Just when it looked like the three Korean teams had created a gap between themselves and the West, the Spitfire, Excelsior, and Dynasty all fell in Week 3. Perhaps most surprising was the fact that both the Spitfire’s and Excelsior’s first losses came at the hands of two teams who had been easily overwhelmed by top competition in earlier weeks. NYXL handed the Boston Uprising a 3-1 loss on opening night, while the Spitfire rolled over the Philadelphia Fusion 4-0 just three days later.
But fast forward to Week 3 and it looks like the Western teams could be gaining ground. The Uprising led-off Thursday afternoon with an impressive 5-map victory over the Spitfire, who showed they had no answer for Striker, DreamKazper, and Gamsu that day. In the very next match, it was the Fusion who claimed a 3-2 upset over the Excel thanks to otherworldly performances from Carpe and Shadowburn.
In last week’s Power Rankings, I specifically mentioned that Philadelphia and Boston were two teams to keep an eye on despite their slow starts. While neither the Fusion nor Uprising were performing at the level of say the Dynasty or Valiant in terms of team synergy, each at least proved they are capable of running aggressive dive compositions effectively.
Week 4 is highlighted by a Thursday evening matchup between Seoul and London as both Korean sides will look to avoid a second loss in as many weeks. We’re also getting a handful of clashes between playoff-hopeful teams who are currently sitting around the middle of the table, including: Valiant vs. Fusion (Wednesday); Gladiators vs. Uprising and Dynasty vs. Outlaws (Friday); and Uprising vs. Valiant (Saturday).
This list is an honest attempt at assigning ordinal ranks to the league’s 12 teams based on their recent string of performances. As the season moves forward, a team’s overall record or division rank will not factor into the power rankings as much because they do not necessarily capture the recent form of a team and may not be as useful in predicting short-term performance. All stats are provided courtesy of Winston’s Lab.
1. New York Excelsior | 5-1 | ⇑ 1
If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best – and that’s exactly what the New York Excel did when they took down the Seoul Dynasty 3-2 on Friday night. They didn’t come out of Week 3 completely unscathed, however, as NYXL dropped their Thursday night affair with Philadelphia 3-2. The Excel’s next 3 matches include the lowly Dragons, Fuel, and Mayhem, so they can sit back and relax while hoping for the Dynasty and Spitfire to stumble below them.
Week 4 Opponents: Dragons, Fuel
2. Seoul Dynasty | 5-1 | ⇓ 1
Seoul had a relatively easy schedule to begin Stage One but are currently in the middle of what will likely be the most difficult 4-game stretch of their entire season. After falling to New York Excel on Friday night, the Dynasty will now go up against the Spitfire, Outlaws, and Valiant in their next 3 matches. Nothing really stood out in their loss in terms of a glaring weakness, but the Dynasty really can’t afford to drop another game over this stretch if they expect to challenge for Stage One.
Week 4 Opponents: Spitfire, Outlaws
3. London Spitfire | 5-1 | ⇔
If we give New York the benefit of the doubt for falling to Philly because their matchup with Seoul was looming overhead, we have to be more critical of London. The Spitfire faced a pair of mid-to-lower-tier opponents in San Francisco and Boston in Week 3 and surprised us all when they dropped the latter 3-2. What’s most alarming for London is the fact that they’ve now dropped 4-straight Control Point maps – a game mode that typically favors mechanical proficiency and individual skill over team synergy – to the Valiant, Fuel, Shock, and now the Uprising.
Week 4 Opponents: Dynasty, Dragons
4. Los Angeles Valiant | 4-2 | ⇔
The Valiant rebounded from an 0-2 Week Two with a pair of wins over the Gladiators and Mayhem – the former being a 5-map reverse sweep thriller. I mentioned last week that the Valiant needed to get a more consistent contribution from Agilities in the 2nd DPS role, and he delivered in a big way against the Gladiators. L.A.’s French Connection had uneven performances in Week Three, however, including some extremely spotty Mercy play from Unkoe on the tiebreaker map against the Gladiators. They are still the best Western team in OWL right now with enough talent and teamwork to get by even when one or two players have an off-game. But if the Valiant are to challenge the Korean teams for a spot in the Top-3, players other than Envy and Fate will need to be consistent from week-to-week.
Week 4 Opponents: Fusion, Uprising
5. Philadelphia Fusion | 4-2 | ⇑ 2
Can you imagine how deflating it would have been for Philly had they dropped their Friday night match to Shanghai some 24 hours after delivering New York Excel its first loss of the season? The good news is that the Fusion managed to come away with two wins for the week, jumping both the Gladiators and Outlaws in the process. Shadowburn and Carpe were god-tier once again this week and continue to be one of the most dominant DPS pairings in OWL. The Fusion kick off Week Four with a huge matchup against the Valiant in what should be an exciting display of OWL’s two best Western dive teams.
Week 4 Opponents: Valiant, Fuel
6. Houston Outlaws | 4-2 | ⇓ 1
After dropping their first two matches of the season, the Outlaws have since rattled off 4-straight 4-0 victories over the league’s 3 worst teams and the Gladiators, who themselves haven’t exactly looked like a playoff contender of late. We’ve also yet to see evidence that Houston’s anti-dive tactics (which is admittedly very strong) can measure up with the best dive teams. The Outlaws will take on the Dynasty in Week Four in a matchup that should tell us whether the Green Wall truly belongs in the playoff conversation or if they’ve simply taken advantage of a weak schedule these last two weeks.
Week 4 Opponents: Shock, Dynasty
7. Boston Uprising | 3-3 | ⇑ 2
Much like the Fusion’s Week Three experience, the Boston Uprising nearly fell to the Dallas Fuel just days after handing the London Spitfire their first loss. Close call considered, it’s fairly remarkable how quickly this roster of relatively unknown players has come together to compete at such a high level. It’s also a little bit concerning that we haven’t seen evidence that Boston can run anything other than full-dive, and unlike Dallas, better teams should be able to punish them for that. Predictable or not, opponents are finding Boston difficult to contend with regardless.
Week 4 Opponents: Gladiators, Valiant
8. Los Angeles Gladiators | 2-4 | ⇓ 2
The Gladiators had 3 major advantages coming into the inaugural Overwatch League season: They have a top-tier Pharah player in Hydration for Control Point maps and selective other scenarios; They have one of the best healing tandems in Shaz and BigGoose, and; They were ahead of schedule in developing strong team communication. But Pharah is a situational hero and now that we’re heading into the fourth week, the Gladiators aren’t the only team that got their comms together. L.A.’s DPS is pretty good, but not great. Their tanks are pretty good, but not great. And the Gladiators are pretty good…
But not great.
Week 4 Opponents: Mayhem, Uprising
9. Dallas Fuel | 1-5 | ⇑ 1
Just when it looked like the Fuel might be on the verge of turning their season around, the Uprising managed to exploit their biggest weaknesses en route to delivering Dallas its fifth loss. They continue to allow enemy Pharahs free reign on control point maps and still can’t seem to figure out how to counter the dive – even with Effect, Seagull, and Mickie playing well individually. Most concerning, however, is their growing inability to win team fights decisively. There have been a number of times already when Dallas’ opponents have stalled out payloads (Boston’s Striker on Dorado Point B defense) or control points (Seoul on Ilios Lighthouse) despite Dallas having an overwhelming numbers advantage (stats also show that Dallas are averaging the longest team fights in the league).
Week 4 Opponents: Fusion, Excelsior
10. San Francisco Shock | 2-4 | ⇓ 2
The Shock are like a non-alcoholic version of the Houston Outlaws right now. This is a meta-dependent team that can’t play dive and hasn’t figured out exactly how to make Mercy work yet. The difference is that Houston possess arguably the best DPS pairing a team can ask for as far as anti-dive goes, with Linkzr as the hitscan specialist and Jake on the Junkrat. Babybay has proven to be a very strong McCree player but the Shock are severely lacking the other individual pieces and team synergy necessary for countering the better dive teams in this league.
Week 4 Opponents: Outlaws, Mayhem
11. Florida Mayhem | 1-5 | ⇔
There isn’t much left to say that hasn’t already been said about the Mayhem – They need reinforcements and they need them fast.
Week 4 Opponents: Gladiators, Shock
12. Shanghai Dragons | 0-6 | ⇔
So. Darn. Close.
At this point, can we just modify the schedule so that Florida and Shanghai only play each other?
Week 4 Opponents: Excelsior, Spitfire