New York Excelsior 3 - Houston Outlaws 2
The New York Excelsior finished Stage 4 in dramatic fashion on Friday with a 3-2 win over the Houston Outlaws at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
With this loss, Houston was eliminated from playoff contention.
The Excelsior's recent losing streak had many fans worrying entering the end of the regular season, and while some would argue the NYXL was simply going through the motions, the back-and-forth nature of this match wasn't exactly reassuring. The usual stalwarts of the NYXL, support Bang "JJoNak" Sung-hyeon and DPS Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong-yeol, looked sloppy in this one, sometimes playing completely by themselves and not with the rest of the team.
Fortunately for New York, though, other players stepped up to carry the load, particularly DPS Kim "Libero" Hae-seong, who had a phenomenal series. Whether he was carrying as Pharah, Brigitte or even Tracer, Libero was the shining star for the Excelsior and obliterated the Outlaws throughout the series.
While the team seemed to be its recent, inconsistent self throughout the first four games, Game 5 on Nepal saw New York look better than it has in recent weeks and showed just how lethal this team can be as it heads into the Stage 4 playoffs.
This series was heartbreaking for the Outlaws: It needed a win against the best team in the world to stay alive in the season playoff hunt, and Houston got very close to doing just that. DPS Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin did his best to carry the team and went toe-to-toe with New York's DPS duos, but he didn't have the help necessary to put the Excelsior away.
Houston's frontline was solid, with off-tank Matt "coolmatt" Iorio playing exceptionally well in Game 5, but it couldn't stand up to the destructive power of JJoNak's Zenyatta. Houston's backline left a lot to be desired, too. This inaugural season has been disappointing for the Outlaws, which had promising moments amongst inconsistent stretches, leaving fans to wonder what could have been and what the Outlaws need to do to reach those lofty heights again.
The Excelsior will next play in the Stage 4 playoffs on Sunday, while the Outlaws' season is done.
-- Noah Waltzer
Los Angeles Gladiators 3 - Seoul Dynasty 1
The Overwatch League playoff hopes of Seoul Dynasty were snuffed out by the Los Angeles Gladiators in a 3-1 win on Friday at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
This series was perhaps the perfect summation of how this season has gone for the Dynasty. Seoul came out the gate with a strong win on King's Row in Game 1 but went completely silent on the three remaining maps.
In Friday's series, much like the majority of this season, Seoul simply faltered when the going got tough. Most surprising of all was the complete disappearance of DPS star Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun throughout the series. While he was in the MVP conversation for much of the year, Fleta was nowhere to be found when his team needed a win in order to keep its playoff hopes alive. He was outdueled at every turn by Gladiators DPS Lane "Surefour" Roberts, who was electric on Widowmaker from start to finish.
Not only did the Gladiators come up with a win to eliminate the Dynasty from playoff contention, but it did so without main tank Baek "Fissure" Chan-hyung, who was sidelined due to an illness. Instead, Luis Galarza "iRemiix" Figueroa stepped into the fold and held his own against Seoul main tank Kim "KuKi" Dae-kuk.
Of course, iRemiix's job was made much easier by the DPS duo of Surefour and Joao Pedro "Hydration" Goes Telles handily winning the DPS battle on every map. For as great as Surefour was on Widowmaker, Hydration was just as good, if not better, as Doomfist, which ended up being the difference whenever the Gladiators needed to make one last push.
While this was no doubt a tough one to stomach for the Dynasty, the Gladiators can hang its hat on being the team who eliminated the preseason favorite from playoff contention. The win also locked in all six playoff teams, as the Philadelphia Fusion secured its spot without having to lift a finger by virtue of Los Angeles' win.
The Gladiators will now look ahead to the Stage 4 playoffs this Sunday, while the Dynasty will get back to the drawing board and hope to improve before Season 2.
-- Noah Waltzer
Dallas Fuel 3 - Los angeles Valiant 1
The Los Angeles Valiant's hope of a 10-0 Stage 4 were dashed by the Dallas Fuel in a 3-1 loss to close out Friday's Overwatch League slate at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
The Valiant entered Friday's series with a shot at becoming just the second team this season to finish with a perfect 10-0 stage record. The performance that it put forth in this series, however, was a far cry from what fans have come to expect from this team here in Stage 4.
Outside of getting a narrow edge of Horizon Lunar Colony, the Valiant looked completely outmatched at just about every position. As such the Fuel has its way in all the major teamfights, allowing Dallas to keep up the constant pressure and ensure that Los Angeles was always playing at a disadvantage. Whether it be in the ultimate economy or resurrections from Mercy, Dallas held and edge in all aspects of the game pretty much from start to finish.
While Dallas was firing on all cylinders from top to bottom, it was the tank core that was absolutely wreaking havoc on Los Angeles. Main tank Son "OGE" Min-seok's Winston and Reinhardt were the key and pushing the Valiant around, forcing key members off points and payloads to secure his team objectives. Flex Brandon "Seagull" Larned continued his resurgence here in the final Stage of the season, landing some impressive and positionally sound ultimates with his D.Va. Last, but certainly not least, was flex Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod who once again made a case for best Brigitte in the league with yet another incredible showing on the champion. No one on the Valiant were safe from his reign of terror as he led his team into battle each and every time.
With the tanks putting up an impenetrable frontline, there was simply no room for the Valiant to break back into this series once the Fuel got rolling. The inaugural season of the Overwatch League certainly didn't go as Dallas had hoped but picking up a big win against one of the hottest teams in the league and keeping its Stage 4 playoff hopes alive was a much-needed confidence boost for this team.
The Valiant will now prepare for the Stage 4 Playoffs, while the Fuel will be keeping an eye on the London Spitfire vs. Philadelphia Fusion match on Saturday to learn its playoff seeding.
-- Wyatt Donigan