Houston Outlaws 3 - Shanghai Dragons 0
The Houston Outlaws kept the Shanghai Dragons winless with a 3-0 victory in the first series on Friday at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
Houston was lucky come away with a win against Shanghai because the team played down to the level of the Dragons. The Outlaws opted to give bench players some valuable playing time, starting off-tank Alexandre "SPREE" Vanhomwegen and debuting new DPS player Jeong "ArHaN" Won-hyeop for the majority of the series.
Not that the starters for Houston fared all that much better. Starting DPS Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin, who also played the entire series, looks to be in a bit of a slump. Though he has not looked his best recently, the series against Shanghai was a new low. LiNkzr was constantly bested by Shanghai DPS Weida "Diya" Lu in Widowmaker duels and was consistently overaggressive and caught out of position. The Outlaws will need to clean up its act before Saturday when it faces the Florida Mayhem, another bottom-dwelling team, but one with a bit more bite.
As painful as Shanghai's losing streak has been, it was more gut-wrenching to watch another shot at victory slip away. The Dragons could not close out maps and only managed a draw on Hanamura while letting a contentious Lijiang Tower slip through its grasp. The Dragons seems to lack a killer instinct and continues to manage ultimates poorly. Despite Diya popping off on Tracer and Widowmaker, the rest of Shanghai could not muster a cohesive team effort when it mattered most.
The Houston Outlaws will look to start a win streak when it takes on the Florida Mayhem at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Dragons will rest up over the weekend before renewing its quest for a victory against the Florida Mayhem at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
-- Travis Elliott
Seoul Dynasty 3 - Florida Mayhem 2
The Seoul Dynasty survived a scare from the Florida Mayhem and took a 3-2 series win on Friday in Burbank, California.
This series was one of the strangest outings in the Overwatch League to date, and not just because of the tight scoreline between two mismatched teams. Things were looking great for the Mayhem early on: The underdogs took a victory on Blizzard World in Game 1 before taking a well-earned win on Hanamura. Florida's strategies were as diverse as they were exciting, with the Mayhem using plenty of Doomfist between DPS players Kevyn "TviQ" Lindstrom and Andreas "Logix" Berghmans to keep Seoul on its toes. In addition, TviQ flexed between Doomfist, Brigitte and Junkrat, among other heroes, and showed that his hero pool might just be the deepest in the league.
While Florida excelled, Seoul couldn't seem to get anything done and made some embarrassing target prioritization and coordination mistakes in the first half. It wasn't as if the Dynasty's mechanical skill had dissipated but, facing a recent slump in performance, it looked like the Dynasty had no idea what it wanted to do.
Those fears were swiftly put to bed in the second half, as Seoul came into Game 3 on Oasis with a concrete gameplan. Suddenly, the Mayhem's newfound fascination with Doomfist didn't look like a brilliant innovation and was more of a head-scratcher, especially considering it was often used by the hitscan-inclined Logix. Dynasty support and captain Ryu "ryujehong" Je-hong hard carried his team late in the series. He played both Zenyatta and Moira in the tie-breaking Game 5 on Nepal to lead Seoul to an emotionally taxing reverse-sweep.
The Mayhem has a chance to close out the week with a win against the Houston Outlaws at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, while the Dynasty kicks off Week 4 against the Boston Uprising at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
-- Noah Waltzer
San Francisco Shock 3 - Boston Uprising 1
The San Francisco Shock pulled out a sloppy win against the Boston Uprising in a 3-1 series on Friday in Burbank, California.
This was a battle between coaches as San Francisco's Park "Crusty" Da-hee had to organize the Shock against the Uprising, the very team he helped ascend to massive success in Stage 3. While Crusty has honed the Shock into a well-oiled machine, San Francisco still struggled to take the win. This was largely because both the Shock and the Uprising had similar tactics, resulting in a myriad of mirror matches. The versatile hero pool that has allowed the Shock to succeed in Stage 4 meant little in this series.
Boston's DPS Kwon "Striker" Nam-joo went toe-to-toe against San Francisco's DPS Andrej "babybay" Francisty and Park "Architect" Min-ho, while DPS Stanislav "Mistakes" Danilov had to contend with DPS Jay "sinatraa" Won. The dead-even DPS competition resulted in awkward matchups for both teams, as both sides had to rely on key players to string together kills rather than finding a compositional edge. Because of this, the tightly coordinated Shock of previous weeks dissolved into a pack of scrappy brawlers. It was only thanks to sinatraa and Architect clutching in key moments that San Francisco emerged victorious from a bloody series.
Both Mistakes and Striker were essential in allowing Boston to hang on against the Shock. Striker's Widowmaker was unusually successful against enemy Widowmakers, winning sniper battles and picking off supports with ease. While Striker collected kills, Mistakes dealt massive damage with his projectile hero pool. While not nearly scoring as many kills as Striker, his zoning and spam damage was essential in shutting down dives and pushes. Where they faltered was in sustained teamfights, as neither DPS could maintain their high-level plays for long against the Shock's exhausting, drawn-out skirmishes. This was because the Shock could fill in new players across the series, such as Architect filling in for babybay, while Striker and Mistakes were forced to play all four maps. Boston had the skill and tactics to compete with the Shock blow-for-blow, but not the stamina to withstand the Shock's relentless assault.
The Uprising will lick its wounds before battling Seoul Dynasty at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The San Francisco Shock look to notch another win on their belts against the Philadelphia Fusion on 11 p.m. ET on Thursday.
-- Christiaan Kutlik