Los Angeles Valiant tops Dallas Fuel, improves to 4-0 in Stage 3

play
Overwatch League Power Rankings through 4/9 (5:02)

With Stage 3 of the Overwatch League officially underway, Emily Rand joins Victoria Arlen look at some surprising additions to the top five. (5:02)

Los Angeles Valiant 2 - Dallas Fuel 1

The Los Angeles Valiant kicked off Friday's action with a nail-biting 2-1 victory over the Dallas Fuel at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.

Coming into Stage 3, both teams looked to be in dire straits and in need of desperate retooling. While the Fuel's addition of main tank Son "OGE" Min-seok has only begun to pay dividends for Dallas, the Valiant's new roster has soared and came into this series with a 12-map win streak. While that streak was broken in a hard-fought tie on Volskaya Industries, a map that the Dallas Fuel has had plenty of historical success on dating back to its days as Team EnVyUs, the Valiant showed few signs of slowing down in the series victory.

The Valiant fired on all cylinders after going down 1-0 at the half, and Los Angeles picked up decisive wins on Ilios and Route 66. While DPS Terrence "SoOn" Tarlier was a menace on Tracer and other hitscan picks, the Los Angeles frontline carved a path of destruction through the Fuel, led by off-tank Indy "SPACE" Halpern. What really put the Valiant over the top wasn't individual carry performances, though, but flexibility and mid-game adaptability. The Valiant changed up playstyles on the fly and used multiple compositions to stymie the one-dimensional Fuel. The Valiant's upcoming schedule only gets tougher from here, but this team has shown great improvement since Stage 2 and is 4-0 overall in Stage 3 for a reason.

On the other side of things, the Fuel started to come out of its shell so to speak and fielded a variety of DPS lineups throughout the series. Still, the Fuel's successes came largely from DPS Hyeon "EFFECT" Hwang and his Tracer skills, which is typical of Dallas. Dallas showed a new proficiency with diving but got picked apart by a more practiced team in the Valiant. It's hard to tell whether the Fuel is making significant improvements or not, but with the end of the season approaching and Dallas dropping crucial games down the stretch, the Fuel's playoff hopes look grim.

The Valiant now prepares for the Battle for Los Angeles against the Los Angeles Gladiators at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, while the Fuel takes to the stage against the San Francisco Shock at 9 p.m. ET that same day.

-- Noah Waltzer

San Francisco Shock 3 - Shanghai Dragons 1

The San Francisco Shock outlasted a feisty Shanghai Dragons team in a 3-1 series win Friday at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.

With the Shock playing without its main shotcaller in main tank Matthew "super" DeLisi due to an illness, it looked as though this was finally Shanghai's time to pick up its ever-elusive first win in the Overwatch League. It almost looked as though it would finally come to pass, as Shanghai came incredibly close to sending the series to a fifth game, but the Shock made one final stand on Junkertown to pick up a much-needed win.

Despite dropping yet another series, it was clear that Shanghaihas made plenty of strides with this new-look roster in Stage 3. Whereas the team had clear communication issues throughout most of the first two weeks, all six members of the Dragons looked to be on the same page in this series. Ultimates were perfectly layered, and the pushes were far more coordinated than they were in previous weeks. Instead of relentless diving into the enemy backline after losing a few members of the team, the Dragons held back and waited to regroup -- and came out on top of more teamfights as a result.

Moreover, the DPS duo of Weida "Diya" Lu and Chon "Ado" Gi-hyeon looked as dangerous as ever, as the two went toe-to-toe with the Shock's pair of Dante "Danteh" Cruz and Jay "sinatraa" Won. A win may not have been in the cards Friday night, but this Dragons team is certainly on the rise.

On the opposite side of the equation, the Shock looked fairly solid considering that it was playing without its main tank in this series. Super's absence was plainly felt in terms of the team's overall cohesion, as it looked somewhat disjointed in a lot of its pushes throughout the series. With sinatraa leading the way for the Shock's attack, however, the team had enough to overcome the Dragons. Still, the Shock is surely hoping that super can get back into action as soon as possible when it faces tougher competition.

The San Francisco Shock will look to make it two straight against the Dallas Fuel at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday, while the Shanghai Dragons will continue searching for its first win when it takes on the vaunted Seoul Dynasty in the next match at 11 p.m. ET.

-- Wyatt Donigan

Los Angeles Gladiators 3 - Seoul Dynasty 2

The Los Angeles Gladiators edged out the Seoul Dynasty with a 3-2 victory to close out the final weekday slate of games at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.

The Gladiators have proven it's a team still capable of a title run despite an embarrassing loss to the San Francisco Shock in Week 1 by taking down the Seoul Dynasty and ruining its undefeated streak on Blizzard World in the process.

The Gladiators opted not to make any substitutions throughout the entire series and stuck to the DPS duo of Joao Pedro "Hydration" Goes Telles and Lane "Surefour" Roberts, which left DPS player and Tracer specialist Choi "Asher" Joon-seong on the bench. This decision paid dividends for the Gladiators as Hydration and Surefour each came up with a game-winning play at different junctures of the series. Hydration's RIP-Tires blew through the Dynasty on Blizzard World to even the series before halftime, and Surefour's hooks as Roadhog kept Seoul playing a man down on the overtime map, Oasis, and helped seal the game for the Gladiators.

The Seoul Dynasty has seen better days, meanwhile. It's been handed its second loss in as many weeks for the first time since the fourth week of Stage 2. The Dynasty has made some roster changes recently, such as starting mid-season support addition Heo "Gambler" Jin-woo over longtime starting support player Yang "Tobi" Jin-mo. This transition has been rough for fellow starting support Ryu "Ryujehong" Je-hong as he and Tobi have built up an incredible synergy over years of playing together.

The lack of synergy manifested itself several times throughout this series as the supports kept stacking their ultimate abilities, effectively squandering multiple advantages over the Gladiators in crucial moments. To make matters worse for the team, star DPS player Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun left the game early with an undisclosed illness and did not return, forcing an unexpected change in the DPS duo for the Dynasty.

The Los Angeles Gladiators will look to take down its cross-town rival, the Los Angeles Valiant, at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Seoul Dynasty will get a bit of a breather as it tries to stave off the Shanghai Dragons later that same day at 11 p.m. ET.

-- Travis Elliot