Sunday Summary – OWL Season 1 Stage 2 Week 4: Power Rankings, Stats, and MVPs

Colin ‘Howl’ Kenitz

NYXL logo

Rank Weekly Variation Team Wins Losses Map W-L-T Differential
1 [=] New York Excelsior 16 2 58-17-2 41
2 [+1] London Spitfire 13 5 53-24-0 29
3 [-1] Seoul Dynasty 13 5 46-28-2 18
4 [=] Philadelphia Fusion 11 7 41-36-1 5
5 [+1] Los Angeles Gladiators 10 8 38-36-1 2
6 [+2] Boston Uprising 10 8 42-35-0 7
7 [=] Los Angeles Valiant 11 7 42-29-4 13
8 [-3] Houston Outlaws 10 8 45-34-0 11
9 [+1] San Francisco Shock 6 12 29-42-3 -13
10 [+1] Florida Mayhem 3 15 20-53-2 -33
11 [-2] Dallas Fuel 5 13 24-47-4 -23
12 [=] Shanghai Dragons 0 18 8-65-1 -57

Seoul’s Place in the Top 3

Take a look at some of the stats going into this match. London were 100% win rate on Hanamura (2 – 0) and 100% on Gibraltar (3 – 0) in stage 2. Conversely Seoul has definitely struggled on Hanamura at only 2 – 2 before this match and 3 – 1 on Gibraltar with their only loss against NYXL earlier this week. In addition Seoul were 3 – 0 on Lijiang before falling to London, but only 1 – 2 on King’s Row including their loss to Shanghai on this map fielding their “B” squad.

Despite the fact that Seoul Dynasty dropped both of their games this week, first to New York and later to London, they remain, without a doubt, a top 3 contender. Their schedule this week was obviously harsh. Meanwhile the other two full Korean squads had much easier schedules this week. NYXL had Shanghai and London had the San Francisco Shock. The Seoul Dynasty still gave New York one hell of a fight, boiling down to a tie breaker map, and still managing to put up a fight against London, although they looked much weaker on Saturday’s match. London has historically been very difficult for Seoul. London and Seoul have also excelled on similar maps and map types this stage.

On Assault maps Seoul has looked wonky. Really. On Volskaya they’re 3 – 0, but on Hanamura they’ve been struggling a lot. Their attack rounds, for the most part, look amazing by most standards. They often take point A in one or two attacks utilizing Fleta’s great flanks and 1v1 ability on enemy DPS. And they generally manage to take point B with decent time banks too. Where they fall short is their defense, which looks abysmal. They’ve almost always lost Point A on the first push without hardly putting up any fight at all. Even against weaker teams, but especially this week against their two strongest opponents. New York managed to take 6 points, two rounds of which were basically all in over time.

The Dynasty keep playing this forward defense that aggressively pushes through the choke on point A, then get out positioned by flankers on the attacking team which results in them making uneven trades, which will always favor the attacking team’s shorter re-spawn run back distance. If this isn’t they case they’ll just get out maneuvered, pushed off the point or straight up killed. The game against NYXL early in the week was an absolute slug fest. We saw that both teams showed proficiency in assault maps. However, no matter how good Seoul’s offense looks it almost always turns around in a defense round in which they get blown away like dry leaves against the wind. This ultimately lead to their defeat in the epic match against New York, and lead to London having a more than six minute time bank versus less than a minute for Seoul.

Against London in their second round Fleta basically won the push for Seoul, solo killing Birdring in a Genji duel and then finishing off Bdosin’s Zenyatta, but it was all to no avail. Their Point B Offense failed due to having so little time in comparison to London’s massive time bank. This it was a lot of the same. Following what looked to be a fairly solid attack round against a super strong opponent, they simply gave up point A instantly with a terrible counter dive and then quickly gave up Point B due to overly aggressive defense again.

Seoul seems to be struggling with managing space and positioning on Hanamura’s landscape. Their counter dive strategy on Point A has failed week after week. On point B Miro sometimes seems to be trying to cover too much ground at once, resulting in inefficient control of either high or low ground, or either flank. Jehong and Tobi are a fantastic support duo, but they seem overly exposed on this map, often being pushed back into their spawn on point B or caught from flankers on either side. Hanamura’s point B is very open to flankers and even widowmaker’s, but it’s so strange to see these performances in juxtaposition to their Volskaya strategies. Volskaya is a bit more linear in it’s approach for most teams, and sight lines are a lot more restrictive in general. Seoul has also had better ultimate economy management on Volskaya over Hanamura, which may have something to do with the fact that most teams utilize Sombra on Volskaya. Jehong has traditionally been very good about playing Zenyatta around Sombra’s ults. Whatever it is, they’ve got to figure something out on Hanamura.

What’s Happening with Houston?

Let’s start this one out with some stats between Houston and San Francisco. Houston were 3 – 0 on Nepal and 3 – 0 on Gibraltar before the Shock handed them their losses on these maps this week. On the other hand SF was only 2 – 2 on Gibraltar and 1 – 2 on Nepal. The Shock, much like Florida, and more obviously the LA Gladiators, are a better team than their record suggests right now. These teams are gaining players and /or support staff as players become of age or are brought over with visas from the signing period. Their results are beginning to show, where as some other teams are struggling to adapt to the new meta and the new maps. Houston, one of the top performers in stage 1, has been one of those teams struggling.

Teams like Houston and Valiant have been falling in the standings and are worse than their records suggest overall, so to understand the power rankings it helps to look at their stage two only statistics, which are much more salient due to a completely different patch and map pool.

It’s not like Houston have completely fallen from grace, though. The standings have changed a lot from stage 1, but we always knew this was inevitable. Houston, for example, have been going through struggles that will take time to sort out. They’re not alone. I mentioned the Valiant earlier, but Dallas is another team that’s been falling apart lately. It doesn’t even necessarily come down to player ability, and could be largely due to team culture issues, or a myriad other things. In the short term fans will be disappointed, but the beauty of a static league format is the ability to focus on long term changes and measuring goals and improvement as a team as opposed to seeking short term results.

This isn’t to throw shade at the Outlaws or the Valiant or whoever, it’s actually the opposite. Houston losing to the Gladiators this week was quite predictable. The Gladiators have been honing their method of player substitution this whole time and they’re now reaping the benefits. They also had the most critical player acquisition of the signing period thus far in Fissure, who’s become acclimated to this team extremely quickly. The Gladiator’s coaching staff has also been doing a great job with identifying how they can win against opponents.

On top of the Outlaw’s slump, San Francisco have obtained several weapons lately, and they’re only getting more. Sinatraa will be available next week, and Super’s right behind. Moth did fantastically in his debut this week on support too. The Outlaws benefit a lot from stage 1’s meta and map pool. Junk rat was much stronger in general for Jake who’s simply behind the curve with his Tracer play against so many amazing Tracer players in OWL. Bani was a top two or three mercy player in the league, but Houston has been using Boink, their Lucio player more now, which can result in a different communication environment that could be throwing the team off a bit.

Houston’s struggling to find a way to play in this new meta that emphasizes pick potential and amplifies Tracer’s power. There’s no doubt their coaching staff realize this, but changes don’t happen over night, nor week to week generally. In a strange way from a fan’s perspective it’s a little unfortunate that they did so well in stage 1. Being a top 3 team really got people’s expectations up that this was truly a top team in the league. They’re a great team, but now they’re sliding into a 4 – 6th place slot, which I think is more honest- at least until they figure things out and maybe make a few more player changes. They’re still a great team with great players and staff. They’ve still got a chance at season 1 play offs, but they’re going to have to adapt soon if they want to take another shot at the play off gauntlet in stage 4 or 5.

Scintillating Statistics

The only team maintaining a 100% win rate on any map type is London on Escort, taking the crown from Seoul Dynasty, who also had a 100% win rate on escort up until this week when they lost to both New York and London.

The Dynasty did, however, take away New York’s 100% win rate on Hybrid maps, defeating them 2 – 1 on Hollywood. NY was only 1 – 0 on Hollywood previously, and still maintain an undefeated 5 – 0 on King’s Row.

The LA Gladiators dropped their 100% win rate on control maps this week, losing Nepal to the Florida Mayhem 0 – 2. They maintain a 7 – 1 record on this map type. The Gladiators face Philadelphia Fusion in the first match of week 5 in a battle to decide the best non-full-Korean roster of stage 2.

