Last week, we wrote about how the LA Gladiators were successfully adapting to the new meta. After Week 3 of Stage 2, it looks like the Gladiators might be able to go from cellar-dweller to playoff contender.
To this point in Stage 2, the Gladiators are 4-2 with a plus-10 map differential. That is already as many wins as they had in all of Stage 1, and they have completely reversed their Stage 1 map differential (minus-10).
There was certainly doubt about the Gladiators in Stage 2 prior to this week. After all, their wins in the first two weeks were against San Francisco and Shanghai, two bottom-tier teams. This week, the Gladiators put up a 7-1 map differential against the London Spitfire and Los Angeles Valiant. The Gladiators did not face the Stage 1 champions during Stage 1, and they were reverse-swept in the inaugural "Battle for Los Angeles".
The Gladiators picked up more wins this week against top-six teams in the standings (two) than they had during the first seven weeks of the Overwatch League (1-4). They also picked up more map wins (seven) against those teams this week than they had previously (six).
A Gladiator's revenge
Between Stage 1 and 2, London transferred its backup main tank Chan-hyung "Fissure" Baek to the LA Gladiators. Spitfire's head coach at the time said in a statement "Fissure is one of the smartest main tanks in the league, but we've struggled to fit him into the team in terms of synergy."
Synergy has not been a problem for Fissure with the Gladiators. According to Winston's Lab, he has the second-highest rated Winston in Stage 2 among 15 players with at least an hour of playtime on the character. Fissure's 9.6 first-kill percentage and 5.5 first-death percentage are both top amongst those Winston players; his first-death percentage is over 30 percent higher than the next closest player (Miro - 7.5). Fissure's first-kill and first-death percentages highlight how he has been able to successfully initiate team fights and build synergy with his new teammates.
The only Winston with a higher rating than Fissure in Stage 2 is Spitfire's Jae-hee "Gesture" Hong, one of the reasons London felt comfortable transferring Fissure. When the Gladiators faced off against the Spitfire Saturday, Fissure was the one who came out on top. Fissure had more kills and fewer deaths than Gesture, who had his lowest-rated matchup of the stage.
The other standout for the Gladiators against Spitfire was Joon-seong "Asher" Choi. His plus-23 kill-to-death ratio was nearly double the next-closest players (plus-14), and his 1,159 player rating was the highest among all players.
Dynasty Looking Better in Stage 2
The Gladiators are the only team to have a 2-0 week against teams in the current top six of the standings. Seoul enters Week 8 with a chance to do just that against the Spitfire and Excelsior, and the Dynasty are looking much better in Stage 2. Notable Dynasty players to show growth from Stage 1 to 2 are Jin-hyuk "Miro" Gong, Joon-hyuk "Bunny" Chae, and Sang-beom "Munchkin" Byeon.
One of Seoul's weaknesses in Stage 1 was its lack of a consistent DPS player to pair with Byung-sun "Fleta" Kim, who proved to be one of the top DPS players in Stage 1. One of the few DPS heroes Fleta does not play is Tracer, the most-picked DPS hero in the Overwatch League.
According to Winston's Lab, Seoul's two Tracer players (Bunny and Munchkin) ranked fifth and 11th respectively among players with at least two hours of play as Tracer in Stage 1. However, in Stage 2, they currently rank first and second respectively among Tracers with an hour of playtime.
Bunny and Munchkin have shared playtime in Stage 2, with Munchkin getting more minutes. Bunny has performed better, but one of his two matchups came against the winless Shanghai Dragons. Eventually, Seoul will have to pick which Tracer player it wants to utilize in key matchups.
The other standout for Seoul in Stage 2 has been Miro, who was once widely regarded as the best Winston in the world. According to Winston's Lab, Miro has the third-highest rated Winston with a minimum of an hour played in Stage 2.
Miro's 3.83 deaths per 10 minutes are the fewest among those Winston players and more than one death per 10 minutes lower than his Stage 1 average of 4.97. Miro has had a player rating of over 1,000 in three of his five matchups in Stage 2, matching his total from all of Stage 1.