Stage 4 is just starting, and Week 1 of it just ended. Only one team has secured a league playoff spot so far, and there are five spots up for grabs. The competition is wide open, with only three teams being unable to get those six spots. This new weekly series will focus on every team in the Overwatch League, give them a grade out of ten, and a brief description of what happened for better or worse. Keep in mind, the grades are my opinion, but I am trying to look at every team with no bias; just based on the week I am reviewing. And to start:
Los Angeles Gladiators
This team started off the week with a match against the young San Francisco Shock, where they won 3-1. This match was followed by their other match of the week: a 4-0 win against the Dallas Fuel. Although not a perfect week, it was pretty close. Going 2-0 for the week with one map loss against an improving team in the Shock is not something to scoff at. While they won against a team that has already lost the chance to make it into the league playoffs, the sweep made it clear that they are a threat. Surefour continued his known plays on Widowmaker while Silkthread and Fissure showed that they have adapted to the meta well.
The only problem is that the teams they faced aren’t the best ones in the stage, so we’ll have to see how they fare in further weeks against teams like New York and Houston. I’ll give them a solid 8/10.
San Francisco Shock
As we know from the Gladiators snippet, the Shock faced the first LA team and lost 3-1. They didn’t go winless this week though, winning 3-1 against a confused Seoul Dynasty. An even 1-1 week, the future for the Shock is bright. Not only did they manage to use dive comp correctly in a meta that specifically countered it with the introduction of Brigette, but their players are starting to shine. Architect is showing some sick plays on Genji, and Sinatraa is continuing to play Tracer well. While they did play well against the Dynasty, I feel like it’s more their enemies playing poorly than them playing well. This was more apparent in the Gladiators match, but even then they did perform admirably.
I can only see them getting better, but the competition will be fierce heading into the end of the season. I’ll give them a 5/10.
This is a week to forget for the Dynasty, but also a week to look at and learn from. Two losses to the Valiant and to the Shock leave the team with some clear issues. While the loss to the Valiant was in a five map grind 3-2, the 3-1 loss afterward was a return to reality. People knew this team going into the new meta thanks to one key change: player Ryujehong changing roles from support to the main tank. While this weird choice of lineup managed to add some cohesion and shot-calling to the team in Stage 3, this stage is a completely different beast to control (I mention this at the end of my first article). Dive comp isn’t as good, which changes which tanks are good as well, and Ryujehong just isn’t as good at Reinhardt as some of his teammates. I can only see three outcomes from their scenario. Either Ryujehong stays at main tank and continues to shot-call, adapting to the new meta better than this first week, Miro comes in and Ryujehong goes back to his natural support role, or this team snowballs into confusion and disarray.
Either way, next week will be what defines them at this stage and will determine their future in the season playoffs. I’ll give them a 2/10.
Los Angeles Valiant
The other LA team has shown their fortitude in this week as well, winning both their matches; the aforementioned map 5 win over Seoul and a 3-1 win over a disillusioned Shanghai team. While in previous stages this team has been laughed at for its consistency; they are getting more wins under their belts. Super and Fate are probably the most underrated tank duo right now. Even though nobody has been going crazy, getting insane killfeeds or carrying their team, they are winning games. Team cohesion is key. Whether or not they could be playing better, they are winning games, and they simply need that now for the stage and league playoff spots.
The only issue is that the teams they beat are the weaker teams in the meta right now, and their gameplay needs to step up for the big matches soon versus Boston and eventually New York. I’ll give them a 7/10.
The Dallas Fuel aren’t going to make it into the league playoffs, and their chances to make the Stage playoffs have been a bit rocky already. They won against the Shanghai Dragons in a match that showcased how Brigette was finally here on the competitive scene but then got swept 4-0 by the LA Gladiators. Mickie playing Brigette was a bright spot and OGE made some cool plays, but these simply weren’t enough for the Gladiators game. Effect being away, although showing the versatility of the roster, simply makes the team weaker.
If Effect comes back from his break soon and they work better on coordination, they have a chance to make it to the Stage playoffs. For now, it seems like they are still in that bottom 3. I’ll give them a 4/10.
