Stage 1 of Overwatch League has ended in a series that did not go entirely as expected. From the beginning, the Seoul Dynasty was the favorite to win; for most of the first stage, they were incredibly dominant as they defeated the Los Angeles Gladiators, Dallas Fuel, Boston Uprising, and more with ease. It wasn’t until they went against the New York Excelsior that they started to look shaky. It was the first match they lost leading to a couple of defeats from London Spitfire in Week 4 and Los Angeles Valiant in Week 5.
This sudden downfall shifted the standings in a significant way. This is what they looked like after all of the regular season games of Stage 1 ended:
- New York Excelsior – 9 wins, 1 loss
- Houston Outlaws – 7 wins, 3 losses
- London Spitfire – 7 wins, 3 losses
- Los Angeles Valiant – 7 wins, 3 losses
- Seoul Dynasty – 7 wins, 3 losses
- Boston Uprising – 6 wins, 4 losses
- Philadelphia Fusion – 6 wins, 4 losses
- Los Angeles Gladiators – 4 wins, 6 losses
- San Francisco Shock – 3 wins, 7 losses
- Dallas Fuel – 3 wins, 7 losses
- Florida Mayhem – 1 win, 9 losses
- Shanghai Dragons – 0 wins, 10 losses
In a sudden and surprising turn of events, the Seoul Dynasty couldn’t muster up enough map wins to take third place. In the end, New York Excelsior, Houston Outlaws, and London Spitfire claimed the top three spots moving them to the Stage 1 Playoffs.
For the uninitiated, Stage Playoffs occur after all the regular season games of that stage have been completed with the top three teams competing for some bonus cash and bragging rights. The second and third place team play a match; the winner moves on to the Stage Finals where they face the first place team. The victor of that match wins a cash prize of $100,000 with second place garnering $25,000.
In this case, New York Excelsior has taken the top spot in the regular season so far giving them the advantage in the Stage 1 Finals. The Houston Outlaws came in at second, and the London Spitfire came in at third, which meant they would be facing each other for a spot against the New York Excelsior and all that cash.
Stage 1 Playoffs
Semi-Final: London Spitfire vs. Houston Outlaws
Starting as a back-and-forth affair for the London Spitfire and the Houston Outlaws with each team getting a map win, the third game is where the match starts to shift into the Spitfire’s favor. The Outlaws started strong stalling their opposition on the first point, but the strategic planning of the Spitfire gave them the push they needed to grab both points and the map win on Anubis.
Game 4 tells a similar tale with a great initial defense from LinkZer and the Houston Outlaws. Somewhere along the line, the London Spitfire found a strategy and broke through Houston’s seemingly impenetrable defense giving them the match win.
Final: London Spitfire vs. New York Excelsior
What an intense match. New York Excelsior took the first two games from London Spitfire, giving them an incredible advantage for game three. New York Excelsior just needed to win one game to win the $100,000 cash prize. However, the London Spitfire found a strategy and pulled out three straight wins for the reverse sweep. Birdring did some exceptional work with Widowmaker throughout the entire series, as well as showing his versatility with great performances as McCree, Tracer, and Genji.
London Spitfire vs. Houston Outlaws (3 – 1)
London Spitfire vs. New York Excelsior (3 – 2)
*Note: Bolded teams denotes the winners of its match
Going forward into Stage 2, the real contenders for the season playoffs are becoming clearer. While they lost in the Stage 1 Finals, the London Spitfire continue to impress and dismantle their opposition in a way that no one else has. With a player like Profit, they are not only a favorite for the playoffs, but for the finals.
The New York Excelsior continues to impress in the weirdest ways. If you were to ask me where NYXL would be in the standings after the first week or two, I would have said they would end at 4th or 5th place; they were impressive in those first two weeks, but they are scrappier than squads like Seoul Dynasty or London Spitfire. They seem to have used that to their advantage as they have unexpectedly won nine of their games, putting them in 1st place.
The one shift in the standings I found surprising was Seoul Dynasty’s dip into fifth place. In the beginning weeks, it looked like they couldn’t be touched. They were so strong from the start, it was assumed they would just make the Stage 1 Finals. However, once they played a team of their caliber — in this case, NYXL, London Spitfire, and Los Angeles Valiant — they lost. During Week 5, even the San Francisco Shock — the 9th place team currently — was able to go five games against the once-dominant Korean team.
I am certain the current top five teams will make it to the playoffs. Each one of those squads has proved they can best most of the squads in the League. But what about that 6th place spot? There are still a ton of matches left to be played, but it can be assumed that the Shanghai Dragons won’t be a contender. They have improved greatly since the first week finding a star player in Undead, but have yet to garner a win.
Florida Mayhem is another team that could probably be counted out of the running if they continue to perform the way they have. With the smallest roster in the league — only six players initially — they became too predictable and didn’t have enough variety to throw their opposition off. They did acquire Ha “Sayaplayer” Jung Woo, Kim “aWesomeGuy” Sung Hoon, and Joonas “Zappis” Alakurtti to their roster, which will give them more choices moving forward. However, until those players start to make appearances in the lineup, Mayhem will continue to struggle.
There are three teams that are contenders for that 6th place spot: Boston Uprising, Philadelphia Fusion, and San Francisco Shock. You may be wondering about the absence of the Dallas Fuel.
The Dallas Fuel has been somewhat of a disappointment. In the first week of Overwatch League, they were a favorite to go to stage playoffs. Instead, they find themselves in 10th place. They have the chops to move up the ranks with players like Taimou and EFFECT, but they have to get out of this rut and pick up some wins in Stage 2. By the end of the first season, they could be in the playoffs but they’ll have to work hard for it.
The Boston Uprising has found itself in some strange and favorable situations with wins against top teams like Los Angeles Valiant and London Spitfire. They’ve shown they could go toe-to-toe with the best. Philadelphia Fusion has also garnered some surprising victories, most notably their win against the New York Excelsior.
The San Francisco Shock has the most promise out of the bottom tier teams — which also includes Dallas Fuel, Florida Mayhem, and Shanghai Dragons. With only three wins, they have always made each match fairly competitive and is shown on their map wins. They may be below the Los Angeles Gladiators in the standings due to their match wins, but they have the same amount of map wins, fewer losses, and two ties. It would not be surprising if the two teams switch spots in the next stage.
That concludes the first stage of Overwatch League. Stage 2 begins on February 21st, 2018 with the Seoul Dynasty and Los Angeles Valiant kicking things off. Check back soon for the next Wrap-Up. In the meantime, you can also head back to our previous Wrap-Ups from the past four weeks here: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4.