ESTNN's Malik Shelp breaks down what may have been the biggest upset the Overwatch League has ever seen.
The most significant upset of the year (and maybe ever) occurred this weekend in the Overwatch League, and it's a big deal. The Houston Outlaws took down the Stage 2 champions, the San Francisco Shock, this weekend in a five-map affair that pushed both teams to their limits.
The game went back and forth from the first map all the way to the last, and both teams fought incredibly hard all the way to the bitter end. The Outlaws looked better than they ever have in that game, and today we're going to break down the Houston Outlaws' stunning win against the San Francisco Shock and touch on their 4-0 against the Boston Uprising. We'll touch on the Uprising's DPS debacle and take a look at what Stage 3 could look like for the Houston Outlaws.
Map 1: Nepal
Nepal was a back and forth affair with both teams struggling to set a precedent. We got our first taste of the EMP/Shatter combo, but things got shaky on the second round. The San Francisco battled back with everything they had and earned themselves a point on Map 1, but it just wasn't enough in the end.
Map 2: Horizon Lunar Colony
Horizon Lunar Colony was difficult to watch as the Shock absolutely rolled through the Outlaws just like fans all expected them to from the beginning. The map was quick and fairly unexciting as viewers saw some DPS heroes. Unfortunately, none of the DPS play on show was particularly stellar.
Map 3: Eichenwalde
On Eichenwalde, it was all Shock all the time in the 3/3 mirror match-up. While the Shock looked strong, there were some serious flaws in Houston's GOATS composition. As much as they tried (and tried and tried) to break through, they just couldn't out-do the Shock's deep understanding and execution of the 3/3 meta.
Map 4: Havana
Map 4 had everyone on the edge of their seats as the Outlaws found their rhythm down 2-1 against the seemingly indomitable Shock. The EMP Shatter combos from Muma and Danteh were nuts, with nearly split-second reaction times tieing them together. Muma's shatters were huge on Havana, and they gave the Outlaws the openings they needed to take the map and tie up the series. If the timing between Danteh's EMPs and Muma's Shatters are going to stay this way, the Outlaws have a fearsome duo that teams will have to contend with.
Map 5: Ilios
Going into Map 5, fans got to see Jake dominate the skies as Pharah, accompanied by Linkzr on the Doomfist punching the Shock squishies all over the map. The Outlaws pulled out the full bag of tricks against the Shock on the map and it worked to great effect. That said, Ilios was more of a showcase for the Outlaws. It allowed them to flex their creative muscles for the win. It's not hard to believe that winning a round with the dive composition boosted their confidence going into the final round.
Rawkus steals the show
The unsung hero of this match was Rawkus, especially with his clutch Ana plays. Yes, Danteh and Muma absolutely wiped up on the team fights, but the anti-healing grenades, perfect nano boosts and clutch sleep darts helped enable the Outlaws lineup in this match. If the Houston Outlaws are able to play the Sombra-Rein combo against the Shock and win, there is potential for it to be a GOATS buster against other teams. We're excited to see them run this against the Vancouver Titans, a team that fans and analysts know just one thing about, it's their high-level GOATS play.
Looks like the Outlaws are Rising Up, Not Boston
Now let's talk about the Outlaws' sweep against Boston Uprising and why it is important in their development as a top team. The Houston Outlaws honestly looked like they had fun against the Boston Uprising. They played heroes that they are not only skilled at playing, but comfortable with. Comfort picks were huge in this game, and it showed in the final score.
The Houston Outlaws started out tame enough, mainly switching out the Wrecking Ball for a Reinhardt. After the first map win, however, they pulled out the DPS extravaganza and smacked the Uprising around for the remainder of the match. Danteh outplayed RCk and got way more utility from hacks and his EMPs that his counterpart on the Uprising. Colourhex couldn't compete with Jake's aerial dominance, and fans know that Persia can't compete with Rawkus's Ana play.
As the match went on, the Uprising refused to adapt and failed to establish a foothold on the maps. At times RCK would land a great EMP, but no one from the Uprising ever seemed to be around to capitalize on it. He often failed to catch Rawkus with his EMP, allowing the Outlaws support to pop Transcendence. In Map 3: Numbani, Boston and Houston played mirror compositions with the Sombra GOATS with an Ana in play instead of Zenyatta.
What this all means for the Outlaws
Whether this past weekend was the start of a hot streak for the Outlaws, a crazy fluke, or even a new beginning, one thing is for certain; Danteh and Muma are not a pair to be trifled with.
The majority of the Outlaws' team fight victories were thanks to the intense coordination and communication between Danteh and Muma. Muma shone with some insane Shatters worthy of being referred to as Bumper-like levels of trickery. The individual hacks that came through by Danteh, and Muma's ability to quickly reprioritize his target, are the factors that led the Outlaws to victory. We've all seen how powerful Sombra can be in a GOATS meta, but the level of coordination between Muma and Danteh is next level. We've seen Michelle and RCK pop off on Sombra this season, but they never quite have the follow up from their team to make them an unstoppable force.
What's Next For the Outlaws
Going into Week 3, the Houston Outlaws will play the Paris Eternal on Thursday and the Florida Mayhem on Sunday. All of these teams have a chance to shine, but if the Outlaws can take down the Shock, we're sure they won't have problems with either of these upcoming matches. In Week 4, they play the Washington Justice on Friday and the Toronto Defiant on Sunday. If all four of these matches go well for Houston then all signs point to them being in the playoffs this stage.
There is one big problem though that needs to be addressed, however. The last time the Houston Outlaws were in the playoffs was Stage 1 of Season 1. For the most part, this team hasn't changed much roster-wise, and they did lose against the NYXL in the first week of this Stage. While Stage 3 has already been insane with some big upsets, if the Outlaws can continue their perfect EMP Shatter combo, especially against the Vancouver Titans, we may have a retribution story on our hands.
Images VIA: Stewart Volland for Blizzard Entertainment