ESTNN's Cole Ricke has this week's edition of our Overwatch League Power Rankings for Week 3 of Stage 4.
San Francisco Shock
While they don't look as dominant as usual, the Shock is still on top of the Overwatch League. With a deep bench of DPS players to rotate out and test, the Shock is still putting up wins while experimenting with lineups and compositions. Additionally, they seem very close to picking a starting six coming into this week, with some players having fewer games while the team puts the final pieces together. Even if no swaps at all happen this week, the Shock may have unlocked the full potential of their roster.
Los Angeles Gladiators
Although sporting a 2-2 record this stage, the Gladiators have done two things that most teams couldn’t. Firstly, the Gladiators took down the New York Excelsior in only four maps. Secondly, the boys in purple took the Shock all the way to five maps. While they lost, the Gladiators still looked extremely strong. However, they are not invincible, and this is clearly shown in the front line of the L.A. team. Chang-hoon “rOar” Gye and Junwoo “Void” Kang have time and time again been the Gladiator's weak point, (more so rOar than Void). The Gladiators could easily fall out of this spot, but for now, no other team looks like they deserve it.
Before you raise the pitchforks, let us say this: the Titans are still an incredibly strong team that could win Season 2 of the Overwatch League. However, this meta is definitely a step down for them from the 3/3 fans saw during the last three stages. The Titans had mastered GOATS and destroyed any team that attempted to best them on it, except of course for the San Francisco Shock, with whom they developed a sort of rivalry as to who would be the kings of 3/3.
However, the Titans just don’t seem to have the iron grip they once did and were styled on by the Washington Justice in their last game. Cooldown usage by the Titans was atrocious, and it sometimes looked like they used them just for fun because they weren't sure when they should have used them. The Titans don’t necessarily weaker than they did earlier in the season, but a lot more teams look a whole lot stronger. That being said, the cracks in the Titan's armor are clearly showing, and more teams than ever have a chance of busting it wide open.
Everyone’s favorite underdog are no longer underdogs. Barely missing out on a top-three spot this week, the Chengdu Hunters were fan favorites for not playing the meta, almost refusing to play the GOATS composition in the first three stages. Now, the Hunters have dominated a weak Excelsior and only barely lost to the Gladiators in a meta that many figured would not affect them as heavily as other teams. Sporting an impressive 3-1 record to start the stage, the Chinese team is looking to continue their redemption arc, and just in time. They're a prime squad to make playoffs and, with enough work, could potentially grab a top-six spot before the stage is over.
Nothing can be said before one thing: Jeong “Erster” Joon is a blessing for this team. Time and time again, this superstar has either opened a fight for the Reign or saved it entirely, and it single-handedly lets the rest of the Reign have more freedom to make plays or push a fight. Under Erster’s playmaking abilities and Dusttin “Dogman” Bowerman’s leadership and shotcalling, the Reign looks extremely strong, topping the current standings and looking to take themselves into playoffs with loads of momentum.
It’s a shame that the Justice is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs because they look like a team that would storm the postseason. This team benefitted the most from the 2-2-2 role lock. The duo of Corey “Corey” Nigra and Ethan “Stratus” Yankel surpasses any other in the league right now. On top of it all, they look like they’re having fun on stage every time they play. With laughs even during the Vancouver game, the Justice is one of the best teams in Overwatch League in the 2-2-2 role lock. If they continue to play the way they're playing currently, they’ll be even higher in the rankings despite their inability to make an appearance in the postseason.
Seoul is a team that has had its ups and downs, with new roster members coming in, the most recent of which is the DPS duo of Jaemin “ILLICIT” Park and Dongeon “FITS” Kim. Although sitting at 1-2, the team has shown that with time, those DPS players will really come into their own. Most of the issues in their play looking like adjusting to a new role lock meta. Although they've been on the roster for a while, those communication issues can be attributed to that hunt for synergy, but after enough time, it must be attributed to something else. The question is, however, what would that be?
London, we have one question: “What happened?” In a week of crazy upsets, we expected you to put up a solid performance against the Mayhem to at least have the world make a little sense, but a 3-0? A lowlight for that match was the Widowmaker duel between Jihyeok “birdring” Kim and Jeongwoo “Sayaplayer” Ha that Sayaplayer consistently won. On London’s end, birdring became more and more passive and was obviously afraid to take duels against Sayaplayer. While the team looked confused in the server, on the outside their demeanor was one of fun and laughter. This team has a strong mental game, and they should use that to beat teams of a caliber higher than that of Florida.
