With a slew of talented expansion teams, a mess of new heroes, a meta we just can’t seem to escape, and some seriously stunning upsets, the second season of Overwatch League has delivered on all fronts. With only two weeks until the playoffs of stage one, one might expect some clear victors and clear underdogs to emerge, but frankly, it’s still anyone’s game.
The final day of OWL week 4 packed some of the most exciting matches of the entire season so far. Despite losing against the NYXL powerhouse earlier in the week, the San Francisco Shock were able to regain their footing and take a commanding win against the Paris Eternal. This loss drops the Eternal to sixteenth place, and they’ll have to take two wins in the final week of stage 1 if they want a shot at the playoffs. The Shock, meanwhile, have settled into sixth place, tied with the Atlanta Reign. However, they’re not quite safe, and will likely be keeping a wary eye on their close competitors—Guangzhou Charge, Seoul Dynasty, and Boston Uprising—as they grapple for the final playoffs spots.
The real treat this week was the face-off between the Shanghai Dragons and London Spitfire. London, last season’s grand champions, have had a fairly strong season; up until this week, they hadn’t taken a loss since their double-L in stage one. Shanghai, on the other hand, have had a much rockier season. They did manage to break their season-long losing streak, but headed into their match against Spitfire with four losses and only two wins.
The Spitfire looked strong on the first map, Nepal, but Shanghai’s hard hold on King’s Row made it clear that we had a real match on our hands. Temple of Anubis was another long, tough fight, and after capping point A on their offensive, Spitfire reciprocated a hard hold for the win.
*whispers* THE CART IS MOVING. #OWL2019
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) March 10, 2019
The tiebreaker map was a knock-down drag-out brawl. After managing a single point each, Spitfire and the Dragons clashed for a final time in the Ruins of Ilios. The Spitfire, again, started out strong, pushing their capture percentage to 99% over Shanghai’s mere 14%, but a powerful push from the Dragons managed to flip the point. Spitfire committed to a final fight with only a single ultimate, Reinhardt’s Earthshatter.
When it failed to yield any results, Spitfire chose to push forward when they perhaps ought to have retreated and reset. Because the 3-3 meta guarantees huge HP pools and lots of healing, ult-heavy fights can drag on for a long time, and and when both sides had finally exhausted their resources, Shanghai cleared Spitfire from the point in overtime and claimed victory in the series.
If they want a shot at the playoffs now, the London Spitfire will have to emerge victorious over Seoul Dynasty in stage 5, and that promises to be challenging fight. Their match will definitely be one to watch.
OWL Week 4, however, wasn’t done yielding its bounties after London and a grinning Shanghai exited the stage. In the following series, Boston Uprising swept Floriday Mayhem 4-0, edging themselves closer to the stage playoffs cutoff. With one remaining match against the Dallas Fuel in stage 5, Uprising can still hold on to playoffs dreams. The Mayhem, now ranked eighteenth and with a win-loss record of 1-5, are effectively eliminated, but they’re looking at a winnable match against the Washington Justice next week.
The dessert course of OWL Week 4 was an epic series between the Vancouver Titans and the Chengdu Hunters. Both of these expansion teams have been absolutely thrilling to watch this season. The Titans were undefeated heading into stage 4, and are touted as one of the few teams who has a chance at taking down the overwhelming NYXL. The Chengdu Hunters, despite lagging in the standings, have been utilizing some of the most interesting and entertaining strategies in the League.
“Vancouver vs. Chengdu forced us to recalibrate everything we thought we knew about the game of Overwatch,” says Blizzard Entertainment’s Emerald Gao, in the League’s official coverage of OWL week 4. Spot on, Emerald. This match was one of the most entertaining in the whole season, and not just because both teams regularly decided to throw 3-3 clean out the window. We saw SeoMinSoo playing a defensive McCree, we saw epic sniper-sniper battles, we saw Baconjack on Ashe. We also saw JinMu make a strong case for Junkrat as an anti-3-3 defense hero. The damage-heavy compositions these teams opted for made for fast, exciting fights that could turn on a dime. Chengdu has an energetic and wild playstyle that’s a little hard to put into words, but for now, it will suffice to say that I am seriously looking forward to watching this team get stronger and stronger as the season goes on.
The Titans eventually claimed a 3-2 victory and remain undefeated. They’ll close out stage 1 next Sunday with a match against the Guangzhou Charge, who will be fighting to keep their spot in the playoffs.
The real question is—which of these teams will we see heading into the stage 1 playoffs? Be sure to leave us with your predictions in the comments below!