Eleven Matches, Eleven Questions - OWL Preview Week 26
Overwatch League once again moves to no hero pools, making this the first week of the meta we will get to see at the Countdown Cup. Will Asia continue their Wrecking Ball shenanigans even without Chengdu Hunters in the field and Orisa available or are we going back to tried, tested, and soul-crushing double shield? The race for the all-important final seeds is still on and many matches will determine the fate of teams down to the playoffs.
Match of the week: New York Excelsior vs Shanghai Dragons
1pm (BST) | 8am (EST) | 5am (PST) Saturday, August 1
What would Chengdu do?
Shanghai Dragons (3-2, 65%): While the recent results the NYXL put up suggest otherwise, I consider it a bold move to choose this match as the best of the week. What the NYXL really demonstrated is that they can run an esoteric composition by absorbing the teachings of the Hunters. Indeed, we have no idea if the meta will persist this way or if there’s been a general uptick in performance for the NYXL through fundamental changes within the team, such as bringing in Dong-wook "BiaNcA" Kim. Therefore, this match could just as easily turn into a 3-0 stomp for the Dragons. Who can really tell with this region at the moment?
Dallas Fuel vs Philadelphia Fusion
8pm (BST) | 3pm (EST) | 12pm (PST) Friday, July 31
A new hope for the Dallas Fuel?
Philadelphia Fusion (3-1, 65%): Bringing up the shaky game against the Gladiators, which the Fusion might have very easily lost on Route 66, doesn’t lend many insights into this week’s performance. However, there is reason to believe that this match could also end up being close. The Fuel’s scrims are said to have shown curious patterns, suggesting a new approach. It’s probably not enough for one of the best teams in the league though.
Los Angeles Valiant vs Houston Outlaws
10pm (BST) | 3pm (EST) | 12pm (PST) Friday, July 31
Boom or be boomed?
Los Angeles Valiant (3-2, 60%): If the performance trajectory of these teams were to be displayed as graphs, their entwined season records would look like double helixes. At the DNA level, these couldn’t be more different, given that one is made up of exclusively veterans and the other has counted on a large number of rookies. I’m a firm believer that the Valiant are in for a resurgence of form, given that their strong early-season performance wasn’t a fluke, and was built on a strong substance that should likely reemerge soon. The Outlaws faced a different problem, being unable to bring their scrim performances into live games and failing to find consistency when they did. Overwatch, now proven to be a game of confidence, will reward the winner of this match with momentum in the Countdown Cup.
Seoul Dynasty vs Guangzhou Charge
9am (BST) | 4am (EST) | 1am (PST) Saturday, August 1
The Dynasty - Consistently inconsistent or consistently mediocre at best?
Guangzhou Charge (3-1, 65%): We aren’t in a playoff situation just yet, so technically speaking Joon-yeong "Profit" Park’s passive of taking over matches should not be activated. Seoul’s strength of schedule this season was a lot harder than the one the London Spitfire core had to face in season 1, not yet equalizing the performances those teams had through the season but making them reasonably close. Just how pants-on-head-stupid would it be if Seoul came out of nowhere in this emerging meta, start playing up to Shanghai’s level and was to be one of the two Asian teams participating in the end-stage of the playoffs?
The team that would be most upset by these developments would, of course, be the second-best team in the Asian region this season, the Guangzhou Charge. A victory against the Dynasty would go a long way to stay in the second seed. Both teams would be best advised to leave the sandbags at home.
London Spitfire vs Hangzhou Spark
11am (BST) | 6am (EST) | 3am (PST) Saturday, August 1
Brick by brick, London Spitfire. Or does the Architect have something against that?
London Spitfire (3-2, 60%): Personally, the Spitfire’s experience was a lot more pleasant than the one of last year. You had an underdog squad to cheer for who had to take a lot of losses due to the regional separations, but they always maintained a through-line of improvement that they should be proud of. Had they had the same amount of bottom tier opponents to farm wins and confidence on, I don’t think the Spitfire’s season would be thought of much differently than Valiant’s has been. The Spark made a head coach change, though these developments are usually in the works for a couple of weeks before they are publicly announced, making it unlikely that a sudden performance surge may come with Ji-Sub "paJion" Hwang taking over.
Paris Eternal vs Washington Justice
8pm (BST) | 3pm (EST) | 12pm (PST) Saturday, August 1
Sir sp9rk1e, which weapon should I bring for the sparring today?
Paris Eternal (3-0, 90%): The potentially best team in the world is playing a bottom-five team in the Overwatch League. It’s unfortunately the case that the Eternal will likely toy with their food for a bit with unorthodox hero picks, which will likely be one of the only entertaining aspects of this match.
Toronto Defiant vs Vancouver Titans
10pm (BST) | 5pm (EST) | 2pm (PST) Saturday, August 1
Who gets to flush the maple syrup?
Toronto Defiant (3-1, 60%): While the match won’t have the highest quality of Overwatch displayed, it could at least turn out to be a close series with Canadian pride at stake.
Houston Outlaws vs San Francisco Shock
12am (BST) | 7pm (EST) | 4pm (PST) Saturday, August 1
Blood is in the water. Have the San Francisco Sharks taken notice?
San Francisco Shock (3-0, 85%): If the last couple of weeks are anything to go by, the Shock are back on their dominance juice, taking no prisoners in the process. It’s a solid “unlucky” for the Outlaws, who are still trying to get themselves out of the bottom four in North America to escape the first playoff round.
Dallas Fuel vs Atlanta Reign
8pm (BST) | 3pm (EST) | 12pm (PST) Sunday, August 2
It’s practically stage 4, what’s a Fuel ought to do?
Dallas Fuel (3-2, 60%): The aforementioned scrim patterns have me feeling a way about this match that can accurately be summarized as “hot take vector”. Atlanta themselves are no slouches and will continue to improve but in this particular match, we are going off their performance of last week, and this opens up an opportunity for the Fuel.
Los Angeles Gladiators vs Florida Mayhem
10pm (BST) | 3pm (EST) | 12pm (PST) Sunday, August 2
The whip cracks at the end, doesn’t it, Gladiators?
Florida Mayhem (3-2, 60%): Irrationally speaking, I think this match will be highly entertaining and might just be the best match we will get to see this week. I’m fully aware that the performances the Gladiators had recently don’t really communicate that they should be able to bring it to the Mayhem on an average day, but perhaps Sunday will be a special one.
Philadelphia Fusion vs Los Angeles Valiant
12am (BST) | 5pm (EST) | 2pm (PST) Sunday, August 2
Can the Fusion keep pushing?
Philadelphia Fusion (3-1, 70%): There’s a weird effect that I experience myself too. For some reason, the consistently top four performance by the Fusion without spikes to be the unquestionably best team has caused a fatigue on them, without really any wrongdoing on their part. Jae-hyeok "Carpe" Lee and Kyung-bo "Alarm" Kim are still out there carrying, their bench is still deep, and the roster performs consistently throughout. For three years now, all this team needs and ever really needed is a huge win, and seeding well into the Countdown Cup would go a long way there. The Valiant are hurt and there’s no reason that a team like the Fusion should struggle here.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment