We’re back with our look at the inaugural season of Activision-Blizzard’s competitive Overwatch association with a detailed look at the second stage. If that sounds confusing to you, you should probably check out the first part, but if not, let’s find out how it went down.
Credit Where it’s Due
We sort of ignored a few teams in the first stage whose first impressions didn’t leave much of an impact, so let’s start by giving them their dues. The San Francisco Shock, for one, started pulling more impressive plays together, usually lead by DPS players Babybay and Danteh, though in terms of wins they were still generally unsuccessful. The only really interesting parts of the Shock’s roster were the members who weren’t even competing, as the franchise had taken a calculated risk by signing young ace players who wouldn’t meet the league’s 18-year-old requirement at the start of the season. Players like the famous Sinaatra, whose reputations led many to believe they could have held the team together in the early stages. Sinaatra did become eligible partway through stage 2 and showed above average talent, but the Shock needed him to be a hard carry, and that was just asking too much of even someone as talented as him.
Now, the Boston Uprising stood out much better. While everyone else in the league experimented wildly with different compositions to find the best one, they stayed committed to their starting lineup, strongly refining it over a very short period of time. It did little to help their standings, but they regularly impressed with upsets on stronger teams, establishing themselves as the league’s biggest wildcard.
The LA Gladiators also saw notable wins, though it would have been more accurate to call the team the Fissure Gladiators. Fissure is a Korean tank player with some of the best Reinhardt and Winston play in the world, his only problem was that he was on the London Spitfire in stage one, and the Spitfire favored using the also legendary Gesture, meaning Fissure didn’t get to play much until his departure. Luckily, he was able to be to the Gladiators what Sinaatra was hoped to be for the Shock and led them to much better performances. Their other tank, Bischu, also deserves a shout-out not only for being a reliable D.Va but for translating everything Fissure said to the rest of the otherwise English-speaking team at the same time.
And When Credit isn’t Due…
One team that changed for the worse was the LA Valiant, whose behind-the-scenes youtube series revealed that they had a lot of drama outside the arena. They changed coaches, switched players seemingly at random and treated their DPS player Agilities incredibly poorly. We're going for a competitive discussion and not a drama piece so we won't go over the details, but safe to say this team was not working and their results in stage 2 reflected that.
Oh, and remember the Shanghai Dragons, who didn’t win a single match in stage one? Well at this point they somehow got even worse, only winning a mere 2 out of 40 maps during the second stage and being bodied increasingly hard by every opponent. Their constant roster changes didn’t help either. Some were out of desperation, but DPS Undead was outright facing legal troubles and had to be dropped. They were able to grab some fans though, even if it was only out of pity.
The Dallas Fuel also underwent some roster changes, rarely using the immense talent of Seagull or the newly signed Rascal and instead giving DPS time to French Soldier 76 player AKM, while also releasing xQc for poor conduct that had netted the player one temporary ban in both stages. Then they signed OGE, only for him to be immediately banned by the league for boosting. We could keep going, but by now you get the idea; they were doing very poorly.
The once powerful Outlaws also regressed, since two characters that were crucial to their strategies (Mercy and Junkrat) received heavy nerfs during stage 2 and they were caught without a good Tracer in a meta that increasingly favored the British beauty. Their tank combo of Muma and Coolmatt were still playing above par, but their DPS and support lineup couldn’t recover from the devastating blow of the rebalanced meta.
Who We’re Really Here For
You’ve no doubt noticed two consistent trends for stage 2: lots of roster changes and many differences in performance quality. This remained true for the Philadelphia Fusion, but they luckily came out of this period of entropy much better than they had gone in. Israel’s EQO came seemingly out of nowhere and gave the fusion the most effectively aggressive DPS lineups alongside the powerful Shadowburn and Carpe. But they didn’t stop there, as their other DPS player Snillo turned 18 late in the stage and got to prove himself as yet another ace in the team’s sleeve. They spent the whole time racking up kills like nobody’s business and turning into one of the most dangerous teams in the league.
The competition was fierce though, as the Excelsior and the Spitfire weren’t going down without a fight. London was more dominant than ever whereas New York came out with the best record in the stage. The latter team put in a lot of hard work to get them there, but special mention goes to Libero, who not only played Genji, Hanzo, Junkrat, Widowmaker, Pharah, Tracer and more, but he did so while setting the standards by which players of those heroes were measured. The man is no less than a prodigy.
As for the rest, the Seoul Dynasty’s second verse was the same as the first, starting with a 6-game winning streak, but only getting one more win for the rest of the stage, keeping them from playoffs again. Meanwhile, the Mayhem was another team that had a bunch of roster switches, but it only helped a bit, giving them a paltry 3 wins. At least none of them were free Dragon victories this time. The final standings for each team in the second stage were as follows:
- New York Excelsior 9-1
- London Spitfire 8-2
- Philadelphia Fusion 7-3
- Seoul Dynasty 7-3
- Los Angeles Gladiators 6-4
- Boston Uprising 6-4
- Houston Outlaws 5-5
- Los Angeles Valiant 4-6
- San Francisco Shock 3-7
- Florida Mayhem 3-7
- Dallas Fuel 2-8
- Shanghai Dragons 0-10
The Stage 2 Playoffs
As mentioned before, the Excelsior came out on top during the stage and earned themselves another bye into the playoff finals, leaving the stage 1 champions at the Spitfire to duke it out with the Fusion in the semis. It was a tense back and forth, the Spitfire starting with a 1-0 lead, only for the Fusion pulling ahead 2-1 before London won the next map, forcing a 5th game to be played, though the American team won in the end.
The Pennsylvania powerhouse put up a proper fight against New York, seemingly having an easier time than in the semis and earning the team a 2-0 lead, only for the Excelsior to beat them in yet another reverse sweep, the stage 1 bridesmaid becoming the stage 2 bride.
With that, we've passed the halfway point of the Overwatch league's first season. Be sure to stick around for our look at stage 3 and be sure to share your favorite OWL moments in the comments below.