Last week the Excelsior’s ArK made a surprise return and the Outlaws lost two games in a row for the first time since Week 1. This week, the Dragons and Valiant undergo coaching shifts while teams continue adjusting to the absence of resurrections. With some Stage 1 rematches in the books, we can finally use data to compare players and teams like the Valiant’s support-turned-DPS Kariv and new-patch Seoul Dynasty to earlier performances. Case in point: while the Valiant DPS Agilities and Silkthread averaged a 1.6 K/D ratio after combining for 117 kills and 77 deaths against the Shock and Fuel in Stage 1, Kariv averaged 1.9 K/D after laying down an efficient 103 kills on 53 deaths this past week. Teams may experiment with strats, but the dive remains the meta as NYXL’s Coach Pavane mentioned to Yongbongtang that “the most important heroes in the current meta are Winston and Tracer” and Eric Brown’s data-crunch shows D.Va and Winston have each been played in 300+ games while no other tank has surpassed 50 — which explains why three of the five highest ranked Winston players represent top-tier teams (Houston’s Muma, London’s Gesture, and New York’s Mano).
12. Shanghai Dragons
In winnable games against the Gladiators and Shock, the Dragons went 0-8 without a single player averaging a positive K/D. The LA match was likely OWL’s biggest blowout to date, as Shanghai won just 10 of the game’s 46 fights (21.7%) and earned only 30% of the match’s eliminations. They were better against the Shock, but their tank and support play felt nonexistent as the team won 38.7% of the fights and got 38% of the kills, but only DPS Diya and uNdead posted positive K/D. While the DPS duo impresses, the tank play has dropped to the extent that main tank Roshan has a lower K/D on Winston, Orisa, and Reinhardt than Fusion support neptuNo does on Mercy. On the plus side, the Shock game was fairly close (went to Map 3 on Nepal and time-bank on Gibraltar), Head Coach U4 has stepped down, and renown Miraculous Youngsters Coach RUI should be arriving by late-March — so the team should hopefully see some progress before its new players arrive.
11. Florida Mayhem
The Spitfire’s B-Team only prepared for one map pool last week while the Mayhem’s only team prepared for two, yet Florida, somewhat impressively, managed to win a map (and 46.3% of the game’s fights). After going 1-7 against the Spitfire and Uprising in Week 7, Florida’s spot above #12 is solidified and that’s about it. Fortunately, Logix seems to have gotten back into his groove, managing the Mayhem’s only positive K/D ratio through the week so the team’s DPS duo should be set once Sayaplayer arrives and allows TviQ to slide into a bench, specialist DPS role.
10. San Francisco Shock
1-1 on the week and 5-3 on maps looks decent, but it was against the Valiant’s Kariv-DPS experiment and Shanghai. Danteh had his best week yet, looking like a legitimate DPS starter after posting the team’s highest K/D with 1.9 and swapping across Tracer, Junkrat, Genji, Sombra, and Pharah (ordered by playtime). Sleepy also showed up, getting named Winston’s Lab Player of the Match against the Dragons for his Zenyatta play and impressing with his Moira. The Valiant match was surprisingly close, as the Shock only lost 3.2% less fights, but the San Francisco tank play is still below-par and the team seems unlikely to meet its high hopes before its young bulls sinatraa and super hit 18.
9. Dallas Fuel (-1)
The middle tier is very tough to judge as each team’s lineup constantly shifts. After an impressive Week 6, the Fuel came out of a difficult Week 7 with their coaching and tank play under fire while their starting main tank xQc questioned the team’s identity: “Right now we don’t have an identity. We play three different styles at the same time: defensive, passive, and aggressive.” In both Week 7 matches, the opposing off-tank was named Winston’s Lab Player of the Match as the Fuel finished 0-2 and 2-6 on maps. Against the Dynasty, Dallas tanks Mickie and xQc died a combined 78 times — 7 more than their DPS trio (EFFECT/aKm/Rascal) combined and 30 more than the opposing tank duo’s total. After Seoul’s D.Va Zunba went 52-19 (K-D), the Valiant’s D.Va Envy put up 50-15 (89-42 when combined with main tank FaTe) as xQc and Mickie combined for 70 deaths. As soon as Dallas settled on aKm as their centerpiece and benched Rascal, the Valiant followed Seoul’s model by punishing xQc’s aggression and diving the Fuel’s backline, leading to 33 kills on HarryHook, 37 on Custa, and a whopping 40 on aKm. Given EFFECT’s dedication, it’s no surprise that he practiced alone through halftime to try and prepare his shoulders for a heavier carry. Experimenting with new lineups was bound to hit roadblocks against the tested Dynasty and Valiant tank-lines, but the Fuel should be able to bounce back and continue ironing things out against the Shock and Mayhem this week.
8. Los Angeles Gladiators (+1)
The Gladiators look better each map as Fissure (Overwatch’s highest-ranked Winston) acclimatizes to his new team and their roster stability gives them a higher floor and thus a higher ranking than the Fuel despite having lost to them two weeks ago in Fissure’s first week and suffering the same 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Dynasty last week. Bischu and Fissure are starting to look like a top-tier tank duo, Shaz and BigGoose are consistently above-average, and Asher seems to be hitting his stride as Tracer after leading the team in K/D last week. Los Angeles kept it fairly close against Seoul, winning 43.2% of fights (slightly higher than the Fuel’s 42.3%) after dominating the Dragons (winning 78.3% of fights). Their off-DPS rotation is still questionable, but they’ll have a chance to solidify their status this week as they take on the Spitfire and Valiant.
7. Boston Uprising (-1)
Boston has become an enigma after being swept by the Excelsior, benching their Captain Gamsu, and giving their DPS Mistakes his first playing time in nearly two months as they swept the Mayhem. Over their last four games, Gamsu has averaged 42 deaths and the team’s tank-line struggled to find a rhythm with NotE and Kalios competing for off-tank minutes. The team finally decided to switch things up entirely against the malleable Mayhem after losing 65 of their fights against NYXL and seeing their tanks die a combined 81 times. Kalios got to start on Winston, Mistakes got to play his Sombra, and Boston found a little mojo. Kalios posted 35 kills and 32 deaths overall, but went 27-2 on Volskaya Industries so maybe the substitution lasts. Although Striker has hit Top-5 Tracer form (with 100-50 K/D over the week), Stage 1 phenom Dreamkazper has struggled alongside the tanks as his expansive hero pool doesn’t cover the bane of Boston’s existence: Widowmaker. Widows facing Boston average the most kills and least deaths per 10 minutes of any individual hero against any team in the Overwatch League. Boston will need to quickly figure their issues out against Shanghai this week before facing London’s sniper-extraordinaire Birdring.
6. Los Angeles Valiant (+1)
The Valiant decided to stop messing with their rotations and, instead, to try something entirely new by starting their Stage 1 support (and best Widowmaker) Kariv on DPS. After not playing in a 4-0 grudge-match defeat to Seoul, Kariv has started the last three games and logged minutes on 12 different heroes: Soldier 76, Widowmaker, Hanzo, McCree, Reaper, Junkrat, Genji, Pharah, Tracer, Roadhog, Zarya, and Zenyatta. Although the three opponents were the Dragons, Shock, and experimenting Fuel, the Valiant are still 3-0, 9-2 on maps, and Kariv has averaged a higher K/D (1.9) than the former DPS rotation (1.3) in each rematch. Oh, and the Valiant were without a Head Coach from February 19th to March 4th when new Head Coach MBC arrived, reuniting with his former Mighty AOD players FaTe and Kariv, and quickly grabbing a bite with the team’s most important wildcard. L.A.’s experiment is unprecedented and pretty awesome, but this week it gets fully tested by the rival Gladiators and hungry Outlaws.
5. Philadelphia Fusion
The roughest schedule yet? Last week the Fusion faced Houston and London, this week they face Seoul and New York. Genji phenom Eqo was sidelined by sickness so Shadowburn’s patented, patient Genji returned as the Fusion reverse-swept Houston before getting 4-0’d by London. To add insult to injury, London’s Winston Gesture obviously had to mention during his post-game interview that the team was more worried about Eqo than Shadowburn. Despite only averaging 5.5% less kills than their opponents, the Fusion won 20.8% less fights — suggesting that frags are not the issue, team-play is. And at the team’s heart we find Winston player Fragi. While the over-aggressive main tank worked well alongside a similarly aggro Eqo against mid-tier teams, his style of play is antithetical to SDB’s steady, methodological approach. Ranked the 2nd worst Winston in OWL at 132.2% worse than the average (meanwhile, 3rd worst iRemiix is considered 65% worse), Fragi averaged a 0.56 K/D over the last week and is the biggest piece Philadelphia needs to fit if they want to remain top five.
