By Steven Toroni
In a week that saw a lot of controversy away from the virtual battlefield, there were many upsets in an otherwise chaotic Week Three in the Overwatch League. Felix “xQc” Lengyel was released from the Dallas Fuel Sunday after multiple suspensions (Friday, March 9 being the most recent) for breaking league conduct, using inappropriate language and racial slurs on social media. Other players on the Dallas Fuel like Timo “Taimou” Kettunen could be following in xQc’s footsteps as he has been fined with a suspension looming for using anti-gay slurs, according to the Overwatch League website.
With adversity facing the first-ever professional American Overwatch League, the teams went out and put on a show in Week Three. The London Spitfire and the Houston Outlaws both had losses to the Los Angeles Gladiators and the Los Angeles Valiant respectively. Both L.A. teams are making a push in the standings. The Valiant seem to be a lock for the Top 6 in the Overwatch League which would earn themselves a playoff spot, while the Gladiators are hovering around .500. The Gladiators could challenge the Boston Uprising and the Philadelphia Fusion for the sixth slot, especially with such a substantial win over the reigning Overwatch League Champions, the London Spitfire.
Week Four Projections
Los Angeles Valiant
The Houston Outlaws made it to the final in Stage 1 and have gained a reputation as one of the more powerful teams in the Overwatch League. But the Los Angeles Valiant are hitting their stride in Stage 2 and have found a winning formula. In Week Three, Los Angeles took down Houston, led by Terence “So0n” Tarlier as Tracer who racked up 83 eliminations and just 24 deaths. So0n contributed to a whopping 39,897 hero damage inflicted in this match and the Valiant would win in decisive fashion, 4-0. Both teams used the two-tank meta that featured a Tracer for the majority of the match.
Tracers have been a standard in lineups for Stage 2 as she is the second most-used hero, with D.Va being the first. With Tracers being the lead dog in the current fast-paced meta, it is important for teams to have a strong player using this hero and even more crucial to figure out which hero will accompany the Tracer in their attack. Young-Seo “Kariv” Bak was used as a flex against the Outlaws and used heroses such as Reaper and Pharah to support the offensive charge successfully. The Valiant should stick to this strategy against the Florida Mayhem on Wednesday (while using Mercy/Lucio and Zenyatta for support), but look for them to rely on So0n for other duties against the Boston Uprising in Week Four. Boston is one of the fastest and potentially most explosive teams in the league, so L.A. may need one of their stronger players in So0n to take a more varied role with a Pharah or even Junkrat to provide a more destructive presence.
The Dallas Fuel have been an underachieving squad in the Overwatch League with an insanely talented Roster. Players like xQc, Taimou, and Jonathon “Harryhook” Tejedor Rua are extremely talented individually, but have only put together a 5-11 record through eight weeks of play in the OWL. Their whole team will look a lot different moving forward as a result of xQc being banned and potential suspensions to follow. They are coming off a loss to the Florida Mayhem, who achieved their first win of Stage 2 (second overall). Behind the brilliant play of Kevin “TVIQ” Lindstrom with Tracer, the Mayhem were able to escape with a 3-2 victory in Week Three. TVIQ had 52 eliminations with 22 Final Blows as Tracer, but he spent a lot of time using Genji as well.
The most common meta in the current Overwatch League is two supports, two tanks, a Tracer, and a flex. Florida uses TVIQ as Tracer mainly, but he does switch to other heroes often. When he does, it is Andreas “Logix” Berghmans who usually fulfills Tracer duties. Florida will play both Los Angeles teams in Week Four, who are coming off very successful Week Three performances. The Valiant run a very similar style to the Mayhem so watch for Florida to try and keep Logix and TVIQ on a constant rotation since they will not be able to out-Tracer So0n with one player.
The Gladiators play a much more unpredictable style and Florida will have to adjust on the fly. The Mayhem may be forced to do things they do not want to do depending on what the Gladiators do, but running a Moira instead of a Mercy could help boost everyone’s offense without sacrificing speed. This slight adjustment, paired with in-game counters could give the Mayhem a chance against the Gladiators as Florida will try and keep the winning momentum going.
Los Angeles Gladiators
The Gladiators are coming off of a thrilling victory against the OWL champion London Spitfire. London, who always gives opponents fits with constant lineup changes, started the Week Three matchup with Los Angeles with a more traditional meta (Tracer, two tanks/two support), but then switched to a three-tank lineup. They started the match off with one of their best players, Ji-Hyeok “Birdring” Kim as a reserve, but once they were down 2-0 he entered the contest in a flex role. The Gladiators got up to the big lead with a Soldier:76/Tracer combination that has proven to be lethal in Stage 2. Before London knew what hit them, they were down two games. When they did switch to three tanks, the Gladiators were prepared and withstood the defensive strategy with a Junkrat creating havoc while a Widowmaker weakened the tanks from outside of the action.
The Gladiators are coming off of two wins last week as they also won the battle of L.A. and smoked the Valiant 4-0. They will face Houston in Week Four and should continue to shake things up during games to keep the Outlaws on their toes. Look for them to start off with a Tracer/Soldier:76 combo to try and get off to a fast lead against a tough Houston squad. Joao “Hydration” Pedro will most likely switch between Soldier: 76 and Genji to back up the Tracer. If they can establish the lead early, look for L.A. to throw different heroes out there, including Hanzo and Orisa for a more defensive approach.