Update: Sometimes, knowing what month it is is tough. For whatever reason, I forgot it was April which means that Super is eligible to play immediately in stage three for the Shock.
Today is the day! Stage three of the inaugural season of the Overwatch League is here. There have been a few trades and player pickups along with some interesting storylines, the new map pool and changes to the stage playoffs heading into the stage. But first, let’s begin with the map pool:
Assault – Volskaya Industries, Temple of Anubis
Hybrid – Numbani, Blizzard World
Control – Ilios, Nepal
Escort – Junkertown, Route 66
Tiebreaker – Oasis
While stage two saw the much needed change of moving the playoff matches to Sunday, stage three changes the format even more. Now, the first place team will not have a bye because the top four teams will make the playoffs instead of the top three. But, the first place team will be able to choose who their opponent will be for the semifinal match which can add to some great storylines and upsets. The prize money of $100,000 to the first place team and $25,000 to the runner-up will remain the same.
Boston Uprising: No changes
Dallas Fuel: +Unkoe, OGE -Custa
As of writing this article, a trade has just been completed for the Dallas Fuel to trade one of their support players, Custa to the Valiant for support player Unkoe. From an outside perspective, this makes little sense for the Fuel. Custa seemed to have evolved into a leader on the team and the most vocal shotcaller they had. I’m not sure what they see in Unkoe that they didn’t in Custa, but I guess time will tell.
Also, main tank player OGE will be finally be available after serving a four match suspension for account boosting. The Fuel haven’t had great luck with main tanks and, surprisingly by necessity, the combo of Mickie on main tank and Seagull on off-tank seemed decent. However, it’s likely not viable long-term.
Florida Mayhem: +Sayaplayer, +Awesomeguy
These two were signed weeks ago, but have finally made their way over to the US and will be available for stage three. Sayaplayer is a DPS hitscan specialist which is great to be able to give Tviq and Logix a break as they have played every game thus far. Awesomeguy is a tank allowing Cwoosh to take a breath as well. While they likely won’t start right away due to the recent success of the Mayhem and the language barrier, look for their debuts in maybe week two or three. Florida is slowly coming together and acquiring depth at each position.
Houston Outlaws: No changes
London Spitfire: +Tizi
While formally announced as a signing on March 8th, Tizi should be joining the Spitfire for stage three. With Fissure having been sent to the Gladiators, Tizi is another main tank to back up Gesture who I don’t believe has been out of the lineup once during the regular season.
Los Angeles Gladiators: +Void, Silkthread
A late pickup, the Gladiators picked up Fissure’s old tank partner from Team Kongdoo, Void. He is known as one of the best D.Va players in the world which will be interesting as Bischu has been a mainstay in the lineup and performed well. If they decide to run Void instead of Bischu, there could also be some translation issues since Void doesn’t speak much English.
Silkthread is coming from the LA Valiant where he received little playing time. As another DPS player, it only helps the flexibility of swapping in different combinations of Surefour, Asher and Hydration (the last of which he has previously played with). I think this is a good move for both sides. The Valiant weren’t getting any use out of him and the Gladiators added to their depth.
Los Angeles Valiant: +Bunny, Space
Bunny was one of the Dynasty’s players in the DPS rotation including Munchkin and Wekeed to play alongside Fleta. Munchkin’s play improved dramatically in stage two with Wekeed coming in as more of a DPS specialist. Bunny seemed like the odd one out and this move is fantastic for LA. There hasn’t been consistency in their lineup since stage two began. Agilities seems to have fallen from grace and the support player, Kariv, transitioned onto DPS (a role which he excelled in pre-OWL) and has performed well. However, his constant switching between the roles has contributed to a lack of consistency that hurt the Valiant overall in stage two. Bunny can slot in alongside Soon very well.
The Valiant will also gain tank player, Space who recently turned 18 and will be eligible for stage three play. In the past he has played for North American teams Cloud9 and Arc6, so he will be tested in OWL. Luckily, he has Envy and Fate to study from as one of the best tank duos in the league.
Lastly is the Dallas Fuel support, Custa. While primarily a Zenyatta and Mercy player, he can flex onto other supports and is a fantastic shot-caller and quickly became a team leader while with Dallas. He should bring some fantastic intangibles to the squad and will pair up nicely with Verbo.