The Dragons found great success in the GOATS meta by finding their own niche of using Sombra more than any other team in the League. However, their decision making in this new meta seems questionable at best. In a time when the double sniper is extremely strong, the Dragons constantly had Jin-hyeok “DDing” Yang on Pharah, limiting his usefulness. Now, DDing is an incredible Pharah. Against Toronto, however, the Defiant bullied DDing and refused to allow him to make an impact.
Like the Justice, the Charge have found a meta they can excel in. Two strong players are Jinseo “Shu” Kim and Jungwoo “Happy” Lee, who helped bring the team to the level of play needed to compete with middle to top tier teams. On top of their high-level play, the team has gained new fans from adding Hyungseok ‘Aaron' “Bischu” Kim and Joona “Fragi” Laine. The two biggest gripes against Charge in the past was lack of presence both in-game and out, but these moves have helped push them in the right direction to fix both.
Barely missing the top ten cutoff, the Paris Eternal are looking to renew themselves in a DPS meta where they can utilize both Terence “SoOn” Tarlier and George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha on their damage-dealing heroes. Specifically, SoOn’s Widowmaker and ShaDowBurn’s Genji and Pharah are to be feared, and the Eternal will be extremely successful should they pop off like last season.
New York Excelsior
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. From toeing the line of top three to below top ten, the Excelsior has tripped and stumbled through these last few weeks. Analysts heralded the 2-2-2 role lock as something that the Excelsior wouldn’t necessarily benefit heavily from, but also wouldn’t suffer much either. Lose top 3? Maybe. Go under top 10? People would have laughed. But here we are with a struggling New York team that can’t seem to bring itself to even take a map off of the Chengdu Hunters. Major refocusing and restructuring of the team will be necessary for success, and it needs to happen soon because playoffs aren’t too far away.
Los Angeles Valiant
While 2-1, the Valiant hasn’t defeated an opponent this stage worth mentioning, and the Dynasty handed them a loss in overtime. The Valiant squad is strong, but it seems like they need the right set of conditions in order to really pull off a victory. In order to succeed, the Valiant need to be a little more consistent in their approach, especially on control maps, and make more space for their DPS. Other than that, the Valiant look solid for where they are.
Philadelphia fans would not be blamed for thinking that the roster for this season was vastly different than the one that made it to the Grand Finals of Season 1. However, while mostly the same, the team is not performing as well as many had hoped. Jan-hyeok “Carpe” Lee on Widowmaker seems to be more of a coin flip than a set victory, and the team as a whole seems more lost than before. The name of the game for these bottoming teams is consistency, and the Fusion doesn’t have a whole lot of it.
While not at the bottom, the Defiant’s management has proven they don't necessarily care about this stage. Upper management allegedly took two starting players on a PR trip, effectively making it impossible to scrim for the week. While we'll never know for sure, this trip seems like a primary reason for their loss against the Philadelphia Fusion, effectively eliminating them from playoff contention. The Defiant has proven they can do well in this meta, but where the real failure lies is in their management (at least this week).
Spark’s main debacle with Cai “Krystal” Shilong has shaken up the roster in a time when they need consistency. Sporting a 0-2 record, the Spark doesn't have much going for them, and as a result, there isn’t a lot to say. A main point of praise for the team is the frontline. If the squad can leverage that, they may be able to find some success.
Other than a victory over the Los Angeles Gladiators, the Outlaws haven’t proven to be an effective team. It’s looking highly unlikely they make the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean they need to stop improving. The Outlaws can be fierce in a 2-2-2 meta, they just need time to adjust. Whether that means offseason or between weeks, they need to take time to make sure they have a proper understanding of their roster depth and what it can do.
The Fuel has arguably the least flexible lineup in the league, making it hard to find any bright spots. It’s not unrealistic to think that the Fuel very well may go winless this stage and miss the playoffs, but it’s not a sight fans want to see. Again.
Even with a victory over London, this team really isn’t anything to praise. While they looked good, the victory was more the Spitfire playing badly then the Florida Mayhem outplaying their opponents. With no playoff hopes and without the performance of a team that was at the bottom with them like the Justice, there is nothing notable here.
Boston rounds out the rankings not only due to bad play and teamwork but what looks like a lack of innovation and adaptation. Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth pitiful time on Orisa is evidence that he is trying to learn the hero, but that also means he can't play it at the top level. Because of this, the rest of the lineup is left trying to pick up the slack when they can barely carry their own. Boston has a lot to work on but be on the lookout for DPS players trying to pop off in order to carry the team to victory.
Images VIA: Blizzard Entertainment, Toronto Defiant, Boston Uprising