Welcome to Part 2 of ESTNN’s Overwatch League Stage 2 Playoffs Primer! Last time, we covered the top four teams heading into the playoffs, now it’s time to cover the four underdogs. And without further ado, let’s get down to it!
New York Excelsior
It’s quite shocking to see the NYXL in 5th place in the League standings. They currently hold a 5-2 match record for the stage, with a +14-map differential, all whilst still remaining in second place for the entire season. Their weakness? Atlanta. The NYXL have lost twice this season, with both of these losses coming from the Atlanta Reign this stage. It’s not to say the Excelsior played badly, it was simply that Atlanta played better in those matches.
JJonak for President
Of course, NYXL are still a very strong team. One of their outstanding qualities is their coordination, especially between main tank Mano and off tank MekO. Mano and MekO have impressed the fans this season, especially during the first stage where GOATS was the prime meta. Mano and MekO would coordinate their ultimates at the perfect times, resulting in either triple or quadruple kills more often than not.
They also employed new addition to the roster, DPS player Nenne, into their equation, using his Graviton Surge as Zarya to make sure the enemy team didn’t escape. And how can we talk about the NYXL without talking about the deadliest Zenyatta, JJonak? The lethal support hasn’t been giving us as many crazy kills recently, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t doing ridiculous things anymore. The flex support has managed to land many sleep darts as Ana in recent matches, some of which it’s hard to say how he even managed to hit them.
Clean it up, NY
The NYXL haven’t always pulled off clean sweeps though, with the team losing maps that could’ve been won if mistakes had been avoided. It seems that the cracks are showing in the armour for New York, with the Atlanta Reign being the team to spot them and exploit them. The Excelsior need to watch out heading into the Stage Playoffs this time, as the Los Angeles Gladiators have been stepping up by leaps and bounds. New York needs to avoid making the mistakes that cost them maps, or else it could cost them the entire series and their stage playoffs run.
It’s the Fuel’s second appearance in the Stage Playoffs, with their last appearance being in the Final Stage last season thanks to the London Spitfire’s clutch finish on Watchpoint Gibraltar. They’re in 6th place this stage, finishing with a 5-2 match record and a +5-map differential. They’ve also qualified for the season playoffs if they can keep up the momentum. They’re currently in 6th place for the season.
Fuel’s for the taking
It’s an exciting time for the Dallas Fuel. With last year’s trials and tribulations, the team is in a much better place than it was. With new additions to the roster, Dallas has shown us exactly what they’re capable of. Each player has shown us their individual talent, from new flex tank NotE to OGE showing off his phenomenal Reinhardt. The synergy between the team is also impressive, with supports Unkoe and Closer working together to keep their teammates alive in crucial team fights, all whilst being able to pull off the occasional flashy play.
What’s at the end of the rainbow?
But it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Like every team, Dallas has their flaws. One of the main flaws is that OGE can be rather aggressive at times, and sometimes that aggressiveness can cost his team the fight. And once OGE falls, so do other players on his team. The survivors are forced to retreat and give up the ground all to often. Other teams have this issue too, and it’s an easy point to exploit if OGE doesn’t take the enemy team down first. If Dallas can either support OGE during his charges or work around them, they may stand a chance against the Vancouver Titans.
This one came as a bit of a surprise, but the Hangzhou Spark have made it to the Stage 2 Playoffs. They’re sat in 7th place for the stage and 8th on the season standings. With a match record of 5-2 and a map differential of -1, the Spark barely squeaked in. Additionally, even though they had a relatively easy schedule, and some of their games did end up going to a fifth map.
The spark is there
But Hangzhou do have their strong points. When the team is in form, they can take down almost anybody standing in their path. Their coordination is second to none when they put their minds to it, as shown with their victories over the Seoul Dynasty and the Boston Uprising. Ria has managed to land some crazy D.va Self-Destructs in past games, although those have quietened down since the start of the season. GodsB is a very solid DPS player, and Guxue has proven himself as a main tank for the team. Both Bebe and iDk have shown their synergy as the Spark’s support duo, and have succeeded in keeping their teammates alive in crucial team fights.
Strong Form or a hard Fall
This all sounds impressive, but as mentioned above, it’s only when the team is on form. Hangzhou have the tendency to be inconsistent, and it’s not good for their results. Fights that could’ve been won have been lost badly, and sometimes it’s cost them either a map or a match. If Hangzhou can limit these issues, they’ll give the Spitfire a run for their money.
And our final team is the fan favourite Shanghai Dragons, who have come so far since their first season. If you’re unfamiliar with the storyline of the Dragons, here’s a reminder.
Better to forget
The Shanghai Dragons are known for their unfortunate losing streak in the Overwatch League, going so far as to not win a single match last season, even after they revamped their roster. During the off-season, they underwent staff changes with coaches and management, and the team has come out of the dark tunnel in the end. They picked up their first win against the Boston Uprising this season.
It was such an emotional moment that even fans of Boston were cheering in the arena. Some fans were even in tears, and it has become a historical moment for fans of the Overwatch League. Now they’ve bounced back, and actually winning games. The squad is even surprising viewers by winning games they have no business winning.
From First to last
The Dragons are currently sitting in 8th place for Stage 2, which was good enough for the final Stage Playoff spot. This will also be their first stage playoffs appearance, delighting fans across the globe. They hold a 4-3 match record for the stage, with a map differential of 0. That said, they’re still in 13th place on the league table for the season. Despite these numbers, they’ve made leaps and bounds of progress, even signing their new main tank, Gamsu, at the very last moment. Gamsu used to be a part of the Boston Uprising, but was traded over to the Dragons, and his addition has improved the Dragons immensely.
A chink in the armor
There are still some kinks to iron out for Shanghai though, with minor mistakes being capitalised on and coordination being rather shaky sometimes. The new meta has definitely proven to be beneficial for the Dragons, but there are challenges that lie ahead for the team. They’re taking on the San Francisco Shock in their quarter-finals match, which will definitely be a tough one for them considering how strong the Shock are. If they want to take them down, they’ll have to bring out all the stops, and pull off one of the biggest upsets this season.
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-Final Match 1
5 PM EDT – Semi-Final Match 2
SUNDAY MAY 12TH
1 PM EDT – Stage 2 Grand Finals
Images VIA: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment