The Overwatch League Stage 2 Playoffs ended in a flurry. The New York Excelsior pulled out an explosive reverse sweep over the Philadelphia Fusion. While the Fusion didn’t win the stage, they did prove that western-composed teams can compete with traditional South Korean juggernauts on the OWL stage by taking the NYXL through all five maps. In fact, the Fusion had to take out the Stage 1 Champions, the London Spitfire, in a five-map battle before they even got to face the NYXL.
If you missed the finals or if you just want to watch it again, take a look at the video below. It takes the roughly two-hour match and condenses the best parts into a 22-minute video.
Blizzard did make one change to the OWL Stage Playoffs going forward. From Stage 3 forward, the stage playoffs will include four teams instead of three and the #1 seed will be able to choose their first opponent rather than have a first-round bye.
After a week off, the OWL is kicking off the back half of Season 1 with Stage 3 Week 1 action starting on Apr. 4. Enough changed in the last week of Stage 2 to significantly change up the power rankings through the middle 75% of the league.
1. New York Excelsior
Did you really expect anything else? The NYXL didn’t have the greatest Week 5, at least not until Sunday. They took advantage of their first-round bye and outlasted the Fusion, earning themselves $100,000. While the Tracer meta may be lessened in Stage 3, Jong-Ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park’s influence probably won’t be. He had 500 final blows while maintaining a 2.75 K:D ratio in Stage 2. Saebyeolbe also had the lowest death rate on Tracer in the league in Stage 2.
In other words, Saebyeolbe is the most influential Tracer in the league. It certainly doesn’t end there, though. The NYXL have an incredibly talent-stacked roster. Their hitscan specialist Kim “Pine” Do-hyun didn’t even play in Stage 2, yet the team only lost one match the entire stage.
The NYXL will only be getting better in Stage 3 with the acquisition of Lucio-focused support Tae-sung “ANAMO” Jung.
2. London Spitfire
The London Spitfire just got beat by the Philadelphia Fusion in the Stage 2 Playoffs. They didn’t drop a spot.
Why? Well, the Spitfire is a better overall team. Jun-Young “Profit” Park is incredible. He’s one of two players who have better than a 2.0 K:D ratio across all heroes in both stages this season. The other is Saebyeolbe.
The Spitfire is downright frightening as opponents, and they stay consistent. Time will tell if they can keep this up for four stages, but as for now, they are a top-two team in the OWL.
London also added Susie Kim as their general manager. She has an extensive history in esports and will help keep the Spitfire on the right track moving forward.
3. Philadelphia Fusion
There are at least two things in common between the top three teams. They both went to the Stage 2 Playoffs, and they both have Tracers in the “100 and 2 Club”. Simon “Snillo” Ekstrom joining into Stage 2 was a huge part of the Fusion’s success throughout the Stage. Snillo’s immediate success combined with our first glimpse at Josue “Eqo” Corona taking over the Genji reins from Georgii “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha lead the Fusion down a very favorable path, helping the players earn $25,000 for their troubles.
Eqo may end up missing a small amount of time early in Stage 3 due to a racially insensitive gesture he used on his stream, but we’ll see whether it results in a suspension or a fine, similar to when Profit flipped the bird at the live camera.
Plays like this are a huge part of why Philadelphia should be a force in the coming stage.
4. Los Angeles Gladiators
The Gladiators missed the playoffs after a rough Week 5, but they’re still a force to be reckoned with. After acquiring Chan-Hyung “Fissure” Baek from the Spitfire, Fissure has gone off and decided to be the best main tank in the Overwatch League.
Fissure is one piece of the puzzle. He puts up top-five stats on Winston week in and week out, but his supports and DPS really play well around him. Their team-focused strategy should help them maintain a top-half finish for Stage 3.
Los Angeles also added Zarya/D.Va specialist Jun-woo “Void” Kang to the team just before Stage 3.
THE GLADIATORS HAVE ANOTHER SHIELD UP.
