The Last Week Of Stage One
For the first time since the start of the new season I truly had a hard time making my picks for the week. There’s so much talent in the Overwatch League right now and it’s not an exaggeration to say that any of the teams playing this week could win their respective games. That also means that with ten teams not already locked into a playoffs spot or eliminated every map is going to count. Being the end of the stage there’s only two days of Overwatch League action this week. Less matches, but that doesn’t make them any less important. It also means that you don’t have any excuses for missing any. Let’s get into it.
Overwatch League and ULT launch Lifestyle Apparel
Earlier today Ultimate Media Ventures launched the first of their Essentials Collection. Announced in February, ULT Esports is no stranger to esports merchandise as they have provided jerseys and gear for teams such as Eunited. Their gear for the Overwatch League currently seems to be hoodies and sweatshirts for the twenty teams in the Overwatch League. The wording in the twitter video seemed to imply more items will be coming in the future.
— Ultimate Media Ventures (@Ultimate) March 13, 2019
Trades and Signings
Moon Relieved as Head Coach of the Los Angeles Valiant
In a concise news post on the team website Monday the Los Angeles Valiant announced that they have released their head coach Byungchul Moon. Assistant coach Mike “Packing10” Szklanny will be serving as the interim-head coach. In the post Team GM Michael Schwartz said, “We want to thank Coach Moon for his contributions to the Pacific Division and Stage 4 Championships achieved by the team in 2018,” and “We wish him the best in the next stage of his career.” The Valiant are currently 0-7 this season, and finish stage one without a single win.
Player of the Week
Danteh: Hitscan DPS, Houston Outlaws
One of the first and biggest trades over the off season was Danteh of the San Francisco Shock going to the Houston Outlaws. Houston had long (the entire first season) lacked a tracer player and Danteh seemed to be the answer to their problems. Too late it seemed at first though, as the British hero was no longer in the meta. Danteh however has showed himself to be a huge boost to the Outlaws as his Sombra play is the best in the league. With Zen-GOATs as the most common variant of the current meta the composition relies as much on the ominc support character as the main tanks to succeed. There’s no better character for taking out the enemy Zenyatta then Sombra and last week we all got to see it in detail. Many of the team fights in the Houston-LA game came down to a duel between Danteh on the hacker and Valiant support IZaYaKI. The hacks came in when they needed to and he built his EMP ultimate faster than he had any right to. Danteh was the player Houston needed at the 11th hour and with stage playoffs on the line.
PIVOTAL pick at the end to tie up the map!
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) March 9, 2019
The Outlaws will need Danteh at his best when they take on Atlanta for a shot at the stage playoffs this week.
VOD of the Week
Atlanta Reign (3-2) vs. Los Angeles Gladiators (3-4)
We’ve been talking about how great the Reign are and their talent for defeating powerful teams, but last week it was time for someone else to make a good team look bad. This someone else was none other than the Los Angeles Gladiators. Their Thursday night game was an absolute curb-stomping of the Reign. Now matter what Atlanta did, the Gladiators seemed to have their number.
The Gladiators had a rocky start in this season with losses to teams like Paris and Seoul putting them at 2-4 going into the week. It seemed that, like last year, they were going to be an inconsistent and middle of the pack team. Now though they seemed to have solved their problems. From good tank play, to synergy between the front and back lines, to clutch plays when it mattered. Everything they did looked great on all of these maps. I don’t want to focus on one thing the Gladiators did this week that they didn’t do previously because it wasn’t a single change. Across the board they looked like a different team. They (finally) looked like one that was more than the sum of their parts.
When I come up with my VOD of the Week it’s the match last week that you both need to see if you missed it, and the one you need to re-watch even if you didn’t. There’s insights here into how other teams can face these two top of the table teams. Teams looking to prepare for a tougher than expected Gladiators, or trying to figure out how they can dismantle Atlanta will be pouring over these maps, and you should too.
Match of the Week
Vancouver Titans (6-0) vs. Guangzhou Charge (3-3)
With stage playoffs on the line for many of the teams playing this week every match has just a bit more meaning behind it. Only eight of the twenty teams in the league can go to the playoffs, and there of those slots are already locked up. With all this action though, the match I’ll have the closest eye on is the very last of the stage.
Why this game when the Titans have locked up their stage playoffs? Well it’s more about what’s on the line for the Vancouver. They now sit at the second spot on the table with a spotless 6-0 record. Undefeated, but still behind New York on the table as NYXL has finished their last map of the stage. For a team that has talked so much game, and then backed it up, it won’t do to be number two. Regardless of any potential meeting in the Stage Final, the Titans will be looking for the W to secure that perfect stage.
For their own part the Charge may not be the most innovative Chinese team, (that’s the Hunters), or the best dressed, (that’s the Spark), but they are the best in the rankings. And for good reason. Nearly all of there losses were close 5 map affairs. This is a team that has proved they can execute at the same level as most o the league. Their X factors in the match this week are that 1) They need this win and map differential to secure a playoff spot and 2) they have played Vancouver before. It’s worth going over this second point because they Titans nearly lost the final map against Guangzhou. A single play kept Vancouver’s record spotless and if it hadn’t happened the Charge would be ranked 4th instead of 8th. It’s dangerous to play a team twice so soon after a win, and Vancouver needs to be careful with how they approach the Charge.
These two teams have faced each other already and the game was incredibly close. Even with their playoffs slot secure they Titans are going to want a perfect stage to match NYXL’s. For the Charge this is their chance to both get into the stage playoffs and make a big statement about their skills as a team. How could there be a bigger win for this team then to be the first to defeat Vancouver.
The last week of Stage One is here. All the games this week have big implications for the stage finals. Will the Titans finish with a perfect stage? Will the Justice get a win in stage one? Which teams are going to the playoffs? The answers to these questions and more await us all later this week. The first game starts Saturday, March 16th at noon pacific time. Catch all the action on twitch.