New York Excelsior 4 - Florida Mayhem 0
The Stage 2 champion New York Excelsior picked up right where it left off to begin Stage 3 rolled through the Florida Mayhem with a 4-0 sweep on Thursday at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
The New York Excelsior has been insistent on marching to the beat of its own drum, ostensibly refusing to change its playstyle despite many experts indicating that the heroes the team plays are falling out of favor. Regardless of meta trends, the Excelsior has continued to push through on heroes like Mercy and almost always keep DPS player Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong-ryeol on Tracer, which isn't necessarily a negative given his absolute mastery of the hero. This series was no exception as the Excelsior masterfully outplayed the Florida Mayhem, even bringing in crowd favorite DPS Kim "Pine" Do-hyeon to secure the team's victory on Ilios.
The Florida Mayhem is undoubtedly improving, but Thursday's blowout highlighted the chasm between the two rosters. Florida did unveil its newest addition against New York in the form of DPS player Ha "Sayaplayer" Jeong-woo, but it's clear the team still has cohesion and communications issues. Despite entering Stage 3 as a highly touted Tracer player, Sayaplayer left the hero to DPS partner Andreas "Logix" Berghmans on Route 66, and Sayaplayer opted to play Widowmaker instead. It was obvious that Sayaplayer lacked practice with his new teammates, but the fact that the Mayhem seemed intent on playing around its newest roster addition, Route 66 aside, should be a sign of the expectations for Sayaplayer down the road.
Having already fallen to the Stage 2 champions, the Florida Mayhem will now try its luck against the Stage 2 runner-up when it takes on the Philadelphia Fusion at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday. The New York Excelsior won't get off easy, either, as it faces off with the London Spitfire at 8 p.m ET later that same day.
-- Travis Elliott
Boston Uprising 3 - Philadelphia Fusion 2
On Thursday evening, the Boston Uprising took down the Philadelphia Fusion with a 3-2 victory during Stage 3 of the Overwatch League at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
The Fusion fought from a weakened position as starting DPS Josh "Eqo" Corona was suspended for three games for the beginning of Stage 3 after showing a racially insensitive gesture on his personal stream. His absence was evident from the very beginning, as the Stage 2 runners-up looked like a shell of its previous selves.
As a result, the Fusion opted to use DPS Simon "Snillo" Ekstrom instead -- a move that paid plenty of dividends with sneaky plays on Tracer but overall opened up the team to repeated bouts of confusion and isolation. The biggest example lies in the Fusion's defense on Map 2, Blizzard World. While the Fusion won the map during the timebank round, Philadelphia nearly botched it entirely after giving up all three points practically for free. It was a stunning show of unresponsive play, as Boston continuously pushed the objective while the Fusion waited far too long to attempt any sort of coordinated attack.
The lack of decisiveness and pressure led to Boston DPS Jonathan "DreamKazper" Sanchez, on Genji, holding onto his Dragonblade ultimate for the entire map without feeling any need to use it.
It's fair to say the series may have played differently with Eqo. Still, if not for a dominant performance by Boston during the final map, in which the Uprising secured back-to-back points thanks to excellent Pharah play from DreamKazper, Thursday's series might have been billed as an improbable victory for the Fusion as opposed to the disappointing opening defeat on its Stage 3 resume.
The Philadelphia Fusion will meet the Florida Mayhem in battle at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday while the Boston Uprising will face off against the Houston outlaws at 6 p.m. ET later that day.
-- Steven Nguyen
Houston Outlaws 3 - London Spitfire 2
The Houston Outlaws continued its regular season domination of the London Spitfire with a 3-2 victory to conclude Thursday's Overwatch League action at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
For all of London's prowess throughout the first season of the Overwatch League, it now has an 0-3 record against the Outlaws, which has accounted for half of the Spitfire's losses this season. This was perhaps one of Houston's most respectable wins to-date, as it showed off a level of adaptability we haven't seen much of, particularly when it switched DPS Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin over to Widowmaker unexpectedly, catching the Spitfire off guard and allowing the team to steamroll the first point on Map 1.
Houston may not have gone on to win the map, but this was sign that the team is continuing to get more comfortable with its gameplan as the season progresses.
Speaking of LiNkzr, he and DPS partner Jacob "JAKE" Lyon racked up highlight-reel plays all night to keep Houston moving right along. Whether it was JAKE's double kill with Junkrat's RIP-Tire on Nepal to secure the 2-0 in Game 3 or LiNkzr's series-clinching double kill with a Tracer Pulse Bomb on Oasis, the two were the main catalysts for the Outlaws and allowed the rest of the team to play comfortably enough to make it look easy against London.
London, meanwhile, showed off more of the inconsistencies that have plagued it ever since winning the Stage 1 title. During multiple key moments throughout the course of the match, the team would seem to mentally lapse and fall off the point or payload, giving Houston free advantages at the worst times. Moreover, Control maps continued to be a thorn in its side, as it fell to a subpar 14-16 record this season in that game mode. While it's not time to hit the panic button just yet, London has plenty to work on if it wants to make a third straight playoff appearance here in Stage 3.
The London Spitfire won't have much time to dwell on the loss as it faces the New York Excelsior at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, while the Houston Outlaws will turn its attention to the Boston Uprising in the preceding match at 6 p.m. ET.
-- Wyatt Donigan