You know how we do this by now. We’re hitting stage 4 of the Overwatch League’s inaugural season. Overwatch itself went through a ton of metagame changes during this stage via a patch update and the introduction of a new support hero named Brigitte, so massive shakeups to the pro scene can be expected. Be sure to read the previous parts if you haven’t already and without further ado:
Let’s Hit the Ground Running
You'll remember from part 4 that the Excelsior had won two stages in a row, a feat only they have ever accomplished at the time of writing. Not only that, but they were already essentially guaranteed to appear in the league playoffs, so it looked like the rest of the league would be eating their dust going into stage 4. They were so confident in their ability that they almost stopped trying during the stage, never switching characters when being hard-countered and playing way more aggressively than they would otherwise. This quickly became known as the NYXL sandbag, as it was pretty clear they weren’t taking the competition very seriously anymore. If you think they were getting cocky, rest assured they still somehow came out near the top of the stage rankings.
Meanwhile, the LA Valiant were defying expectations of their own by keeping the momentum they built in stage 3. Since their DPS line was very Tracer focused and Brigitte acts as a hard-counter to said hero it seemed like their best days were behind them. But then Soon began playing Widowmaker and with no prior professional experience with her, went toe-to-toe with the league’s best, while his teammates kept up the tight play that had taken them to the previous stage’s playoffs.
Speaking of LA, the Gladiators also kept up their playoff hustle and had their best showing yet in stage 4. Fissure and Void were still just as deadly as before, but they now had an impressive DPS line to back their tanks up. Surefour established himself as a highly consistent Widowmaker while Hydration pulled some game-defining plays with everything from Genji to Junkrat to Hanzo to Brigitte to even Doomfist, a character about as far from the meta as you could be. Most of the top teams were looking better than ever, but could the others measure up?
With all our talk of top teams, you might be wondering where the Uprising went after their undefeated stage 3. Well, as you may have guessed, the previously mentioned meta changes were what sunk them. Winston and Tracer had fallen out of favor, so Striker and Gamsu, arguably Boston’s best, were left without their most played heroes, which left characters that needed good protection to be played optimally wide open.
The Spitfire also took a hit from the changes, with Gesture having some issues on tank and Profit no longer able to rack up kills as well as before. The whole team was a bit inconsistent really, especially Birdring, whose aim was off due to his previous absence from competition.
The last of the previously powerful teams to fall off in stage 4 was the Fusion. They weren’t bad or anything, but they now looked completely different than in stage 2. On one hand, they had subs who had the now-viable characters covered like Fragi and Hotba, but these guys had had very little play time throughout the season and weren’t always up to par with their competition. These three teams would all make it into league playoffs, but just barely. Others were not so lucky.
The Dynasty was a team expected to be at the top of the league, but consistently underperformed, and nowhere was that truer than stage 4. They went into most games as though they were completely lost, seemingly having no game plan or strategy and barely scraping a single win in the stage as a result. The sole (no pun intended) team from the world’s esports capital went home without ever appearing in a single playoff, and that’s pretty sad.
Choiyobin was the last player on the Shock’s roster to come of age and rocked a pretty solid D.Va and Roadhog. The rest of the team pulled together well too. They hadn’t become winners, but at least now they were average.
The Outlaws played pretty much the same as they had all season, which is to say, poorly. They couldn’t take advantage of the shakeups to the game since none of them were that great with Brigitte and neither Rawkus nor Bani could pull their own weight either. We may have called out this weak support line before, but by now the duo had officially become a hindrance.
The Dragons and the Mayhem stayed bad. We’ve honestly said about all we can say about them already, they just couldn’t pull it together.
At least the Fuel was doing better. They had never managed to stand out before but became notable in stage 4 for being quite possibly the team that was best helped by the new meta. Not only were many other teams struggling to adapt to the changes, but Mickie immediately clicked with Brigitte. They also acquired a new coach in the form of Aero, one of the most underappreciated talents in the world of Overwatch, who led the once-failing team to the stage playoffs.
For better or worse, stage 4 really widened the gap between the best and the rest. The downside of that was that games were more likely to be a stomp, but thankfully, the rest are gone now, as all that’s left are the stage 4 playoffs and then the league playoffs, where we’ll see the hypest matchups OWL has to offer.