Week 2 of Overwatch League Stage 4 continued to cement a storyline that has run its course through the whole season: New York is very good and Shanghai is very bad. This week we will break down how the league got to this point and the factors that contributed to it.
Shanghai swept again
By this point, everyone is aware of the struggles of the Shanghai Dragons. They've opened the season on 34-game losing streak, unprecedented in professional sports, and the matches have not been all that close. After being swept 4-0 in both matches this week, the Dragons now have 18 losses in which they haven't won a single map, the most in the league by five.
It has been a while since Shanghai managed to keep it close. Its last match with two map wins was on April 28 against the Philadelphia Fusion in Week 4 of Stage 3. In fact, they've only pushed an opponent to a tiebreaker map three times, the fewest five-game matches of any team in the league.
Zenyatta is the focal point of success
Last week, we discussed the pick rates in the new meta, citing the importance of the consistency of Zenyatta. He has been the only character with a pick rate of at least 80 percent in each stage (Winston's Lab). Each team in Overwatch League has just one player who has played as Zenyatta for at least 10 hours. When you compare the Winston's Lab rating of each player to their team's rank in the Overwatch League standings, you see just how important he is to a team's success.
The New York Excelsior feature Bang "JJoNak" Seong-hyun as its Zenyatta; his 1253 rating on the character is the best of any player in the league who has played any character for at least 10 hours. Also among the top 10 player ratings are Seung-tae "Bdosin" Choi of the London Spitfire (1161) and Young-seo "KariV" Park of the Los Angeles Valiant (1136). The Spitfire and the Valiant rank second and third in the Overwatch League standings, respectively.
At the end of the line lie the winless Shanghai Dragons. Its Zenyatta, Xu "Freefeel" Peixuan, is one of just four players with at least 10 hours on a character with a rating below 800. Two of the other three players in that boat also play for the Dragons.
Excelsior continues to roll
New York extended its massive lead on the field in both record and map differential with two 4-0 sweeps, one over Seoul and the other over Shanghai. The performance is far from unexpected at this point.
All season New York has been led by the play of its support duo: JJoNak and Hong "ArK" Yeon-joon. According to Winston's Lab, JJoNak and Ark the only players to have a rating above 1,200 this season (min. 10 hours played). One of the reasons these two support players have been so successful is how well they support each other.
JJoNak benefits from ArK's consistent damage boosting with Mercy, while ArK benefits from having the most lethal Zenyatta watching his back. As a result, JJoNak's Zenyatta has the most final blows per 10 minutes among Zenyatta players (5.01) and Ark's Mercy has the fewest deaths per 10 minute among Mercy players (2.94) with min. 10 hours playtime.
With its victory over Seoul in Week 2, New York clinched the number one seed in the season playoffs with three weeks remaining. If the Excelsior continue to maintain two of the best players in the game, and the best support duo, the rest of the league is going to struggle to keep New York from taking home the title.