This. Week. Phew. We have got some intense Overwatch ahead of us.
I think the end of the season is really starting to hit me. It feels like I wrote the first Watch Out a week or two ago, not during Christmas… the passage of time sure is something, eh?
A lot has changed in those six months, and not just for me and mine. The Overwatch League is hardly recognizable after 3.6 stages of high octane action, and many teams are thankful for the makeover. (Except Seoul and London. They want to go back.)
I’m Begging you, Shanghai (SHD vs. FLA/BOS)
This week might see the craziest change of all- a win from the Shanghai Dragons. With games against their fellow winless teams (Boston and Florida,) the Dragons have a real chance for the first time in a long time.
These three trainwrecks have all struggled in diversely painful ways this stage, so it will be interesting to see who can pull a W from the carnage.
Shanghai’s match against the Mayhem is arguably their best chance. Florida hasn’t won a game since the last time they played the Dragons. They haven’t improved a whole lot since, either. Shanghai has made their games interesting lately, at least, even if they choke away all their advantages when they need them most. If they can just… stop doing that, we might have a real game on our hands.
The Dragons might find Boston to be a bit more a challenge. The Uprising have struggled, sure, but they’ve held on to a good portion of their stage 3 synergy. More importantly, they’ve played a good bit of Brigitte- Shanghai’s Kryptonite. If the Dragons can’t figure out how to overcome the league’s newest hero, Boston (and Florida) will walk away with their first win of the stage. If the introduction of their new translator has borne any productive fruit, though… this week could be the week. Don’t let me down, Shanghai.
Riding Off Into the Sunset (DAL vs. HOU)
Hang on to your ten-gallon hats, boys and girls, because this one should be a game for the ages. Houston has had a fairly light schedule so far, but that might give them the momentum they need to push against their fellow statesmen. The Dallas Fuel, meanwhile, have been the talk of the town- but have a 0-7 map record against the Outlaws (preseason notwithstanding.) Fantastic D.Va players, versatile Brigittes, excellent main tanks- it’s an insane matchup at just about every level. Map preparation and mind games will be key here.
On King’s Row, the Outlaws have a distinct advantage. They’re undefeated, have tons of weird strats to pull out at the drop of a hat, and have a Zarya specialist like no other. Dallas are 1-2 there, including a loss to the Dragons. Oof. The Fuel will need to get in Houston’s head if they want to have a chance here, but that’s easier said than done.
Hanamura is a more even affair. Dallas are 2-2 in Hanzo’s home turf, and have some great Mickie-centric plays to pull out there. The Outlaws are 1-1-1 and have struggled at times to execute in crunch time. If Tairong can divine the Fuel’s most glaring weaknesses here, Houston could sneak by with a win. If Mickie gets rolling, though…
The Outlaws will need Lijiang no matter how the game is going. They’re 2-0 there, and Dallas struggled in a major way against Philly in their one loss there this stage. Dallas has a lot of weird pocket picks for this map, and control maps in general- Mei/Reaper is not out of the question, though the Fuel have been going for more conventional strategies lately. This one will be close.
Remember how I said Houston really needs Lijiang to go their way? Dorado is why. They’re 0-2 in Mexico, and their losses were largely caused by aggressive defenses. Dallas has a very aggressive defense. If we’re looking at a 2-1 situation for Dallas by the time we get to Dorado, I’d say this one is over. If Houston holds the lead at this point, they may have the momentum to seal the deal- otherwise, we’re going to Nepal, where Dallas once again has lots of weird plays to pull out. Houston needs to clinch early if they want the win. Otherwise, Dallas will pick up speed and never stop.
Here Comes Trouble… (GLA vs. NYXL)
Could we really see both LA teams triumph against New York? I’d like to think so. New York is still New York- they won’t make things easy- but the Valiant have exposed some weakness in the armor. Not to mention the XL have no real motivation to try their hardest right now, with a playoff spot secured and a fairly easy schedule ahead. If they play light and try new things, and the Gladiators give it their all, we could see another loss. Isn’t it crazy that that has to be what happens for NYXL to lose? They just have to not care, and their opponents have to try their absolute hardest? Crazy. I love this team.
I’m hoping NYXL experiment more with Brigitte and their support line. It’s been fascinating to watch how teams learn the hero, and where she fits in their overall strategy. Half the team can play her really well anyway, so why not play around with it? Bischu and Surefour will make for great test subjects- their Brigitte play has been some of the best this stage so far.
The tank matchup will also be a lot of fun to watch. Fissure and Void vs. Mano/Janus and Meko is a major APEX throwback, and old-school Overwatch fans should definitely take notice. These old KongDoo Panthera and LW Blue squads have both come a long way.
Bonus Round: NYXL vs. SF
The Gladiators aren’t the only team gunning for NYXL this week. The Shock have looked amazing, and a game against the best team in the League will be a great test of Crusty’s system and the Shock’s ability. Both of New York’s opponents are fighting for those last two playoff spots- and a win against the big guys will definitely help.