Both teams have looked fantastic this stage. Philadelphia have been one dimensional but extremely dominant with their dive style and adding EQO to their line up. Meanwhile the Gladiators haven’t looked as dominant in their wins, however they’re capable of playing several different team compositions and styles and have really gotten their player substitution nailed down. The Gladiators look much better than Philly on the control map, Nepal, where they are 3 – 1 to Philly’s 1 – 3. On Hybrid maps both teams have looked strong overall, but Philly hold a slight edge statistically at 4 – 1 on Hollywood to Gladiator’s 2 – 1. Assault will be played on Hanamura and Escort on Route 66, both of which are extremely close. The gladiator’s have a strong chance to go up 2 – 0 early on in this series, so Philly will really have to look to the Hybrid and escort maps to make sure they don’t lose the series out right. That being said, the Fusion have looked nigh unstoppable to teams below them in the standings. They have clean 4 – 0s over Boston, Florida, Shanghai and Dallas. This shows that they’re a team that knows their strengths and how to win with them against weaker teams. Their wins over Florida and Boston were in week 1 when both steams were struggling a lot, but they utterly annihilated the Dallas Fuel this past week. This match up has huge implications for future play offs and could go either way, so don’t miss this one.

The LA Valiant are currently at 6th place of 12 in the stage 2 standings at 4 – 4 with a map differential of 0. Talk about the definition of middle of the pack!

Player of the Week

EQO MVP week 4

Josue ‘EQO’ Corona – EQO burst onto the stage a few weeks ago and took everyone by storm. He’s got a humble past as a pro player, primarily known for his time on Complexity early in 2017 and later for his play in the World Cup for his country, Israel. He’s got a very similar hero pool to Shadowburn, but he also plays Widowmaker and Roadhog highly proficiently. His ability to play Widowmaker specifically has freed Carpe up to stay on Tracer, and as one of the best Tracers in the league it’s been a boon to Philadelphia. He maintains Shadowburn’s proficiency with projectile heroes but offers a higher level of flexibility. His dominant performance against both Dallas Fuel and the Shanghai Dragons this week were outstanding and truly master class performances.


Sunday Summary – OWL Season 1 Stage 2 Week 3: Power Rankings, Stats, and MVPs

Colin ‘Howl’ Kenitz (3.11.18)

Power Rankings

NYXL logo

Rank Weekly Variation Team Wins Losses Map W-L-T Differential
1 [=] New York Excelsior 14 2 51-15-2 +36
2 [+1] Seoul Dynasty 13 3 44-21-2 +23
3 [-1] London Spitfire 11 5 46-23-0 +23
4 [+1] Philadelphia Fusion 9 7 33-36-1 -3
5 [-1] Houston Outlaws 10 6 42-28-0 +14
6 [+3] Los Angeles Gladiators 8 8 33-33-0 0
7 [-1] Los Angeles Valiant 11 5 39-23-4 +16
8 [-1] Boston Uprising 8 8 35-33-0 +2
9 [-1] Dallas Fuel 5 11 24-39-4 -15
10 [=] San Francisco Shock 5 11 25-38-3 -13
11 [=] Florida Mayhem 2 14 16-50-1 -34
12 [=] Shanghai Dragons 0 16 8-57-1 -49


Florida Mayhem’s two Best of 5s

Vs. Houston

Florida Mayhem came out against the Houston Outlaws ready to play. The alarming half time score had them up 2 – 0, looking to take the series. To the detriment of Florida fans Houston managed to complete the reverse sweep, saving themselves from a detrimental loss but still suffering two crucial map losses to the struggling Outlaws. Their fall from third place in stage one has been rough, but Florida’s play wasn’t a fluke. They’ve been playing at a steadily higher level so far this stage. So how did Florida let the series go?

The reverse sweep occurred on on 2 maps that the Mayhem have a 0% win rate on (up to this point; Mayhem won Gibraltar against the Fuel in the last game Saturday night) in stage 2, Hollywood (0 – 3) and Gibraltar (0 – 3), and then finally Ilios which they were 1 – 4 on in stage 1. To be fair Houston was 0 – 2 on Hollywood, 1 – 0 on Gibraltar, and 0 – 1 on Ilios thus far this stage. Houston’s general level of play has been phenomenal thus far in OWL and it seemed like they came back into themselves in the last maps of this series. Houston clutched out the series, but Florida showed us all that they’re down but certainly not out yet.

Vs. Dallas

Saturday night in the last game of the week, they showed us what they’ve been onto. They did to Dallas what Houston had just done to them, reverse sweeping their second match up of the Texas gauntlet. Their first two maps were looking dismal but the Mayhem came out after half time into King’s Row like bats out of Hell. Logix and Tviq particularly stepped up in Florida’s full hold on point A defense of the Hybrid map ending the map in a 2 – 0 points taken. Their win on Gibraltar wasn’t only Florida’s first escort map win of the Stage, but it also handed the Dallas Fuel their first loss on this map as they were previously 2 – 0 on it.

Dallas have faced a series of set backs and since OWL began in January. They seemed to be approaching a point, however, in which they were beginning to understand how to best utilize their roster. Despite these set backs, Florida managed to clutch a finish on Gibraltar in the final 2 meters thanks to some heroics by Tviq on Tracer, leading into a clean 2 – 0 win on Ilios for the tie-breaker. Florida remains at 2 – 14 overall in OWL Season 1, but they’re hinting that there’s more to the story than the stats can tell us. With zappis making it to America this week they’re adding another highly intellectual player to their roster for next week. With Sayaplayer and aWesomeguy close behind, don’t discount this team for some upsets in the near future.

Gladiators Have Fought in the Shade Long Enough

Overwatch is a deep game because it includes traditional FPS qualities while bringing in the balance of ultimate and cool down economies with skills that differ widely from hero to hero. This also makes Overwatch a game of role playing and the effectiveness of one role is never isolated. It’s never a matter of DPS versus DPS, or which team has a better tank line; it’s an amalgamation of every role meshing together in all the right ways. The action of one player will greatly effect the action of all of one’s teammates. The product of this is that one change can greatly influence several other roles or players for better or worse.

The LA Gladiators have been a perfect example of how one change to the tank line can affect the DPS (and supports) in a huge way. For those still new to the title wondering what the difference has been for this team from Stage 1 to Stage 2, look no further than Fissure, previously a main tank for London Spitfire, champions of Stage 1.  The Gladiators had a particularly interesting match this week against London, which was a revenge match of sorts for Fissure specifically. He and his team certainly rose to the challenge, upsetting the reigning champs 3 – 1, only giving up Escort, London’s best map type. Thus far in stage two the Los Angeles Gladiators have been a lesson in trickle-down Overwatch.

Taking a closer look at the map statistics of this match up is actually quite interesting. The LA Gladiators were 1 – 0 on Volskaya, 2 – 0 on Lijiang, and 2 – 1 on King’s Road, but were also 1 – 0 on Route 66, the one map they lost. However, that isn’t to say London’s looked weak on these maps. The Spitfire were only 1 – 2 on King’s Row, but held positive records on the other maps: 2 – 1 on Volskaya and Lijiang, and 2 – 0 on Route 66, with an impressive 5 – 0 on Escort overall this stage going into the match. Naturally, stats don’t tell the whole story, so what lead the Gladiators to clutching this upset win? The seismic anomaly, Fissure.

In stage 1 LA Gladiator’s most glaring problem was iRemix dying early, focused by discord orbs, sometimes before fights even began. As viewers we can feel the change of Fissure’s ripples spreading across and effecting his whole team.  The space that Fissure has gained for the Gladiators is the most obvious, but another aspect is time.  Asher has been so much more consistent in his tracer play because he’s had a lot more room and time in team fights. When your tanks die early team fights are short and enemies have more time to take pot shots onto you while you retreat back to your spawn. More time in the fray means more time building ultimates. In terms of Asher, the most impressive evolution of his play in this stage from last for me are his pulsebombs. Now that he’s getting more ultimates he’s doing a lot more work with them. He’s a Tracer that plays around his pulse bombs a lot, looking for those picks either on tanks or supports. In stage one Asher was a player that was recognized as having great performances followed by steep fall offs, sometimes the very next game. He had several amazing sticks throughout this week that displayed what he can do when given the proper resources.

Asher Volskaya PB v London

[ Volskaya point A, Offense round 2 v. London Spitfire]

Let’s not forget about Hydration. This guy was nuts this past week from his Genji’s dragon blades to his pocket Doomfist plays. Much like Asher, this guy has been flourishing under the addition of Fissure to this roster. He has really come into his own, and with the third DPS player, Surefour, the Gladiators are actually one of the more versatile teams in OWL. Their stand out players in stage 1 was their support line, Shaz and Biggoose, but that’s changing and it’s changing quickly. With Houston, Florida and Philadelphia on their horizon, the Gladiators will surely be tested to earn their place on my power rankings next week, or risk falling down again. I do think they have a solid chance of winning all three matches due to Houston’s recent struggles and Philadelphia’s lack of diversity in play style. Bischu mentioned in their post match interview against London that their coaching staff played a big role in the win, which is perhaps the most promising thing about this team yet.

