Los Angeles Gladiators 3 - London Spitfire 2
The Los Angeles Gladiators held off the London Spitfire in a 3-2 series win on Thursday at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
With Thursday's win, the Los Angeles Gladiators have now beaten the London Spitfire three straight times this season. Gladiators main tank Baek "Fissure" Chan-hyung has been singing the praises of DPS teammate Lane "Surefour" Roberts' prowess on Widowmaker, and Surefour made sure to show this off in the first half of the series. His Widowmaker came up big for Los Angeles, ensuring that the Spitfire was always at a man disadvantage thanks to his pinpoint snipes. After Surefour exited the series in favor of other DPS players, it was Fissure's turn to make the big plays for his team. He made sure to keep the Gladiators in the game on the tiebreaker map, Oasis, stalling with his Primal Rage as Winston and even sniping a RIP-Tire in mid air with his Flamestrike on Reinhardt to close out the series.
It was plays like this that allowed Los Angeles to outlast the fiery Spitfire squad.
On the other side of things, London is sorely missing its star DPS Kim "birdring" Ji-hyeok. The difference between the Spitfire with and without bridring is like night and day. With birdring, the Spitfire won the Stage 1 title. Without birdring, the Spitfire currently holds the same Stage 3 record as the Florida Mayhem. Backup DPS player Lee "hooreg" Dong-eun has been starting in birdring's place and was part of the reason for the Spitfire falling short of victory against the Gladiators. The Spitfire has been naturally stubborn in switching its hero lineup throughout the stage, and it did not help in the fight against Los Angeles. Hooreg failed to put any pressure on Surefour in their Widowmaker duel, which gimped the Spitfire's dives. The Spitfire will either have to become more flexible with hooreg or resign itself to wait for birdring's return.
The Los Angeles Gladiators will next face off with the Houston Outlaws at 9 p.m. ET on Friday, while the London Spitfire will try to beat the San Francisco Shock at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
-- Travis Elliott
New York Excelsior 3 - San Francisco Shock 1
The New York Excelsior held the San Francisco Shock at bay with a 3-1 series win on Thursday night at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
The New York Excelsior might be in a little bit of a slump, but the team still knows how to dig deep and hold on to win series. While the Excelsior has continually insisted on playing main tank Song "Janus" Joong-hwa to start its series, the team often swaps Janus out for fellow main tank Kim "Meko" Tae-hong. The Excelsior has made a recent trend of winning from behind, and the fact that it starts Janus and closes out with Meko tells the whole story of why the team has had to play from behind.
Janus has been overly aggressive, and his playstyle runs against the grain for the Excelsior's usual strategy. Although Meko was an integral part of the series win Thursday, DPS star Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong-ryeol stole the show and player of the match honors. His complete dominance of the Shock's DPS corps as both Widowmaker and Tracer was one of the most exciting performances from the Saebyeolbe since New York reverse-swept the Philadelphia Fusion in the Stage 2 finals.
The San Francisco Shock is on the outside of the top-5 on the Stage 3 table after its loss. Though the team has ostensibly worked through some of its communication issues, it is still struggling with execution against the league's best teams and with its jack-of-all-trades approach. The Shock opted to keep its star Tracer player Jay "Sinatraa" Won on the bench, starting Dante "Danteh" Cruz and Park "Architect" Min-ho in an effort to maximize the duo's flexibility. While the choice offered the Shock the ability to change its hero lineups to best challenge the Excelsior, it perhaps leaned a little too heavily on Danteh's Tracer play, which doesn't match Sinatraa's. Once the Shock can figure out how to better utilize all of its talent, matches likes this one will be much closer.
The Shock will get a second crack at an all-South Korean roster as the the team will square off against the London Spitfire at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, and the New York Excelsior will look to beat up on the struggling Seoul Dynasty at 6 p.m. ET later that day.
-- Travis Elliott
Seoul Dynasty 3 - Philadelphia Fusion 2
The Seoul Dynasty surprised the Philadelphia Fusion in a 3-2 victory on Thursday at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
While it wasn't without a great deal of effort, the Thursday win now makes two victories in as many weeks for a Seoul squad that entered Stage 3 of the Overwatch League with convoluted expectations at best. It was also the first game since Week 1 that the Dynasty took down a team with a winning record.
Seoul started the series with DPS Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun benched in favor of his projectile counterpart Choi "Wekeed" Seok-woo for Temple of Anubis. This predictable swap was purely for Wekeed's near-legendary Junkrat play, and it worked out as Seoul held firm on defense.
While Wekeed was outstanding in his niche role, the true MVP of the Seoul Dynasty was DPS Byeon "Munchkin" Sang-beom and his Tracer. Multiple times in nearly every map, Munchkin found his opening and scooped up kills on the Fusion supports to stymie Philadelphia's attacks.
Despite the loss, Philadelphia had some very positive takeaways from this series. Main tank Joona "Fragi" Liane was incredible in the first four matches with Winston. The space he created enabled his team to shine, and he controlled his dives to ensure he stayed alive for future fights without wasting his team's resources. Where Fragi struggled, though, was when he switched to Reinhardt in Game 5 on Oasis. None of his Earthshatters hit home, and the angle of his shield was sometimes off, allowing stray damage to find kills on the Fusion backline.
If Philadelphia can shore up those small mistakes, it should be able to easily bounce back from this loss.
The Dynasty will look to take out the New York Excelsior at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, while the Fusion square off against a slumping Shanghai Dragons at 8 p.m. ET that same day.
-- Tyson Tavolazzi