We’re welcoming @Void_OW to our front line. Read more →
5. Seoul Dynasty
Seoul is in a bit of a weird place. Coming into the OWL, they were hands down the best team and the ultimate favorite. They’re still in first place in their division, and while they’re not a lock to make the Season 1 Playoffs, it would be a shock if they failed to reach that mark. Still, they have yet to finish a Stage in the top three, even though they’re sitting at #3 overall in the overall standings.
They also just sold off Jun-Hyeok “Bunny” Chae to the Los Angeles Valiant. This means the Dynasty will be without their second best Tracer going forward, although Bunny has mainly ridden the bench as of late. Rod “Slasher” Breslau, an esports journalist, has said the team will not add another player before Stage 3 begins.
6. Boston Uprising
After rumors of internal conflict swirling that appeared to be shaking the newest Boston professional team to its core, the team banded together and pulled off an inconsistent Stage 2. While that isn’t great, they finished the stage 6-4, keeping themselves in the 6th Season 1 Playoff spot, for now.
Boston is made up of players who hadn’t been looked at as stars before they got to the OWL, but they’ve made people pay for their ignorance. Jonathan “DreamKazper” Sanchez and Nam-Ju “STRIKER” Gwon combined for less than $1000 worth of winnings before joining the OWL, but they’ve definitely earned their keep. Boston took out the Gladiators a couple of days after keeping Jay “sinatraa” Won winless when they beat the San Francisco Shock.
It really doesn’t matter if people knew who you were before when you can shut down ultimates like this against other professional players.
7. San Francisco Shock
The San Francisco Shock are starting to show their potential. Jay “sinatraa” Won looks like he belongs after only a week. Matthew “super” DeLisi will finally be able to join his teammates after turning 18 at the end of March.
The Shock has also reportedly signed Choi “ChoiHyoBin” Hyo-bin. ChoiHyoBin is a D.Va specialist and will likely earn a starting spot early in Stage 3, if not this week.
San Francisco has some work to do in order to climb these rankings, and they’re six games out of a playoff spot right now. They’ll need to be nearly flawless in order to get a shot at the Season 1 Playoffs.
8. Houston Outlaws
What team will we get from Houston in Stage 3? Will it be the Stage 1, aggressive, punishing team that excelled with their tank play or will it be the Stage 2, more passive, disjointed team that seemed to forget voice comms existed from time to time? If the Outlaws can come out and play like they did against the Dynasty in Week 5, they should be in contention for the Stage 3 Playoffs in addition to keeping themselves poised for a Season 1 Playoffs run.
The Outlaws also added Won-hyeop “ArHaN” Jeong. ArHaN is a Genji main who has played Tracer sparingly. Houston will likely continue their strategy of using Tracer as a distraction rather than a carry. If they can keep the communication going, they’ll probably be alright.
The Outlaws will have to earn their way up the power rankings. They’ll have the opportunity early, though. They play the inconsistent but strong Boston Uprising and the always strong Spitfire. The second week won’t be any easier with the Fusion and the NYXL.
9. Florida Mayhem
Florida has all the potential to fly up the power rankings. The reason they fell is their inconsistency against top teams along with the three teams that rose up getting better, one way or another.
Of course, the Mayhem aren’t just sitting around, either. They added top-tier DPS Jung-woo “Sayaplayer” Ha and main tank Sung-hoon “aWesomeGuy” Kim. They should both make their debuts in Stage 3.
He's here! Sayaplayer (@minon501) has arrived in time for Stage 3!
10. Los Angeles Valiant
Oh boy. The Valiant have decided to rebuild their roster in some major ways. After just missing out of the Stage 1 Playoffs, they completely fell apart during Stage 2 and seem to have decided to just blow it all up.
First, the Valiant added Dynasty’s backup Tracer, Bunny. It’s rather unclear whether Bunny will take over as the starting Tracer on the team, but adding a player of his caliber shouldn’t be a bad thing.
