And the book is officially closed on stage one of the 2019 Overwatch League. The final week of stage 1 was full of close matches and high drama. But, when all is said and done only eight teams could make our stage 1 playoffs, and now we know who they are. Let’s take a look at the final standings.
The Boston Upraising and the Seoul Dynasty squeaking into the playoffs were a surprise to some, especially since this is Seoul’s first playoff appearance. That being said, the rest of the pack are who we expected going into week five. Let’s move onto some looks at the games that happened this week.
After dropping its first match of the week 1-2-1 against the Paris Eternal, the Washington Justice managed to score a 3-2 victory over Florida to avoid going 0-7 for stage one. The team has shown a lot of growth over the stage and with the next couple of weeks off, they have time to practice. I have high hopes that stage two will only have bigger and better things for Washington.
Adding a special touch to their win was the bonus of this win was the first for Washington’s starter Ado. A former Shanghai player, before being traded to Washington, he had previously gone 30+ games without a win. Seeing such a strong player finally get the well-deserved win was a great moment.
Seoul managed to snap their winless streak against London, defeating them 3-0 and locking themselves a playoff berth. Behind the shield of main tank Fissure, and propelled by the high energy kills of Fleta’s Zarya, Seoul earned their first playoff appearance ever.
The Chengdu Hunters closed their stage one run with a big win against newcomers, the Atlanta Reign. While they ended the season just short of a playoff berth, they showed positive momentum to head into stage two. Their unique team compositions, and surprise plays have only improved as their execution has gotten tighter and more practiced.
The Vancouver Titans swept their final match of the stage against the Guangzhou Charge, giving them the undefeated 7-0 in stage one as well as the first place spot heading into the playoffs, just edging out the New York Excelsior by +2 on the map differential. Given how close their first meeting went this stage against Guangzhou it shows how much Vancouver has improved as this stage as gone on. It’s impressive for an expansion team to be the team to beat going into the stage playoffs. And I for one am looking forward to seeing if they can cap this stage one with a finals victory.
What started favorably for the Houston Outlaws, as they opened with a 2-1 victory on Ilios, quickly spiraled out of control. While early success was built on some superb Sombra play from Danteh, their opponents quickly compensated. Leaving fans to watch Houston’s playoff hopes slip away. One problem that hounded them throughout the match was continued issues for Jack on the Brigitte. Far too many team fights began with Jack on the wrong side of the kill feed for Houston to keep their team together. If GOATS remains big in the meta in stage two, Houston MUST find an answer for their ongoing Brigitte problem.
The Dallas Fuel looked to be on their way to a playoff spot as they opened their match with a 2-0 map lead going into the half. But the Boston team that had played them the first half was not the same team they played the second half. With Boston adapting to their Sombra tricks, and OGE starting to lose tank battles to Boston’s Fusions, Dallas saw the match slip away from them.
While Paris went 1-1 this week there wasn’t much to cheer about. With their victory coming in the form of a 2-1-1 win over 1-6 Washington things are looking grim for the team that entered the season being touted as one of the strongest GOATS teams in the league. Their greatest weakness is their lack of the strong Zarya, which the current meta all but demands. Both SoOn and ShaDowBurn have struggled to maintain the high energy levels Zarya needs to be that big damage dealer GOATS requires. With an expected meta shift away from GOATS between stage 1 and stage 2 it will be interesting to see whether that change will alleviate some of Paris’s woes, or compound them as they have to shift their focus to new team comps they are unprepared for.
Let’s Talk About the Meta
GOATS was still the composition of choice, not to anyone’s surprise. There was a fair amount of alternative compositions, including a fair amount of quad DPS and some bunker comps where appropriate. I imagine the meta will remain the same for the stage one playoffs next week, while beyond that is anyone’s guess. If the new patch comes through during the break, as everyone is expecting, we could see a seismic level change in the meta. Which could bring even more excitement to the upcoming stage of OWL. And this stage held plenty of excitement as it is.
Player of the Week
AimGod played his role as Zenyatta to the usual level of excellence we have come to expect. While covering all the healing and damage boosting one normally expects of Zenyatta, AimGod also showed amazing adaptability in his adjustment to playing around Dallas’s Sombra play in their match this week. Whether he was keeping himself clear of EMPs to save his team with a timely transcendence, or getting the crucial pick offs to dismantle Dallas’s plans, AimGod was a key component of Boston’s victory, and certainly worthy of Player of the Week.
And that’s it for week 5 of the Overwatch League. Hope you will come back on Wednesday for my aforementioned Stage 1 Playoff Preview.