I had the craziest dream last week! I was watching an OWL game, as I often do. The Dallas Fuel were playing Philly, and I said to myself, “Ah man, the Fuel are gonna get crushed and I’m gonna be really sad.”
But then, something crazy happened. Dallas won a teamfight. And another. And another. Then the map. Two maps. Then they lost one, but I don’t want to think about that part. And then they won the series? Bringing them to 2-0 on the week for the first time since S1W5?
Be still, my beating heart. Dallas looked good, so when i looked at this week’s matches, I immediately zoomed in on their opponents. A surging San Francisco Shock and a slightly steady Spitfire squad? Sounds like good eats to me.
I can’t just focus on Dallas, of course, since this series is all about bringing you the hottest story lines and coolest match-ups around. Lucky for me, Nate Nanzer made my life easy this week by scheduling yet another Battle for LA. I expect a hyped up crowd on Wednesday, and lots of chanting fans. Something tells me I won’t be disappointed there.
Later in the week, the Gladiators (who tie the Fuel as my Team to Watch) will smack shields with Fragi & Co., provided Fragi plays at all. I’m curious to see if Philly will restabilize after their week showing last Saturday- if they don’t, this will definitely be an ugly one.
Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Round Four: Fight! (LA vs. LA)
The last time I wrote about this match-up, I expected a good, close match. And that’s exactly what I got! The two SoCal teams couldn’t have looked closer, and only a few tiny mistakes separated winners from losers in Stage 3’s hometown hoedown. This stage, I expect more of the same high quality gameplay- but a much different scoreline.
The thing is, this meta has favored the Gladiators a lot more. Sure, both LA teams are sitting at a perfect 4-0, but the Valiant’s record is just a little less perfect. They’ve lost six more maps than their purple counterparts, with three of those six in the rotation on Wednesday. Conversely, Dorado, Oasis, and Blizzard World have been strong maps for the Gladiators, and they did pretty well on Lunar Colony against the Shock, too. At least Valiant fans can take solace that Gibraltar won’t be featured- the boys in green have yet to win the map this stage, and were full held there by Shanghai in Week 1. Yikes.
Map performance isn’t everything, though, and many of those losses for the Valiant were decided by little mistakes. With a lot of pride on the line, both teams have no doubt been working their hardest to eliminate those errors before game day. If they can shape up in time, the Gladiators could still be in for quite a fight- though I think Fissure’s strong main tank play will ultimately win the day for his team.
Light the Spark (DAL vs. SF)
The San Francisco Shock started the stage so-so, but their most recent victory caught everyone’s attention. Their 4-0 sweep of the Houston Outlaws wasn’t just an impressive win, it was an utter stomping of a team that had looked like (very) early stage playoff contenders. With former Boston Uprising Head Coach Da-hee “Crusty” Park now at the helm, the Shock look like… well, Boston in Stage 3. A team with the potential to make it to stage playoffs and knock on New York’s door. That’s a scary thought when you think about the raw talent San Fran can bring to bear.
Speaking of raw talent and a new HC, the Dallas Fuel have been looking pretty good lately! Former FU Head Coach Aaron “Aero” Atkins has breathed new life into an old team. After a week against seemingly struggling squads, though, this game will be the Fuel’s second real test (they failed against the Gladiators, though they won’t be the only team to do so this stage.)
If Dallas can beat the Shock’s versatile, fast-paced offense, we could be talking about a (still early) stage playoff hopeful- especially if they beat the Spitfire on Saturday. If the Shock win, we could say much the same. I want to hope that this will be a great game. If Crusty has done his magic already, though…
A Couple of “F” Words (GLA v. PHI)
Fissure. Fragi. Fusion. Fuuuu…
-n! Fun! That’s what these two teams will have on Thursday. Well, at least one of them.
The Gladiators will have a lot to prove in this tank-focused clash, especially if the Valiant get the better of them on Wednesday. Stage 4 is all about the front line, and the Fusion have been talking a big talk- especially towards the best, most handsomest main tank in the world.
“I think I would win. I’m pretty confident against every Reinhardt,” Fragi quipped to Akshon Esports when asked about a match against Fissure. “I don’t really aim to beat other Reinhardts. I just play my game and swing at whatever is in front of me.”
That seems like a pretty Fragi thing to say, but I’m not so sure he’ll be able to back up his bluster- if he’s even in game on Thursday. Sado and Hotba have been taking over tank duties so far, though after their less than stellar results on Saturday we may see our favorite Fin make a comeback. If he does, this very well could be match of the week material. Fragi always gets that gleam in his eye when matched against a top-tier main tank like Fissure. That means good Overwatch for you, and good Overwatch for me.