Dallas Fuel 3 - London Spitfire 1
The Dallas Fuel kicked off Saturday's Overwatch League slate with a convincing 3-1 win over the London Spitfire at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
No longer a punching bag for most OWL teams, the Fuel has come alive after a change in coaching staff and built itself up as a Stage 4 powerhouse. Indeed, several players have turned their individual stocks around after a disastrous start to the season, none more so perhaps than flex player Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod.
After having a rough go of things in the first three stages, Mickie has found new life with the introduction of Brigitte and used the new hero to great effect. It's not just Mickie's Brigitte that has impressed, though. In Game 3 on Lijiang Tower, Mickie also displayed a mastery of Zarya and showed off his signature D.Va. His newfound versatility showed that sometimes all a player needs is a change of direction.
Dallas' dominating win was certainly impressive; the team full-held the first two games on Blizzard World and Horizon Lunar Colony, respectively. However, this series was as much a Spitfire loss as much as a Fuel win.
The London Spitfire has been quite public with its internal struggles and recently released a slew of bench players to try to get more practice time with its core roster. Still, the Stage 1 champions couldn't hold even with a Fuel team that has only recently started to improve.
London's shortcomings were mostly mental in this series as it tried to brute force dive compositions against one of the best anti-dive teams in the world. The Spitfire didn't capture a single point until Game 4 on Watchpoint: Gibraltar, and while it did manage to take that hotly contested Game 4, the damage was already done.
The Fuel prepares now for the Battle for Texas against the Houston Outlaws at 11 p.m. ET on Wednesday, while the Spitfire will take on the Los Angeles Valiant at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday.
-- Noah Waltzer
Los Angeles Valiant 3 - New York Excelsior 2
The Los Angeles Valiant picked up a 3-2 win over the Overwatch League-leading New York Excelsior on Saturday in Burbank, California.
With the monumental win in hand, the Valiant took a commanding lead in the Pacific division standings just a few days after taking down another top threat in the Los Angeles Gladiators. Throughout the course of this series, both teams took turns taking over maps, with New York dominating Blizzard World on the back of solid team fundamentals while LA took Horizon Lunar Colony. In Game 2 on Horizon, the NYXL refused to adapt to LA's anti-dive defensive setup and ran headfirst into a brick wall with predictable results.
During the first half, Valiant DPS Terence "SoOn" Tarlier, tasked with trying to take down New York DPS Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong-yeol, struggled mightily. Things went from bad to worse for SoOn in the second half as he suddenly had to contend with New York's other two DPS players, Kim "Libero" Hae-seong and Kim "Pine" Do-hyeon, who played a brutal double-sniper lineup as Hanzo and Widowmaker, respectively.
Fortunately for the Valiant, SoOn had backup. Fellow DPS Brady "Agilities" Girardi played fantastically throughout the series on heroes ranging from Brigitte to Pharah, while off-tank Indy "SPACE" Halpern came up clutch in the second half and dominated the tie-breaking Game 5 on Nepal as Roadhog and D.Va.
Los Angeles showed veteran poise in a back-breaking Game 4 win, when it held New York to just 3 meters away from completing the map for several minutes on defense before finishing out the map on attack. That's not to say that the Excelsior never controlled its own destiny, though, as the NYXL simply lost focus on attack. Libero threw out errant Dragonstrikes, Pine looked like he was going for montage highlights in a solo queue match and overall the defending Stage 3 champions looked like they were messing around.
That came back to bite New York in the end, as Los Angeles took a big win against a team that seems destined for the season finals this summer.
The Valiant will next take on the London Spitfire at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, followed by New York looking to bounce back against the Los Angeles Gladiators at 9 p.m. ET later that day.
-- Noah Waltzer
Houston Outlaws 3 - Florida Mayhem 1
The Houston Outlaws took down the Florida Mayhem in a 3-1 Overwatch League victory on Saturday at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
The Florida Mayhem came into this match with DPS star Ha "Sayaplayer" Jung-woo on the sideline and DPS Andreas "Logix" Berghmans in the starting lineup. While the Mayhem kicked things off by knocking down everything in its path, it quickly lost momentum whenever the Outlaws had a chance to regroup.
Florida couldn't sustain its attacks for very long, and the team struggled to focus on the same target, which gave Houston time to gain an advantage. On defense, though, the Mayhem gave the Outlaws a run for its money to avoid being completely run over. Still, a team needs to be able to obtain points for itself rather than solely deny points to an opponent, which is where Florida ultimately faltered in this series.
Despite being the favorites, the Houston Outlaws had to put in a lot of effort to keep the Mayhem in check. However, more often than not, Houston kept itself alive. Support duo Shane "Rawkus" Flaherty and Chris "Bani" Benell, on Zenyatta and Mercy, respectively, did an incredible job of keeping the DPS and tank players up and running. As a result, Houston could play much more loosely while outlasting the Mayhem in teamfights. Once Houston had a game plan in mind, Florida was extremely hard-pressed to do anything about it.
The Florida Mayhem's next match will be against the Shanghai Dragons at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday, while the Houston Outlaws next face the Dallas Fuel at 11 p.m. ET later that evening.
-- Liam Craffey