Scintillating Statistics

Boston Uprising as the most consistent team in OWL?

Last week I mentioned Boston Uprising had a 25% win rate on every map type. Well, they have cemented themselves as the most consistent team across the board this week. As of the conclusion of week 3, Boston have a 33% win rate on each map type in stage 2. Of Control and Hybrid maps, they have a 1 – 2 record on all 4 maps. On Assault and Escort types, however, they are 2 – 0 on Volskaya and Route 66 while being 0 – 4 on Hanamura and Gibraltar. Boston had an extremely difficult schedule this week logistically. They faced the Shanghai Dragons, earning a clean 4 – 0 sweep Thursday night, the 8th, but then had to play the first match of the day on Friday the 9th. This gave them somewhere around eighteen hours between matches, but that includes sleeping, eating, and transportation. They also did this last week due to the way Blizzard have been scheduling the games in stage 2, keeping team’s scheduled days relatively stable. Against the London Spitfire, nonetheless.

The Spitfire took the series 4 – 0, though that isn’t to say that Boston didn’t give them a good fight. It was a lot closer of a series than the score gives away, but Boston have been struggling quite a bit more without the Mercy to bolster their aggressive counter dives. Realistically it can be said that little preparation is needed to face the Dragons, however a schedule like this is never going to give us the best a team has for their second match. London surely would have taken this series either way, however it was a difficult situation for Boston. Despite their weak start in stage 2, I believe their low ranking this week could be turned around by this team in the last two weeks of the stage.

Seoul still 100% on escort (6 – 0). Also 83.33% on Assault and Control ( 5 – 1 each).

They face both New York and London next week, which means we wont see them at 100% for either match since their prep this week is going to have to be split 50/50. They have been progressively more convincing each week in stage 2, asserting their dominance as Seoul’s representative team. This meta favors them much more than last stage, but it’s not only Tobi’s return to Lucio that’s holding the Dynasty up right now. Miro has firmed up so much in his communication with Zumba, and with his team as a whole. He’s dying a lot less by himself and his ultimate usage has been so much more clean. Seoul, as a whole package, have exhibited excellent ultimate usage overall. When they faced the Philadelphia Fusion, a team very much on their own ascent this stage, they won in a convincing 3 – 1, which was largely the product of making calls and maneuvers that allowed them to use crucial ultimates such as transcendence, primal rage, sound barrier, and dragon blade a second or two later than their opponents, which gives a massive advantage.

New York are certainly their largest threat. They’ve been more consistent than London so far, but also their style is especially threatening to Seoul Because of Saebyeolbe. Munchkin and Bunny have looked a lot better this Stage, however no other team possesses a Tracer hunter like NYXL. New York’s tank line of Mano and Meko have looked more steady than Miro and Zumba overall throughout the whole of Season one so far, too. Neither team is particularly overly aggressive or defensive, but Seoul has been playing some particularly aggressive defenses on Assault maps and Point As of Hybrid maps. Thus far it’s been working great for them, but we’ve seen them give up some points very quickly too. A team like NY can play a proficient defensive style as easily as flipping a switch, which may be the difference maker in these two map types in particular.

As far as London goes, things are more up in the air. London tends to be very aggressive and confident in their play. They can play more defensively, but they tend to play a higher risk, higher reward style. They’ve looked stronger when they’ve played Bdosin over Hagopeun and Fury over Woohyal, however the old GC Busan team is the team that defeated Lunatic Hai in Apex Season 4, giving them their only loss in a finals match.

In stage 1 against Seoul London predominantly played this roster, which consists of Hagopeun and Woohyal, while liberally swapping around their DPS players. In Stage 1 London 4 – 0 Seoul Dynasty, however Seoul had no player swaps and played Gido over Ryujehong the whole series. And, well, things change as time goes on, and Seoul has looked stronger and more consistent than previously. I think that if London play their old GC Busan lineup against Seoul they might have some trouble. Despite not having Route 66 or Volskaya in the map pool, I think choosing Bdosin over Hagopeun feels especially important due to his highly skilled Sombra play, which adds another dimension of flexibility. Look to see Jehong playing the full match for Seoul as well and maybe some switching among Bunny, Munchkin, and Wekeed. Both of these teams remain undefeated on Escort maps through week three, so whichever way this one turn out, there can only be one king of Escort in stage 2 after this week.

Player of the Week

Fissure potw v gesture

Baek ‘Fissure’ Chan-Hyung  – I mentioned it earlier, but really Fissure has just been a star on this team. He memed on stream about London calling him, wanting him back after the Gladiator’s victory over his old team. Honestly, though, he’s transformed this struggling LA team. They’ve looked well coordinated in countering dive and confident playing against traditionally more aggressive teams with Fissure leading the charge. I’ve spoke enough already about how he’s helped this team out, but  In addition his whole team deserves honorable mentions. Asher and Hydration had phenomenal weeks, but Bischu’s performance is less obvious.

Bischu PoTW

Aaron ‘Bischu’ Kim (Kim Hyeong-Seok) – He’s the one coordinating his team’s communication between Fissure, Asher, and the rest of the line up whom speak English. He’s also tempered his play style to be a lot more protective for the benefit of his team when compared to how he played through contenders and a lot of stage 1 as a very aggressive damage dealing D.Va player. He’s got a history of just barely missing his chance to play professionally in LCS for League of Legends when in 2014 his Challenger team Cloud 9 Tempest lost their promotion match against Evil Geniuses despite his stand out performances in the mid lane. I’ve been a long time fan of him since I watched his Nidalee on stream in 2012, and I’m so happy to see him growing so much as a player in Overwatch.

as a fun bonus stat, LAG are undefeated on control maps in stage 2 (3 – 0 both on Nepal and Lijiang Tower), the only team in the league to remain so. This past week the Gladiators defeated the Valiant on this map type whom are otherwise 5 – 1 on Control, and London, who have struggled on this map type but are nonetheless a top three team in OWL and the stage 1 champions.

Sunday Summary – OWL S1 Stage 2 Week 2: Power Rankings

Colin ‘Howl’ Kenitz (3.4.2018)

Sorry for missing the first week of stage 2! I was remiss in doing so but it was unavoidable since my apartment lost internet for nearly the whole week/weekend and I spent most of my time in my college’s library or at work (and didn’t get to watch the VODs until Monday/Tuesday night). Now that the johns are out of the way, here’s your OWL Stage 2, week 2 Sunday Summary!

NYXL logo

Power Rankings

Rank Weekly Variation* Team Wins Losses Map W-L-T Differential
1 [=] New York Excelsior 12 2 44-14-2 30
2 [=] London Spitfire 10 4 41-20-0 21
3 [=] Seoul Dynasty 11 3 38-19-2 19
4 [=] Houston Outlaws 9 5 39-22-0 17
5 [=] Philadelphia Fusion 9 5 31-30-1 1
6 [=] Los Angeles Valiant 10 4 35-19-4 16
7 [=] Boston Uprising 7 7 31-29-0 2
8 [=] Dallas Fuel 5 9 22-33-3 -11
9 [=] Los Angeles Gladiators 6 8 26-32-0 -6
10 [=] San Francisco Shock 4 10 22-34-2 -12
11 [=] Florida Mayhem 1 13 11-45-1 -34
12 [=] Shanghai Dragons 0 14 7-50-1 -43
*All team’s weekly variation is = since I wanted to reset between stages and there was no week 1 rankings

My Rankings aren’t Perfect, but here’s why.

I’m biasing recency heavily right now due to several reasons, mainly: Player changes, the meta change, and map pool changes. Stage 2 and Stage 1 stats aren’t going to blend together well until near the end of stage 2 (week4ish) when things will begin to normalize. Next split I will lower my recency bias a bit to consider stage 1 and 2 performances closer to the weight of stage 3’s.

I’m making this choice because a lot of teams have had not only major player changes but also coaching changes. The map pool is completely different, and so is the meta from last split. I am including last split’s performance, however, I’d say it’s about only 20% of what I’m weighing in when making these rankings. I didn’t make this choice lightly, so hear me out as to why.

Boston and Dallas are great examples of what I mean. And Valiant from a coaching perspective. Boston were truly a top team last split, but have had trouble finding their ground this split. It’s not that they’re playing badly, it’s more that other teams have found their groove in this meta faster than Boston. It’s not like they’ve fallen completely from grace, though. While 7th place may look unfair to a Boston fan whom might consider that they were ranked 4th in the regular season last stage, barely missing playoffs, that’s just the reality of OWL right now. It’s an extremely competitive league save a few exceptions. Considering the caliber of individual talent on each team it’s difficult to feel good about ranking a team as good as Boston so low, however it’s a reality right now.

