Welcome to the Overwatch League Primer for the Stage 2 Playoffs! Much like our primer for the Dallas Fuel Ultimate Weekend, we’ll be breaking down each of the teams who have made it to the stage playoffs, starting from the first-place team in the stage to the eighth. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it!
San Francisco Shock
San Francisco may be famous for its earthquakes and Alcatraz, but there’s another thing that the city by the bay should be proud of now: their Overwatch League team in orange. The San Francisco Shock are sitting at first place for Stage 2, with a staggering 7-0 match record and a 28-0 map record. Fans and analysts have already dubbed this stage the ‘Golden Stage’. Having almost beaten the Titans in the last stage playoffs, the San Francisco Shock are looking to be one of the teams to beat this time around.
No "Shock" Here
But this isn’t much of a surprise. Each player on this roster has proven how key they are to the team’s success, from Viol2t and Moth excellent support play, to ChoiHyoBin maturing into one of the most underrated D.vas in the league. But one shining star for the team and a staple in their lineup is main tank Super. Super joined the team in Season One, but he wasn’t old enough to play until late March last season. Now, he’s made a name for himself on Reinhardt. He’s done a great job at keeping his teammates alive behind his shield, as well as his well-timed Earthshatters and charges.
That said, the teams can shake the Shock. Because of his impact during their games, if Super goes down first, the rest of the team is quick to follow. This is also the case with Moth, as if Moth falls first during a team fight, the Shock will retreat and give up some ground to regroup. This reaction is smart in the long run but sometimes costs them precious time. The Shock face off against the Shanghai Dragons to kick off the Stage 2 playoffs, and with how well both teams have been playing currently, this will be a match you don’t want to miss.
The Vancouver Titans are currently dominating the Overwatch League. They’re in first place in the standings, posting a total map differential of +40 and a match record of 14-0. What’s even more impressive is that this squad haven’t lost a single game since July 29th of last year. The team is well-coordinated and talented, but since this roster have been playing together for a long time, it comes as no surprise to the fans who have watched these players grow over the years.
Calling them Titans is an understatement
It’s not hard to highlight the strengths of the team, with their previously mentioned coordination that’s second to none but their individual talent is not something to sleep. Haksal is well known for his Genji across the Overwatch esports scene, and Stitch has shown us that his McCree is one to watch out for. JJANU has also established himself as one of the best D.va’s in the league. Last year we had Pokobombs thanks to the Philadelphia Fusion’s flex tank Poko, but this season we have JJANUkes that are twice as hard-hitting thanks the play coming out from the rest of his team.
Of course, every squad has flaws, and these flaws can give the opponents an advantage if acted upon quickly. One of the things that many people have picked up on is how aggressive Bumper is in the main tank role. Bumper will take bad charges in a fight, and somehow, he stays alive. While this is most likely due to his supports healing and the DPS dealing enough damage to force the opponents back, Bumper's aggression can get the better of him. The Titans are facing the Dallas Fuel in the last quarter-finals match, but if the Dallas Fuel can exploit this Bumper, then the fight will be a lot closer than some might think.
This is quite possibly the most surprising result to some fans of the League, considering how Stage 1 went for this team. That said, the London Spitfire have improved in leaps and bounds since the first stage, and now they’ve only lost one match this stage. They're currently sitting at 9-5 with a +12-map differential. This is a huge improvement for the team who went 3-4 last stage, ending in 13th place overall, but they they own the 4th place seed.
The Return of the Spitfire
Fans of the Spitfire are rejoicing at their sudden surge in the rankings, and it’s nice to see the Season One Champions returning to their former glory. There are lots of strengths in the London Spitfire, from main tank Gesture regaining his stride to new players like Guard and Krillin making names for themselves in their respective roles. However, Fury has become the shining star for this roster with his excellent D.va, but not because of his flashy plays. Fury comes into matches hungry and swallows as many Graviton Surges as he can on the hero in the pink mech, but that’s not all. Fury will make small micro plays that will impact the outcome of a team fight, and sometimes even an entire match. He’s very effective at tracking and negating the enemy team’s ultimates, and this has not gone unnoticed.
But while the Spitfire are returning to their old dominating ways, they are still in the process of improving and can make mistakes that can be capitalized on. From mistimed ultimates to poor positioning during a map (all seemingly due to miscommunication), London still looks uncoordinated at times. It’s possible this could happen again, but London look strong going into the Stage 2 playoffs, and their match against the Hangzhou Spark as the second quarter-final match will be interesting to watch.
Los Angeles Gladiators
We end Part of the Overwatch League Stage 2 Playoff Primer with the LA Gladiators. The Gladiators had a rough start to the season, but that's not surprising considering the team acquired a new main tank as well as missing Bischu due to illness. But LA is now bouncing back, and they currently sit in fifth place overall. They hold a 9-5 match record and a +11-map differential, just one map below the 4th seed London Spitfire.
The Los Angeles Gladiators look much better now that they’ve had time to gel with new main tank rOar and DPS rookie Decay, both who came from KongDoo Panthera in Contenders Korea. Both Decay and rOar have impressed and have gelled with their teammates, pulling off some impressive plays whilst still coordinating with their team. Finnish support duo Shaz and BigGoose haven’t lost their stride either, and with the addition of new flex tank Ripa, their support line is getting stronger. Both Hydration and Surefour have had their shining moments, and Void has become a very solid D.va for the lineup.
However, the Gladiators have made some questionable choices recently, and they paid the price for it in their match against the Boston Uprising last week. Surefour has performed well on Hanamura, and the team has usually won the map when he plays. But for some reason, the Canadian veteran was out of the lineup for the map when playing Boston, and they lost. The Gladiators then went on to lose the series, despite looking strong during at points during the match. Their struggles winning crucial team fights was their ultimate downfall, with small mistakes costing them. The Gladiators have a lot on their plate in their first stage playoffs match, as they face off against the New York Excelsior.
Stage 2 Playoffs Schedule
Thursday May 9th
9 PM EDT – Shanghai Dragons vs San Francisco Shock
11 PM EDT – Hangzhou Spark vs London Spitfire
Friday May 10th
9 PM EDT – New York Excelsior vs Los Angeles Gladiators
11 PM EDT – Dallas Fuel vs Vancouver Titans
Saturday May 11th
3 PM EDT – Semi Finals Match 1
5 PM EDT – Semi Finals Match 2
Sunday May 12th
1 PM EDT – Stage 2 Grand Finals
Images VIA: Overwatch League