Stage 2 of the Overwatch League is underway and that means the race for the playoffs has begun once again. While some teams are patiently awaiting the arrival of their new players acquired during the free agency period following Stage 1, it was the Dallas Fuel who captured the headlines in its hopeful trek back towards postseason relevancy following a disastrous start to the season. After falling to 1-7 and a loss away from being bottom of the entire table, the once predicted title contender has reshaped its identity, welcoming a pair of new faces at the DPS role and an old friend at the main tank position to bring itself back into the playoff hunt.
Dallas in on the rise, but it's not the best team in Texas. For the first time in the Overwatch League Power Rankings, an all-South Korean squad is not on top.
Houston, we have lift off.
1. Houston Outlaws
It's impossible to keep the Outlaws from the top spot following its blistering pace over the past month of play. After starting the season 0-2, Houston has only lost a single regular season match, and that was to the Seoul Dynasty in a close 3-2 series that lacked the Outlaws best DPS player, Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin, due to illness. Outside of that one series, Houston has been near unstoppable, rolling through opponents to accrue the highest amount of map wins of any team in Overwatch League. A decisive win over London, the team to knock Houston out of the Stage 1 playoffs, coupled with a shaky week from a shorthanded New York makes the Outlaws an easy choice at the top spot.
2. London Spitfire
The Spitfire went .500 on the week, winning one series 3-2 and losing one series 3-2, but the Stage 1 champion will take it with the opposition it was dealt. After beating both the Houston Outlaws and NYXL in the Stage 1 playoffs, the Spitfire played the the same gauntlet to start Stage 2, and it was another neck and neck race with both teams. When it comes to the top three teams in the league, it's as close as it can get, and for this week, London was the litmus test. It lost to Houston (#1) and beat New York (#3), so it sits between them in a comfortable second spot with a much easier schedule on the horizon.
3. New York Excelsior
It might be unfair to knock down the NYXL all the way to third, seeing as the team had to use a makeshift roster following Hong "Ark" Yeon-joon needing to sit out because of injury and forcing tank star Kim "Mano" Dong-gyu on Lucio duty for the week, but the supports weren't even the main cause of concern. Mano, pushed onto the Lucio, actually did more than an admirable job on the hero, and it was more of a lack of strength in the depleted tank line that tripped up the XL. Song "Janus" Jun-hwa did not bring the same impact on Winston as Mano did in Stage 1, and London took advantage of the shortened XL bench to pick up another five-set victory over New York.
4. Seoul Dynasty
The rumors of Seoul's demise turned out to be greatly exaggerated. The Mercy meta is gone, Seoul is back to playing Lucio in its main composition, and that means the "Boop God" himself, Yang "Tobi" Jin-mo, is back in his comfort zone. After slumping the final weeks of Stage 1 and missing the playoffs completely, Seoul came into Stage 2 looking like the title favorite it was built to be, beating the San Francisco Shock 3-1 and sweeping the Los Angeles Valiant to reassert itself among the elite of the Overwatch League.
5. Philadelphia Fusion
Well, that happened. Philadelphia was the quintessential gatekeeper in Stage 1, representing either the best bad team in Overwatch League or worst good team in the Overwatch League. The Fusion finished Stage 1 with a positive match record but a negative map differential, and along with huge wins over the likes of NYXL while struggling against the weakest teams in the league, it was impossible to rank the boys from Philadelphia. The debut of Genji specialist Josh "Eqo" Corona could not have gone better for the Israeli native or Philadelphia, the Fusion burning through the Boston Uprising and Florida Mayhem to be the only team remaining without a map loss in Stage 2. It would be too reactionary to put the Fusion any higher, but another week of improved play could lead Philadelphia to have the same trajectory as Houston has been on in recent weeks.
6. Los Angeles Valiant
It wasn't a hallmark return to the Overwatch League for the Valiant. LA's marquee win of Stage 1 was its win over the Seoul Dynasty in a game that all but eliminated the league favorite from the quarterly playoffs, and Seoul came right back in the first week of Stage 2 with a dominant sweep to regain its pride. A win over the Shanghai Dragons keeps the Valiant in the upper-half of the rankings, though a trip up against either San Francisco or Dallas could see the Valiant outside the top six for the first time this season.
7. Dallas Fuel
Is it too soon to say Dallas is back? The Fuel is now on a four-game victory streak, and the return of Félix "xQc" Lengyel brought back the fun and aggressive identity the team was sorely lacking through Stage 1. A pair of decisive wins over Shanghai and the Los Angeles Gladiators isn't going to take Dallas into the top five of the rankings, but it's a start, and after a 1-7 start to the season, the Fuel fans couldn't ask for much more optimism heading into the next slew of games. A win over either Seoul or the Valiant next week could propel the Fuel even higher in the standings. And if Dallas sweeps them both? We might be looking at the top five for the Fuel who is closing in on the .500 mark.
8. Boston Uprising
Let's just rebrand Boston as the Boston Chaos. This team has no rhyme or reason. At least with Stage 1 Philadelphia you knew, regardless of opponent, it would be a close game, win or lose. It was easy to rank the Fusion right in the middle between the good and bad teams. Boston? One week the team plays like a title contender, and then we get weeks like this, where it goes 0-8 in both matches and deservedly slides down the rankings. I'm excited for next week when Boston beats the NYXL and continues its unpredictable run in the Overwatch League.
9. Los Angeles Gladiators
Baek "Fissure" Chan-hyung was a massive acquisition for the Gladiators in the free agency period, but that doesn't mean it isn't going to take time for the elite South Korean tank player to mesh with his new teammates on Los Angeles. The Gladiators with Fissure took care of San Francisco in a one-sided shellacking and then lost to the surging Fuel, leaving us at the same position LAG has been in for the past month: a clear tier above the bottom three teams, but no marquee victory to set itself apart from the other teams in the competition.
10. San Francisco Shock
Outside of our bottom two teams, we've reached a point in the Overwatch League where it isn't too shocking to see a bottom team give even the best all-South Korean squad a tough matchup. The Shock did just that in its latest series with the Seoul Dynasty, and although I'm going to keep talking about how San Francisco is just waiting for mid-March when two of its underage players can finally play in the league, it is good to see the Shock improve week after week even without grabbing a shiny free agent in the offseason. But really, only about a month away until Jay "Sinatraa" Won can play. Get excited, San Francisco.
11. Florida Mayhem
If this was the NBA or NFL, this is where I would discuss the top college prospects or amateur players out in the world the Florida Mayhem could look at to draft with its first or second pick in the Overwatch League draft. Unfortunately for the Mayhem, there really is no benefit to being one of the worst teams in the league, and at 1-11 with little improvement over the course of the season, all it can really do is hope that the incoming signings from South Korea are what the team needs to pick up at least a few wins in the standings.
12. Shanghai Dragons
Shanghai is still 0-12. The team, like Florida, is waiting for visas to come through so their new acquisitions can come over and play. Next week though might be the team's chance to finally get the "W" it has been searching for all year. San Francisco and the Los Angeles Gladiators should be favored over the winless Dragons, but they aren't automatic wins like earlier in the season when Shanghai was pure cannon fodder.