From a coaching perspective, several teams have brought in new coaches or swapped head coaches completely. The Valiant are just one example of this. They’ve brought in a new head coach, Moon ‘MBC’ Byung-chul, the former coach of Mighty AOD. The team was an Apex Season 2 Challenger competitor, as well as an Apex Season 3 group stage competitor. Two LA Valiant players, Kariv and Fate, were both players under MBC and participated in Might AOD’s group stage in Apex Season 3 before moving to join Immortals together for Competitors Season 0. MBC’s impact on the team can’t be ignored. He’s moved Kariv back to his original role as a DPS player for crying out loud, a move especially made possible by the meta shift back to favoring Lucio, which has brought Verbo back into the starting lineup to replace Kariv as support. The result has been a primary DPS lineup of Soon and Kariv. Kariv’s strength on Widowmaker and Zarya are known his specialties, but his soldier and Pharah have been no slacks either.

The Valiant still have two other great DPS players in Agilities and Silkthread, however, my biggest problem with them last season was that these two players had too much of a hero pool overlap. They’re both Genji mains, first of all, which isn’t necessarily problematic, but it’s not great either. Throughout stage 1 I consistently thought that Silkthread brought a slightly higher level of play and consistency than Agilities, but Agilities found a lot of play time because he could flex into heroes such as Roadhog. Despite this, my main concern with the Valiant was that they lacked flexibility overall and when they did leave their signature heroes they looked noticeably worse. Despite a strong start in stage one they slowly fell down the rankings, eventually being overcome by Huston and Boston in the latter weeks of the stage. Kariv’s flexibility will fit phenomenally in this current meta and Valiant still maintain two great Genji players for running straight dive. Their head coaching switch thus far has changed the team dynamic a lot. It makes it harder to predict their strategies this stage based off of last stage’s VODs, and it adds depth to their arsenal.

Dallas are another great example of a tough ranking. They’ve looked phenomenal and their win over the LA Gladiators was really impressive, however, they looked nearly helpless against the Valiant. In my opinion this is mostly due to the Valiant being a tough match up for the Fuel in terms of play style and flexibility. The result is that Dallas, while looking massively improved over last season with the additions of Rascal, AKM, and having XQC back, they’re still falling in at 8th place for me… For this week, at least.

The best thing about power rankings, is that they change week to week! Admittedly, Seoul has had a fairly easy schedule compared to a team such as Boston, for example. Next week both teams play the Shanghai Dragons – while not completely translatable, comparing both performances will be very insightful. While Boston’s schedule doesn’t get easier considering they also play London next week, Seoul also faces the Fusion. Say, perhaps that the Fusion upset Seoul and Boston upset – or even play a close match against – London, rankings next week could shake up quite a bit, so stay tuned!

Fun Facts, the 100% Club, and More

1. LA Gladiators are undefeated on Control maps so far. They’re 1 – 0 on Lijiang and 3 – 0 on Nepal. The Gladiators have looked stronger with the addition of Fissure, however their team synergy between their tanks and supports has been lacking a bit thus far. They’ll need to make substantial improvements in this area, as well as more consistent DPS performances in order to climb the rankings.

2. New York have a 100% win rate on Hybrid map types. They were lucky enough to only have to play King’s Row, saving them from prepping for Hollywood thus far. That being said, their wins have come against some of the best teams in the league in London, Houston and Boston. In stage 1 they had an 80% win rate on Hybrid maps, losing only two.

However, over all of stage one NYXL shined most brightly on Control maps, losing only one all regular season to the Dallas fuel in week 4. Their one map loss to Florida Mayhem was on Lijiang tower. If they want to maintain the same level of dominance on control as last season they can’t drop any more control maps.

3. London Spitfire and Seoul Dynasty are both undefeated on escort maps. On top of that, both teams are 2 – 0 on both Route 66 and Watchpoint: Gibraltar, so they’ve shown up on both maps.

Despite winning the stage 1 playoffs, London has returned to their stage one state, in that they can beat the best teams but they can also lose to teams below them. They were upset in an extremely close series against the Huston Outlaws in week 1 of this stage, however, they also cleanly 4 – 0 swept the Fusion, who beat Huston. This might be confusing to some, but I think it’s been a fantastic example of how complex ranking OWL teams can be, and that different teams have very different styles, so a win over one team can’t be completely translated to a clear win over a lower ranked opponent.

Taking a closer look at this, London’s easy sweep over Philadelphia can be attributed to the team’s ability to play different styles. Philadelphia pretty much only specializes in dive compositions or high pressure, aggressive DPS compositions relying on picks, such as comps that involve Widowmaker and Pharah. On the opposite side, London excel at playing a counter dive style. This means that when the tanks and DPS of the Fusion commit their movement abilities to diving in the Spitfire’s tanks and DPS counter dive. This means that both team’s back lines are pretty much left to their own devices, and may seem even all things considered. The difference is that London’s supports Bdosin and Nus were playing superior peel to Philly’s supports, as well their DPS players made more efficient movements than Philly’s. Going back to watch the VODs one can seen how much more Bdosin’s Zenyatta stuffs Carpe than does Boomboxes on Birdring or Profit’s Tracer.

The caveat to Seoul this stage is that their schedule thus far, reminiscent of stage 1, has been relatively easy early on. Their biggest problems have been Miro and an unreliable second DPS. So far we’ve seen much improved performance from Bunny and Munchkin, and even a bit from Wekeed, albeit less than the other two in my opinion. Miro’s problems of dying disjointed from his team remain, so I’ll be looking to see more Kuki in coming weeks. Seoul’s biggest obstacle will be week 4 of this split, when they face both London Spitfire and NYXL.

4. Boston has a 25% win rate on every map type! They’ve had a rough start to the season, facing Fusion, Exelsior, Outlaws, and Mayhem. They’ve been 4 – 0’d by all of them save the later. Boston’s performance hasn’t been as bad as it looks so far, but they’re a team that hasn’t made any changes from the last stage. Their individual performances have been on point, but they’re slipping a bit in this meta without mercy. I think that they’re still a very strong opponent versus certain high ranking teams, such as Seoul, who seem to struggle a bit right now against teams with strong dive/counter dive and highly proficient support players, such as Neko.

Players of the Week:

Bdosin vs boombox hanamura

Choi ‘Bdosin’ Seong-tae – The way Bdosin handled Carpe in London’s match against the Fusion was a lesson in tempering aggression. Carpe has been one of the best Tracer’s in the league, however time after again he was stuffed by Bdosin in the dive/counter dive war that was this match up. In addition to this, Bdosin found himself fragging out on the front lines, and even diving with Gesture at times (Hanamura defense). He showed in the stage 1 playoffs as an outstanding player for his team and has continued to deliver so far in stage 2.

Bdosin dive


Park ‘Kariv’ Young-seo – This week I couldn’t just pick one, since I missed last week. I always want to recognize more than one player per week anyways, so I’m indulging in that this week. Kariv was a DPS player in the past on his previous team Mighty AOD, and we’d seen a few glimpses of what he had in store on Widowmaker in stage 1. However, now he’s not only a DPS, but an off tank flex whom we know is also a top level support. This guy can do it all. Even still, transitioning positions isn’t an easy task, and doing so in less than two weeks might’ve thrown most other players off quite a bit. His performance this week for the Valiant was impressive and a bright spot for a Valiant team that struggled with flexibility last stage. He stood out to me both last week and this week as a player rising up to the challenge before him.

Kariv Soldier vs Fuel on Nepal

If you’ve made it this far thanks for reading! It was a long one after missing last week. I’ll be back next week as usual with week 3’s Sunday Summary.

Boston Uprising’s assault on Anubis vs. Houston Outlaws Stage 1 Week 5.

written by Colin ‘Howl’ Kenitz (2.18.2018)

Point A.

Team Compositions

Houston: Mercy, Zenyatta, Soldier 76, Junk Rat, Orisa, D.Va

This is a control the high ground and poke from a defensive position composition. In general the idea is your Mercy damage boosts Junkrat bombs into the enemy team and you have concussive mines for peel from dive and high burst damage. This composition also has Soldier 76 for reliable hit scan damage and sustain with his heal station. Basically, just have the team sit safely behind Orisa shields where enemies can’t pick you off. This team comp is generally going to lose against a dive composition if the dive is well executed, but it can be hard to crack the shell and find that first pick. Using this composition on defense results in the defense milking time off the clock while the offense is forced to build up ultimates to break the formation and get that one key pick. For Houston this is the first time that Linkzr has used Soldier 76 on Anubis, as he’s usually on the Widowmaker which is generally a much better hero for proactive defense compositions because 1 pick can stall an entire push.

