The Overwatch League enters into the final regular week of Stage 3 with a handful of matches. First, the Dallas Fuel looked to redeem themselves against the Philadelphia Fusion. Later, the Florida Mayhem threw down with the LA Gladiators. But all eyes were on the fight between the Houston Outlaws and the San Francisco Shock. This was largely because, of the matches, this one shaped up to be the most even. Throughout Stage 3, both teams have put forth some dominant performances, as well as some underwhelming ones. Both teams were 4-4 when the match started. And Houston was looking at some slim Stage Playoff hopes, needing to walk home with a W in order to really have a shot at it.
The opening match of the night was no surprise to anyone. The Philadelphia Fusion are one of the best teams in the Overwatch League. They’re currently in 5th place in the overall standings. The Fuel, meanwhile, have been on a downward spiral since Stage 1. What’s more, they’re playing without their star DPS, Effect, for the remainder of Stage 3. The caveat is that the Fuel would never get another chance like this. They weren’t the only ones lacking a star DPS. Carpe wasn’t present at all, during this match. Unfortunately, the Fuel still crumbled in a 3-1 loss against the Fusion. They ran triple-tank on multiple maps, only really getting clever a handful of times. The Fusion made the odd choice of running Widowmaker against this several times, yet still managed to bring home the win.
The match between the Gladiators and Mayhem was honestly a comedy of errors. The first map ended in a draw, showing that the Mayhem continue to improve. They even looked competitive on later maps, such as Numbani. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to stop the Gladiators’ momentum. Poorly managed ultimates caused them to lose fights they shouldn’t have. They might have actually won Numbani, for example, had they held onto a D.Va ultimate that they questionably used during the Gladiators’ final push. That ult wound up getting no value and didn’t come back up in time to help in the following fight. In the end, the Gladiators secured a 3-0 win over the Mayhem, despite the latter showing some real signs of life.
But the match of the night was the 5-map game between the Houston Outlaws and San Francisco Shock. Put plainly, playing the Outlaws is always a gamble because they’re one of the most map-dependent teams in the Overwatch League. It really comes down to the map pool of the matches. A team could have to face them on a map like Junkertown, which has been nicknamed “Jakertown” due to Jake’s star performances on it. Or they could have to face them on Route 66, which is a map the team has historically struggled on. It’s lucky for the Shock that Jakertown wasn’t in the map pool, then, because that means a map 5. And with Oasis as the fifth map for all of Stage 3, things definitely favored the Shock. They have a good record on this map, whereas the Outlaws don’t.
The Outlaws have always been good at 2CP maps, such as Volskaya and Anubis. This was further proven when they were able to pick up a win on Volskaya in the first map. But the real decider was Numbani, which is a map that the Outlaws haven’t won in all of Stage 3. And that trend continued as the Shock took the map win as revenge. Then came Nepal, where Houston simply had an overwhelming advantage and took the map convincingly. With two wins locked in, all Houston would have needed to secure the series was a triumphant win on a map they’re historically bad at, though have shown improvement on. Unfortunately, that win never came. Despite their DPS really showing up, the Shock really put the pressure on Linkzr, not really letting him get enough of those really key shots he’s known for. Jake had a good series on Tracer, but his Pulse Bombs weren’t great and he constantly got outplayed by Sinatra. Furthermore, Architect was able to pop off and the game went to Map 5.
As mentioned, Houston is not stellar on Oasis. And it showed. Control Maps in the Overwatch League tends to simply come down to who has the superior firepower. Positioning, while still important, is somewhat less vital. This is especially true on Oasis. And because of that, and Houston’s tendency to play the positioning game, they weren’t really able to compete. Overall, the Shock was able to win the map, 2-0, and upset everyone with a 3-2 win over the Outlaws. Even the desk was surprised, dominantly because they’d predicted Houston to win, no doubt.
Despite this win, it’s now basically impossible for the Shock to make it into the Stage Playoffs. In order to secure that, they’d have needed a 4-0 in this game, and their upcoming game against the Florida Mayhem. And even then they’d have needed the Boston Uprising to 4-0 the LA Gladiators. Houston likewise isn’t likely to make the playoffs. In order to do so, they’d need to 4-0 the Seoul Dynasty in their final game of the stage, then hope for the same Gladiators defeat. At which point the two teams would have to play a tiebreaker match. It’s looking as if the Stage 3 playoffs are basically locked. The only other contending team would be the Philadelphia Fusion, whose final game is against the LA Valiant. In order to get a spot, they’d need to score a win without going to a Game 5, then hope for the very same 4-0 situation. But anything is possible in the Overwatch League. The next matches in the line-up include the San Francisco Shock vs. the Florida Mayhem, the Boston Uprising vs. the LA Valiant, and the Dallas Fuel vs. the NYXL.
Chris has a fondness for geek media of all kinds – video games, anime, comic books, you name it. And he strives to bring people the same types of experiences that he grew up with, while also sharing his admiration for what’s already there through articles and fun geek news commentary shows! Whenever he’s not writing for The Nerd Stash, he’s keeping up his own website, Galvanic Media, along with some friends.