Dallas Fuel 3 - Los Angeles Gladiators 1
Dallas Fuel finally lived up to some of its preseason expectations with a strong 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Gladiators on Friday during Week 5 of the Overwatch League at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
This may not have been Dallas' first win of the season, but it was surely its most complete one. Sure, it beat the San Francisco Shock 3-0 during Week 3, but that series was quite the struggle despite the final score, and the Fuel's 3-2 win against Shanghai Dragons this week was less than impressive. This time around, though, Dallas played against a stronger opponent and looked more polished than ever before in the OWL.
It all started with DPS star Timo "Taimou" Kettunen in the opening game on Eichenwalde. Whether he was playing with Roadhog or McCree, he was simply electric, helping his team full-hold Los Angeles in a lopsided win. Not to be outdone, Fuel flex player Brandon "Seagull" Larned pulled out Pharah and completely shut down Gladiators rising star Joao Pedro "Hydration" Veloso de Goes Telles. If that wasn't enough, flex tank Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod almost single-handedly gave Dallas the win on Oasis, where the Fuel held the Gladiators to no points on the control map. While Los Angeles might have picked up a win on Dorado in the final game, Dallas' domination in the preceding three matches was more than enough to give the team plenty of confidence moving into Stage 2.
This might have been a nice way for Dallas to send off its rough Stage 1, but it was a less-than-ideal finish for the Gladiators. The inconsistencies that plagued the team all throughout Stage 1 reared their ugly heads and left the team floundering through most of this series. There is plenty to build on, with the aforementioned Hydration being one of the bright spots for the team, but without consistency in Stage 2, the Gladiators could be doomed to being the little sibling to the Los Angeles Valiant for some time to come.
Stage 1 is now complete for both teams, as Dallas and Los Angeles will turn toward the two-week break before Stage 2 gets underway on Feb. 21.
-- Wyatt Donigan
Seoul Dynasty 3 - San Francisco Shock 2
Seoul Dynasty barely squeaked out a 3-2 victory over the San Francisco Shock on Thursday, and the narrow win dashed any hopes the Dynasty had of a playoff appearance in Stage 1.
How the mighty have fallen. Touted as one of, if not the best, teams early in the inaugural Overwatch League season, the Seoul Dynasty seemed like a lock for the Stage 1 playoffs after rolling through the competition in the first half of Stage 1. Since going 5-0 while dropping just two maps in that time, though, Seoul has gone 2-3 while winning just eight maps. Still, the playoffs were in the cards coming into the Dynasty's final game of Stage 1, if Seoul could get a 4-0 sweep over the Shock to keep hope alive. The Shock, though, would not go down without a fight, and dragged the Dynasty down with it.
Seoul managed to eke out a win on Eichenwalde in the opening game, but even that was a slight victory over a fiesty San Francisco squad. Moving over to Temple of Anubis for the next frame, the Dynasty reverted back into the shell of its former self that it's been the past few weeks. Rather than going with the hot hand of DPS Kim "Fleta" Byung-Sun, Seoul subbed in DPS Choi "Wekeed" Seok-Woo, who simply couldn't bring anywhere near the level of damage and presence that the former brought in the opening game. The Shock's DPS core of Andrej "Babybay" Francisty and Dante "Danteh" Cruz ran rampant on a splintered Seoul squad, full-holding its way to a series-tying win.
While the Dynasty managed to salvage of bit of its pride by taking two of the final three maps for the series victory, the damage was already done. Picking up a 3-2 win over a team near the bottom of the standings like the Shock is a cruel consolation prize for a team that was expected to be preparing for the playoffs right now. Instead, it will need to watch from the sidelines and look forward to Stage 2.
Both Seoul and San Francisco wrapped up Stage 1 with this series, and will now have two weeks to prepare for the start of Stage 2 on Feb. 21.
-- Wyatt Donigan
Los Angeles Valiant 4 - Shanghai Dragons 0
The Los Angeles Valiant kept its playoff dreams alive Friday with a 4-0 win against the Shanghai Dragons at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
While the 4-0 record would suggest a one-sided series, the Valiant's early games against the Dragons were anything but, as the Dragons kicked off Game 1 by mounting an epic defense on Numbani, the Valiant's strongest map. Then, once on offense, Shanghai's star DPS player, Weida "Diya" Lu, mounted an exciting offensive campaign as Genji, slicing his way through the Valiant and forcing the game into overtime. Ultimately, though, Shanghai lost because it lacked the coordination Los Angeles had, setting the tone for the night.
Los Angeles needed a 4-0 win to keep alive in the playoff hunt, and the Valiant used some new unorthodox strategies to stay ahead of the Dragons. Los Angeles DPS Terrence "SoOn" Tarlier swapped off of his signature Tracer in favor of a niche Widowmaker on Temple of Anubis in Game 2. SoOn proved to be a one-man army, scoring headshot after headshot and anticipating his opponents' every move. Later on that map, Valiant tank player Lee "Envy" Kang-jae did a quick swap off of D.va to Bastion for an added damage boost that closed out yet another Valiant victory.
The quick thinking and diverse strategies employed by the Valiant paid dividends as it secured the series win, doing all it could to potentially create a playoff berth. At the end of the day, Shanghai simply couldn't match up to the Valiant's superior firepower, stumbling into the end of Stage 1 with a disappointing 0-10 record.
Stage 1 is now complete for Shanghai, which will go on a two-week break before Stage 2 begins. Los Angeles, meanwhile, will earn a playoff berth if the London Spitfire takes one map or fewer off the New York Excelsior in their Saturday matchup or the Boston Uprising beats the Houston Outlaws but doesn't go plus-two in map differential.
-- Tyson Tavolazzi