Watch Out (S3W3): The Dallas Fuel could Oust the Outlaws as the LA Valiant fight for the Homeland

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

We knew there were big changes coming for the Overwatch League last week. I don’t think anyone was ready for this, though. Boston’s upset over New York on Thursday was electric, and it only got crazier from there. Saturday was one of the most impressive showings of the season, with all three games that day going to a tiebreaker. What a week!

This week could be even better. I’m faced with a bit of a dilemma, honestly. There are just too many good matches. I guess I’ll just have to tell you about all of them? Yeah, sorry, I know. How dreadful. Don’t worry, we’ll get through this together.

Houston, We Have a Problem


First up, the last match of the week. That’s right, I’m throwing the book out the window this week!! Expect the unexpected!

“I think they’re gonna bring Seagull out- wait, no, that’s too unexpected.” Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

That’s what Houston should be doing, anyways. Dallas has, historically, not put up much of a fight when these two teams take the stage together. Something tells me that won’t be the case this time. With Minseok “OGE” Kim making quite the debut last week, Dallas are looking consistently scary for the first time in a long time. Their roster is finally clicking, and their new aggressive play style is throwing the best off balance. That aggression could do the same to the Outlaws, who have lately struggled to maintain their composure when things get tough.

Houston aren’t looking bad right now, they just need to step up in crunch time if they want to right the ship. They currently sit in tenth for the stage, ahead of only Florida and Shanghai. That’s a long drop for a team that nearly made it to the stage 1 finals, but it’s not as bad as it could be. Their strength of schedule has been terrible, with matches against the best in the biz. Even so, they’re keeping things competitive- except against Boston. That one was rough.

With a score to settle and dominance of an entire state on the line, expect a close finish on Saturday. If either of these teams wants to make a playoff push in the coming weeks, they need to start winning games- and this game in particular could decide their fate for the rest of the stage. My prediction? A 3-2 win for the Dallas Fuel. They’re on the rise just in time to throw the Outlaws off kilter, and Rascal is getting back into the swing of things after a trip to Korea between stages. His Sombra play could be the key to tilting this match in his team’s favor.

 

This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Two of Us


In what has quickly become a back-and-forth rivalry, the Valiant are set to once again take on their purple brothers from across Los Angeles. The Valiant have looked unstoppable this stage, with a perfect record marred only by a map loss and a draw against the Dallas Fuel. The Gladiators aren’t looking too shabby either, currently sitting in 4th place with a 3-1, +5 record. That’s only three maps behind New York!

Last time these teams met, the Gladiators swept the Valiant convincingly. Something tells me that the boys in green will be looking for some payback. Custa and Bunny have fit in pretty well down in LA, and the Valiant have clearly made the changes they needed to become a top team- for now.

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

The Gladiators might make this the Valiant’s toughest challenge yet. Even when their shields were at their weakest in stage 1, iRemiix and Co. made the Valiant’s lives difficult with a close 3-2 game. Now, with the two teams as even as they’ve ever been? Both teams have their shot at greatness.

My Prediction? Another 3-2, but I think the Valiant have this one. They’ve been far too strong this stage, and Custa and Bunny have been getting better every day. Plus, SoOn’s Mccree is nutty.

 

 

No Space for Mistakes 


Boston have done well to maintain their momentum after losing Dreamkazper, and Mistakes has been a revelation for the team as they surge towards the top of the standings this stage. They’ll need to keep their guard up this week, though, as they have a pair of tough match ups to look forward to.

2018-04-12 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

The London Spitfire might be ranked 9th right now, but they still have all the characteristics of a top three team. Their versatility is unmatched, and their backs are against the wall. They’re gonna have to lay it all on the line in this game. The thing is, how do you counter a team like the Boston Uprising? They’re playing out of their minds at just about every position. There are precious few weaknesses to exploit. And they’re only getting stronger as the stage progresses.

London’s only chance might be to poke at the Uprising’s newest starter. Mistakes looked great, but had his weaker moments in the series vs. New York and Florida last week. If the Spitfire can capitalize on any cracks in Boston’s armor, they could escape with a win. They’ll just have to keep an eye on Gamsu and Neko while they’re doing it.

My prediction? Boston has this, 3-1. London has looked mortal this stage, and losses against Houston and Philly have shown western teams what it takes to bring them down.

 

Philly Smells Blood in the Water 


Speaking of Philly and taking advantage of apparent weaknesses in top-level teams, the Fusion have a real chance to step up this week. New York is at their weakest right now, no doubt working on how to shore up these new holes that have been exposed by Boston, Houston, and Dallas in their recent matches. If Philly can keep the pressure on, though, the NYXL’s efforts might not be enough. EQO is back and still playing out of his mind, and Snillo has found his place in the starting roster as a lethal do-what-Fragi-does Tracer. All those pieces are coming together nicely for a team that is sitting pretty on the potential playoff bubble.

2018-03-25 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

All of that does not mean that the Fusion will waltz in and steal away a win, though. New York is still New York, and the fact that their worst week in OWL history was a 1-1 affair with a net zero map differential is a testament to their utter dominance so far. As they incorporate their new additions and learn the map pool, we could easily see a recapture of the top spot in the league.

My predicition? A 3-2 finish here, but the winner is honestly anyone’s guess. No matter how well they do, this will be an interesting game to look at when playoffs come around. Could we be seeing an early preview of the stage grand finals, again?

Brandon Padilla
Brandon has followed competitive gaming since 2008 and has been focused on mythic raiding progression in World of Warcraft before moving into Overwatch analysis.Follow Brandon on Twitter! and Check him out on Twitch.
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