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The Overwatch league is a push into establishing a structured esports league for Overwatch. Blizzard first announced the Overwatch League at Blizzcon 2016 and followed it up with almost a year of planning. The gap left in Overwatch esports during this time left a lot of dismayed fans. But the community’s response to the Opening day of Overwatch League has been nothing short of impressive. With over 400,000 fans tuning into Twitch for the first day, one can definitely call the League a success.
The Overwatch League consists of twelve teams in its first season. Slated for expansion in subsequent seasons, the League bears a strong tilt towards North American teams. There are nine teams from North America, One from Europe, One from South Korea and finally a Chinese team from Shanghai to finish the lineup. Each team is allowed a maximum of twelve players, with teams being allowed to substitute players after each map. The Overwatch League has seen investments from several non-endemic to esports investors such as the Kroenke family, Robert Kraft, Hersh Interactive amongst others. At the same time, we have some well-known esports organizations involved in the regular handling of the teams. EnVyUs, Misfits, Immortals, and Cloud9 are some of the most well-known esports organizations with rosters in multiple titles.
The Overwatch League started on January 10th, 2018 and will continue through August 2018. The league comprises four stages, each stage having five weeks of matches. The top three of each stage will receive prize money, along with show matches on the last Saturday of each stage. These so-called ‘title matches’ will be held on the last Saturday of each stage and feature the best players fighting for a prize money.
As we head into the fourth week of Stage 2, the Playoff Predictions are slowly taking shape. The table is still filled with Korean teams at the top, but there are several NA based teams with a good chance to make it into the playoffs. As Chris Puckett says, Every Map matters.
The Overwatch League will also have a Player Transfer Window which commences from the day following the last day of Stage 1 (February 11, 2018) and will close one day before the start of Stage 3 ( April 3, 2018).
You can check out more information on the official website at Overwatchleague.com.
Credit to Liquipedia
Regular Season – January 10th – June 16th, 2018
- Matches in the Atlantic and Pacific Divisions will play out live from the Blizzard Arena each Wednesday through Saturday. Though the season is divided into four stages, wins and losses will count towards teams’ full-season records and all-important seeding for the postseason. On the last Saturday of each stage, the top teams will compete for hefty bonuses and the title of stage winner.
- Stage 1 – January 10th – February 10th, 2018 
- Stage 2 – February 21st – March 24th, 2018
- Stage 3 – April 4th – May 5th, 2018
- Stage 4 – May 16th – June 16th, 2018
- All matches in the Regular Season will consist of four-map sets
- Each Stage of the Regular Season will have its own 8 map pool.
- The top team in each Division, and the next top 4 finishers from the entire league, advance to the Championship Playoffs in July.
Houston Outlaws vs LA Gladiators
Houston Outlaws is owned by Hector Rodriguez, Owner, and CEO of OpTic Gaming. The team has a green colored scheme keeping in tune with the Optic Gaming colors. It has a huge fan following amongst the fans especially after their performance during Stage 1.
Houston Outlaws earned the playoff spot during Stage 1. Their loss to London Spitfire was a bitter pill to swallow, but they were definitely considered to be one of the strongest teams in the Overwatch League. The Houston Outlaws had Jake on the Junkrat and it seemed almost impossible to deal with the player on the hero. Jake’s Junkrat had a perfect synergy with the rest of the team. The insane amounts of damage and especially Junkrat’s ability to one shot a flanking Tracer or Genji made the team extremely potent. However, with the latest changes to their lineup; the effectiveness of Junkrat has fallen off dramatically.
The DPS lineup for Houston Outlaws has definitely fallen off dramatically post their Stage 1 performance. Jake is not as effective on Tracer as he was on his Junkrat. The recall timing for the character has been questionable at best. However, this does not mean that Jake is a bad tracer. The fact is, however, that the team will need to readjust their playstyle according to the new balance in the team. They cannot implement the same thing as they did in Stage 1.
Linkzr remains one of the best and most consistent DPS in the League. He has a high skill cap for his performance throughout the league on his Genji, Widowmaker. However, with one side of the DPS duo falling off severely Linkzr cannot carry the team on his own. Surprisingly Houston Outlaws have not been using their remaining DPS players to their full potential. While they do use Clockwork from time to time, it really depends on the map & point in question. If a particular map does not require any possibility for the use of a Tracer, they run Clockwork. Clockwork, of course, has been exceptional and a highly consistent player in his hitscan role. However, he has had really less playtime in terms of hours on the roster.
The tanks for the team are very predictable. Coolmatt has been on the D’Va for the most part. The current meta of the Overwatch league requires a continuous usage of Dva rather than Zarya. Zarya is only used on specific maps or points such as King’s Row, Lijiang Tower ( Control Center) etc. The flexibility of D’va as a hero is much more than what Zarya can provide right now. This puts Coolmatt in a unique position as he is constantly on the starting roster. The tanks have been doing quite well for Houston Outlaws, but the fact is that the DPS efficiency has fallen off dramatically.