New York Excelsior: No changes
Philadelphia Fusion: No changes
San Francisco Shock: +Super, iddqd, Architect
The rest of the young guns for the Shock will finally arrive as tank player Super will be available toward the latter half of stage three. While I don’t know much about him, he has been part of the common point of view from the commentators that “Once Sinatraa and Super come into play, the Shock will be much better.” Nomy’s performances on main tank have been hit or miss throughout the season, so having Super be able to come in will help them quite a bit.
Also, iddqd? Will he play? I’m not sure anyone knows for certain. The popular streamer was sick leading into stage one and did not get to play with the team, but he continued to be absent in stage two. He’s another hitscan player which San Franciso has a wealth of already (Danteh, Babybay, Sinatraa, Architect) so I’m not sure where he fits in. As one of the older players in the league, he could transition into a coaching role, but everyone would love to see him get on stage.
Lastly is Architect, a South Korean DPS player who turned 18 in February. He should be available for stage three and complete the “core of the future” with Sinatraa and Super. I’m excited to see these young guys finally take the stage and show what they can do.
Seoul Dynasty: +Gambler
South Korean DPS player Gambler was signed in February and will hopefully be joining the team for stage three. He’s likely being brought in for depth at support with Tobi and Ryujehong being the stalwarts in the starting lineup potentially pairing up with Gido if Seoul decides to run an “A” and “B” lineup.
Shanghai Dragons: +Geguri, Sky -Undead
Both tank player Geguri and support Sky are in the United States and will play for the Dragons in stage three. As most have heard by now, Geguri will be the first female player in Overwatch League and I already feel bad for her. There seems to be an immense pressure as the flag-bearer for her entire sex and her performances will be even more picked apart than most. But I’m hoping that she can tune enough of it out to focus on improving, especially with the language barrier that she has to initially work through.
Also, one of the bright spots for the team, DPS player Undead, has been released. This is incredibly disappointing as Shanghai is finally getting some reinforcements to push for their first win. Both him and his DPS partner Diya had returned to China toward the end of stage two missing several matches so the writing may have been on the wall. We’ll see if Diya ends up with the same fate.
Geguri’s long-awaited debut will happen in stage three and will be important to watch for the future of getting more women into the league moving forward. It’s an unfair burden, but one that happens when someone is the first to take that step.
It will be interesting to see how quickly she can become accustomed to the language barrier with the rest of her team as well as if herself and Sky may be enough to get Shanghai their first win of the season.
Dallas Fuel’s Continued Implosion
As the pre-season favorite to be the best western team in the league, their season has been disastrous. Between suspensions, bans, new players, a lack of consistency and some confidence issues, the Fuel have been a mess. xQc was released from the team and their main tank replacement, OGE, was suspended for four games almost immediately after before playing a single map in the league.
While Dallas became fun to root against due to the toxic nature of the team including homophobic comments from the aforementioned xQc and Taimou, they are simply sad at this point. They don’t need to change coaches and they don’t necessarily need to add players. Remember that the core of this team is the one who competed in South Korea and won, something westerners rarely do in esports. What they need is consistency with no suspensions, bans or trips home. While I’m not sure Seagull playing tank is the long-term answer, he looked good. When asked on his stream what he thought about playing D.Va, he simply said (paraphrasing), “She’s just a fat Genji who has to right click for her teammates every once in awhile.”
Can the Dynasty Finally Reach the Playoffs?
Coming into the season the team formerly known as Lunatic Hai was the favorite to win the league. However, they’ve been inconsistent, especially against the other all Korean teams in London and New York. They haven’t made any sweeping roster changes with the one addition, Gambler, likely not affecting their starting lineup. I’m honestly not sure what is going on with them, but they need to finish stages as strong as they have started them and they’ll be in a good place. Whether it is a lack of preparation, hubris or whatever it may be, they have to figure it out.
For the first week of stage three of the Overwatch League, my predictions are as follows with a new (MOTD) prediction within the prediction of what match I think will wow us:
Day 1: SHANGHAI over Dallas, Seoul over Valiant, Gladiators over Shock (MOTD)
Day 2: New York over Florida, Philadelphia over Boston, London over Houston (MOTD)
Day 3: Gladiators over Fuel, Valiant over Shanghai, Seoul over San Francisco (MOTD)
Day 4: Philadelphia over Florida, Boston over Houston, New York over London (MOTD)
All player images are courtesy of Dot Esports unless noted otherwise.