With Stage 4 starting today, the Overwatch League Rundown take’s a look at the overall Playoff Picture, the Top matches to watch this week, and the potential resurgence of the Seoul Dynasty.
1) Playoff Picture: Who’s Going to Qualify?
It seems like only a couple weeks ago that the Overwatch League was starting its inaugural season and yet here we are on the first day of Stage 4. It has been a mostly entertaining journey so far, and with only ten games left until the playoffs, the most exciting stretch of the year is finally upon us. While it’s true that any team can, in theory, win the Stage 4 Championships, that isn’t the case for the end of season playoffs. As it stands now, the Shanghai Dragons (0-20), Florida Mayhem (6-24), and Dallas Fuel (6-24) are officially out of playoff contention and the San Francisco Shock (12-18) will need a miracle to make it.
According to Sports Betting Dime, the NYXL (27-3) have the highest chance of winning it all, and the team has already secured their spot in the playoffs. Led by Jong-Yeol ‘Saebyeolbe’ Park on Tracer, the NYXL are easily the best team in the Overwatch League right now and are very much in a tier of their own. From there, the Boston Uprising (22-8), London Spitfire (20-10), and Seoul Dynasty (19-11) make up tier two. It will be interesting to see how the Uprising fair with the new tank-run meta as they excelled in the previous dive focused meta. For the Spitfire, the new meta will come as a welcome change as their positional depth is among the best in the Overwatch League, and they have been struggling with dive recently. As for the Dynasty, even though they’ve vastly underperformed to their pre-season expectations, they are very much a team primed to rise. Oh, and they also have this guy named Fleta.
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) May 5, 2018
The third tier is easily the most unpredictable as it features teams that have looked both fantastic and dreadful throughout the course of the year. The L.A. Valiant (18-12), Philadelphia Fusion (18-12), L.A. Gladiators (16-14) and Houston Outlaws (16-14) can all currently stake a claim at a playoff spot, and yet two of them will probably miss out on the playoffs. Based off of recent play, the two L.A. teams seem to have the upper hands in terms of qualifications, but they will need to be close to perfect to pull it off. Whatever the result, this race will no doubt go down to the very last week, which is an exciting notion.
2) Team to Watch: A Resurgent Dynasty?
The Seoul Dynasty went into the Overwatch League as a confident team. With a pedigree of winning championships in South Korea’s Apex circuit and sporting a squad made up of players from last year’s World Cup-winning roster, the Dynasty was very much the team to beat heading into Stage 1. Even their choice of name, the ‘Dynasty’ added to their aura as a team on top. However, while the team started off strong in Stages 1 and 2, they consistently choked in crucial late Stage matchups, which led to them falling one place short of a Stage playoff spot in both instances. Then in Stage 3, the team hit their lowest point yet, as they lost a match every week, and finished with a 5-win and 5-loss record.
That being said, even though the team’s Stage 3 was disappointing overall, it led them to try new strategies which have helped them to regain their swagger. The most significant and effective strategies that they employed involved benching captain Je-hong ‘Ryujehong’ Ryu during the midpoint of the Stage. At the time, the Overwatch community was up in arms over the move, and given Ryujehong’s pedigree as a Zenyatta player it’s easy to see why. The thing is that when Ryujehong did return he did so as a main tank, which was yet another surprise. What was more surprising was his skill, as he managed to go toe to toe with some of the best tank players in the world including Austin ‘Muma’ Wilmot and Jae-Hee ‘Gesture’. Given the fact that the meta in Stage 4 is very much tank based, his ascendance is perfectly timed and the added flexibility that his team now possesses could very much lead to them earning their Dynasty moniker.
3) Can’t-Miss Matches: Awakening the Dragons
Wednesday: Dallas Fuel vs. Shanghai Dragons, 11:00 PM EST
There has been no feat as anticipated in Overwatch League history as the Shanghai Dragons first win. Tonight against the Dallas Fuel, that moment could very well become a reality. Almost all of the matchups between these two teams have been tight and it may very well come down to which team utilizes new character Brigitte most effectively.
Thursday: Boston Uprising vs. Philadelphia Fusion, 7:00 PM EST
Last Stage, these two teams also met in a week one matchup and delivered one of the best matches that we’ve seen so far this season. Expect more of the same this Thursday and be sure to keep an eye on the matchup between tank players Joona ‘Fragi’ Laine and Young-Jin ‘Gamsu’ Noh, as they are two very aggressive players.
Friday: Seoul Dynasty vs. San Fransisco Shock, 11:00 PM EST
While the San Francisco Shock are all but eliminated from playoff contention, the team is very much a threat for the Stage 4 Playoff title. On the other side, the Seoul Dynasty are out to prove that their time as a top-tier team is not over. This is very much a matchup between the old-guard and the new-guard and one that you won’t want to miss.
Saturday: London Spitfire vs. NYXL, 8:00 EST
The London Spitfire and NYXL have arguably the best rivalry in the Overwatch League. Their games have consistently been back and forth, anything can happen-type affairs and both teams always bring their A-games. After a disappointing Stage 3, look for the Spitfire to be especially hungry for a win in a match that could easily go all the way.
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