London Spitfire 3 - Shanghai Dragons 1
The London Spitfire took a 3-1 victory over the Shanghai Dragons on Saturday at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
The Dragons should never be underestimated, but rarely does it ever go the distance necessary to pull off a victory. While Shanghai's play looked to be on point Saturday, with drawn out stalls and synchronized engagements, its ability to focus on key targets still has a long way to go.
Whether it was Shanghai tank Lee "Fearless" Eui-Seok's Winston or DPS Chon "Ado" Gi-hyeon, the problem was the same: solo shenanigans. One, or both, would heavily overextend and provide London with a numerical advantage that snowballed against Shanghai. The star of the Dragons remains off-tank Kim "Geguri" Se-yeon and her D.Va, but even she had trouble finding the optimal position to have a real impact in this loss. Shanghai looks best when playing aggressively, but that seems to also be its greatest weakness.
London, meanwhile, is bouncing back from this disappointing stage nicely. Spitfire tank Hong "Gesture" Jae-hee and DPS Park "Profit" Joon-yeong continue to put together impeccable dives with Winston and Tracer, respectively. It didn't matter if it was a counter-dive, the middle of a teamfight, or a proactive engagement: These two players looked inseparable.
At the same time, London supports Choi "Bdosin" Seung-tae and Kim "NUS" Jong-seok were rarely caught out of position and easily outlasted the Dragon's counterparts. It's a shame the Spitfire won't be in the playoffs, but fans should be excited for Stage 4 now that the team has its foundation once again.
The Shanghai Dragons and the London Spitfire will both begin preparations for Stage 4, which starts May 16.
-- Liam Craffey
Seoul Dynasty 4 - Houston Outlaws 0
In a surprising turn of events, the Seoul Dynasty took a 4-0 win over the Houston Outlaws on Saturday in Burbank, California.
It's hard to believe that the Dynasty would finally take down the Outlaws, which has been Seoul's kryptonite since Stage 1, with captain Ryu "ryujehong" Je-hong on main tank rather than flex support, but that's exactly how the Dynasty got the job done.
Ryujehong wasn't the only Dynasty member to step up, though, as support Mun "Gido" Gi-do had a great performance filling ryujehong's shoes on the Zenyatta role, while off-tank Kim "zunba" Joon-hyuk popped off as D.Va, picking up kills and applying tons of pressure on Houston's backline.
Moreso than any one person playing well, though, this was truly a team effort from Seoul. For the first time in a long time, the Dynasty looked decisive and deadly in its dive, isolating the Outlaws' backline while preventing Houston DPS Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin from finding a rhythm. It's a shame that the Dynasty found its footing so late into Stage 3 with a prospective meta shift on the horizon, but things are looking good for Seoul going forward.
On the other side of things, the Outlaws looked lost against Seoul, a team it normally dominates. The Outlaws seemed overwhelmed by the Dynasty's aggression, which shut down all of Houston's DPS players with relative impunity. Meanwhile, the much-lauded frontline duo of main tank Austin "Muma" Wilmot and off-tank Matt "coolmatt" Iorio got shown up in a big way and was never able to create space for the rest of the Outlaws.
Compounding that, support Shane "Rawkus" Flaherty got wrecked by Gido and fell behind in all major statistical categories while looking like a shadow of his normal self. All of Houston seemed shell-shocked throughout the series, and the Outlaws ended the stage on an uncertain note, which is an unsettling trend for this team entering the final stage of Season 1.
Neither Seoul nor Houston has qualified for Stage 3 playoffs and will wait for the start of Stage 4, which begins May 16, to next compete.
-- Noah Waltzer
Los Angeles Valiant 3 - Philadelphia Fusion 2
The Los Angeles Valiant closed out Stage 3 with a hotly contested 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Fusion on Saturday in Burbank, California.
The Fusion needed to 4-0 this series to earn a berth into the Stage 3 playoffs, and those hopes were immediately dashed in Game 1 on Volskaya Industries. Led by its strong frontline, particularly main tank Koo "Fate" Pan-seung, who dominated Point B as Winston, the Valiant cruised to a 1-0 lead.
Indeed, this series was a clash of frontlines, as both the Fusion and the Valiant aggressively scrapped for position throughout every map. With even tank matchups, both teams relied on DPS aces to get the job done and pick up a crucial win, which is where the Fusion fell just short.
The Valiant has had a consistent projectile DPS player to rely on all season long in Brady "Agilities" Girardi, but this team dramatically improved with the addition of DPS and Tracer specialist Chae "Bunny" Joon-hyuk. Freeing up fellow DPS Terrence "SoOn" Tarlier to play other hitscan heroes, Bunny not only fills in a compositional gap that the Valiant previously had but also excels at his role, sometimes single-handedly winning fights as Tracer by tormenting enemy backlines to no end.
The same could not be said about the Fusion Saturday night, though, as it continued to do what it could without star DPS Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok. Between Josh "Eqo" Corona and Simon "snillo" Ekstrom, the Fusion could field team compositions it had relied on in the past, but the squad didn't have the same lethal edge it does when Carpe is on the field.
That's not to say that Eqo and snillo weren't up to par with their competition, but this series showed that, while the Fusion still has enough skill to take a team like the Valiant to five games, it has a hard time sealing the deal.
The Valiant will begin its Stage 3 playoff run by taking on the New York Excelsior at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, while the Fusion will wait for Stage 4 to start on May 16.
-- Noah Waltzer