Also, generally it would be preferable with this comp or with a Widowmaker composition to boost the Orisa (and in this case, Soldier) onto the highest roof overlooking Point A with a Mei wall. This gives a better vantage point in general, and keeps heroes with weak mobility abilities away. Houston instead sets up on the second story high ground which is much lower and much more far forward.

This position is beneficial because it can collapse into the room behind it which can be extremely dangerous for dive against Junk Rat (he does insane damage if he’s just popping bombs around in that little space), and is also fairly close to the Mega health pack in the room above and a small health pack at the top of the stairs. It’s downside is that it’s more exposed, can easily be surrounded by flankers, and is more accessible to heroes with limited movement skills that can’t reach the higher roof as easily. Also, if there are poke stand offs from either side of the bridge the enemy also has easy access to a mega health pack right behind them, though that wasn’t the case here.

Boston: Mercy, Zenyatta, Genji, Tracer, Winston, D.Va

Boston O v Houston D Anubis Stage 1 week 5 point A position

This is Boston’s Bread and Butter. Uprising bring Winston, D.Va, Genji, and Mercy through the protected corridor to challenge Houston on the bridge leaving Zenyatta and Tracer to make a delayed approach. This allows Tracer to make her way around the other way and flank from the stair case. Also, Genji breaks off from the group and sneaks through to the back side of Houston, accomplishing two things: a distracting, flanking position, and clearer vision of Houston’s defensive position and team composition. Leaving Zenyatta behind is an interesting choice, since he’s slightly exposed, but if Houston thinks he’s with the rest of the team this gives Zenyatta a chance for getting alternate fire picks while still having good sigh lines for using both of his orbs and without being too far from his team, which I highlight with the red lines in the graphic above.

How it Plays Out in Game:

top-down-temple-of-anubis Bo v Hou movement Options

In deep blue, the Movement Boston took  on their first Approach. In the Green Box is where they see Houston Situated. In reaction to this, Boston changes their movement to the lighter blue lines. The red Zone is the ‘no man’s land’ between the two teams, which is extremely dangerous because it’s the most exposed position and furthest from health packs.

Boston actually back their Winston, Mercy and D.Va back to regroup with Tracer and Zenyatta. They see Houston’s composition and position and see they’d lose a poke war/stand off from across the bridge. Dreamkazper on Genji draws Houston’s attention behind them with shurikens. In the moment of the screen cap below we see that most of Houston has already collapsed back into the room behind them to avoid his poke on Genji. Muma’s got the Orisa shield protecting his team from poke, however, Boston isn’t going to poke them, they’re going to dive.

Boston O v Houston D Anubis Stage 1 week 5 point A Vision

Jake is so far overextended here for no reason and Boston capitalizes. Neko on Zenyatta, damage boosted by Kellex’s Mercy, picks Jake on Junk Rat immediately after this moment. Worst of all, he’s in a completely unsafe place for getting resurrected. Coolmatt is also down alone on the low ground where his Mercy and Zenyatta can’t really support him easily. This isn’t a big deal, however, as we see in the next screen shot, a few seconds later after Jake’s been picked he uses his boost movement ability into Boston’s stacked team by himself. Since he has no dive partner and this team composition is designed to be defensive he should preferably stay back and protect his back line from the Genji, Tracer, Winston, and D.Va in the cramped room.

Boston O v Houston D Anubis Stage 1 week 5 point A Dive

Gamsu and Muma clash on the bridge. Gamsu steals Houston’s attention from Genji while Muma is positioned far enough forward where Boston’s DPS see a clear path to dive in. From Kazper’s point we watch him dive in and kill Linkzr’s Soldier 76. Kazper gives up his life for this, however Houston now have zero DPS.

Striker’s Tracer moves onto the point. This move either gives Boston free progress or forces Houston to break formation to contest. He stays only a moment, however, noticing that he’s better off simply diving Houston’s back line with Dreamkazper’s Genji.

Bani ends up going for the resurrect on Jake and gets it off safely. The fight continues to look somewhat favorable for Houston for a few seconds to follow. Muma de-mechs Note’s D.Va and Coolmatt actually manages to kill Neko, since he had little protection as D.Va and Winston dove forward. Despite this, as I pointed out earlier, Coolmatt’s dive leaves his back line completely unprotected. At first, it seems that the teams should be at status quo here: Both back lines undefended, both with five versus five players. The critical difference is Boston’s dive composition, and the fact that their DPS have been doing more work this whole time while Houston’s have been dead.

The result of this is that Gamsu’s Winston kills Bani on Mercy and Note’s D.Va kills Rawkus on Zenyatta. With no supports and only an exposed Junkrat for DPS on Houston, Boston find themselves much more healthy overall, despite seemingly equal numbers, and with a resurrect still to spend. In the next few seconds Kellex Rezzes Neko’s Zenyatta while Gamsu and Striker Clean up Houston’s tanks and Jake, cleaning up their Point A offense.

Boston O v Houston D Anubis Stage 1 week 5 point A Sightlines

Above is a diagram in which the blue line represent’s Dreamkazper on Genji flanking and scouting Houston’s position, which is in green. In the space of the red cross hatched zone Genji gains easy sight lines on the defending Houston and scouts their whole composition.

Boston’s dive on Houston here is expertly played. Clean early movements and positioning, which result in a scouting advantage that results in an early pick on Jake’s Junk Rat. Even in the Mercy meta, a pick like this is game changing. A resurrect in this position is dangerous for Mercy to channel, and it also means that the other team has a resurrect advantage. Following pick Coolmatt played too aggressive considering his team composition and the circumstances, and a team that runs a clean, efficient dive, such as Boston, will be able to clean this up every time. On Assault maps point A only takes one clean push to take since the defense has such a long run from spawn it’s too dangerous to contest due to risk of having their point B snowball capped against them .

Point B.

Once Boston regroups Point B is an easy matter. Houston Swaps Linkzr to Genji from Soldier 76 as the only character swap. Muma positions himself forward on top of the pillar overlooking the archway choke point leading to Point B. The rest of Houston is taking a conservative position back on point. However, Jake, who is sitting up on the pillar back by the point is picked again by Neko’s Zenyatta. Bani Crucially is only at 96% ultimate charge, and can’t yet use the valkerie for a quick resurrect.

Boston O v Houston D Anubis Stage 1 week 5 point B pick

Again, we see from Kazper’s perspective that the pick is made and Boston Uprising make no hesitation in diving onto the Mercy’s known position. Gamsu leaps in on Winston and pops his primal rage while being damage boosted and healed by Kellex. Every player from both teams collapse into the fray with both D.Va’s popping their ultimates. However, it seems that Houston forgot that they made no progress on Point B during their offense, and Kazper quietly caps the point with no contest.

Boston O v Houston D Anubis Stage 1 week 5 point B c9

This swift cap of Point B was the result of an ultimate efficient Boston on Defense that masterfully kept tabs on the players of Houston. For me, Neko and Gamsu were clear MVPs of Defense, making clutch picks, saves, and displaying excellent ultimate usage and timing compared to their counterparts on Houston. That being said, Boston’s overall understanding of movement on assault maps, as well as a strong understanding of their weapons as a team and their victory conditions is displayed excellently here. Houston has been a strong team in stage one and would go on to win the series, however Boston are true masters of Assault maps. Houston is no slouch either, at 7 – 3 overall, however on this map type over stage 1 Boston Uprising were 9 – 1 overall with a perfect 5 – 0 on Temple of Anubis. Boston was an unexpected surprise in stage one of OWL and quickly became one of my favorite teams to watch. Their players and coaching staff have a high level understanding of the game and they compliment one another very well. I look forward to seeing what they can do in the rest of Season 1.

Match Preview Stage 1 Week 5: Boston Uprising vs. Philadelphia Fusion

Written by Colin ‘Howl’ Kenitz (2.6.2018)

The final week of stage one is already upon us. While all eyes are on New York and London as they vie for the top seed going into the stage one playoffs, I can’t help but keep my eyes off of this match up. Sure, there isn’t as much weight to this game in terms of play off implications as the aforementioned match. And sure, it isn’t even as important as Boston versus the Outlaws, or even Seoul’s match against the Valiant either. Despite all this, I can’t keep my mind off this specific match. I think the Uprising versus the Fusion has the potential to be one of the best matches of the week, and although it doesn’t carry the weight that some of these other matches have, it’s a critical match for determining the entire middle of the table.

