London Spitfire 3 - Dallas Fuel 1
The London Spitfire took a respectable 3-1 victory over the Dallas Fuel on Saturday at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
Last week, Dallas stumbled upon the tanking power of DPS Brandon "Seagull" Larne, who swapped in for tank Timo "Taimou" Kettunen against the New York Excelsior as the Fuel nearly took down the Stage 1 runner-ups. It was obvious the London Spitfire took notice entering Saturday's competition, as it was prepared for any, and every, potential curveball.
London breezed through the first half of the series, easily handling its opposition. Spitfire DPS Profit "Park" Joon-yeong and tank Hong "Gesture" Jae-hee were in-sync, always converging on targets with perfect timing. This tended to be Fuel support Sebastian "chipshajen" Widlund's Zenyatta, whose loss was twofold given his valuable healing commodities as well as his skill as a sorely-needed damage-dealer. While Dallas attempted to switch around its compositions and strategies, London continually found new tactics and ended up on top more often than not.
Taking a moment to breath and reflect during the halftime seemed to help the Fuel refocus. Its reactions to micro plays improved, chipshajen was no longer dying alone and London looked to be struggling to survive. Additionally, Fuel DPS Hyeon "EFFECT" Hwang finally settled into this confident and aggressive playstyle. Whether it was on Tracer or Widowmaker, he continually forced the Spitfire into a corner time and time again.
But the team's aggression would also be its downfall. Believing it was in a strong position, Dallas became complacent, never taking a moment to regroup effectively after extended skirmishes. London took advantage by switching to a hyper-aggressive strategy centered around DPS Kim "birdring" Ji-hyeok's McCree, which allowed London to easily walk through the defenses of Dallas on Route 66 and win the series.
The Dallas Fuel will begin preparations for Stage 3, which begins April 4, while the London Spitfire will take part in the Stage 2 playoffs on Sunday starting at 4 p.m. ET.
-- Liam Craffey
New York Excelsior 4 - Los Angeles Valiant 0
New York Excelsior ran through the Los Angeles Valiant in a 4-0 sweep Saturday to secure the No. 1 seed heading into the Overwatch League Stage 2 playoffs at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
Los Angeles Valiant had a good idea of what to do against New York Excelsior but not necessarily the skills to pull its strategies off. DPS Brady "Agilities" Girardi had a laser-beam focus on New York's star player, support Bang "JJoNaK" Sung-hyeon, and Agilities' intensity did throw the Excelsior for a loop in the opening fight of the series on Volskaya Industry, but it found value little where else. Agilities couldn't secure kills onto his opponents' backline as it began to stack tanks on top of its support players.
The tanky compositions meant even when Agilities used his ultimate to engage, he'd be stuck in uneven and unwinnable 1-on-3 fights. On top of all that, Valiant struggled to protect its own supports from New York's persistent DPS Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong-ryeol.
Saebyeolbe held back nothing against the Valiant. Utterly determined to get the No. 1 spot for the Stage 2 playoffs, Saebyeolbe constantly snuck behind Los Angeles' formations to harass its backline, snapping kills and forcing ultimates out of its support players. New York's tanks wisely parked themselves next to JJoNak and support Hong "ArK" Yeon-joon.
Meanwhile, ArK stuck mostly to Mercy. He played around Valiant's desire to kill JJoNak by simply waiting in the shadows and only emerging to revive fallen players, like JJoNak, when the Valiant began to retreat. Ark, essentially, reversed any progress Los Angeles made after it threw out a plethora of resources to secure even a single kill.
The Los Angeles Valiant will have time to regroup before Stage 3 begins, where it will face Seoul Dynasty at 9 p.m. ET on April 9. New York Excelsior will play against the winner of the Stage 2 semifinal.
-- Christiaan Kutlik
Boston Uprising 3 - Los Angeles Gladiators 3
The Boston Uprising closed out Week 5 of the Overwatch League Stage 2 with a playoff-shattering 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Gladiators on Saturday at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
After taking a 3-2 win earlier in the week against the San Francisco Shock, the Uprising managed to secure a thrilling victory against the Los Angeles Gladiators, simultaneously setting the Gladiators' playoff hopes ablaze. A common theme in Uprising victories this stage have been its standout players, main tank Noh "Gamsu" Young-jin and DPS Kwon "Striker" Nam-joo in particular. It's not a surprise to see the Uprising on a four-series win streak since the return of its star tank player, who missed time due to a reported illness, as Gamsu has quickly forged excellent chemistry with Striker.
Their teamwork was impeccable Saturday, with Gamsu acting as the brute offensive force for the Uprising on Winston, paving the way for Striker to knife through the rest of the enemies on Tracer, most notably during Game 5 as Gamsu took some calculated dives on the opposing Widowmaker that Striker was quick to finish off.
It wasn't all doom and gloom for the Gladiators, however. DPS player Choi "Asher" Joon-seong was excellent on Tracer, to the point where his switch to Widowmaker in Game 5 ultimately ended up being the team's downfall. Lacking the evasiveness of his Tracer, Asher's Widowmaker was wiped off the map far too often thanks to the repeated dives by the aforementioned combination of Gamsu and Striker, something Asher managed to avoid during the first four maps.
Main tank Baek "Fissure" Chan-hyung was as formidable as ever on Winston for Los Angeles and certainly remains in the conversations as one of the best tanks in the entire OWL, but his play wasn't enough to carry the rest of his team Saturday as consistency, or rather the lack thereof, once again plagued the unit.
The first two maps were extremely one-sided in favor of Boston, to the point where it made its opposition look nearly unstoppable - an entirely unacceptable concept given a 4-0 sweep could have netted Los Angeles the third and final playoff spot. Miraculously after halftime, the Gladiators looked like a completely different team, winning the next two matches and nearly completing a reverse sweep in the process. It'll go down as a wasted effort for a team on the cusp of cracking into the OWL elite.
The Los Angeles Gladiators next face the San Francisco Shock at 11 p.m. ET on April 4, while the Boston Uprising will square off against the Philadelphia Fusion at 9 p.m. ET on April 5.
-- Tyson Tavolazzi