Well, well, well. It’s taken three weeks, but we’re now finally at a point where the gap between the all conquering South Korean teams and the rest of the league is finally closing a tad. Not only did we see some massive upsets across the weekend, but we also saw some struggling teams finally putting in some impressive performances despite their still not-so-great records.
IT’S GETTING TIGHTER
Just when it looked like three teams were going to dominate the league, we go and have a week full of upsets, overtimes and incredibly tense contests that blew the competition wide open. Statistically, only two of the match-ups during week three were 4-0 shutouts and there were a total of six trips to the tie-breaking Lijiang Tower, the most of any week so far. On top of that, Shanghai managed to prove their worth by taking a map off of Seoul and forcing the Fusion to a fifth game, Dallas finally got a win on the board, Boston upset London and Dallas in two overtime thrillers and the Fusion beat New York …. what a week. If that’s any indication of what the rest of the season might have in store, then we’re in for a treat.
ALL HAIL NEW YORK?
There’s a reason that question mark is there. For all the hype surrounding New York’s tense and exciting win over Seoul, and it was most definitely impressive, there were still some vulnerable moments and a loss to the Fusion for the Excels to ponder over. There were a number of occasions where team communication and strategy broke down against the the Dynasty, which will no doubt be addressed in the coming days. As for their loss, their response on Lijiang Tower against Seoul having been soundly beaten on the same map by the Fusion hours before is a positive sign for the team going forward.
THE BATTLE FOR LA DELIVERS
There were some huge games across the weekend, the aforementioned NY vs Dynasty just one of many, but it’s hard to go past the epic battle for LA that opened the week. The Valiant went in hoping to turn around a few disappointing performances from week two but soon found themselves 2-0 down to their cross-town rivals the Gladiators thanks to some incredible defensive plays. The Valiant somehow managed to not only force a fifth map tie-breaker thanks to a tense 4-3 win on Junkertown, but also claim Lijiang 2-1 in one of the wildest finishes we’ve seen so far. It won’t be the last time these two teams will face off, but it’s going to be hard to top that.
CRACKS IN THE DYNASTY
Seoul remain the benchmark that other teams will be out to beat, but this weekend didn’t do them any favors. The loss aside, they went into their match against bottom club Shanghai with their reserve squad, leaving most of the big names on the bench. Whether a lack of respect or simply a strategy to rest players ahead of the New York showdown, they didn’t leave a strong impression and allowed the Dragons to take a map off of them in the process (and nearly more). Next week suddenly spells danger with a Houston side that’s on a four game winning streak, but it’s crazy to think that a team that’s been so dominant could potentially improve even further after the lessons learned this week, especially with a man like Fleta out to prove a point.
AN IMPORTANT MAP CHANGE
The first two weeks of the season had a number of draws to round out some of the bigger match-ups on the Hybrid maps, leading to a slow and disappointing end to some big rounds such as the Fuel vs Dynasty showdown at the start of the season. Blizzard has since listened and now rounds will begin on a Hybrid and end on an Escort, reducing the amount of draws and ensuring each round ends with some kind of action instead of a stalemate. Yes, there will still be draws here or there (see Dallas vs Shock), but the signs are there that the league will continue to evolve to ensure the experience is better for players and for viewers.
TRADE DAYS ARE COMING!
Low and behold, there is a trade window for the Overwatch League, and Blizzard has finally detailed exactly what that means for each team. The free agency trade period kicked off as of last week and runs until April 3, a day before the start of Stage Three. Teams can sign on eligible players not currently on an OWL contract, meaning the likes of Florida and Shanghai have a chance to bolster their rosters from a pool of potential players who have been watching with interest, and any new players won’t be able to play until the opening day of Stage Two, Feb 11.
There’s also the opportunity for trades between teams starting Feb 11 or the end of Stage One, though we’re unsure if any teams will take advantage of that. It’s a brand new league after all.
PLAY OF THE WEEK
Actually, call this one the ‘worst possible timing ever to try and snipe someone’ of the week.
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) January 28, 2018
What stood out for you during week three? Was it New York’s big win, the Dragons improve performances or Profit’s little birdy? Let us know in the comments.