Dallas Fuel 3 - Shanghai Dragons 1
The Dallas Fuel kicked off Stage 3 of the Overwatch League with a commanding 3-1 victory over the Shanghai Dragons on Wednesday at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
After a long first half of the season, neither of these teams were in a good place in the standings, with both in serious need of roster fixes. In an attempt to change their respective fortunes, both teams made fundamental changes to their starting rosters: Shanghai added four new players, and Dallas made last-minute trades to shore up its squad.
Joining the Dragons is the Overwatch League's first female player, Kim "Geguri" Se-yeon, who, along with DPS Chon "Ado" Gi-hyeon, looks to have created a solid foundation for the team to improve. It's unfortunate for such an influential addition to the League to have a poor start, but Shanghai really started to find its footing in Game 4 on Junkertown. Adding four new members and creating potential language barrier issues, with most of its new players from South Korea, might have been too much for the team in its Stage 3 debut: There seemed to be some synergy issues between the Korean frontline and Chinese backline.
On the flip side, the Fuel's new member, support Benjamin "uNKOE" Chevasson, looked to have easily integrated with the rest of the team. Dallas' decision-making looked to be significantly improved, with strengthened coordination and ultimate economy management, but this win came down to the carry performances. uNKOE's Zenyatta, along with main tank Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod's Winston, created space for DPS Hwang "EFFECT" Hyeon, giving his Tracer and Widowmaker all the resources he needed to hard-carry the Fuel to three consecutive map wins.
The Dallas Fuel faces off against the Los Angeles Gladiators on Friday at 7 p.m. ET, while the Shanghai Dragons' next match is against the Los Angeles Valiant later that night at 9 p.m. ET.
-- Liam Craffey
Los Angeles Valiant 4 - Seoul Dynasty 0
The Los Angeles Valiant surprised the Seoul Dynasty in a 4-0 stomp Wednesday at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
Two stages in a row, the Dynasty was favored to make the stage playoffs, but twice now it has failed to do so, and this series is an example of why. Starting out on Temple of Anubis in Game 1, everyone expected a close matchup or a one-sided affair in the Dynasty's favor, but what happened was the complete opposite, with the Valiant smashing through Seoul's defense before full-holding point A. The Valiant's dominance continued throughout the night, begging the question: What was the Dynasty doing?
The first thing to take note of is the Dynasty's decision to not field star supports Ryu "ryujehong" Je-hong and Yang "tobi" Jin-mo and instead opting to send in supports Mun "Gido" Gi-do and Heo "Gambler" Jin-woo. While neither Gido nor Gambler are bad supports, Seoul's wins in the OWL thus far had the might of the old Lunatic-Hai support core behind it. The effect was obvious, as the Dynasty struggled and failed to take a single point on Temple of Anubis, Nepal or Junkertown.
With the Dynasty keeping the same roster all series long, the fault for this crushing defeat lies more with the coaching staff than the players for not making necessary adjustments to make a comeback, though it's possible this was simply Seoul's "B-team" going through a trial by fire.
The Valiant, meanwhile, couldn't have asked for a better start to the stage than the way this played out. Most notable was DPS Brady "Agilities" Girardi on Junkrat amongst other projectile powerhouses and support Park "KariV" Young-seo on Zenyatta carrying the Valiant after a lackluster Stage 2.
Of course, the entire team played excellently throughout the series, with crisp play under pressure on Junkertown specifically, where Los Angeles pushed the payload to the end in overtime. There weren't many weaknesses in the Valiant's play, especially with new support Scott "Custa" Kennedy joining the lineup after getting traded to the team from the Dallas Fuel. If the Valiant keeps this performance up, then a playoff finish may very well become a reality.
Seoul Dynasty needs to regroup before taking on the San Francisco Shock on Friday at 11 p.m. ET, while the Los Angeles Valiant will face off against the Shanghai Dragons on Friday at 9 p.m. ET.
-- Steven Nguyen
San Francisco Shock 3 - Los Angeles Gladiators 1
The San Francisco Shock began Stage 3 with a 3-1 win against an in-state rival, the Los Angeles Gladiators, to close out the week's first slate of Overwatch League matches at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
The San Francisco Shock have finally reached peak form with the addition of its second young star, flex player Matthew "super" DeLisi, who turned 18 last week, becoming eligible for Stage 3 just in the nick of time. With his introduction to the lineup increasing the overall skill in the tank line, combined with the leadership of support Grant "moth" Espe, the Shock's team play was far more surgical in creating opening for the DPS players.
All of the DPS players for the Shock put up incredible performances with each one pulling off plays that will undoubtedly make the highlight reel. Jay "sinatraa" Won's multi-kill Pulse Bombs as Tracer gave the Shock the necessary space to win on Numbani and take the series lead. Not to be outdone, Andrej "babybay" Francisty, who was subbed in on the final map, Junkertown, showed off elite-level Widowmaker skill as his pickoffs won teamfights before they had started.
The Los Angeles Gladiators looked more like its Stage 1 self, which is to say a bit scrappy and unorganized. The team tried to make use of new addition DPS Ted "silkthread" Wang, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Valiant during the abbreviated offseason. However, this came at the expense of fellow DPS Joao Pedro "Hyrdation" Goes Telles, who sat on the bench for the entire series despite having started during the majority of Stage 2.
Whereas the Shock's strength came from its DPS players, Gladiators was hindered by its own DPS corps. Seemingly testing out possible DPS duos, the Gladiators left silkthread and Lane "Surefour" Roberts in the same lineup for the final match despite their hero pools overlapping heavily. What resulted was Surefour being forced to play, and embarrassing himself on, Tracer, a hero he is grossly unfamiliar with, and silkthread having no backup for his Genji.
Though this is only the first game of Stage 3, the Gladiators will need to make a decision about which DPS players to start if it hopes to stay in title contention.
The Los Angeles Gladiators will get to rebound in what figures to be an easy matchup against the Dallas Fuel at 7 p.m. ET on Friday. Meanwhile the San Francisco Shock will try for two straight victories when it faces the Seoul Dynasty at 11 p.m. ET the same day.
-- Travis Elliott