Houston Outlaws wins 3-2 in thrilling series against London Spitfire

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Houston Outlaws 3 - London Spitfire 2

The Houston Outlaws took down the London Spitfire 3-2 to start the teams' Stage 2 campaign in the Overwatch League on Thursday at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.

Houston started Stage 1 slow, not getting a win until Week 2. In Stage 2, however, the Green Wall didn't waste any time warming up against the Stage 1 champions in the Spitfire. Neither team found a decisive advantage in the first half, fighting back and forth across Volskaya Industries and Nepal to a 1-1 scoreline. But Houston had DPS Jake "Jake" Lyon and Jiri "LINkzr" Masalin on its side, and the two complimented each other perfectly by cycling through standard heroes like Tracer and Genji to other picks like Junkrat and Hanzo, respectively.

For London, it was the tanks that flexed around, with off-tank Kim "Fury" Junho's D.Va adjusting priorities on which Houston DPS to isolate with the character changes while main tank Hong "Gesture" Jae-hee used Winston to considerable effect, whether it was protecting his team or diving into the Houston lineup.

After splitting the first half of the series, King's Row looked like the turning point in the series. The Outlaws smashed through the Spitfire's defense for a commanding win and looked poised to take the victory, but London bounced back to force a Game 5. But Houston wanted revenge for its Stage 1 semifinal loss, and the Outlaws ripped the victory right out of the Spitfire's hands in dominant fashion.

Houston's next opponent will be the Boston Uprising at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, while London prepares for a rematch of the Stage 1 finals against the New York Excelsior at 7 p.m. ET on Friday.

-- Steven Nguyen

New York Excelsior 3 - Florida Mayhem 1

After a chaotic series Thursday, New York Excelsior took home a 3-1 victory against a reborn Florida Mayhem at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.

After losing the Stage 1 Finals to the London Spitfire, New York certainly started out Stage 2 in a precarious position, losing its support, Hong "ArK" Jeon-joon, for this series because of an injured wrist. That forced tank Kim "Mano" Dong-gyu to swap into the support role in a burdensome match against Florida. Having played flex support in the past, Mano looked uneasy to start but eventually found his groove, reserving his ultimates for critical junctures to protect the team.

It wasn't just Mano who took a bit to settle in, though, as the whole team looked out of sorts at times, likely due to the fact the injured support had taken on the majority of the shotcalling for his squad prior to his absence. The usually stout New York squad made puzzling errors as a result, in particular during Lijiang Tower in Map 2, which led to a Florida Mayhem map win.

NYXL DPS Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong-yeol seemed to step up his game on Tracer in an effort to bring a bit of order back to the team, tallying 44 kills on the Florida supports, stymieing any chance at success for the Mayhem during major teamfights later in the series. Saebyeolbe's accomplishments were hard-earned, as Florida gave New York a tough matchup on the first three maps that belied its 1-9 record from the previous split. While it's just one game, Mayhem DPS Andreas "Logix" Berghmans seemingly turned the corner and made a significant impact for Florida. Despite all of the improvements that Florida seems to have made, though, the team was still not consistent enough to take down the Stage 1 runner-ups.

Next up, New York gets a rematch against the Stage 1 champions, London Spitfire, at 7 p.m. ET on Friday. Florida Mayhem gets another shot at its first Stage 2 win this week against the Philadelphia Fusion at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.

-- Steven Nguyen

Philadelphia Fusion 4 - Boston Uprising 0

Philadelphia Fusion kicked off its run in Stage 2 with a 4-0 win over the Boston Uprising on Thursday at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.

With star DPS Georgii "ShaDowBurn" Gushcha not taking the stage in this series, conventional wisdom said that Philadelphia should have struggled against Boston, which swept the Fusion just two weeks ago. With DPS Josue "Eqo" Corona taking ShaDowBurn's place, however, the Fusion threw conventional wisdom right out the window from the start.

Playing in his first Overwatch League series, Eqo looked like a seasoned veteran with how he moved around the map, cutting down members of the Uprising with ease. His play on Genji was particularly on point, as he always seemed to have his Dragonblade at the perfect time to weave in and out of teamfights and give Philadelphia the edge.

That's not to say that this sweep came easy, however. Boston made Philadelphia fight for every inch, pushing almost every map to the brink. This was especially true on Hollywood, where it took herculean effort from Fusion DPS Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok to close out the map. The Uprising battled tough to not only get three points of its own on the offense but put up a strong hold on defense to put the Fusion's win in doubt. With the Fusion backed into a corner, Carpe pulled out his Widowmaker and racked up a flurry of six kills in under 30 seconds to give his team the final point and force an overtime that his team easily locked up.

While the Fusion's Eqo and Carpe were surely the stars of this win, there were no shortage of strong plays from every position in this all-around team win. From main tank Joona "fragi" Laine's great use of the now-meta Reinhardt and support Alberto "Neptuno" Gonzalez Molinillo's high-powered Lucio, Philadelphia looks like a new and improved team and is off to a strong start.

Philadelphia will look to make it 2-0 on the week when it takes on the Florida Mayhem at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, while Boston will try and pick up a win against the Houston Outlaws in the next game at 6 p.m. ET.

-- Wyatt Donigan