Watch Out!: Stage Three Playoffs Edition

2018-05-06 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

With stage four still days away, you might be jones-ing for your next Overwatch fix. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve gone and rewatched the stage three playoffs one or two (or four) times already, and let me tell you- you notice something new every time!

To help you streamline your Overwatch fix process, here’s a recap of all the stage three playoffs moments. A concentrated dose of gaming goodness, you might say. Enjoy!


Shields Up… And Then Down

Let’s be real. Three 3-0’s is probably not the playoff scoreline fans were hoping for in stage three. Where’s the drama? The banter? The majestic, 3-2 reverse sweep with a side of tactical crouching? (Hint: Not here.)

2018-05-06 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

No one felt that absence more keenly than the Gladiators. They were the first team to ever win off a reverse sweep, but the fire that forced back the Fusion in stage one failed to find its way into their match on Sunday. Unsurprisingly, the Boston Uprising were razor sharp. Through my repeated viewings of this match, though, most of the standout moments were colored purple, not blue. If success was measured in PogChamps instead of map points, we’d be looking at a very different playoff picture. Alas, they are not.

I don’t think this is a loss the Gladiators can beat themselves up too harshly for. There were relatively few errors in their play, Boston just punished each one so hard. Which is what makes Boston so great, I suppose- finding even the smallest errors in a team, and taking full advantage of them. This match was a testament to that ability, and they’ll need to hone it even more in stage four. The real playoffs are coming…



In and Out

That was the LA Valiant’s playoff story in three words. Not to twist the knife or anything. Like their fellow Angelenos, the Valiant could have done with a bit of reverse sweep magic, like their back-from-the-brink finish against the Gladiators in Stage 1. But just like the struggling Gladiators, the Valiant failed to muster up the strength to give New York a real fight.

The most notable exception was the Valiant’s first push into Junkertown. New York didn’t get an elimination until Point C. There’s a sentence for you. The thing is, once New York regrouped and figured out the Valiant’s plan of attack, it was over- not just the whole map, the whole series. The Excelsior are just so confident- they staggered an Orisa, for goodness’ sake- and they have the skill to back up their signature swagger.

2018-05-06 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Ilios was the perfect example of New York’s ability to manage a game. The Valiant were doing a fantastic job of adapting quickly, switching up heroes and play styles in equal measure to counter New York’s approach on Lighthouse and Well. But just as quickly, New York were able to find a solution to Custa’s Lucio, or Agilities’ sudden increase in aggression on Pharah.

This was all without Pine, mind you- which was probably the plan all along, as well. The Valiant had no doubt prepared to face Pine on his signature map, but the mix-up from New York was perfectly executed. Saebyeolbe and Mano took perfect advantage of the space Libero’s zoning ability gave them, and Agilities more passive efforts- reflexively brought out in preparation against Pine- gave the ground forces all the room they needed to crash into the Valiant’s front lines with impunity.

Ilios was close, but watching the Valiant’s efforts on Anubis showed how much the second map took out of them. Their offense lacked the adaptability and aggression needed to overcome New York’s stellar positioning and target focus, and Saebyeolbe did that thing where he landed all of his shots, all the time. With almost every push starting with a man advantage, it’s not surprising that New York was able to full-hold LA and make quick work of their own attack round to end the series.


The Greatest Team in Overwatch

Stage three was definitely an interesting one for the NYXL, but I have a feeling they knew exactly what they were doing, win or lose. I mean, look at the scoreline! This 3-0- their second of the day- was far removed from their 3-2 loss to the Uprising in week two.

The biggest change between those two matches? New York’s ability to punish Boston’s mistakes, and their ability to fake a mistake. Nine seconds into this fight, Ark dies. Fight’s over, right?

2018-05-06 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

WRONG. 15 seconds later, Ark has regrouped with Pine in the right-side entrance to the streets, and Mano, Meko, and Jjonak are hanging out in the cubby between the Motel and the Saloon. As Note moves up to keep the Widowmaker separated from the fight so his team can push onto the stragglers, Meko and Mano pounce, forcing a retreat before Note falls out of his mech. Meanwhile, Saebyeolbe is pushing the cart so he can blink up to the top of the saloon, where Gamsu is, sticking him and cleaning up the supports while Pine finishes his long flank to pick off Mistakes’ retreat.

The time elapsed, from Ark’s first death to the Team Kill horn? 32 seconds. 32 seconds to turn a lost fight into a slaughter, using only a slightly over-extended D.Va as the catalyst for a perfectly choreographed push.

And that was only in the first map! These practiced pushes and comps were everywhere in the Grand Final. The Bastion strat on Nepal Village? The Saebyolbe 5k on Volskaya?

This is a team that knew what it was doing all stage long, and it showed in this match. Build up talent. Hone your bench. Lose as necessary, but win where it counts. The NYXL are still the best team in the game, and it isn’t even close.



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Featured photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

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Brandon Padilla
Brandon has followed competitive gaming since 2008 and has been featured several times in PCGamer Magazine, and has bylines with The Game Haus and Afterwatch. His mix of in-depth analysis and experienced opinions lends itself well to coverage of the Overwatch League.Follow Brandon on Twitter!
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