Whether you’re a Dragons fan or not, everyone is curious about if Shanghai will go winless this season. The search to find a win continues to prolong as they lost to Dallas and the Valiant. As someone who has seen the Dragons progress through turmoil to get here, I was optimistic. Diya and Fearless were improving massively while Geguri continued to play well. They’ve won more and more maps off of good teams and almost beat the Stage 2 finalists Philadelphia Fusion near the end of Stage 3. The new changes were a slap of reality to them, and they simply couldn’t adapt fast enough. Brigette stomped on them in the Dallas game, and they just couldn’t get a foothold against the Valiant.
While I still believe in the Dragons winning a game this season, they need to make changes to their playstyle, and certain players need to step up. I’ll give them a 1/10.
My, how the mighty have fallen. The team that went undefeated for 14 regular season matches just lost their first two matches in Stage 4. They lost 3-1 to both the Philadelphia Fusion and the Houston Outlaws, making people wonder how they stumbled so hard. This team might’ve cut some games close the last Stage when they won, but they set the winning streak record with consistency and hard work. Striker has suddenly turned human with the introduction of Brigette, with Jake from the Outlaws shutting him down. Mistakes has lost his consistency, missing easy Widowmaker shots at crucial times. While the rest of the team is still playing decently, like Shanghai and Seoul, they just haven’t played the new meta well.
I imagine they are going to sure things up in their squad, but they need to learn fast before they drop in the standings. I’ll give them a 2/10.
This team, much like the LA Valiant, were mired with inconsistency; theirs being more recent than the Valiants. Ever since they got reverse swept by the New York Excelsior twice, they looked a team scattered. They almost lost to the winless Shanghai Dragons, managing to pull a map 5 win in the end. This week, they proved something. With Sado back from suspension and Carpe popping off, they are a team reborn. This was the team I remember beating the London Spitfire in the Stage 2 playoffs, even with a new face or two.
Their match 3-1 against Boston showed skill, and their 4-0 match against the Florida Mayhem sent a message: We are still contenders. I’ll give them a 7/10.
New York Excelsior
The number 1 seed in the overall rankings has continued their unmatchable consistency. With a 3-0 win against the Florida Mayhem and a 3-1 win against the London Spitfire, they are showing their versatility. While some teams heading into this stage haven’t adapted well to Brigette, the team with the self-proclaimed ‘best Tracer’ has dealt with her fine. Surprisingly, it was that same Tracer player Saebyeolbe playing her along with Mano. This news was one many teams didn’t want to happen, as this change was a big stumbling block.
Player adaptation mid-game is now much more important than it used to be. New York has that with Libero and is cruising to the playoffs. I’ll give them an 8/10.
This team recently has been one thing over and over: Sayaplayer and five other guys. This explosive Widowmaker player is among the best in the league, which makes worse when he’s on a bottom three team. With their losses against New York and Philadelphia leading to not one map win, their lack of communication is showing. They have the talent with Tviq, Logix, and Sayaplayer. The tanks and supports simply need to coordinate with the attackers better.
Whether it’s the attackers or supporters faults, it’s leading to bad results. I’m giving them a 1/10.
Outlaws fans and players mentioned before this stage that this new meta with Brigette would be massive for them. They were completely right. With a convincing sweep against the Spitfire and rolling over a previously undefeated Boston Uprising squad, this team looks too good right now. Linkzr is showing the same skills he had in Stage 1, dominating the entire game as Widowmaker versus the Spitfire. Jake is using the versatility he has to its full extent. Spree is the Zarya specialist that is a perfect fit for this meta and the team.
The future looks as bright as can be for the Outlaws. I’m giving them a 9/10, making them the team of the week.
We end this first week in review with another team that disappointed their fans by not adapting to the meta. Getting swept by the Outlaws and losing 3-1 to New York confirms what many people thought about the Spitfire: they can’t choose a good roster. This is the issue the Spitfire have had recently; injuries, as well as losses, have led to almost random team selection. Consistent tank duos on this team are almost non-existent for this week. You need your tanks to be on the same page for in-game success. Birdring still seems to be recovering from his injury and Profit continues to be only on form when his team is. They almost took the New York game to a map 5, just coming up short on Dorado.
The pieces are there for playoff contention, they just need consistent team selection from now on. I’ll give them a 3/10.