Los Angeles Gladiators
The Gladiators have improved so much since their Stage 1 performance. The addition of Fissure has improved their showing by a huge margin. The Los Angeles Gladiator DPS players have actually been quite good throughout their time on Stage 1. But when the tanks cannot create the space needed for the DPS, they are mostly feeding themselves without any coordination with the team.
With the addition of Fissure, the team has a tank who can play on the border of his best performance on a continuous basis. Fissure is definitely one of the best tanks in the League. The only reason he was actually cut from London Spitfire is that Gesture has a better team coordination with Birdring and Profit than Fissure. Fissure coordinates extremely well with Bischu on the team. Now you need to understand that Fissure still has a communication problem on the team. There are only a few individuals on the team who can communicate fluently with Fissure. But the game sense and the gameplay is at a very high level.
Los Angeles Gladiators have three DPS players in Surefour, Asher, and Hydration. These three DPS players have multiple heroes in their armory and they can swap them with relative ease. We have seen Surefour with some really amazing Widowmaker shots and he has been improving with time. As Fissure soaks up most of the damage, it really creates a lot of space for the likes of Surefour and Hydration on the backlines.
Hydration’s Genji has been particularly subdued of late, but his Pharah is one of the best Pharah’s in the game. The USP of Hydration Pharah is his ability to constantly hit direct shots on the opposing Pharah. Hydration is one of the best Air to Air Pharahs in the league and once he removes the opposing Pharah he dominates the skies.
The unspoken heroes for Los Angeles Gladiators, however, remain their support duo. BigGoose and Shaz have such a huge effect on the actual performance of the team. Shaz with his Zenyatta is as deadly, if not more deadly than the DPS on the team. BigGoose, of course, goes on to the more traditional healing role and ensuring the team is kept alive.
Overall the Los Angeles Gladiators look well-rounded and in a strong position for Stage 2. They are currently ranked 3rd in Stage 2, with a couple of tough matches coming up If they can win this particular match against Houston Outlaws, it almost guarantees a spot in the Stage 2 Title playoffs.
The two teams have had varying styles of play in the past few weeks. Both the teams have moved up or down dramatically since their Stage 1 performance. While Houston Outlaws seem to be much weaker as a team, Los Angeles Gladiators look unstoppable, especially after their 3-1 win over London Spitfire.
This match will have some key matchups between the two teams. The outcome of these matchups will definitely define the outcome of the match.
Asher vs Jake
The matchup between the Tracers will be so important in determining the actual outcome of several of the matches. Jake is a recent entry on the Tracer role in the League. We have criticised his performance on Tracer repeatedly and not without reason. His Recall timings on the character are very questionable and often form the difference between a good Tracer and a decent one. Jake would be considered a decent Tracer, especially since a Tracer depends on much more than just aim.
Asher definitely has the advantage in a head to head matchup between the Tracer. However, it also depends on how the two teams play against each other. If Jake does not decide to take on a duel with Asher, it might actually bode well for him ( if his past week’s performance is to be taken as the benchmark). Asher should come out on top in this duel, but it depends heavily on the playstyle of the two teams.
Fissure vs Muma
Rarely do we see a comparison being made between the two main tanks on the teams. However, with Fissure and Muma as the main tanks, this comparison had to be made. Fissure remains one of the best tanks in the Overwatch league. His first few matches for Gladiators showcased his immense individual skill. In some matches on Hanamura, he was responsible single-handedly for the deaths of four opponents. Of course with time, the Tank player has learned to integrate and synergize himself with the rest of the team on a much better basis. His performance with his co-tanks has been exceptional and it is rare to see him die.
Muma, on the other hand, has also been quite good. His choice of ultimate usage on his Winston has been one of the best in the game. He mostly targets the support lineup which forces them to use their ultimate or perish in the process. Removing the support lineup provides a huge advantage for the team as there is a big gap in the healing done. Main tanks are generally very difficult to compare cause there so many other factors affecting their performance. Will they get enough heals? Are the DPS doing enough damage? There are so many factors which can generally affect the outcome of a tank vs tank battle.
Surefour vs Linkzr
The battle between the other DPS is purely related to their Widowmakers. King’s Row and Gibraltar are maps where the long-range sniper role is very relevant. Often times it comes to the first pick on Widowmaker which opens the floodgates.
Both the DPS have shown us exceptional performances on their widowmakers. However, while Linkzr has been very consistent throughout the league, Surefour has been a lot less consistent. He has his off-days which can severely impact the actual outcome of the duels. The Widowmaker duel will have to go in favor of Linkzr, however, it depends on the particular day and the positioning of the two off-tanks.
Overall it does seem that in their present form, Los Angeles Gladiators edge out Houston Outlaws. The recent results also point out to the same thing, with Los Angeles Gladiators clearly being the dominant team. Their win against London Spitfire which ended in a 3-1 scoreline definitely sent shockwaves through the league. However, Houston Outlaws almost lost to Florida Mayhem, a team which only had Shanghai as their wins till then. Houston did manage a remarkable comeback to win the series, but it does put question marks on their actual skill level in the current frame of time.
We recommend a bet on Los Angeles Gladiators as they have been in much better current form. They need just a few more wins which include some weaker teams as opponents. If they manage to win this series, they are all but guaranteed a Playoff berth.