Coolmatt” Lorio used D.Va’s vertical maneuverability to control the against the dive and counter-dive while still maintaining the high ground advantage. That’s not to mention the success D.Va’s have found with angled self-destructs in week one. Coolmatt had couple play of the game plays, but he wasn’t the only one, Tae-hong “Meko” Kim and Gael “Poko” Gouzerch also landed major self-destruct multi-kills.
Additionally, Tracer and Junkrat can play a significant role in this section. Heroes like Tracer and Sombra work well because it’s easy to get to the backline considering all the passageways. Junkrat is great because all those passageways allow for Junkrat to send easy body shots onto anyone he catches. Jun-young “Profit” Park played this role as it should be played, but Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park did a great job trying to counter the Pylon Terrace setup.
Five out of fourteen rounds ended in three points. It’s incredibly difficult to push into that final point and takes a well-concentrated ultimate fight win to take the point entirely. Heavy tanks have been one of the best strategies because they have the necessary help to power through. However, Junkrat’s proven to be a nuisance for attacking teams, as there are many paths for a rogue junktire to connect.
Diablo section of the third point. Photo via Overwatch Wiki
In essence, it’s about outlasting opponents and getting strong ultimates to end fights. It’s arguably the most difficult point to take in the map pool, but that will change over time. With only five rounds finishing on the last point, there’s not enough data to get a clear understanding of what teams are looking to run at this point. From the few games last week, it took a skill shot and recognizing a retreating defense from Kim “Zunba” Joon-hyuk to finally take the point with a triple-kill self-destruct.
It’s safe to assume more strategies will be introduced this week. It’s nice to see the compositional picks are spread out amongst a large number of heroes. Sombra has been shown to work on both offenses and defenses. Same goes for Widowmaker and the tank-compositions. Those three have taken the spotlight, but expect more drastic changes to be implemented this week.
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The signing window for the Overwatch League is coming to a close on Tuesday. Many teams have been busy reinforcing their rosters with trades and free-agent pickups, or are finally reaping the benefits of their younger players as they come of age. Certain teams in the Overwatch League Pacific Division will definitely benefit from some fresh talent, and I’ve taken the liberty of assembling the best of those new players and going a little more in depth on what they’ll be bringing to the table.
On February 26th, the Seoul Dynasty announced the signing of Heo “Gambler” Jin-woo, a former support player from LW Blue. While much of his old roster went on to form the core of the NYXL, Gambler was decidedly absent in the early days of the Overwatch League. Gambler was well known for his strong in-game leadership and shot-calling ability, but flew under most teams’ radars until Seoul finally made the move to pick him up.
Those strengths could be just what the Dynasty need to get a hold of their inconsistent communications in-game. While his synergy is unavoidably behind that of long-time support stars Jin-Mo “Tobi” Yang and Je-hong “ryujehong” ryu, Gambler’s extensive experience could help provide fresh perspectives on the weaknesses of the Dynasty. His mechanical skills are top-notch, too.
Image Courtesy of breakthegame.net. Super stands 5th from the left, between Jay “Sinatraa” Won and Dante “Danteh” Cruz.
Matthew “Super” DeLisi is one of many additions to the San Francisco Shock’s young roster, and he could easily be the most impactful. While the Shock are known for their long list of DPS players like Jay “Sinatraa” Won and Andrej “BABYBAY” Francisty, the tank line has lacked that same depth. Fielding only David “Nomy” Lizarraga Ramirez Osmar and Andreas “Nevix” Karlsson through the first two stages of the league, San Fran has a chance to surprise their enemies with this high-powered addition.
The Former LG Evil star also has plenty of experience with other members of the Overwatch League, including former teammates Jacob “Jake” Lyon of the Houston Outlaws and Connor “Avast” Prince from the Boston Uprising. While I expect he’s spilled the beans on his old comrades in internal training sessions, making plays with that knowledge in mind is an entirely different (and more advantageous) possibility.
Most importantly, Super just plays main tank differently than Nomy does. His positioning, communications, and responsiveness will all be different than his counterpart from Tijuana, and that can drastically change how the entire team performs.
Indy “Space” Halpern is another player coming of age in the league’s third stage, and he’s apparently made some ripples in the team already. Rod “Slasher” Breslau reports that the Valiant are looking to trade their off-tank Kang-Jae “Envy” Lee, most likely to make room for the younger player in the starting six. Players from the Valiant have refuted this news, including Envy himself– so that’s definitely going to be something to keep an eye on as the stage gets underway.
Slasher has also reported that the Valiant are deep in talks with the Dallas Fuel to trade French support star Benjamin “Unkoe” Chevasson for resident Aussie Scott “Custa” Kennedy, once of Space’s former teammates from Arc 6. While the move wouldn’t be that great for Dallas, the Valiant could profit immensely from the trade. The only downside- the separation of long-term teammates Unkoe and Terence “SoOn” Tarlier, who’s time together has been impressive, to say the very least.
Seyeon “Geguri” Kim is one of the better off-tanks we’ve ever seen, and her addition to the Shanghai Dragons will definitely help the team pull itself back from the depths of its abysmal 0-20, -65 record. Between her and Eui-Seok “Fearless” Lee, the Dragons are starting from the ground up at tank.
I don’t expect the Dragons to turn things around overnight, mind you, and their challenges are unique in both variety and magnitude. There’s a couple language barriers, for one, as well as the stress of living in a new country with new people, far from home. Hopefully the Dragons embrace the potential being in last place gives them. It’s not the best situation to be in, sure, but now they can take the time to find what works for them.
That’s all without mentioning the pressure Geguri is already getting as the league’s first female player- pressure that will only increase as she plays, win or lose. Shanghai’s coaching and support staff need to put in the time with their new players if they want them to grow and improve in a healthy way. Without that support, the Dragons will never get back on their feet, even if Geguri is as good as I think she is.
Go watch this, and come back. (Don’t, actually, it’s five hours long.) Try this one or this one instead. Notice those crazy D.Va bombs? That’s what Jun-woo “Void” Kang brings to the LA Gladiators now that his signing has been confirmed. We’ve waxed poetic on the Gladiators before, but I have a feeling their move up the league’s standings has just begun.
Void’s greatest strength (beyond those crazy bombs) is his game sense. His ability to respond and move in concert with the needs of his team will play perfectly with the style of his new/old main tank Fissure, a former teammate from C9 KongDoo. His lightning fast target-focus and peeling capabilities will also increase the lethality of his flexible DPS corps and bloodthirsty backline. Suffice to say, this was a good pick-up.
While I bemoaned the potential loss of the Gladiators’ other tanks, iRemiix and Bischu, keeping them could be just as advantageous as sending them on their way. As LA approaches a full 12-man roster, the chance for internal scrim opportunities grows higher, especially with access to the Gladiators Legion academy team. Those scrims could show us new heights for the Gladiators, and that is one exciting prospect.
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There’s no denying that stage 2 of the Overwatch League was fantastic. Many teams that struggled in stage 1 started to turn things around, and their step up in performance made for some close games all stage long. The Big Two, New York and London, have kept the pressure on as they push towards a seemingly inevitable season playoff berth. A select few teams rose to that challenge and gave us some impressive showings, win or lose. Some teams that looked dominant early got picked apart, some teams rallied to an impressive finish overall, and some… well, some still need a bit of work.
Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
But that’s okay! Because we’re approaching a new peak in the Overwatch League- Stage 3. More teams are approaching their full strength, the trade window is closing, and rosters are gelling together more and more as they rack up the hours. All of those factors will help stage 3 blow its predecessor out of the water. And no matter what these teams look like now, I have a feeling we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Even the lowest teams in the league are a few good days away from the rest of the pack. That’s what makes this stage so great! We could very well see those good days in the coming weeks. There’s always a chance that certain things will stay the same- New York will probably continue slapping the taste out of everyone’s mouths, Shanghai will need a lot of work to challenge anyone, Dallas will still play Custa on Lucio… and so on. (Please, Dallas, prove us wrong? We hear his Zenyatta is pretty good!)
No matter what sort of state these teams are in now, the name of the game is parity. Low-ranked teams need to push into the middle of the pack, the guys in the middle want to push towards a potential playoff spot, and more established playoff teams need to keep an eye on anyone trying to knock them from their perch.
So what will it take for all of these teams to reach an equal plane? Less than you think, honestly. Let’s take a look at how all these teams are stacking up as we go into the stage.