It is Week 14 in the Overwatch League, a week away from the Stage 3 playoffs, and teams are looking as unpredictable as ever. While the Boston Uprising (6-0, +9 on maps) and Los Angeles Valiant (5-1, +13) seem likely to make their playoff debuts alongside the New York Excelsior (5-1, +10), two weeks remain and no lead is safe — especially with a packed middle tier that finds six teams within five maps of each other (Shock, Gladiators, Dynasty, Fusion, Outlaws, and Spitfire). The winningest team comps right now all involve Widowmaker, Junkrat, and Mercy, but the traditional dive is still in effect. Widowmaker feels especially strong, as Dave Cecconi pointed out that she has the league’s third-highest win rate right now (53.9%) and a staggering 70.6% win rate when not countered by an opposing Widow. There are some new faces in the top five, but these next two weeks should up the ante with $125,000 on the line.
12. Dallas Fuel
It was definitely nice seeing Taimou get 8 eliminations on just 2 deaths as Widowmaker in a short stint last week, but that brief nostalgia was short-lived as Dallas continues to dive deeper into the abyss. Last week, the sloppy team fielded a different lineup each loss, got 7.5% more eliminations than it won fights (suggesting poor coordination), and saw its supports die 65.8% more times than their opponents’. This week, their hard-carry EFFECT is back in Korea trying to cure his tilt, Taimou is taking time off while wary of a stroke, and the Rascal release continues to be a reality that we cannot wake up from. It’s great that Seagull will finally get his chance to start at DPS, but it’s garbage that he will complement the one-dimensional aKm instead of getting to properly test his projectile DPS alongside EFFECT.
11. Shanghai Dragons
Shanghai is still struggling, and should continue to go winless this week against the Uprising and Fusion, but the mood is different and the vibes are positive as the team has visibly improved and has a clear path forward. Finally winning some maps consistently instead of getting swept, the Dragons are fielding a DPS and tank corps with flashes of excellent mechanics and progressing coordination. Ado and Geguri led the way last week, as each finished the week with a positive K/D and Geguri currently leads all flex-tanks for Stage 3 in kill participation (21.3%) and the second-lowest first deaths (2.05%). While Diya and Fearless improve each match, the remaining puzzle piece for Shanghai is their support duo as each match has fielded a different duo with consistent struggles.
10. Florida Mayhem
The Dallas Fuel should take notes on the Mayhem’s past couple weeks. Despite the obvious coordination issues driven by the involvement of two new Korean players in Florida’s roster, the Mayhem have remained in good spirits and are working through a tough schedule with an undeterred passion to grind and improve. The DPS rotation remains inconsistent and the chemistry is still lacking with their new main tank aWesomeGuy, but flex-support Zuppeh just had his best week yet in Overwatch (notching his first OWL positive K/D ever against Shanghai) and the team is showing flashes of serious potential. After managing not to get swept once throughout their absurd schedule over the past few weeks, Florida is out of the sand and should be more adequately tested in greener pastures against the Fuel and Valiant this week.
9. Houston Outlaws
Last week Houston’s tanks died 61.7% less times than the opposing teams’, Rawkus posted the league’s second-highest Zenyatta K/D, and Jake had a strong 1.5 K/D as Tracer. Houston looks to be back on the come-up, but they’ll need to prove that Jake’s Tracer is no mirage against some higher-ranked opponents before I get on board. This week the Outlaws face the coordinated Valiant and Gladiators in matchups that will not only determine relative ranks, but also feature heavy playoff implications.
8. Seoul Dynasty
As with the Outlaws, I am dying for the Dynasty to prove me wrong and jump up the ranks. Seoul has been granted the benefit of the doubt while experimenting with their roster for weeks, but unlike the similarly experimenting Spitfire and Excelsior — the Dynasty are not eking out wins and lack an OWL track record of success to fall back on. While Ryujehong reportedly sat out for rest, Gido actually performed admirably in his stead and Seoul’s other traditional starters (Munchkin, Fleta, Zunba, MIro) looked excellent. Unfortunately, the backup tanks continue to disappoint. Seoul lost a map to Shanghai with Kuki playing and failed to win either of the maps that Xepher played in against Boston.
7. San Francisco Shock
After initially struggling to involve Architect, the Shock have looked formidable in recent matches against the bottom-tier Dragons and Fuel as well as the cranky Fusion. Even if Philadelphia was tired or ill-prepared having played Thursday’s final match against the Excelsior before facing San Francisco in Friday’s first match, a 3-1 win over the Stage 2 phenoms is nothing to scoff at. The Shock won 65% of their team fights in Week 13, Sleepy casually posted the week’s best Zenyatta K/D (a 1.3 K/D, while the league average was 0.65), and the team’s DPS rotation looked seamless and effective. With Architect’s minutes increasing, his Widowmaker play and Genji flexibility seems to have unlocked the Shock’s potential as Danteh provides a league-best Sombra option (and his potent Tracer) while Sinatraa grants the team a super aggressive Tracer playstyle (and some Zarya multi-tank opportunities). Further, Moth and Super have proved to be consistent, communicative baselines for the team as Nevix continues his ascent as one of the league’s premier flex-tanks. This week is huge — if San Francisco can somehow beat the Excelsior then they can guarantee a Stage 3 playoff berth with a win against the Outlaws or Spitfire.
