San Francisco Shock 3 - Philadelphia Fusion 1
The San Francisco Shock's young lineup put together a 3-1 victory against the Philadelphia Fusion on Friday to start Overwatch League play at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
There are two lenses to view this upset win by the Shock. The first: The Shock has finally started to click as a team and is closer to reaching the lofty potential that fans and analysts alike predicted coming into Stage 3. The other: The Fusion got lulled into a trap game after losing a grueling five-game series to the New York Excelsior in the final series Thursday.
Both sides have legs to stand on, but one thing is clear: this series was nowhere near close.
San Francisco had obviously done its homework coming into this one and followed a gameplan similar to New York Excelsior's in the Stage 2 final against Philadelphia and made it a priority to bully Fusion support Isaac "Boombox" Charles' Zenyatta. Picking Boombox before fights even started, the Shock's DPS trio ran roughshod over Philly regardless of which combination of Jay "sinatraa" Won, Dante "Danteh" Cruz and Park "Architect" Min-ho was in the game.
Architect in particular shined in this series, ripping the Fusion apart as Widowmaker and picking up player of the match honors. With a solid DPS core and new main tank Matthew "super" DeLisi creating space as Winston, this San Francisco squad looks entirely different from the one from Stage 2.
On the other hand, the Fusion sleepwalked through this series, unable to adapt or even respond to the Shock. Boombox fell flat on his face, tank Joona "Fragi" Laine had a hard time staying alive -- a recurring problem for this team -- and DPS star Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok went quiet when his team needed him to carry.
Philly took Game 3 on Nepal with strong Widowmaker play from Carpe, but that's all the team could do. Dropping to 3-3 in Stage 3, and with the Shock jumping into a top-4 spot with this win, the Fusion need to stop the bleeding fast or else miss out on the playoffs entirely.
The Shock faces a big test in the form of the New York Excelsior at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, followed by the Fusion looking to get back on track against the Seoul Dynasty at 11 p.m. ET that same day.
-- Noah Waltzer
Florida Mayhem 3 - Shanghai Dragons 1
The Florida Mayhem picked up its first Stage 3 win in a 3-1 victory over the Shanghai Dragons on Friday at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
Going into the match, the pressure was on both teams to finally notch a win in Stage 3 -- and for the Shanghai Dragons to get its first victory of the season. Once again, Shanghai looked as if it had made some improvement from its previous match, but the Dragons still couldn't finish Florida.
Right from Map 1, Shanghai seemed to show some improved coordination and signs of confident decision-making, but the Mayhem managed to steal the set away. Shanghai off-tank Kim "Geguri" Se-yeon, though, returned the favor on Map 2, Blizzard World. A crucial Self-Destruct let the Dragons snatch a win away from the Mayhem, and DPS Chon "Ado" Gi-hyeon worked together with main tank Lee "Fearless" Eui-seok to decimate Florida's supports.
After evening the series, though, the Dragons failed to execute. Shanghai was a gigantic step behind the Mayhem in terms of ultimate economy and rarely got the opportunity to turn things in its favor. This problem only escalated after halftime and, despite a good hold on Map 4 Route 66, Shanghai couldn't secure the kills needed to bring the series to a Map 5.
Despite the win, the Florida Mayhem seemed to have lost its quick and decisive teamfight coordination. Its dives were sloppy, over-extended and typically didn't provide any major value. Taking out a Shanghai DPS happened often enough, but off-tank Tim "Manneten" Bylund lost his D.Va mech too often to protect his backline, and DPS Kevyn "TviQ" Lindström would get taken out as a result.
The halftime break seemed to knock a little sense into Florida. Its approach seemed calmer and more calculated, with DPS Ha "Sayaplayer" Jung-woo switching onto McCree to take down Shanghai DPS Weida "Diya" Lu and Ado with lethal precision.
The Shanghai Dragons next play the Boston Uprising at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday, while the Florida Mayhem face the Dallas Fuel at 11 p.m. ET later that evening.
-- Liam Craffey
Boston Uprising 2 - Seoul Dynasty 1
The Boston Uprising remained undefeated in Stage 3 of the Overwatch League by taking down the Seoul Dynasty 2-1 on Friday night at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
With its win over the Dynasty, Boston did something that no team in the Overwatch League has ever done before and beat all three of the all-South Korean rosters in one stage. The addition of DPS player Stanislov "Mistakes" Danilov to the starting lineup has turned the Uprising into more than just a dive team as his deep hero pool has given the Uprising new hero composition options. That has allowed fellow DPS and Tracer specialist Kwon "Striker" Nam-joo to play as Junkrat on control point maps, which was enough of an adjustment by Boston to throw Seoul off-course.
Though Mistakes flexed onto several heroes throughout the series, his prowess on Sombra is what consistently turned the tables in Boston's favor. If his flanks didn't bring about a crucial pickoff, they resulted in a huge EMP to win the subsequent team fight. With most of the tough matchups in the rear-view mirror, the Boston Uprising could do what no other Overwatch League team has done and finish this stage undefeated.
The Seoul Dynasty is still searching for its lost identity in this stage. After starting the support duo of Ryu "ryujehong" Je-hong and Heo "Gambler" Jin-woo over the last two weeks, the Dynasty made the seemingly arbitrary decision to give the start to supports Yang "Tobi" Jin-mo and Mun "Gido" Gi-do for its two series this week instead. Roster issues aside, the Dynasty did not operate with the same level of team cohesion that it has displayed in the past.
Though its situation is not necessarily dire, the Dynasty's performances leave much to be desired, and the team is on a path to once again miss a stage playoff. Seoul's star DPS Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun is stuck trying to carry the entire team by himself. Though the team entered this stage with hopes of finally reaching a stage title match, the Dynasty now sit at sixth in the standings and have yet to face New York or London, the two other South Korean rosters and teams that have given Seoul problems in the past.
The Uprising will enjoy a nice break before its easiest week of the stage starting first with a match against the Shanghai Dragons at 7 p.m. ET next Wednesday. Meanwhile the Seoul Dynasty will begin preparing for yet another difficult matchup, this time with the Philadelphia Fusion, next Thursday at 11 p.m. ET.
-- Travis Elliott