Los Angeles Gladiators 4 - Dallas Fuel 0
The Los Angeles Gladiators opened Friday's action in the Overwatch League with a 4-0 victory against the Dallas Fuel at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
In Dallas' last 20 outings, it has picked up just two wins -- both against the Shanghai Dragons -- as the Fuel's tumultuous season continues to spiral out of control. While it's true that it was facing a Gladiators team that has been on a steady uptick all season long, it was still yet another notch in the growing loss column for a team that had lofty preseason expectations.
Simply put, these teams looked to be playing on completely different levels for the majority of this series. With the exception of Oasis: City Center where Dallas picked up one of its few points of the series, it never looked like it had a solid grasp of the pace of the game.
While Dallas looked prepared for the new Stage 4 meta, with flex player Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod playing Brigitte frequently and DPS Dylan "aKm" Bignet coming in to play Zarya, these lineups rarely yielded positive results. It seemed as though the Gladiators were able to easily counter anything that Dallas put out, which simply left the Fuel without many options with which to gain any ground.
On the other side, rarely did LA have to push too hard as it steamrolled its way through every map en route to the sweep. Whether it was DPS Ted "Silkthread" Wang showing up Dallas' Brandon "Seagull" Larned in a Junkrat duel on Blizzard World, DPS Joao Pedro "Hydration" Goes Telles lighting it up with Pharah on Oasis, or main tank Baek "Fissure" Chan-hyung wreaking havoc on the frontlines, the Gladiators fired on all cylinders with everyone stepping up when needed.
It's hard to give a fair reading of this performance, given that it came against one of the teams at the bottom of the standings. That being said, if the Gladiators can keep this up, the season playoffs could be within reach.
The Gladiators will now look ahead to a contest with the Houston Outlaws at 11 p.m. ET on Wednesday, while the Fuel will have its hands full against the Boston Uprising earlier in the day at 7 p.m. ET.
-- Wyatt Donigan
Houston Outlaws 3 - Boston Uprising 1
The Houston Outlaws capped off a 2-0 week with a 3-1 win over the Boston Uprising on Friday in Burbank, California.
The winds of change brought on by the new meta in Stage 4 continue to dramatically alter teams' destinies, perhaps none more so than the Outlaws. Free from the burden of having to worry about Tracer, thanks in large part to the addition of Brigitte to the hero pool, Houston has been empowered. The team's slow-and-steady approach led it to a 4-0 sweep of the London Spitfire earlier in Week 1 before taking down a top-flight team in the Uprising on Friday.
As usual for Houston, the DPS duo of Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin and Jacob "JAKE" Lyon did the majority of the heavy lifting, with LiNkzr's Widowmaker dominating the first half while JAKE's Brigitte shut down Boston's dive compositions.
Houston seemed flustered on Oasis and failed to enable LiNkzr on that map, but for the most part the Outlaws got the job done with authority. With the season playoffs in sight and a strong 2-0 start against teams above Houston in the standings, Outlaws fans couldn't ask for a better start to Stage 4.
While Houston celebrates, Boston is left to wonder what exactly went wrong after a perfect 10-0 regular season record in Stage 3. This 0-2 start to Stage 4 can be largely attributed to the fact that dive compositions simply cannot work against a team that knows how to play Brigitte effectively, though if any team could find a way to brute-force dive in the face of the anti-dive hero, Boston would be it.
There were some good things going for the Uprising this series, chiefly the debut of new flex support Kwon "AimGod" Min-seok, who played well as Zenyatta in his debut and out-fragged his Houston counterpart, Shane "Rawkus" Flaherty. In addition, Boston's Game 3 win on Oasis showed that the team can actually play Brigitte compositions to a certain extent. Things might look grim for Boston now, but if it can get its head in the right place, the Uprising might be a threat heading into the latter parts of Stage 4.
Boston will kick off next week's action against the Dallas Fuel at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, while the Outlaws take on the Los Angeles Gladiators at 11 p.m. ET that same day.
-- Noah Waltzer
San Francisco Shock 3 - Seoul Dynasty 1
The San Francisco Shock closed out Friday's Overwatch League action with a convincing 3-1 win over the Seoul Dynasty at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
The Shock smothered the Dynasty throughout the series on Friday in textbook Shock fashion. While there wasn't any substitutions coming out of San Francisco, the DPS duo of Park "Architect" Min-ho and Jay "sinatraa" Won was more than enough, combining to form an unstoppable playmaking backline not unlike some other famous Bay Area duos.
Architect was a beast whether on Widowmaker or Genji and showed why he's the premier playmaker with a perfect hero pool for this meta. Meanwhile, sinatraa continued to show up as Tracer, although that might have been more due to Seoul struggling to adapt to the new meta. San Francisco spammed dive compositions throughout the evening, which might not have worked against a team that has adapted to Stage 4 better, but was more than enough to keep the Dynasty down.
Meanwhile, Seoul seems to have gone offline in the opening week of Stage 4 and looked worse than it has in quite some time. While fingers might be pointed at flex player/new main tank Ryu "ryujehong" Je-hong's subpar Winston performances, there were plenty of other factors in the Dynasty's demise.
DPS Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun played well, as always, but never seemed to have the help he needed, whether in his fellow DPS players underperforming or his supports not helping him peel. Meanwhile, after using support Heo "Gambler" Jin-woo for a majority of its recent matches, Seoul sent out support Yang "tobi" Jin-mo, which might have contributed to Seoul's sloppy and uninspired performance, as Gambler is apparently one of the Dynasty's main shot callers.
At this point, all the Dynasty can do is find a way to stop the bleeding as it begins to fall down the season standings, or else miss out on a top 6 spot and the end of season playoffs altogether.
The Shock will next take to the stage against the London Spitfire at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, while the Dynasty prepare for a tough weekend to begin against the New York Excelsior at 9 p.m. ET on Friday.