April 19, 2018 by coachcarter717
Fragi’s improved performance as the main tank helped the Fusion reach a higher level of competition in Stage 2 (Courtesy of Activision Blizzard Inc.)
Written by Carter Cotrupi
Stage 3 is underway and that means we are done with the Stage 2 team notes! This last part features a familiar group of Overwatch League teams with one black sheep that almost claimed a huge upset in the Stage finals.
- Seoul Dynasty
Seoul Dynasty will look for redemption in Stage 3 after falling short of the stage playoffs once again in Stage 2 (Courtesy of Seoul Dynasty on Twitter)
For the second time in a row, the Seoul Dynasty have found themselves on the outside looking in. Seoul looked poised to be the early favorites to take the Stage 2 title after starting with a six-game win streak. But the team came crashing back down to Earth with three consecutive losses to New York, London, and Houston. The team finished Stage 2 at 7-3 but fell too far behind in map differential where the Philadelphia Fusion edged them out for 3rd place.
What makes missing the Stage 2 playoffs a harder pill to swallow is that Seoul had shown much improvement in the areas that needed work after Stage 1. The Dynasty has little to no talent gaps to address in their starting lineups. Munchkin came to fill in the main Tracer role and was much more proficient in assisting Fleta’s incredible DPS play than he was in Stage 1. Tobi and Ryujehong continue to show everyone why they’re one of the top support duos in OWL. All the pieces were there for the Dynasty to capture a Stage 2 playoff spot, but they had a hand in sabotaging their chances once again.
- London Spitfire
The London Spitfire had all the tools to make it back to the Stage finals but there were a few small factors that made them more vulnerable this time around. For one, Birdring and Profit did not look comfortable against the Philadelphia Fusion in the semi-finals. This was not the same DPS duo who stole the spotlight against Houston and New York in the Stage 1 playoffs. The Fusion’s DPS cast of Carpe, EOD, and Snillo outplayed their counterparts in nearly every category and that made all the difference in their 3-2 victory over London.
The main problem with the Spitfire in Stage 2 appeared to correlate with the coach’s decision to divide the roster into a Team A and Team B lineup. Right away, this told the rest of the OWL teams what London expected from them depending on which team they used against you. Team A consisted of the former GC Busan (Overwatch APEX) players that London originally signed at the start of OWL: Profit, Gesture, Hooreg, HaGoPeun, WOOHYAL, and Closer. That means three of the players who helped London win the Stage 1 Championship were demoted to Team B: Birdring, Nus, and Bdosin.
After experimenting with this A/B team set all through Stage 2, it was simply too late for London to fix things when the Philadelphia Fusion took them down in the stage playoffs. I expect London to abandon this strategy and go back to the basics with what worked in their dominant Stage 1 run.
- Philadelphia Fusion
The Florida Mayhem may take the ‘Most Improved’ trophy for Stage 2, but the Fusion were just a couple team fights away from upsetting the NYXL empire in the final round. Outside of Fissure on the LA Gladiators, the debut of the Israeli DPS player Josue “EQO” Corona was one of the most impactful moments of Stage 2. EQO has been on the Fusion roster since the start of the Overwatch League but was caught up in the whirlwind of visa problems Philadelphia has dealt with since the preseason and was not available to play until the start of Stage 2. Boasting one of the more wider hero pools out of all the DPS/Flex players in OWL, EQO would help his boost his teammates with his highlight-reel Genji plays and solid off-tank performance on Roadhog.
Let’s not forget the crucial moment that Philadelphia unleashed Swedish Tracer specialist Simon “Snillo” Ekstrom in the mix. While Carpe is an ace on both Tracer and Widowmaker, you could tell Snillo brought a higher level of game sense and mechanical skill from exclusively playing this one DPS hero. Snillo would often be utilized on Escort maps like Hollywood and Route: 66 to be an effective distraction, freeing up Carpe to sit back comfortably and pull off those sick Widowmaker plays.
If I have one hot take to bring to the table in this last Stage 2 Team Notes article, it’s that I think the Fusion need to bring in someone to compete with Fragi for the main tank role. Yes, everyone has noticed his improved ability to not die so much in every team fight, but he still struggles with overextending into the enemy team and out of range of his supports. You can afford to continue working through a team fight if you lose one DPS or an off-tank player. But when you lose your Winston or Reinhardt when trying to attack an objective, that’s the equivalent of losing the armored shell of an actual tank and exposing the crew inside.
I would like to see the Fusion practice those last-minute attacks when pushing the payload, as this seems to be a volatile aspect of their playstyle. There are moments when they proved they can handle the pressure and come in clutch at the last second, but there were plenty of missed opportunities to close-out the series against NYXL in the Stage 2 finals.
- New York Excelsior
After failing to capitalize on a series lead in the Stage 1 finals, NYXL turned the tables on the Philadelphia Fusion in Stage 2 (Courtesy of NYXL on Twitter)
Some might call it poetic justice: being reverse-swept by London in the Stage 1 finals only to reverse-sweep Philadelphia in Stage 2. Whatever analysis you might draw from that exciting stage finals match, you must admit that NYXL are the overwhelming favorites to win the inaugural Overwatch League Championship. Thanks to the improved synergy from their tank line of Janus and Meko, along with Libero’s Widowmaker heroics coming out of nowhere, NYXL was able to complete the comeback in the latter half of what was shaping up to be another heartbreaking loss in the stage finals.
What separates NYXL from the rest of the teams in the Overwatch League is their incredible efficiency when planning for their next opponent. Saebyeolbe said it himself, the biggest factor in Philadelphia’s near-upset of New York in the stage finals was the fact that NYXL were expecting to face the London Spitfire in the stage playoffs. Once the Fusion upset the Spitfire in the semi-finals, it threw the entire team into disarray. This explains why Philadelphia had an easy time building up their 2-0 map lead in the series. The NYXL used the break during halftime to their advantage. They were able to refocus thanks to their brilliant coaching staff and the rally was finished before it even started.
New York is only going to get stronger as they get more experience playing on the Blizzard Arena stage together. This team is in a commanding lead in the overall playoff race with an 18-2 record and +46 map-differential after two stages. To get a better sense of how they stack against the rest of the league, the second-place London Spitfire have a 15-5 record and a +35 map-differential.
In short, NYXL is in complete control of their fate from here on out. Since stage playoff matches don’t count towards the overall record, that means the only teams that have beaten New York so far were London in Week 1 of Stage 2 and Philadelphia in Stage 1 Week 3.
The Excelsior have set the bar for the rest of the league to catch up to, but will anyone be able to compete with this dominant team? Look forward to Stage 3 and all the Overwatch League action that lies ahead!