This week the Overwatch League Six-Pack dives into the top five Stage 2 teams and puts their playoff hopes into perspective while also looking ahead at this week’s action
1) Week 5 Match Guide
The fifth and final week of the Overwatch League’s second Stage is finally upon us and with it comes a number of intriguing matchups. In fact, the first game of the week between the L.A. Gladiators and Philadelphia Fusion is perhaps the most crucial in terms of playoff position. The Fusion currently sit in 5th place in the Stage 2 Standings, but a win against the Gladiators would move them into a tie with the L.A. based team.
Another can’t miss match is Wednesday’s bout between the Florida Mayhem and San Francisco Shock. The game not only serves as the newest instalment in the teams’ heated rivalry but it’s also going to be the debut match for San Francisco’s Phenom player, Jay ‘Sinatraa’ Won, who turned 18 earlier this week. Sinatraa is one of the best players in the world and he should give the Shock a much-needed boost going forward.
But the most exciting matches of the week are easily the playoffs. In Stage 1 the finals were played on the same Saturday as the regular matches. This meant that the London Spitfire played a whopping total of three games in one day and without much rest in between matches. Thankfully, the Stage 2 Semi-Finals and Finals will be played this Sunday and will be the only two games played on that day. This not only gives the top three teams more rest but also additional time to craft strategies for the playoff matches, which will hopefully lead to some unique strategies and plays.
2) NYXL: A True Team Effort
Record: (7-1) Matches: Thursday vs. Dallas Fuel (2-6), Saturday vs. LA Valiant (4-4)
The NYXL are the best team in the Overwatch League. They are flying high after a pair of week four wins against The Seoul Dynasty and Shanghai Dragons and are a deep team overall. They’ve only lost one game this Stage and have added to their league-best map differential in style.
Their match this week against Dallas should be an easy one for the squad and I wouldn’t be surprised if they rested their star players this week ahead of their playoff push. This resting of star players could also lead to more playing time for Do-Hyeon ‘Pine’ Kim, who is one of the most engaging and interesting players to watch in The Overwatch League.
MVP: Sung-Hyeon ‘JJonak’ Bang
Zenyatta was initially created to be a healer who could also occasionally deal damage and soften up enemy tanks with his discord orbs. But it seems like no one told JJonak this as he has transformed Zen into a DPS hero who impacts the game with his kills even more than his healing. While JJonak is far from the only damage dealing Zenyatta player in the league, he is the deadliest and his very presence puts a lot of extra pressure on opposing teams. Also, as a result of his damage dealing tendencies, JJonak manages to reach his ultimate ability ridiculously fast, oftentimes in consecutive fights.
Highlight: Hye-Sung ‘Libero’ Kim
How did NYXL defeat Seoul this week? It was all thanks to this slice and dice.
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) March 15, 2018
Projected Regular Season Finish: 1st (Automatic Trip to Finals)
The NYXL hold the best record in the overall and Stage 2 Standings, and they should be able to add to that this week with a couple of wins. There’s no question as to whether this team is talented, the question is can they actually beat London when it counts?
3) London Spitfire- Dynamic DPS Domination
Record: (6-2) Matches: Friday vs. Shanghai Dragons (0-8), Saturday vs. Dallas Fuel (2-6)
The London Spitfire are the defending Stage 1 champs and almost as importantly, they have shown a knack for coming up clutch in big games. They’re coming off a dominant week four which saw them defeat the Seoul Dynasty and San Francisco Shock in convincing fashion.
The Spitfire also have the easiest schedule of any contending teams this week, with matches against the winless Shanghai Dragons as well as the discombobulated Dallas Fuel. Expect the Spitfire to win both matches decisively and set their sites on yet another championship.
DPS play has been at the forefront of the Overwatch League so far, and so it’s fitting that the Stage 1 Champion London Spitfire possess the best DPS duo in Birdring and Profit. In their match against Seoul this week they were able to outplay the best DPS player in the world in Fleta, which is a testament to their teamwork. The problems they cause for opposing teams are insane as one of them always seems to be making highlight-reel worthy plays. It’s also worth noting that the team hasn’t deployed them both on a regular basis this Stage and they should be well rested come playoff time.
Speaking of wreaking havoc on the Seoul Dynasty…
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) March 17, 2018
Projected Regular Season Finish: 2nd (Semi-Final Showdown)
Once again the London Spitfire are going to make the Stage playoffs, but a matchup against the L.A. Gladiators is one that they no doubt want to avoid.
4) L.A. Gladiators: Translating Skill Into Wins
Record: (6-2) Matches: Wednesday vs. Philidelphia Fusion, Saturday vs. Boston Uprising
As previously documented on this list, the L.A. Gladiators are the hottest team in the Overwatch League right now. In many ways, they remind me of the Houston Outlaws back in Stage 2, and there’s genuine reason to believe that the Gladiators have what it takes to qualify for the finals. While they haven’t been competitive against the NYXL they did recently beat the London Spitfire and it’s arguable that no team has improved as vastly as the Gladiators in Stage 2. The team has a bit of a language barrier with Fissure and Asher not speaking fluent English, but the emergence of Bischu’s leadership and his fluency in Korean and English has helped the team’s chemistry immensely.
The Gladiators have a tough upcoming week as they’re facing off against the unpredicatable Philidelphia Fusion and the suddenly rejuvenated Boston Uprising. They need to win both of their matches in order to guarantee a spot in the playoffs and judging by how high they are flying, that is a very likely possibility.
MVP: Chan-Hyung ‘Fissure’ Baek
Coming out of Stage 1 the L.A. Gladiators were reeling. The team massively underplayed to expectations and went from the widely regarded top L.A. team to bottom feeders with a 4 win and 6 loss record. Then they signed London Spitfire substitute tank, Fissure and the rest is history. Since his dynamic tank play has been introduced to the Gladiators lineup the team has transformed into a force to be reckoned with. They currently have a 6 win and 2 loss record in Stage 2 and are simply dominating their competition. Like the rest of the Gladiators, Fissure had a disappointing Stage 1 and has been on a mission in Stage 2 to prove himself, and he’s certainly doing that.
Highlight: Team Unity
Honestly, they’re just one happy family.
— Brad (@BumblBrad) March 18, 2018
Projected Regular Season Finish: 3rd
With London possessing a superior map differential and an easy schedule this week, the Gladiators will be hard pressed to move into the #1 or #2 position. That being said, even if they do finish in third they’ll no doubt be feeling good and a rematch with the Spitfire team that they beat back in week 3 will be an exciting one.
5) Seoul Dynasty: A Brittle Dynasty?
Record: (6-2) Matches: Thursday vs. Houston Outlaws, Friday vs. Florida Mayhem
Week 4 was not kind to the Seoul Dynasty as they lost both their matchups and in the process lost their undefeated status. Going into the week it seemed like Seoul was destined to make good on their disappointing first Stage finish and clinch a place in the playoffs. Unfortunately for them they simply couldn’t get it done against the top dog NYXL squad, dropping the match 3-2 and then getting dominated by the London Spitfire.
Adapting is key to winning in the Overwatch League and the Dynasty simply haven’t been able to adapt well enough. They will no doubt make the playoffs at the end of the season but their lack of finishing in key games is a scary sign.
MVP: Sang-beom ‘Munchkin’ Byeon
In Stage 1 Munchkin got some flack for his shaky Tracer play and he’s taken the criticism to heart in Stage 2. He has managed to form a formidable duo with fellow DPS player Fleta and his ability to down enemy supports and end fights before they begin has been top class. The scary thing is that Munchkin only seems to be improving and if the Dynasty are going to make a championship push then he’s going to be one of the players leading the charge.
Highlight: Byung-sun ‘Fleta’ Kim
A flying Junkrat is a beautiful sight.
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) March 15, 2018
Projected Finish: 4th
As much as it pains me to say, the Seoul Dynasty will miss the Stage playoffs once again due to a pair of losses in week four. There’s no doubt that this team is skilled, but their lack of depth at the DPS position has made them readable and thusly beatable. That being said, they are still the second best-ranked team in the overall standings and missing out on Stage Championships will end up being no big deal if they end up capturing the overall title.
6) Philadelphia Fusion- Consistently Close
Record: (5-3) Matches: Wednesday vs. L.A. Gladiators, Friday vs. L.A. Valiant
No team has had quite an up and down Stage 2 as the Philadelphia Fusion. On one hand they have looked dominant, securing sweeps against the Houston Outlaws and Boston Uprising, but on the other hand, when it comes to facing top teams they find themselves crumbling, often 4-0. While they probably won’t make the Stage 2 playoffs, the team has done well enough thus far to place them comfortably in the end of season playoffs discussion.
MVP: Jae-Hyeok ‘Carpe’ Lee
The main reason why the Fusion are still in playoff contention is the work put in by Carpe. His impact cannot be overstated and his pulse bomb against the Houston Outlaws is the perfect summation of what he means to the team. He’s simply the best on his team and the recent addition of Eqo to the Fusion roster makes the team even more formidable going forward.
Highlight: Jose ‘Eqo’ Corona
This is just disrespectful.
Always be aware of the enemy HOOK! @Eqo_bot #OWL2018
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) March 18, 2018
Projected Finish: 5th
No shame to the Fusion, the teams ahead of them are simply too far ahead and too dominant to give any ground. That being said, if they do beat the L.A. Gladiators it would make things interesting.
Who do you think will win the Stage 2 Championships? And which match are you most excited for this week? Let us know in the comments below!
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