Now, I’ve talked about why this stage in particular is going to be great. So far I haven’t been disappointed, either. We’ve had some great games so far, and this week should be no exception. I’m looking just a bit past this week, though, to week 3 of the Overwatch League’s third stage. A week so packed with potential that I’m writing about it eight days in advance. Why is that far-off day worth worrying about now? Follow along, dear reader, and I’ll show you…
The battle for LA is back with a vengeance
One of the hottest rivalries in the Overwatch League, this hometown hoedown never disappoints. In S1W3, the Valiant squeaked by with one of the league’s first reverse sweeps ever in a harrowing 5-map affair that kept the crowd loud all night long. In S2W3, we saw a decidedly different outcome, a 4-0 smash from the Gladiators, whose shiny new main tank Chan-Hyung “Fissure” Baek made it look easy against the Valiant’s sagging shields.
Now in S3W3, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will take the lead in the head-to-head rivalry. Fissure has cemented himself as a fixture for the Gladiators. The Valiant are looking good after acquiring ex-Dallas Fuel support Scott “Custa” Kennedy and Seoul’s former Tracer star Jun-Hyeok “Bunny” Chae. Indy “Space” Halpern has looked good, too, moving up to the main roster after turning 18 earlier this month. Even so, the Valiant’s new additions will need to work overtime to prepare for the onslaught of purple fists, rockets and shuriken sent out by the Gladiator’s insanely versatile DPS lineup, which recently added Ted “Silkthread” Wang to its already impressive arsenal.
Keep an eye on this match for sure, but also keep in mind that it’s not the only big rivalry we get to see this week…
This state ain’t big enough for the two of us
Dallas vs. Houston has been… not as competitive as the Battle for LA. I’ll be real with you there. S1W2’s high-noon brawl left the Boys in Blue bleeding in the street, with Houston cruising comfortably to a 4-0 sweep. I would hope that the Fuel put up a bit more of a fight this time around, but it’ll be up to their front line to make that happen. Their new tank Minseok “OGE” Kim is set to make his debut in week two against Seoul- maybe.
Debut or no, Dallas has a lot of work to do to put up a fight against the Outlaws, even with their recent stumbles against the Boston Uprising. Unkoe and Jonathan “Harryhook” Tejedor Rua have been working well together, at least. The DPS corps is looking strong, and if Brandon “Seagull” Larned has to swap back to his former role as projectile specialist, they could be even stronger. Ponghop “Mickie” Rattanasangchod should be returning to off-tank, too, where his phenomenal D.Va play can really shine.
Houston has been struggling a bit with consistency, but still has fantastic upset potential so long as their heavy hitters come to play. Jacob “Jake” Lyon needs to pack the caffeine gum and get to chewing; his frenetic Junkrat play has torn top teams to pieces, and his Tracer is steadily improving, too. Shane “Rawkus” O’Flaherty has been on a bit of a tear himself. That Soldier:76 flex on Numbani last week? Or the Roadhog flexes on Junkertown? More, please!
We could even see some changes at main tank for the Outlaws, too, with Russel “FCTFCTN” Campbell waiting in the wings. I wrote a bit more on that here– suffice to say, he’s pretty good. You could say I like the guy. I don’t know if Dallas will by the end of the day, though.
I don’t want to send this one off as a 4-0 sweep for the Outlaws, though I’m sure many could come to that conclusion with confidence. Dallas has that spark, even now, and they tend to bite teams that underestimate them. Let’s hope the desk gets EFFECT really, really mad. The power of NMA might just win the day for them, like it did against Shanghai.
Speaking of Shanghai…
Yes, the Dragons are winless. No, that probably won’t change any time soon. But if it had to happen… if Shanghai had any chance at all… it would be here, in S3W3, against the Florida Mayhem. With games against Seoul, Boston, Philly, New York, and London, there will be no better opportunity for Shanghai to win a game this stage- or this season, even, barring their other match against Florida in S4W4.
Shanghai doesn’t need a win, per se. They’re not in the hunt for any playoffs (unless we see a BIG turnaround in stage four,) and the roster is going to need to take its time to get things right and find their groove. All the same, though, a victory- ever- in Season 1 would mean great things for team morale, which is a crucial point for a game as intense as Overwatch.
Besides, how could you not want the Dragons to get a win at this point? The underdog story is one of the most quintessential American tales in the history of anything, ever, and Shanghai are definitely underdogs at this point. Florida aren’t much better off, frankly, though the gap between the two teams is still four wins and 31 maps wide. Each team is reshaping their roster in a big way, and that could mean an upset when the Dragons need it most.
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Featured photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment