Houston beats Philly to keep playoff hopes alive

Overwatch League Power Rankings: Stage 4, Week 4 (4:41)

After occupying the top spot for much of the season, the New York Excelsior have fallen from their perch following a 1-1 week. Who is the new No. 1? (4:41)

Houston Outlaws 3 - Philadelphia Fusion 1

The Houston Outlaws beat the Philadelphia Fusion in a 3-1 victory on Thursday at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.

With the victory over Philadelphia, the Outlaws inched closer to an appearance in both the Stage 4 and season playoffs. The Fusion took the first map, Blizzard World, but everything turned up aces for Houston after that.

Star DPS Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin played exceptionally well for the Outlaws despite struggling in Widowmaker duels with Philadelphia DPS Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok. LiNkzr even flexed over to Brigitte on Lijiang Tower to help keep the Fusion off-balance. Off-tank Matthew "coolmatt" Iorio also played a big role in the Outlaws' victory with his aggressive D.Va playstyle: His dives into the Fusion's back line with help from main tank Austin "Muma" Wilmot's Winston often resulted in coolmatt picking off the support players amidst the chaos.

The Outlaws still has a difficult road to the stage playoffs, but Houston looks to be heating up at just the right time.

The Fusion, on the other hand, looks like a shadow of the team that went to the Stage 2 grand finals and missed a chance to lock up the final season playoff spot. Main tank Kim "Sado" Su-min was often overaggressive on both offense and defense as Winston, leaping into the Outlaws' backline only to be collapsed on and killed in a position where he could not be resurrected. The Fusion was completely reliant on Carpe to carry the game, but once the Outlaws began to target him, the rest of the Fusion couldn't rise to the occasion.

The Outlaws will try to keep its playoff dreams alive against the New York Excelsior at 7 p.m. ET on Friday. Meanwhile, the Fusion tries hold on to its playoff spot against the London Spitfire at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.

While the Fusion is still in the season playoff picture for now, Houston could edge out Philadelphia with a win over New York and a Fusion loss to London.

-- Travis Elliott

London Spitfire 4 - Florida Mayhem 0

The London Spitfire celebrated its berth to the inaugural Overwatch League season playoffs with a 4-0 win over the Florida Mayhem on Thursday at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.

London had locked up its playoff spot based on map differential going into this matchup, but the Spitfire didn't let up against the second-worst team in the Overwatch League. Every map went the Spitfire's way -- except perhaps Game 3 on Oasis, which saw the Spitfire drop the University stage -- and it was clear to see why London was better than Florida. From a superior DPS duo in Park "Profit" Joon-yeong and Kim "birdring" Ji-hyeok, who far outclassed their respective Mayhem counterparts, to a dominating performance from the frontline, Florida didn't stand a chance. That's not even to mention the London support duo, which played exceptionally well -- but given their competition, it's not exactly difficult to earn praise.

There might be some cause for concern in that the Spitfire played somewhat sloppily at points, but it was more than enough to get the job done.

On the other side of this one-sided series was Florida, which simply failed to impress throughout the match. None of the Mayhem's strategies seemed particularly effective, with its only bright moments coming from the Spitfire getting overconfident and playing carelessly. The Mayhem did get stage time for some of its bench players, main tank Johan "CWoosH" Klingestedt and flex Joonas "zappis" Alakurtti, but as it approaches a disappointing 11th-place finish in the first OWL season, all the Mayhem can boast is that it's better than the winless Shanghai Dragons -- and that's not saying much.

The Mayhem will finish the season against the Boston Uprising at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, while the Spitfire takes on the Philadelphia Fusion in a match with huge playoff implications for several teams at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.

-- Noah Waltzer

Boston Uprising 3 - New York Excelsior 1

The Boston Uprising scored a huge 3-1 win over the New York Excelsior on Thursday night in Burbank, California. With the win, the Uprising can lock up a preferential third seed in the season playoffs with a win in its next match.

While Boston became the first team this year to beat New York in regulation, it's hard to say whether this series result was more Boston stepping up or New York dropping the ball, as there are valid arguments for both sides.

As usual, the Uprising benefitted from a big carry performance from DPS Kwon "Striker" Nam-joo, but he certainly wasn't alone. Returning to the starting lineup, support Park "Neko" Se-hyeon provided much needed stability to the team, while Striker's DPS partner Stanislav "Mistakes" Danilov put in work as Brigitte and Tracer, among other picks, and really came into his own in the second half.

With a good understanding of how to play different team compositions to great degree, and with a great reactionary playstyle, Boston put on a show by smashing New York in three straight maps after Game 1, but one has to put an asterisk by New York for this subpar outing.

Some fans might be sick of hearing it by this point, but it cannot be stressed enough that the New York Excelsior do not seem to be playing to its full potential. It seems like ever since the NYXL locked up the No. 1 seed in the season playoffs, it has taken its foot off the gas, relying on its abundance of raw mechanical talent to pick up wins.

Whether it was MVP favorite Bang "JJoNak" Sung-hyeon's poor Transcendence uses and unwillingness to engage from teamfights or Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong-yeol and Kim "Libero" Hae-seong playing each other's signature heroes instead of their own, it seemed as though New York was simply acting as though this was an exhibition.

New York may not be too fazed by this loss, but one has to wonder if this team is losing a bit of momentum heading into the season playoffs this July as the losses pile up.

The NYXL will complete its regular season against the Houston Outlaws in a match with major playoff implications for the latter at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, while Boston will finish its season against the hapless Florida Mayhem at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday.

-- Noah Waltzer