Photo by Ben Pursell For Blizzard Entertainment
Stage 3 of the Overwatch League has wrapped up with the last week’s completion, and with it, we have the final picture of what the Stage 3 Finals will look like. Going into the week, there were only a handful of teams that were still playing for a spot, but only three of them really mattered. The Los Angeles Gladiators and the Guangzhou Charge had very slight chances, but their fates weren’t entirely in their own hands. The New York Excelsior, the Shanghai Dragons, and the Philadelphia Fusion were the front runners for filling in the last two spots.
Starting off the Homestand Weekend in Atlanta, the New York Excelsior played the Florida Mayhem. The NYXL only needed one more win to secure their spot in the Stage 3 playoffs, but the Mayhem put up quite a fight even managing to draw one map in a final score of 0 – 3. The Philadelphia Fusion needed every map they could get, and in their match against the Washington Justice, it was close for most matches. The Justice even managed to take the first control map, but the Fusion came back winning out 3 – 1. Not wanting to disappoint their home crowd, the Atlanta Reign brought their game against the Toronto Defiant. Despite not playing for a place in the playoffs, both teams performed well, but the Reign ultimately took the victory in a 3 – 1 match. Rounding out the day was the Guangzhou Charge versus the Shanghai Dragons. Both teams needed this win, but the Charge needed it more than the Dragons. Though the Dragons have been on the rise since the start of the season with the addition of Gamsu as main tank, the Charge proved they still have a way to go. The Charge took the series 3 – 1, but it wouldn’t end up being enough to put them in the Stage 3 Playoffs.
On day two, the biggest match of the weekend went down between the Philadelphia Fusion and the Shanghai Dragons to ultimately determine who would end up with the Stage 3 playoff spot. The Dragons were quick to bounce back after their loss the night previous to the Charge and took the first two maps off the Fusion. Philly was able to pull a win off on Map 3 in Hollywood, but the reverse sweep didn’t happen as the Dragons secured their win and their spot in the Stage 3 Playoffs with a Map 4 on El Dorado and final victory of 3 – 1. The rest of the day was filled with complete sweeps in the remaining three matches. The Guangzhou Charge defeated the Washington Justice 4 – 0, which puts the Justice at a 0 – 7 stage. However, they weren’t alone as the New York Excelsior defeated the Toronto Defiant 0 – 4, earning the NYXL the number one seed in the Stage 3 Playoffs and the Defiant a 0 – 7 stage record. The Atlanta Reign also handed a 4 – 0 loss to the Florida Mayhem.
With Week 5 completed, our Stage 3 Playoff schedule is one that has some familiar elements from playoffs past and a few that some may not have expected to make it this far. The Houston Outlaws will face off against the Vancouver Titans, who since their match with the L.A. Gladiators look to be conforming to the meta shift quite well. Even though Houston is looking comfortable with offensive hero picks, it’s difficult to put any odds in their favor with how they struggled against Washington and Florida earlier in the stage. The New York Excelsior face off against the Shanghai Dragons. With New York’s propensity to choke when the stakes are high, Shanghai does have a chance to move on here despite still having some weaknesses to shore up after the Guangzhou match. The next two matches could be the most competitive of the first round. The Seoul Dynasty have been a team that on paper should be top flight, but have always struggled a bit more than the other top teams. Seoul is set to play the San Francisco Shock, who on this stage have also been struggling to adapt to the meta shift. The Los Angeles Valiant and the Hangzhou Spark have both been teams on the rise, and who ends up going on to round two is anyone’s guess.
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