The OWL Stage 1 Playoffs are set to begin in a couple of hours! With teams locked in and the initial matches set, let’s take a look at each team before we dive into predictions for each individual match. That said, here’s the schedule for today’s matches.
#1. Vancouver Titans
After their victory over the Guangzhou Charge, the Vancouver Titans were able to slip into the number 1 seed over the New York Excelsior with a slightly better map score. The former Runaway roster has proven that the Overwatch League stage is no different than the opponents they faced in the Korean Contenders scene, and wants to leave an impact to mark their entrance into the League. Poised to take on the Boston Uprising, the Vancouver Titans are the favorites of many to take the entire stage, even being predicted as potential winners of the entire season should they keep up their performance. The team has proven their ability to dominate the GOATS meta (triple support, triple tank), and even when that doesn’t work, they bust out a new strategy or something different to defeat their opponents. Simply put, “Remember the Titans?” You will.
#2. New York Excelsior
Since Season 1, the New York Excelsior have been a force to be reckoned with and not taken lightly. The team has been strong since the beginning, being the only team to consistently make stage playoffs throughout their stay in L.A. Even though NYXL is phasing out DPS players like Pine and Saebyeolbe, New York has molded their lineup into a successful and dominant force. (L.A. Valiant, take some notes!).They play Seoul Dynasty in the first match of playoffs, and if past matches are anything to go by, it should be quite an exciting match.
#3. Philadelphia Fusion
Before anything else can be said, the biggest problem the Fusion seem to facing is themselves. With DPS taking a backseat, Carpe’s ability to absolutely shut down teams on characters such as Widowmaker or Tracer cannot be utilized. Now he has to keep his team alive and burn down the opponent with Zarya. Widowmaker and Tracer, while being team dependent, are two heroes that allow a skilled player to push the envelope with their playstyle.
A great Widowmaker will know when it is time to take a flank, take a risk, and go for some risky shots to save the team. But in the current meta, those kinds of risks just can’t be taken. Not because it is too risky or not enough reward, it is impossible (other than some Hollywood shenanigans) to really do anything flashy as a solo player in Overwatch. Despite all this however, the Fusion have really overcome a lot of barriers such as this one to make playoffs, and after a coin toss misread and than a correction, the Fusion were placed into third seed, ready to face off against the Atlanta Reign.
#4. Toronto Defiant
Another newcomer this season, the Defiant have certainly made a mark as a strong team. While not as dominant as New York or Vancouver, Toronto has a fair chance to make the finals. In order to do so, they must beat a new and improved San Francisco Shock and then the winner of Seoul Dynasty vs. NYXL. The Defiant are no strangers to adversity however, taking wins over the Fusion and the Spark. While many would say that the schedule for the Defiant was their greatest teammate, the fact that many of their wins were extremely convincing, winning maps convincingly and losing close games and refusing to go down without a fight.
#5. Atlanta Reign
Let’s go dude! The Reign, famous for picking up the infamous Daniel “Dafran” Francesca, and Dogman, someone who has dedicated his life to the game, have made the playoffs. The Reign have had the most fun matches to watch out of all teams. In their inaugural match, Dafran was able to play his infamous Torbjörn, signaling to the world that the team was not going to hold back his personality. Because of this, Dafran was able to do things such as his famous Graviton Surge play on Hollywood, winning them a fight against the Paris Eternal. Atlanta is one of my sneaky favorites to make the finals despite the fact that they are ranked #5. Look out for Atlanta, because the Reign are looking to rule.
#6. San Francisco Shock
San Francisco comes into the playoffs with a 4-3 map record, same as Atlanta Reign and the two teams below it, Seoul Dynasty and Boston Uprising. However, the worrying thing about SFS is that they have been unable to defeat or even put a fight against higher level teams, suffering heavy losses against both the Titans and the Excelsior. Since they have to play the Defiant, Shock, in all reality, probably won’t make it very far in the Stage 1 Playoffs. That said, with the Main Tank Super’s stellar play, there is a chance they can upset. While not likely to make it to finals, the Shock can definitely put on a show, and maybe even electrify the audience.
#7. Seoul Dynasty
Even with the efforts of new main tank Fissure, the Seoul Dynasty only barely make it into the playoffs, with the help of some other teams winning or losing games. While looking strong against weaker teams, Seoul also can not perform against the stronger teams. After losing an off broadcast game against the Shock 3-0, Seoul Dynasty has New York Excelsior as their first opponent, and it looks like their road through Stage 1 playoffs ends there, unless they manage to bring out the big guns and are able to capitalize off of New York’s few mistakes.
#8. Boston Uprising
Boston has not had a good stage for a playoff team. After being the first loss to the Shanghai Dragons in the history of the Overwatch League, the team seemed to be making progress, beating the Dallas Fuel and the Florida Mayhem. However, with a match history filled with losses to the Toronto Defiant and the New York Excelsior, Boston would need a miracle in order to defeat the Vancouver Titans. However, with the Titans looking stronger than before as the stage went on, it is not looking like Boston will even have a chance to capitalize on non-existent mistakes.
Check out our Baptiste First Look right over here on ESTNN!