6. Los Angeles Gladiators
Difficult to gauge, the Gladiators win tight games, lose tight games, and continue to experiment with their confusing DPS rotation. The support duo and main tank are some of the league’s best, Surefour’s Widowmaker is suddenly nutty, and most recently Bischu uncorked with a huge Week 13. The team just doesn’t feel that clutch and lost both five-map matches this week against the Valiant and Excelsior despite winning 54% of the team fights. Their inability to close out feels driven by their DPS inconsistency. While Surefour’s Widowmaker and Hydration’s Junkrat are potent, the team has concurrently gone away from Asher’s consistent Tracer output and struggled to involve Silkthread. Even with all of their roster experimentation, the Gladiators can still get into the Stage 3 playoffs if they beat the Outlaws this week and pray to the map-differential gods.
5. Los Angeles Valiant
The light Valiant schedule is over as the team will need to prove itself against the Outlaws, Mayhem, Uprising, and Fusion over the next two weeks. Like their hometown rivals, the Valiant’s tank and support duos feel consistent while their DPS rotation needs work. Last week, Agilities (1.9 K/D) and Bunny (2.1 K/D) popped off in their tight win over the Gladiators while SoOn (0.5 K/D) struggled, especially on Widowmaker where he snagged one elimination on twelve deaths. In their tight loss against the Spitfire however, Bunny and SoOn played well while Agilities failed to notch a kill per death and found his Genji completely shut down (one elimination, nine deaths). If the Valiant can beat the Outlaws this week, they might not have to beat the Uprising or Fusion next week for a Stage 3 playoff berth. Big “if.”
4. London Spitfire
It has not been pretty for the London Spitfire. The originators of the mid-stage roster experimentation throw, London has lost three of its last five (albeit to strong opponents) and looked shaky in its wins. As Birdring sits out due to a (reportedly improving) wrist injury, Profit has actually been on absolute tear — finishing last week with a 2.5 K/D as Tracer and 4.2 K/D as Genji. He and Gesture continue to carry the team through all roster experimentations, and Hooreg has looked better than ever, but the team’s performance is still marked by inconsistency. Point proven: against the Uprising, the Spitfire played nine players and were reverse swept after fully swapping out their support duo and flex-tank for the last two maps. Then against the Valiant, they stuck to six players and won. London is one of the league’s most talented squads even without Birdring, but they will need a dominating finish to stage 3 and some luck if they want a chance at the $125,000.
3. Philadelphia Fusion
It was a tough week for the Fusion as they were reverse-swept (again) in their rematch against the Excelsior before succumbing to the Shock after an unfortunate scheduling mishap forced them to play Thursday’s final game and Friday’s first. Despite the unideal week, Philadelphia’s lynchpins Carpe and Poko remained dominant (both finishing each match with a positive K/D). The same cannot be said of the rest. The Fusion’s supports struggled to survive at all as the alternate DPS rotation (Snillo and Eqo) underperformed and their main tank Fragi fed. Ignoring Fragi’s fantasy points, the big tank had a sloppy showing and proved the team’s coordination definitely needs some work for those rare days when Carpe is not clicking every single head.
2. Boston Uprising
Striker is the hardest carry in all of Overwatch League right now. The guy is literally on another level and empowering the Uprising to overcome DreamKazper’s departure and Mistakes’s struggles in his stead by clutching every match out like it’s nothing. Boston’s tanks and supports are great, even Mistakes is doing well, but there’s no way this team wins half of its recent matches (let alone going undefeated in Stage 3) without Striker going Super Saiyan. In both wins last week, Striker was the only Uprising player to finish with a positive K/D (finishing with a 1.98 K/D while Mistakes put up 0.74) as the team won despite winning 4% less fights than their opponents and netting 5% less eliminations. So far in Stage 3, Striker is averaging 58.2 eliminations per match, by comparison — only two players had over 55 eliminations against teams other than the Fuel and Dragons in Week 13. Speaking of Dallas and Shanghai, the Uprising get to face those two this week as they continue barreling towards the Stage 3 playoffs.
1. New York Excelsior
There have been just 11 reverse-sweeps in the Overwatch League thus far and after Week 13, New York is now responsible for three of them. The Excelsior continue to experiment with their roster by trying out more aggressive strategies surrounding their sub main tank Janus and sub main support Anamo, but the results have been mixed. NYXL went 0-4 in maps played with Janus last week and 6-0 with Mano subbed back in. Not only is the team’s main six thus proven in their ability to clutch out any game, but the two players they were without in Stage 2 — Anamo and Pine — both look pretty strong. Big Boss Pine is back, as he helped carry New York to their win over the Fusion and Anamo’s stat-line in limited time against Philadelphia was pretty beautiful for a main support: zero eliminations, zero deaths, three ultimates. If the Excelsior successfully work in Pine’s hitscan proficiency while experimenting with a Janus/Anamo aggro play-style then they feel invincible.
* Featured image is credited to Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment Press. *