In my opinion, these two teams and the Valiant may as well be on top of one another. Boston on paper looks the best, but Overwatch is about so much more than that. Individual players and team play styles can completely shift a team much further down the rankings from underdog to favorite. Because of this, I want to highlight just a few important aspects to keep in mind when watching this game on Thursday.

Map by Map

Eichenwalde: Boston (3 – 0) vs. Philly (2 – 1)

This one’s going to be close. Both teams have awful records on Numbani, but the story is very different on Eichenwalde. This map incorporates a lot more Pharah and Widowmaker play than it’s hybrid counterpart due to the wide open U turn around the castle rampart which is phase 2. Running straight dive compositions is also fair game on Eichenwalde, as both Tracer and Genji are great throughout. Particularly, Genji’s ability to scale walls can be especially effective on second.

When not on Tracer Carpe can also play the Widow for his team, or even Mccree at an exceptional level. In this case it’s likely Philly runs with Shadowburn on the Genji here, or even Junkrat. Meanwhile Pharah is Shadowburn’s hero, resulting in Carpe remaining on Tracer, which is also a desirable composition for Eichenwalde.

For Boston Striker and Dreamkazper have played a fair amount of Widowmaker. Striker has truly been a top class player on Tracer which he’s spent about 90% of his time on. Meanwhile Dreamkazper has been performing really well on just about all of the heroes he’s played (about 11), including Widowmaker and Pharah, but this leaves a great deal of Boston’s hero flexibility in one player instead of spreading it out a bit more, offering more diverse team compositions. This composition flexibility may hurt them a bit, but it’s unlikely since Pharah/Tracer is so proficient on this map anyways it doesn’t really matter.

The defining point could very likely be point 3 in the throne room. Here, Shadowburn could pull out Zarya with Fragi swapping to Reinhardt, which is definitely his better hero. Carpe can even swap to his Mccree here creating the ‘phalanx’ composition and offering a counter dive composition that could be extremely effective against Boston. I believe that Boston will take this map, but Philly reserves a good chance to prove me wrong.

HLC: Boston (3 – 1) vs. Philly (1 – 2)

Boston should win this one for sure. They’re 7 – 1 (88% win rate) on Assault overall, tied for best in the league with London and NY. This has without a doubt been the map type that they look most comfortable on. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that Fragi’s on a long leash. He has shown considerable improvements since week one in some ways, but the fact remains that he consistently dies during dives when he really doesn’t have to. Boombox’s Zenyatta tends to position himself further from his team, making him more difficult to collapse on, but in return making it more difficult to secure an orb of harmony on Fragi when he really needs it.

Alternatively, Gamsu has been one of the best tanks in the entire league both in terms of diving and counter diving enemy supports. His DPS and supports are generally very in sync with him, and Neko’s Zenyatta focuses much more heavily on healing and proper transcendence healing adverse to Boombox’s damage dealing priority. Gamsu’s also very successful at counter diving enemy supports by himself while the rest of his team, along with Note on D.Va helps peel.

Overall, Boston looks to have superior strategy and synchronization when it comes to assault maps. Philly are no slouches on assault, and in fact it’s their best map type statistically, however most of their successes have been on Temple of Anubis, not Horizon: Lunar Colony. Additionally, Dreamkazper can play any flex hero you may want on this map and Neko has a fantastic Moira if they choose to run a ‘death ball’ composition with three or four tanks.

Ilios: Boston (2 – 1) vs. Philly (1 – 3)

This is a wild card map to me. Neither team’s overall map scores here show a definitive advantage statistically speaking. Control maps tend to be chaotic, but Ilios does have more variance in play style per specific maps than Oasis. Ruins is known as Widow’s shooting ground while lighthouse and well tend to have a lot of Pharah and Lucio play. I think that Shadowburn versus Dreamkazper in the Pharah ditto will be an extremely tight head to head. It will likely come down to who’s team wins the ground battle, and that might come down to a Lucio.

Neptuno is known as a great Lucio specialist. The champion has surfaced on Boston from Neko, but only with Kellex on Mercy. Lucio and Mercy are both powerful, but that means dropping the Zenyatta. It’s a trade off between Lucio’s AoE heals and speed boost or Zenyatta’s Discord and Harmony orbs, both of which highly benefit dive compositions. The turn around to this is that usually when running Lucio/Mercy Boston swaps Dreamkazper either to Pharah or Mccree, both completely acceptable heroes for slower, more defensive compositions on any of the Mediterranean maps. It might even be beneficial for Boston not to run Lucio and take Zenyatta instead specifically because of Philly’s Achilles heal, Fragi getting blown up.

So that’s really what a lot of this comes down to: a Fusion win will pretty much come down to keeping Fragi alive, which may be challenging on Ilios. Philly’s other option is to make the most value they can from his dives. Basically, although Neko is highly proficient on Zen and Ana, I think his Lucio might fall a bit short. If Boston runs Zenyatta they’re going to have to focus Fragi before Shadowburn and Carpe kill their back line.

If Boston do indeed take Eichenwalde, then Ilios will be a pivotal map. With it, Boston will take the series and the next map will mean little, however, if Philly manage to take either this map or the Hybrid map, this series will be neck and neck, and that’s because the only regular map type left is escort.

Junkertown: Boston (1 – 3) vs. Philly (3 – 2)

Escort has definitely been the Uprising’s worst map type statistically. On the other hand, the Fusion have a 50% win rate on escort style maps, though they’ve looked more competitive on Junkertown. This is another map with huge open sight lines throughout point A and generally becomes a battle of who’s Widowmaker can get better picks.

Another key hero here has been Roadhog, a hero which neither team possesses a particularly stand out option to play. Fusion have barely played Hog at all. Dreamkazper and Neko have played it some, and while neither look bad they haven’t particularly impressed either. Either is passable. Halt-Hook combos with Orisa have been the other staple of point A on Junkertown, and has a huge possibility to completely shut down offenses, especially as the payload approaches the end of point A and the defense has a better spawn advantage. Again I’d point to Gamsu and say he’s the far better Tank player here, but D.Va can be just as important here as an option to eat the Orisa projectiles or protect hooked teammates from bullets. In this case, I think Hotba’s defensive play style could really be effective, but there’s more than just the first point to think about.

Both teams can make it to final phase of this map. This point is filled with huge Genji, Tracer, and Junkrat plays, but it’s also a point that can make great use of D.Va self destructs, particularly as the payload nears the finish. In general I think Philly should run Hotba, however, there is a clutch factor that Poko could bring to this map and it’s something their coaching staff should seriously consider. Philly very well could take this map over Boston, which could lead to an epic showdown on Li-Jang Tower.

Li-Jang: Boston (2 – 1) vs. Philly (3 – 1)

Just look at those score lines. The Fusion and Uprising have played the most Li-Jang tower maps of any teams in OWL, playing four and three respectively (most teams have played it two or fewer times). Both of them have winning records here, and as stated before, control is going to be a wild card map type between these two teams. Boston’s one bruise here is from when the Shock upset them back in week two when Boston really dropped the ball in the final moments. Boston have looked much cleaner since, but to me Philly are the kings here.

Philadelphia have played this map the most, if only by one game. That stage experience here matters. They’ve bested the Outlaws( who’ve also looked much cleaner since week 1), New York and the Shanghai Dragons on Li-Jang. Every match they play here is a 2 – 0, so besides their uncharacteristic loss to the Gladiators they’ve shut down every team they’ve played on in their tie-breaker games. That Includes NYXL, who have the highest control map win rate of any team in the league at 88% (not accounting Li-Jang). To be fair, Boston’s two wins here have also been 2 – 0s, however their most notable is over the London Spitfire, who’ve honestly looked completely lost on control maps with only a 50% win rate on them overall. There’s a few I think Fusion have a slight edge on this map over Boston.

Particularly the point called control tower, the map that’s nearly entirely indoors, stands out. The Fusion have put up incredible performances here running Shadowburn on Zarya and Fragi on Reinhardt for two massive fight control ultimates. Philly like to take control early and this point has fewer opportunities to flank than others, resulting in a lot of straight forward fights which feed the two aforementioned players tons of ult charge.