4. Houston Outlaws (-2)
With great power comes greater focusing and Houston’s time at the top feels short-lived now that EFFECT’s prayers for coolmatt’s death have been answered. While Houston looked invincible over the last few weeks, the team went 0-2 in Week 7 as each opponent successfully focused down coolmatt and Jake. In both the 3-2 loss to Philadelphia and 4-0 stomp by New York, coolmatt and Jake landed at the bottom of Winston’s Lab ranks while only LiNkzr and Tracer-sub Clockwork touched a positive K/D. Against the Fusion and Excelsior, coolmatt went 37-53 (K-D) while opposing off-tanks Poko and Meko combined for 66-55. Despite LiNkzr and the ever-cheeky Muma having strong weeks, Jake’s inflexibility seems exposed, the high standards set for Boink’s Lucio don’t feel met, and coolmatt’s positioning has consequently suffered as he gets strung out between focusing targets and peeling for his backline. The Outlaws are a legit, deep team and need to use the opportunity against easier matchups this week to figure out their DPS rotation if they want to close out (or even compete) against top-tier teams.
3. Seoul Dynasty (+1)
Excelsior support ArK was asked during a Discord Q&A who the most dangerous team in Stage 2 is and responded: “Seoul I guess, for now.” The Dynasty were expected to improve with Tobi’s return onto Lucio, but just how much they have improved is surprising. The Lunatic Hai core has returned to form while Fleta continues his MVP candidacy, but off-tank Zunba has hit a new level and Munchkin has finally wrested the team’s Tracer role after a shaky Stage 1. Before Week 7, Seoul had tried five different players on Tracer without finding any consistency. Then, in two starts last week against the Fuel and Gladiators, Munchkin got all of the Tracer playing time and practically doubled his former output by going 76-26 for a nutty 2.9 K/D. The Munchkin and Zunba Tracer/D.Va duo went 153-57 on the week (2.7 K/D) as they finally hit a rhythm and abused the positioning miscues of their opponents. Given dive’s importance this stage, Munchkin’s emergence is definitely problematic for the league. And Zunba hasn’t even had much of a chance to flex some Zarya on King’s Row yet? Yeesh.
2. London Spitfire (-1)
With nearly two full teams under roster, the Spitfire use most of each stage to figure out their player rotations across different maps. Last week, they prepped their B-Team for the map pool against the Mayhem and their A-Team for the Fusion matchup as only main tank Gesture and DPS businessman Profit played both games. Roster flexibility means better internal scrimming, varied strat potential with hero/map specialization, and injury insurance — but at this point, as the team figures rotations out, it also means less consistency. The Florida match was uncomfortably close, as London won only 53.7% of the game’s fights despite winning 3-1 and Hagopeun was the only sub to really impress. The A-Team followed by dismantling the red-hot Fusion 4-0 and winning 70.3% of the game’s fights, as Profit finished his week with a bonkers 80-24 (3.3 K/D). London and New York seem to be in a tier of their own, but after a close five-map match last week, the Excelsior regain their ArK and their edge while the Spitfire continue to adjust their D.Va and Lucio rotation.
1. New York Excelsior (+2)
They took the Spitfire to five maps without ArK two weeks ago. Then he returned and the team proceeded to crush the Uprising and Outlaws. Right now, New York has a +30 in map differential (9 higher than any other team in the league) and show no signs of slowing down. The team won 66.1% of its fights in Week 7 as JJoNak continues to dominate, ArK impressed on Ana (he had more successful sleep darts than deaths against Houston), and Saebyeolbe showed some heroic Tracer. Main tank sub Janus is still struggling to hit his stride (going 20-19 on the week), but Mano looks like a top-shelf Winston and the DPS duo of Libero and SBB had a dominant week against some of the league’s premier DPS (going 196-91 on the week for a 2.2 K/D). After managing to look spooky even without ArK, the Excelsior looked nasty upon his return and, unless injuries prove their small roster to be a double-edged sword, the team’s play should continue to sharpen.
* Featured Image credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment *
* Words by Théo Salaun aka Tepojama. Feel free to question his methods on twitter here *