Colin ‘Howl’ Kenitz
|Rank||Weekly Variation||Team||Wins||Losses||Map W-L-T||Differential|
|1||[=]||New York Excelsior||16||2||58-17-2||41|
|5||[+1]||Los Angeles Gladiators||10||8||38-36-1||2|
|7||[=]||Los Angeles Valiant||11||7||42-29-4||13|
|9||[+1]||San Francisco Shock||6||12||29-42-3||-13|
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.
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
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.