It’s not only this point; in general Philly seem to have a strong idea of how to play all three of these maps. Fighting is less spread out than it can be on other control maps such as Ilios and flanks are very telegraphed. I think this both helps the healers keep up with Fragi but also boombox is probably the second or third best zenyatta, behind Jjonak and maybe Jehong, at catching flankers around corners with his alternate fire. In addition to this, these really small contention points really limit Mercy’s movements and leave her much more exposed above the points for Carpe to shred. Finally, Lucio also has the ability to get environmental kills fairly easily on every map. These last two points bring us back to what I mentioned earlier, which is that Boston lacks proven fluidity in Kellex. Surely, it can be argued that Mercy’s resurrects are invaluable. Kellex has also become increasingly more adept at using her ultimate wisely. Still, while Boston has superior flexibility from Dreamkazper Philly might just have a slight edge on Li-Jang specifically in my opinion.

Will Fusion Stay True to their Average Stats? Will Boston Rise Above?

I really think that this series has a potential to be one of the best matches of the week. Boston looks to have a clear advantage in Assault, but other than that it’s almost completely up in the air. These teams sit on top of one another in the middle of the table. There’s a conundrum here; a circus like balancing act of which team deserves to have that 5th slot behind Houston. Both of these teams have huge upsets over full Korean roster teams.

The Fusion, by the numbers, have looked so average, and yet I feel that when looking beyond the surface, they have some of the closest games with so many teams, even in series that result in 4 – 0s. Shadowburn’s exquisite patience and movement with his dragon blades have been quintessential to pulling so many team fights back from the depths. Carpe’s been the team’s rock, a quiet contender for one of the most reliable DPS players in the entire League.

I received a lot of criticism due to my ranking of placing Boston below both Philly and LA Valiant this past week, but here’s the deal. Yes, Boston have a 4 – 0 over the Valiant, and yes, the Valiant have a 4 – 0 over Philly. In truth, I believe Boston deserves that 5th slot on the power rankings. I should have ranked them higher than I did, but my reservations lie beyond strictly stats. Hell, they might even deserve 4th with how fast they’re growing, but we won’t see that until Saturday unfortunately.

I love how surprising this Boston team has been and I’m so excited for this match up in particular. A clear win over Philly would blow me away and completely prove my reservations wrong. That being said, don’t count the Fusion out yet.

Sunday Summary- OWL Stage 1 Week 4: Power Rankings, Boston Run the LA Gauntlet

Written by Colin ‘Howl’ Kenitz (02.4.2018)

NYXL logo

Placement Weekly Variation Team Overall Record : W – L – T This Week
1 [=] NYXL (7 – 1: 25 – 8 – 1) [ 7 – 1 ]
2 [+1] London Spitfire (7 – 1: 26 – 8 – 0) [ 8 – 0 ]
3 [-1] Seoul Dynasty (6 – 2: 26 – 7 – 1) [ 3 – 6 ]
4 [+1] Houston Outlaws (5 – 3: 26 – 8 – 0) [ 5 – 4 ]
5 [-1] LA Valiant (5 – 3: 20 – 12 – 2) [ 4 – 4 ]
6 [=] Philadelphia Fusion (5 – 3: 17 – 18 – 1) [ 4 – 4 ]
7 [+1] Boston Uprising (5 – 3: 21 – 14 – 0) [ 8 – 0 ]
8 [-1] LA Gladiators (3 – 5: 12 – 22 – 0) [ 3 – 5 ]
9 [=] Dallas Fuel (1- 7: 8 – 22 – 3) [ 1 – 7 ]
10 [=] SF Shock (3 – 5: 14 – 17 – 2) [ 5 – 3 ]
11 [=] Florida Mayhem (1 – 7: 7 – 25 – 0) [ 1 – 7 ]
12 [=] Shanghai Dragons (0 – 8: 4 – 29 – 0) [ 0 – 8 ]


1. Explaining the Power Ranking conundrum through LAG and BU

I’m going to take a different approach to this piece this week. I’ve been experimenting and trying to develop the best format for this weekly periodical and over the past four weeks I’ve learned a lot. Next week will be the conclusion of stage one, and as such I’ll likely be writing a lot about how teams have developed over the stage, how things look going forward, and a lot of big picture stuff. Last week I received a lot of feedback that was critical of my placement of LA Gladiators over Boston Uprising, and so I thought this week would be a good opportunity to explain some of my methodologies for formulating my power rankings through this example. If you don’t care, go ahead and skip to the second talking point for the usual talking points.

I think data is really important for formulating hypothesis and theories, which is basically what power rankings are. They’re a projection of what – should – be, but they’re not always going to be correct. That’s probably why so many of us love the drama of competition and find science a little dry. Empirical data is important though, and it helps tell part of the narrative. Here’s why I ranked LA Gladiators over Boston last week, but why Boston destroyed them this week.

By week 2 of stage one the Boston Uprising were 1 – 3. They destroyed the Florida Mayhem but had two really strong opponents in Seoul and New York, two top of the league teams. The fourth team they played was the SF Shock, to whom they lost 3 – 2. My biggest problem was that I thought Boston should destroy the Shock, but in the final game on Li-Jang the Uprising seemed to fall apart. The Shock hadn’t looked great, but they managed to clutch the series when it mattered, which is a critical point of analyzing how a team performs. An example to look to is Seoul, who sometimes have really close games but will convincingly close out games in the final moment when it all matters. While this loss to SF hurt my perception of Boston, it didn’t cloud my judgment. I knew that this team would grow in the future. Unfortunately, power rankings are a snap shot of where a team stands up until now, and not an assessment of how they will grow. That’s why they change weekly!

Week three showed a lot of growth for Boston. What happened? Boston had developed a strong counter dive play style which worked well against a London team which continued to play aggressive dive without adapting in any way throughout the match. It was uncharacteristically bad from London, however that’s not to say Boston didn’t earn the win. The Uprising got leveled out a bit later in the week when they played Dallas Fuel to a close 3 – 2 series. How can this team upset London and almost lose to the Fuel in the same week?

There’s a lot of reasons. This would certainly have been a challenging week of prep for the Boston team, but a lot of it comes down to play style. Dallas has specialized in a defensive play style while Boston’s primarily been a team playing dive with Striker on Tracer and DreamKazper on Genji. Playing counter strategies or being proficient in one play style over another creates irregularities in match outcomes, in which teams all across the power rankings can have very different outcomes versus one another. This isn’t a linear science, which I think makes power rankings really misleading to so many people.

On the Gladiators then, and why I ranked them above the Uprising up until last week, there are a few important things to note. LA Gladiators also had a very challenging schedule to start their season. While they didn’t have a huge upset against the full Korean rosters (unsurprisingly going 0 – 8 against Seoul and NY), they did reverse sweep Philly in week two, and played a close series in, which they got reverse swept, against the LA Valiant. What I saw in the Gladiators was a team that is really linear in play style, however Shaz, Biggoose, and Bischu were looking really good to me. As for their DPS, Asher and Hydration have high highs, but they’re average level of play isn’t remotely close to the better DPS pairs in OWL. Further, iRemix has a tendency to get bopped by discord orbs and lose fights for his team before they start.

So, considering this, I examined what I saw up until this point (being week 3, last week), and I made the decision that I would rank Gladiators above the Uprising. I think they lost games they should have lost, but they played incredibly close games with teams that were close to them in the tables. I believe that the story of how Boston upset London can’t be told in the data, and that if the two teams were to play again that London would surely win, and this is one area where data falls short. All in all, I made the choice that I would rank LAG above the BU knowing full well that Boston would surpass them the very next week. This is just the nature of power rankings, and why they shouldn’t be taken at surface level.

So what is the future for both of these teams? The Gladiators have fallen into a steep decline, which was predicable at the beginning of the season. They’re a stagnant team with few options for variation, so the more tape (VODs) the other teams get on them the easier they are to figure out. Conversely, Boston has surprised everyone. Let’s be honest, now we can consider them a strong roster, but coming into the league nearly every analyst failed to see how this team was going to succeed.

Striker and Dreamkazper have been the value DPS pickup of the season bar none, performing so much higher than anyone could have imagined. Striker’s got the insane stats on paper and Dreamkazper has the wide hero pool and makes the plays that you won’t necessarily see in the stats sheet. Gamsu and Neko have both shown huge improvements from their time together on ConBox Spirit over in the Apex series. To me Neko’s shown more improvement since he started at a lower level than Gamsu, but really it’s the story of this team as a whole. Gamsu loves to counter dive. His previous problem was that the dive would often kill him, but now he has the team around him to be able to survive, which means he’s got one of the highest ultimate generation times for primal rage in the league. Expect Boston’s matches against Philly and Houston next week to be some of the best in week five.

2. Points of Interest in Week 4

1. I’m including weekly scores from now on and putting my rankings into a graph format so that it’s easier to read. Data without transparency can be really misleading, and I want to give everyone a better snap shot of what happened during each week. I think this additional annotation will help in a few ways. Primarily, I think it will help with explaining the relevance of variations in rank per team at a glance. However, score differentials don’t tell the whole story. I think it’ll be a better jumping point for readers to see the data and investigate what happened. For example, how did Boston go 8 – 0 this week, and who did they play? How did Seoul go 3 – 6, resulting in London and NY nearly catching them in overall map score?

