Houston Outlaws 3 - Seoul Dynasty 1
The Houston Outlaws opened Thursday's Overwatch League slate with a surprising 3-1 victory over the Seoul Dynasty at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
Seoul came into the day with its postseason destiny in its own hands. After the Los Angeles Gladiators lost to the Philadelphia Fusion on Wednesday, Seoul could lock up a playoff spot by winning its final two games. While this matchup with Houston was surely the tougher of its remaining series, few predicted the outcome against a team that's under .500 in Stage 2 of the Overwatch League.
While Seoul has some of the best support players in the OWL, its biggest problem continues to be its DPS players. Outside of the team's solid 2-0 showing on Nepal in Game 2, no combination of DPS players from Seoul could match what Houston was putting out. Without any reliable damage, Seoul couldn't stop Houston from finding advantages in crucial teamfights, and the team has now put its playoff chances in jeopardy for the second stage in a row.
For the Outlaws, simply speaking, the DPS duo of Jake "JAKE" Lyon and Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin put on a show from start to finish. Whenever Seoul made a push of any kind, the pair showed up and shut the Dynasty down. In Game 4 on Watchpoint: Gibraltar, JAKE and LiNkzr lit up the Dynasty like a Christmas tree. LiNkzr picked up a whopping 22 final blows with his Widowmaker, and Jake added in 17 on Tracer. Houston is out of the playoff picture for Stage 2, but it has seemingly found its Stage 1 spark again heading into Stage 3.
Houston is now done for Stage 2, while the Seoul Dynasty will try and pick up a win against the Florida Mayhem at 7 p.m. ET on Friday to try and keep its playoff hopes alive.
-- Wyatt Donigan
New York Excelsior 3 - Dallas Fuel 2
The New York Excelsior survived a scare from the Dallas Fuel on Thursday to lock up a spot in the Stage 2 playoffs with a 3-2 win at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
It might have taken much longer than expected, but New York did what it was supposed to with a win over the flailing Fuel. Despite picking up just five wins to this point in the season, Dallas put up an incredible fight this series, pushing the No. 1 team in the league to the brink.
The Fuel fielded a new starting lineup headlined by Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod as the main tank and Brandon "Seagull" Larned as the off-tank. With the way the Fuel played in this series, Dallas might have just taken the first steps toward solving its tank problems. The synergy between the two was like nothing else we've seen from the Fuel all season long, which allowed it to play one of the best teams in the league and be shockingly competitive.
With the tank pair holding down the frontline, the rest of the Fuel was freed up, which worked wonders. While it may not have picked up the win, a 3-2 against the top team in the league is nothing at all to scoff at for Fuel fans.
On the Excelsior's side, it took a Herculean effort from its DPS duo of Kim "Libero" Haw-seong and Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong-ryeol to secure the win. This was best demonstrated on the tiebreaker map of Ilios in Game 5, as Saebyolbe's Tracer completely shut down Dallas at every turn while Libero's Widowmaker took chunks out of the Fuel from afar. Surely this wasn't exactly how the Excelsior would have wanted to get the win, but the series was yet another demonstration of how resilient this squad is and why it will be a formidable force in the Stage 2 playoffs this Sunday.
Both teams will close out the regular season on Saturday, with Dallas taking on the London Spitfire at 4 p.m. ET and New York facing the Los Angeles Valiant in the next game at 6 p.m. ET.
-- Wyatt Donigan
Boston Uprising 3 - San Francisco Shock 2
The Boston Uprising closed out Day 2 of the final week in Stage 2 of the Overwatch League with a hard-fought 3-2 win over the San Francisco Shock on Thursday in Burbank, California.
Now that some of the initial excitement over seeing American DPS star Jay "sinatraa" Won debut earlier this week against the Florida Mayhem has died down, the Shock must focus on what comes next: getting sinatraa accustomed to playing at the top level of competition. While sinatraa's Tracer is certainly stellar, his overagression, coupled with the Shock's poor coordination, allowed the Uprising to easily punish the Shock on several occasions.
During Game 2 on Nepal, for example, Boston put on a clinic on how to use flanks and pull a pick-composition apart. This ended up being the difference, as Boston capitalized on these punishes when it mattered to outlast San Francisco in the second five-game set of night.
Still, Boston's fall from grace after coming up just short of a Stage 1 playoff appearance has to sting, especially since the new-look Shock almost pulled off a win. Boston has rattled off consecutive wins on the back of DPS Jonathan "DreamKazper" Sanchez's diverse hero pool, but those victories far too late to help this team in terms of the Stage 2 playoff picture.
On the opposite side, it's difficult to say how good the Shock actually is at the moment, since, despite picking up two losses this week, it has faced surging teams in the Florida Mayhem and Uprising. Nevertheless, San Francisco certainly have potential going forward.
San Francisco's Stage 2 came to a close Thursday, with the Shock awaiting the beginning of Stage 3 on April 4. The Uprising, meanwhile, will finish its Stage 2 against the Los Angeles Gladiators at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday.
-- Noah Waltzer