Los Angeles Gladiators 3 - Dallas Fuel 1
The Los Angeles Gladiators picked up its first win of Stage 3 of the Overwatch League on Friday by taking down the Dallas Fuel 3-1 at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
After the Fuel defeated a revamped Shanghai Dragons on Wednesday, it looked like Dallas had finally started to pull itself together and become the team fans and analysts thought it could be. That dream came crashing down, though, as the Gladiators took the Fuel apart, sweeping through the first three maps of the series.
That's not to say the maps weren't close, though. As is custom for the Fuel, the team lived and died by the success of star DPS Hyeon "EFFECT" Hwang.
EFFECT flexed around a fair bit, playing Tracer, Widowmaker and Reaper in niche situations, but he was mostly alone. Apart from the occasional pop-off from fellow DPS Dylan "aKm" Bignet or flex player Brandon "Seagull" Larned, Dallas mostly just waited for EFFECT to make plays, which didn't work until Game 4 on Route 66. Despite losing this series, though, each map was competitive and close, showing that the Fuel are still improving -- and dangerous.
For the Gladiators, it's a huge win in terms of morale going forward. After getting stomped by the San Francisco Shock earlier this week, the team needed a victory. While main tank Baek "Fissure" Chan-hyung's Winston was the maestro of LA's lethal dive, credit must be given to his dive partner, DPS Choi "Asher" Joon-seong. Asher's Tracer linked up with Fissure several times throughout the series, weeding out the Fuel's backline and allowing the rest of the Gladiators to steamroll through the Fuel's uncoordinated frontline.
It's hard to say if this meta suits the Gladiators or if it matched up against a struggling team, but regardless, a win is a win, and with the Season 1 postseason still in sight, every game counts in an increasingly close Pacific division.
The Gladiators next take on the Shanghai Dragons at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, while the Fuel challenge a slumping Seoul Dynasty at 11 p.m. ET that same day.
-- Noah Waltzer
Los Angeles Valiant 4 - Shanghai Dragons 0
In one of the most lopsided series in recent memory, the Los Angeles Valiant crushed the Shanghai Dragons in a 4-0 sweep on Friday at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
The plight of the Dragons continues. Despite riding high on a wave of emotions with the debut of off-tank Kim "Geguri" Se-yeon earlier this week, the team is closing it out with an 0-2 record. While there were positive takeaways during its 3-1 loss against the Dallas Fuel on Wednesday, this was a thorough trouncing at the hands of the Valiant.
The Dragons have plenty of talent between Geguri and other new additions such as DPS Kim "Daemin" Dae-min and main tank Lee "Fearless" Eui-Seok, but communication continues to be a massive thorn in the roster's side. Multiple times throughout the series, the players looked to be on different pages. Ultimates were used with no follow-up whatsoever, and decisions on when to group up were delayed, costing the team precious time during attack rounds. Any time Shanghai made a solid push, it was quickly undone as Los Angeles ran roughshod on the team while holding it to a single point the entire series.
While the Dragons' problems were painfully clear, the Valiant's strengths were just as apparent.
With this new lineup featuring support Scott "Custa" Kennedy and off-tank Indy "SPACE" Halpern, the team is playing with a renewed sense of vigor. Custa's leadership and shot-calling has provided the Valiant a boost and given it a new layer of stability that was missing in Stage 2. Pushes are coordinated and cohesive, and no ultimate seemed to be wasted all night.
It didn't hurt one bit that DPS players Terence "SoOn" Tarlier and Brady "Agilities" Girardi are performing extremely well and making it easy for the rest of the team to move around the map. Fans and analysts alike may have scratched their heads at both the Stage 2 play and previous roster moves of the Valiant, but the team has shown that everything is alright with its first back-to-back 4-0 sweeps of the season.
The Shanghai Dragons will continue searching for its elusive first win against the Los Angeles Gladiators at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, while the Los Angeles Valiant will now turn its attention to a matchup against the San Francisco Shock in the next match at 9 p.m. ET.
-- Wyatt Donigan
Seoul Dynasty 4 - San Francisco Shock 0
The Seoul Dynasty took home a much-needed 4-0 victory over the San Francisco Shock on Friday at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
While the Dynasty might have pulled off a sweep in this series, the 4-0 scoreline is somewhat misleading. While it ultimately came up short, the Shock put up an incredible fight throughout the series, particularly in the first half.
If it wasn't for the support star Ryu "ryujehong" Je-hong's superb Moira play, the series may have gone in an entirely different direction. This was chiefly apparent during the second game on the newest map, Blizzard World. Ryujehong's Moira put up some gargantuan numbers to keep his team alive with superb healing while also securing multiple Coalescence ultimates in nearly every major teamfight, propelling Seoul to victory in the process.
Honorable mention goes to DPS Choi "Wekeed" Seok-woo, who made some waves of his own on Junkrat. Wekeed made some colossal plays with his RIP-Tires, including some tide-turning triple kills that gave his team a hefty advantage at every turn. While Wekeed's play was phenomenal, the Shock had one fatal flaw that ended up being its ultimate downfall in the series.
If San Francisco wants to continue its climb into playoff contention, it will need main tank Matthew "Super" DeLisi to get on the same page as his teammates. All throughout the series, he dove deep early and often, leaving him without proper support and resulting in needless deaths that set his team back. While some of this can be contributed to his just having entered the starting lineup to start Stage 3, the team will need to get everyone working together in order to prevent digging too deep a hole at the halfway point of the season.
The San Francisco Shock next faces off against the Los Angeles Valiant on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET, while the Seoul Dynasty will match up against the Dallas Fuel later that night at 11 p.m. ET.
-- Tyson Tavolazzi