Los Angeles Gladiators open Stage 4 with win

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Overwatch League Power Rankings -- Stage 4 (4:12)

The Overwatch League returns this week and all the buzz is around the new tank-based meta. Emily Rand joins Phil Murphy to get you up to speed. (4:12)

Los Angeles Gladiators 3 - San Francisco Shock 1

The Los Angeles Gladiators took out the San Francisco Shock with a 3-1 victory to kick off Stage 4 of the Overwatch League on Wednesday at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.

The Gladiators appears to have a solid grasp of the new meta and used the hero introduced on this stage's patch, Brigitte, to its advantage against the Shock. The Gladiators showed flexibility throughout the series by switching between a standard dive composition on Horizon and moving to the new tank heavy lineups for Lijang Tower. The Gladiators had some hiccups along the way, minor miscues like when support Jonas "Shaz" Suovaara's Zenyatta popped Transcendence in response to an Earthshatter that was already blocked by main tank Baek "Fissure" Chan-hyung's Reinhardt in Game 1. Despite some mishaps, though, the hometown team was always one step ahead of its competition.

On the other side, the Shock is enduring some growing pains coming into Stage 4. The young squad went through a coaching change during the break, with head coach Brad Rajani leaving and former Boston Uprising coach Da-hee "Crusty" Park coming in as the new head coach for the Shock. San Francisco is evidently still struggling with inflexibility as it rarely swapped out heroes in response to lineup changes by the Gladiators and, if a switch did come, it was often too late.

The Shock also hardly touched the new hero and tried to stick primarily to what the team was comfortable playing in the previous stages. San Francisco did switch things up some, though, including trying to innovate with support Nikola "sleepy" Andrews on the rarely-seen Ana. No matter what the Shock did, though, the Gladiators had an answer.?

The Los Angeles Gladiators will take on the Dallas Fuel at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, while the San Francisco Shock will face the Seoul Dynasty at 11 p.m. ET later that day.

-- Travis Elliott

Los Angeles Valiant 3 - Seoul Dynasty 2

The Los Angeles Valiant took a close 3-2 victory over the Seoul Dynasty on Wednesday at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.

Dynasty DPS Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun took no prisoners throughout the series, beginning with Game 1 on Blizzard World where he dominated the Valiant on Pharah and Widowmaker. Despite the Game 1 victory, however, the Dynasty had some questionable moments where it lacked coordination, such as support Moon "Gido" Gi-do not using Transcendence during one of the points of Lijiang Tower. Meanwhile, true flex player Ryu "ryujehong" Je-hong continued to play main tank again, something he started to do at the end of Stage 3, to some success, but his lack of familiarity on Reinhardt ended up costing Seoul in the end.

Getting over these new problems while trying to figure out how to utilize Brigitte, or at least play against a good Zarya, are crucial to Seoul's success, as this loss gives control of the Pacific division over to the Valiant, meaning the Dynasty has to shape up fast or struggle in the postseason.

The Valiant, on the other hand, looked solid here and there, utilizing Brigitte and the new team compositions she brings to its advantage. LA still has work to do but, overall, looked to build on the momentum it gained during Stage 3.

Valiant off-tank Indy "Space" Halpern was crucial to the team's win Wednesday and dominated the tie-breaker on Nepal as Zarya, maintaining high energy and giving his frontline room to operate. Winning this series was significant for the Valiant as it needs as many wins as possible to try and reach the final playoffs stage of the Inaugural Overwatch season. Now that it stands at the top of the Pacific division, the Valiant controls its own fate.

The Dynasty will take on the San Francisco Shock at 11 p.m. ET on Friday, while the Los Angeles Valiant look for a strong finish to the week by taking on the Shanghai Dragons at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday.

-- Steven Nguyen

Dallas Fuel 3 - Shanghai Dragons 1

The Dallas Fuel took a 3-1 victory over the Shanghai Dragons on Wednesday at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.

Looking to finally get its first victory in the Overwatch League, Shanghai tank duo Kim "Geguri" Se-yeon and Lee "Fearless" Eui-seok were incredible forces in the front lines on King's Row on D.Va and Winston, respectively. Geguri hunted down threats while simultaneously being steadfast and stubborn to stay on the control point or payload, while Fearless's dives created opportunities for his DPS to shine.

The Dragons looked dominant as it took King's Row by storm, but that momentum quickly evaporated. The same flaws that have plagued this team since Stage 1 showed in full, as Shanghai had poor ultimate economy management and looked unable to adapt to what Dallas was doing. It's unfortunate for Shanghai that it couldn't get it together against the team directly above it in the standings, as the road ahead only gets tougher from here as it hopes to win at least one series in what has been a disastrous first year for the Dragons.

The Fuel looked somewhat good in this series win, but that's not saying much in that it's still the Dragons, the 0-31 sweethearts of the OWL. One of the key differences between the two teams in this one was how both teams handled the new hero Brigitte, with the Dragons struggling immensely.

Constantly diving into a Brigitte is just asking to lose, and Dallas flex Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod meted out that fate to Shanghai in the latter half of the series. Dallas definitely came out on top due to its understanding of the new meta, mainly using Brigitte, but still needs to prove that it can compete with other teams. With a change in coaching staff, and realistically nothing left to lose as the Fuel are eliminated from the playoffs at this point, look for Dallas to go out in a blaze of glory.

The Fuel will face off against against the Los Angeles Gladiators at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, while the Dragons will return to the stage to face off against the Los Angeles Valiant at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday night.

-- Steven Nguyen