2. LA Valiant had an polarizing week. While they beat Philly 4 – 0, they lost to Boston 0 – 4, who are ranked lower than Philly. Part of this was that the match against the Fusion was actually a very contentious 4 – 0. Nearly every map was neck and neck, save for control. The Valiant are beginning to fall a bit to the wayside. I pointed out earlier in the stage that I think the Valiant’s biggest weakness is that they lack playing varying play styles and their best players have too much hero overlap. Verbo looked uncomfortable on the Mercy, being picked off so many times having poor positioning or going for dangerous resurrects. Soon, who has been a pillar of support for the Valiant, was consistently shutdown by Striker and Dreamkazper.

Still, I attribute Boston’s win heavily to their preparation for the match. When the LA Valiant were still under the name Immortals in Contenders they came into season 1 after a dominant season 0, however as time went on teams figured out how they tick, resulting in a disappointing season 1 outcome for them. LA is going to have to identify how they’re stagnating and scout for players that can open them up to more possibilities. Also, they need to clean up their communication and ult usage in panic situations such as when they completely fell apart on the second round of defense on Eichenwalde against Boston.

3. Seoul had a strange appearance this week. They didn’t manage to take a single point against the London Spitfire until the fourth map of the match, and they didn’t play Ryujehong at all, opting for Gido instead. Notably London primarily fielded the GC Busan roster, which was the only team to be able to take an Apex Championship from Lunatic Hai, the core of Seoul’s roster. In some ways it looked like Seoul was inside their own heads, but they didn’t look great against Houston either.

To be fair, Houston have maintained strong momentum and consistency, despite lacking Linkzr this week due to illness. So what needs to change? Seoul looked strangely stale this week in their play style. When the core of this roster was called Lunatic Hai they specialized in developing counter strategies and switching up their play style when needed. Notably, in Apex Season 3’s group stage they destroyed the Rogue, considered a top two western roster of all french players, due to their disengaging play style. Lunatic Hai would bait out Winz’s Lucio ult or Unkoe’s transcendence and then just run away, giving them ultimate advantage in the next fight.

In the same season of Apex Lunatic Hai managed to 4 – 0 an incredibly strong Afreeca Blue whom up until they played in the semifinals were 5 – 0 over both group stages. AF. Blue looked unstable and favorites to win the season, but LH had engineered a genius strategy. Lunatic Hai was considered to have poor DPS compared to other teams, so they innovated. by utlizing Esca on Sombra to hack the enemy’s D.Va  (or Zenyatta) it allowed LH to focus either of these targets down without a hitch. With no mercy in the meta, getting these picks usually meant winning the fight.  Without Zenyatta’s shields or D.Va’s matrix they’re easy targets, so even on maps where Sombra isn’t very good, such as Eichenwalde, this strategy worked. These are the kinds of innovative strategies that made the core of the Seoul Dynasty’s roster two time back to back Apex Champions, and why they were considered one of the best teams going into OWL season 1. Seoul now has a bolstered roster from back then with more options at the tank role and far superior DPS players. I think Seoul is stuttering right now, but they’ve retained the old Lunatic Hai coach ‘alwaysoov,’ so they have the resources to innovate and bring themselves back again.

Player of the Week


Jonathan ‘Dreamkazper’ Sanchez – Before OWL he spent most of 2017 playing on Tempostorm, a team that was never on the radar as a top team. Luckily, President Huk saw the potential of this player, sneaking him from under every other team’s nose. Dreamkazper surprised everyone right out of the gates with his impressive hero pool. He’s played 11 unique heroes substantially: Genji, Pharah, Mccree, Reaper, Soldier, Tracer, Roadhog, D.Va, Widowmaker, Junkrat, and Hanzo. He shines most brightly on his signature Genji, but this past week he really leveled up his Pharah play, destroying Agilities (and subsequently, Verbo) in his match against the LA Valiant in addition to a fun grav-bomb reflect onto Soon’s Zarya. Boston ran the LA gauntlet this week and came out completely unscathed in a clean 8 – 0 week. Luckily, he’s in great company. Boston as a package have leveled up their game, but Dreamkazper has been an absolute pleasure to watch. He holds the highest kills per dragon blade in the OWL.


Thanks for reading! As always, tune in next Sunday for a summary of week 5’s OWL matches and the conclusion of Stage 1. Look out for deeper analysis content on OWL in the future, or check my archive of past articles.

Twitter: @Howl_CK

Dallas Fuel Coach Informs Fan “Life is real,” Fan has Existential Crisis.

Week 1

Los Angeles, CA – Reports are in that one OWL fan has been hospitalized this week due to a tweet! Sources close to this fan tell us that he passionately loves the Dallas Fuel, and believes they are still the best western team in the OWL, if only they would play their old roster. It’s true, Dallas Fuel have been running Seagull over Taimou more and more, but a more pressing concern to this fan is that they are fielding support player Custa over Harryhook.

Passionate that the amateur and inexperienced coach of the Dallas Fuel had no clue what he was doing, this fan vehemently tweeted to coach KyKy, telling him that HarryHook is “really good” and asking “What is this s#!t?” The fan even @ him! Wow.

Coach KyKy has been with this team since they were known as EnVyUs, under which name they became the only western team to attend a Korean tournament and win it all in a team game. However, being an extremely dominant western team for over a year isn’t enough experience in coaching. Twitter analysts have been repeatedly telling KyKy that Dallas just needs to run a dive comp, but he’s just too stubborn to listen to this insightful advice on the team he works with every day. Amateur move, dude.

Regardless of his lack of credentials, KyKy replied to fans with a tweet clarifying the situation. He summed up that Harryhook has been sick and that, “Life is real.” Well, when the particularly dedicated fan saw this while sitting at his computer in his parent’s basement he immediately went into shock. Thankfully his parents discovered him when he didn’t come to the dinner table that night.

kyky tweet harryhook

Doctors told us that this fan went into a brief state of super-consciousness, during which his mind transcended from his body. After returning to consciousness the fan describes his experience as “other worldly,” and, “an entire parallel universe” in which people leave their computer chairs and experience the outside world and life, which is apparently real (Who knew?).

We asked Blizzard for an official statement on this issue. They responded with just this one image.

Sideshow wutface

Truly Vexing.

While things yet look grim for the Dallas Fuel, they do have some bright sides. Harryhook’s fellow support player, Chipshajen, has been holding this team together in game with his ridiculously patient Mercy play. His conservative approach to ultimate usage and defensive positioning compliment the team’s defensive play style with their weirdly obsessive Orisa use well, but it hasn’t been enough. The Dallas Fuel now hold a 1 – 5 record going into week 4 of Stage 1 of Season one of the Overwatch League, A.K.A. the inaugural season. Just as important as Chips holding the team together in game is Mickie Holding the them together with his positive attitude out of the game.

To put it metaphorically, one could say these two players are the cheese of the grilled cheese that is Dallas Fuel. Effect can be in there too. Meanwhile, Cocco, Taimou,  Custa and Seagull seem to be the flaky bread, sometimes performing well and other times being burnt to a crisp before you know it. From here I guess the only way I can finish this article articulately is to take this metaphor way too far. In that case, Harryhook is the meat of the sandwich, which has been left out. Why have a grilled cheese when you could have a ham and cheese melt? KyKy is the one in charge of cutting the sandwich, who foolishly cuts it straight down the middle instead of cutting it diagonally. Who does that? All that’s left is xQc, then, who must be the ketchup on the side. Some people love him, some people hate him, but we can all agree that, like ketchup has vinegar, xQc can be sweet and sour. Sour patch kids are also like that, and they’re an official sponsor of the OWL now. Coincidence?

We asked our in house analysts what they think of the Fuel’s future. Here’s what they had to report:

The Dallas Fuel have some chances to win coming up, so not all hope is lost. This week they play the Philadelphia Fusion and the New York Excelsior [is that how you spell it??]. Believe it or not, but this might be an okay match up for Dallas due to their defensive play style possibly countering these two teams that specialize in Dive. They’re probably going to lose, though. Next week they play Shanghai Dragons and the LA Gladiators, both of which Dallas has a decent chance against. Honestly, it’ll probably all come down to if Harryhook can play this week. Hopefully coach KyKy shapes up soon and hopefully our dear hospitalized fan makes a speedy recovery.


This has been an insider report from the OverReach journalism network.

*This article is completely satirical and in no way should be taken seriously