By Steven Toroni
Stage 2, Week Five is upon us. It is the final week of Stage 2, with title matches still to be determined. The winner of both title matches in Stage 1, the London Spitfire, have been vulnerable at times in Stage 2, but are gearing up to defend their Overwatch League Championship. The entire league is making their last push in Week Five to prove they are worthy of the OWL glory of the playoffs, set to begin in June.
After the two title matches there will be two more stages that will run for five weeks each. These will determine the six finalists for playoff competition that will lead up to the very first OWL Grand Final. Each game is important in the final week of Stage 2, regardless if a team has a chance at a title shot this time around. This will be the final week of Stage 2 before a one week break, which may disrupt some of the momentum that teams have built up over the past few weeks.
Let’s take a look at those teams that have built a solid chemistry in Stage 2 and look to make a final push at a title match, while solidifying themselves as a premier team in the OWL.
Stage 2: Week Five Projections
New York Excelsior
New York lost an epic title match in Stage 1 to the London Spitfire, but have been the best team in the OWL in Stage 2. They proved this in Week Four in a tight victory over the Seoul Dynasty, who had an opportunity to close the gap between themselves and the first place Excelsior. Both teams came out aggressive and displayed fast-paced offense that opened up the match in pure chaos. Seoul and New York both started off with the most common meta that has formulated over the last few weeks in the OWL which is a Tracer/Soldier:76 combination with two supports (Zenyatta and Lucio, in this case) and two tanks (Winston and D.Va).
It was New York that made the first prominent adjustment in map one as Hae-Song “Libero” Kim switched to Genji and Yeon-Jun “Ark” Hong decided to run Ana instead of Lucio. The switch forced a change on Seoul’s end, but New York was able to prevail with this lineup.
Part of what makes New York so successful, and what made things difficult for the now third-place Seoul Dynasty, is that Ark and Seong-Hyun “Jjonak” Bang makeup the best support combination in the league, which in turn boosts the skill level and productivity of the entire team. New York should stick with a Tracer and two tanks in Week Five. They do not need to get cute as they will be participating in at least one title match this coming weekend. Libero will provide flex duties and could gravitate towards Junkrat or Pharah if they end up playing a team like London that could use a disruptive Widowmaker.
Before they make it to the title match, New York will be playing a strong Los Angeles Valiant squad that likes to run a similar meta, but can be a little unpredictable with their lineups (honestly, who runs a Doomfist?). But, look for the Excelsior to stick with their guns with S:76 and Tracer with their dominant support team.
Boston will not be competing in a title match in Stage 2 in all likelihood. But, they have done a very nice job of solidifying themselves as a legitimate contender to make the OWL playoffs. In a close match against the Valiant, Jonathan “DreamKazper” Sanchez out-performed Brady “Agilities” Girardi as Pharah in the skies at Ilios to give Boston the 3-2 victory over L.A. The Uprising are now seventh in the standings in the OWL, but teams like the Houston Outlaws have slipped in recent weeks. The Uprising are a talented group that can surely take advantage of other teams mistakes and could make their way into the Top 6 when the playoffs begin.
Boston has an opportunity in Week Five to win both matches against the San Fransisco Shock and the Los Angeles Gladiators . Both teams like to throw out a variety of lineups as they make adjustments early and often during competition. Like New York, the Uprising like to stick with one player at Tracer and Nam-Ju “STRIKER” Gwon is one of the best in the OWL. Expect Boston to not stray away from the duties of Tracer with STRIKER at the helm. But, they will have to adjust constantly against these two teams and it will be DreamKazper who will need to step-up and lead Boston to victory as they look to end Stage 2 on a high note.
Things would not get any easier after their loss to the New York Excelsior, as Seoul would have to take on the London Spitfire on Day Four of Week Five. London would go up two games to zero after both teams started off with a traditional meta as that described with New York and Boston. But, as Seoul saw themselves in a desperate scenario they switched to three tanks to try and hold off the London offensive onslaught. The more defensive approach slowed London down but it could not contain them for very long. Seoul did a very good job of adjusting, but the overall talent of London was just too much to handle.
Seoul will face the Houston Outlaws and the Florida Mayhem in Week Five and if they win both it will almost guarantee them a chance at a title match. Many thought that they should have made it to such a feet in Stage 1, but they fell short and it was Houston who took their spot. Now, with a chance at redemption, look for the Dynasty to return to a two-tank meta and attempt to start off fast against Houston. Their match will start at Hanamura where Byung-Sung “FLETA” Kim would benefit from running Widowmaker while Sang-Beom “Munchkin” Byun will lead the offensive charge as Tracer. If Seoul can make it to a title match, they have a great chance of winning the $125,000 prize and establishing themselves as one of the best teams in the OWL.