Seoul Dynasty starts Stage 2 with statement win against Los Angeles Valiant

ESPN Esports Overwatch League Stage 2 Power Rankings (5:35)

Tyler "Fionn" Erzberger joins Treavor Scales to break down which teams are the ones to beat heading into Stage 2 of Overwatch League. (5:35)

Seoul Dynasty 4 - Los Angeles Valiant 0

Seoul Dynasty ran roughshod over the Los Angeles Valiant on Wednesday, kicking off the first day of Stage 2 with a 4-0 victory at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.

Stage 2 began in a similar fashion to Stage 1, with Seoul looking dominant. The Valiant took home a sloppy and demoralizing loss, especially in comparison to its recent victory over the Dynasty in Week 5 of Stage 1, which eventually lead to Seoul missing the Stage 1 playoffs. The Valiant appeared to struggle in adjusting to the end of the previous support meta that was dominated by Mercy, while the Dynasty looked like the team everyone expected to see from the beginning of Stage 1.

The Valiant was inflexible with both player and hero lineups. No substitutions were made by the hometown team, which opted to leave the familiar faces of support player Park "Kariv" Young-seo and DPS player Ted "silkthread" Wang sitting on the bench. The team's hero choices showed little differentiation, if any, from a traditional dive composition: the Valiant exchanged Mercy for Lucio, and that was it in terms of changes for a post-Mercy nerf meta. The Valiant further combined sloppy and desperate play with its uncompromising strategy.

After only the first series, Seoul Dynasty already looks like the Stage 2 final boss, and this isn't even the team's final form. The Dynasty freely admitted that the team had not been practicing much during the 11-day break between stages. With the Dynasty's support player Yang "Tobi" Jin-mo now playing Lucio, so many options have opened for star DPS Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun. After playing a modest handful of heroes in the previous stage, Fleta flexed his muscles Wednesday, moving to heroes such as Sombra and Soldier:76. His hero pool allowed the Dynasty to adapt to Los Angeles' map strategies with ease and make Seoul look like one of the teams to beat early on in the second stage.

Seoul Dynasty will look to bludgeon another California team as it plays the San Francisco Shock on at 11 p.m. ET on Friday. The Valiant will search for redemption against the Shanghai Dragons on at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday.

-- Travis Elliott

Dallas Fuel 3 - Shanghai Dragons 1

Despite losing energy halfway through the series, the Dallas Fuel closed out its first series of Stage 2 with a 3-1 victory against the Shanghai Dragons on Wednesday at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank.

At the end of Stage 1, the Fuel couldn't seem to find its foundation, but it started Stage 2 off with a bang. Dallas started off the series with a surprise, putting its star DPS trio of Timo "Taimou" Kettunen, Hwang "Effect" Hyeon and Dylan "aKm" Bignet onto the starting roster, with Taimou playing the main tank position. Dallas came out swinging, crushing through the first two maps in Volskaya Industries and Nepal, respectively. After the halftime break, though, the Dragons seemed to compose itself and came into Game 3 with renewed focus.

Hollywood saw Shanghai stop Dallas' momentum completely, bashing through the Fuel's defense with a four-tank composition. aKm couldn't overcome this change in composition with his preferred hero pool, and Dragons DPS Lu "Diya" Weida was a menace as Zarya, maintaining high energy while using Graviton Surges to devastating effect. Dallas brought in Kim "Rascal" Dong-jun to close out the series on Route: 66.

Dallas Fuel's next opponent will be the Los Angeles Gladiators at 9 p.m. ET on Friday. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Dragons next go up against the Los Angeles Valiant at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday.

-- Travis Elliott

Los Angeles Gladiators 4 - San Francisco Shock 0

The Los Angeles Gladiators swept the San Francisco Shock 4-0 on Wednesday to close out the first day of Overwatch League Stage 2 at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.

Although both Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively finished Stage 1 at 8th and 9th place in the standings, this series result showed the large gap between the two squads. The Shock put up a fight on the first two maps but was prone to panicky play in the second half of the series, such as impulsive hero swaps when met with a setback. Shock DPS Andrej "BabyBay" Francisty in particular seemed rattled, swapping heroes several times in a few short minutes while trying to push the payload on King's Row, which hurt the Shock's ultimate economy. The low point of the Shock's loss came during the final map on Watchpoint: Gibraltar, where the Shock, with a chance to tie the map and possibly prevent a sweep, failed to stay on the payload despite almost all of its members being alive. It was an embarrassing end to the map and series.

The Gladiators, meanwhile, looked about the same Wednesday as it did at the end of Stage 1, despite the debut of main tank player Chan-hyung "Fissure" Baek from the London Spitfire. What the Gladiators lacked in overall team synergy from starting a player with just two weeks of practice experience with Los Angeles, the team made up for in individual player skill. Both teams are widely categorized as scrappy fighters, which is a nice way of saying that their team fights often descend into unorganized chaos. It is in these chaotic moments that Fissure's impact as Winston was truly felt, and the Gladiators proved its worth, outmuscling the Shock over and over again to kick off Stage 2 with a clean 4-0 sweep.

The Los Angeles Gladiators face off with the Dallas Fuel at 9 p.m ET on Friday, while the San Francisco Shock prepare for a tough match against the Seoul Dynasty at 11 p.m ET on Friday.

-- Travis Elliott