🚨 BREAKING NEWS 🚨
Next, Los Angeles completed a trade with the Dallas Fuel. They sent Benjamin “uNKOE” Chevasson to the Fuel for Scott “Custa” Kennedy. uNKOE and Custa both made their ways as Zenyatta players, but Custa has recently taken over a few other healers and shotcalling duties. He should add some leadership to the Valiant.
After that, the Valiant cut their off-tank who had played every map so far, Kang-Jae “Envy” Lee. Envy has been a top-half D.Va player throughout the stage, and while the Valiant attempted to trade him to both Dallas and Shanghai, no one would take him.
The Los Angeles Valiant and Kang-Jae "@envyow" Lee have mutually agreed to a release from his contract with the organization.
Then Los Angeles took a player off of their roster who hadn’t played since the preseason. They moved Christopher “Grimreality” Schaefer from their active roster to an assistant coach position.
Christopher "@Grimreality" Schaefer has decided to transition from active player to an assistant coaching role within the organization. 💚💛
Finally, the Valiant are rumored to have sold the contract of Ted “Silkthread” Wang to the Los Angeles Gladiators. Silkthread hasn’t played at all in Stage 2, and while he has been a Tracer main throughout his professional career, he has only played Tracer 7% of the time with the Valiant.
LA Valiant's Silkthread contract is set to be transferred/sold to the LA Gladiators, sources said.
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) April 2, 2018
11. Dallas Fuel
In addition to trading Custa to the Valiant, the Fuel will see their new off-tank Son “OGE” Min-Seok join the team for Stage 3. OGE will likely take over the tank role for Brandon “Seagull” Larned, allowing Seagull to move back to a reserve DPS role.
ROSTER ANNOUNCEMENT! Please welcome Son "OGE" Min-Seok to the team! Previously a tank main for CONBOX, we anticipate @OGE_ow to start playing in Stage 3. #OWL2018 #BurnBlue🔥💙 pic.twitter.com/KjbKiX9sY8
— Dallas Fuel (@DallasFuel) March 8, 2018
Seagull had requested a trade, but the Fuel required too much in return in any sort of trade. The Fuel still has a ton of internal conflict going on, and if they can’t get it under wraps, they’ll quickly fall behind the Dragons in Stage 3.
12. Shanghai Dragons
The Dragons also shook up their roster. In addition to the expected debuts and near-debuts of the new players, Shanghai released Fang “Undead” Chao. Undead had been involved in rumor after rumor about his poor familial conduct back in China. There has not been an explanation as to why the Dragons cut Undead, officially, although there has been speculation that he may not return ever since he left unexpectedly before Stage 2 was over.
Roster Change: Today Shanghai Dragons announce the release of Fang “Undead” Chao, with the approval of OWL office. Shanghai Dragons are grateful for the contributions “Undead” has made so far this season, and wish him all best in his future career.
— Shanghai Dragons (@ShanghaiDragons) March 29, 2018
Shanghai has also reportedly added Dae-min “Daemin” Kim. Daemin will likely start over Weida “Diya” Lu, per Slasher, replacing another Chinese player on the only Chinese team in the OWL.
NRG's Daemin (DPS) has signed with the Shanghai Dragons, sources said.
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) April 2, 2018
The team will look quite a bit different than it has over the previous two stages, and depending on team chemistry, the Dragons could find their way out of the last place in these power rankings for the first time ever.
#7 San Francisco Shock vs #4 Los Angeles Gladiators
While this matchup isn’t a top-5 matchup, it will be interesting to see how the Shock’s new players match up with the Gladiators roster changes. Team coordination will ultimately be key in this match.
#1 New York Excelsior vs #2 London Spitfire
Top two matchups are always interesting. They don’t always turn into super exciting matches, but we always learn quite a bit about each team.
#12 Shanghai Dragons vs #11 Dallas Fuel
This probably won’t be an example of great Overwatch like the match before this, but it will likely be the Dragon’s best chance at winning a match in Stage 3.
You can find the rest of the schedule here:
Games kick off this Wednesday 4PM PST. #OWL2018