Week Four of the Overwatch League is done, and the teams taking part in it are now that much closer to winning the hundred thousand dollar grand prize. The Overwatch League is particularly kind to teams, as each Season of the League has four stages, and each stage offers teams the opportunity to win something. The winning team at each stage qualifies for the Grand Final. The team that loses the Grand Final match will themselves take away twenty five thousand dollars. Week Five is going to be especially intense, so let’s take a look at which teams have the best chance of dominating here.
Teams that are just one win away from qualifying for the Semifinals
Most people probably don’t realize that the Spitfire was the fighter plane that stood off Nazi Germany in WWII, keeping the United Kingdom free of the Nazi hordes. This team has a name right out of history, and they live up to it, as of now, as the most dominating team in the Overwatch League. They have twenty one points, with a total of seven wins out of eight matches played. London Spitfire lost one match against Boston Uprising, which was their only loss so far. They have won twenty six out of thirty maps played.
The team is owned by Jack Etienne, the Founder and CEO of Cloud9. A rather ironical fact about London Spitfire – though this team represents London, all their players (including the coaches) are from South Korea. Ironical, indeed, though common enough in both sports and esports today.
One reason for this team’s unmatched success is that they have twelve active players on their squad. Blizzard are very flexible compared to other Esports organizations when it comes to teams and rosters. Even though only six players can play in a match, a team can choose from a larger roster of active players, and this allows a team to use the players most suited to countering an opposing team in a match. Rotating players also gives individual players a rest, reducing stress, and allowing them to play at their best. In any case, the strategy seems to be working exceptionally well for London Spitfire.
London Spitfire’s active squad
Their roster mostly consists of players that go for DPS and Support. There are four DPS players – birdring, Rascal, Profit, and Hooreg. The four players who play Support are HaGoPeun, Closer, Bdosin, and NUS. The two Flex players in this team are Fury and WOOHYAL, while Fissure and Gesture generally play Tank. The team has three coaches, with Bishop as Head Coach, followed by changgoon, and Jfeel. This team needs just a single win to take a spot in the Semifinals of the Overwatch League.
New York Excelsior
South Korea does seem to dominate the Overwatch League, because here’s yet another team with a roster that consists entirely of South Koreans. New York Excelsior were the dominating team on the leaderboard, right up to week four. Like London Spitfire, they have twenty one points, and have won seven matches. The only difference between the performances of these two teams is that London Spitfire have won just one map more than New York Excelsior. New York Excelsior lost a tiebreaker round against Philadelphia Fusion, showing that even a team from the highest tiers of play can lose a match here and there.
However, while the performances of both these teams have been more or less equal up to now, that’s something that’s going to change in Week Five. This is because this is the week where both these teams will face each other in a direct confrontation, where one will win, and one must lose. However, since these teams need just a single win to lock down a spot in the Semifinals, there’s still a good chance that we’ll see both these teams there, and that the Semifinals could turn into a grudge match for whichever team loses in Week Five. So we have exciting matches ahead, whichever way one looks at things.
New York Excelsior’s active squad
This team has nine players, but one of them was unable to qualify for this league, which does not allow players under eighteen to compete . Hence, Fl0w3R, who usually plays DPS, will not be making an appearance here. Nevertheless, this team’s eight players have put out performances certainly equal to those of London Spitfire’s twelve player squad. Their active squad includes Saebyeolbe and Pine as dedicated DPS, and MekO playing Flex. Libero is a versatile player who plays both DPS and Flex. Janus and Mano play Tank, while JJoNak and ArK play Support. Unlike other esports, where one missing teammate can throw off an entire team, New York Excelsior seem to be balanced, and playing well.
Teams that need two wins to qualify for the Semifinals
There are five teams (other than the leading teams above) that could potentially qualify for the Semifinals. Seoul Dynasty lead these, with eighteen points, while Houston Outlaws, Boston Uprising, Los Angeles Valiant, and Philadelphia Fusion come next, with fifteen points. Of of these teams, Seoul Dynasty and Los Angeles Valiant are the only teams from the Pacific Division, while the others are from the Atlantic Division.
This team has lost only two matches to date, against London Spitfire, and New York Excelsior. They have the best chance out of the remaining teams to qualify for the Semifinals of the Overwatch League. This team represents South Korea, and has eleven members, all South Koreans. This team has four players playing DPS, two that play Flex, one on Support, two as Tank, and two multi role players (Support and Flex). They are due to play a match against Los Angeles Valiant, and will increase their chances tremendously if they defeat that team.
How things are likely to go this week for teams at the low end of the scale
Things don’t look good for Houston Outlaws, as they have matches against London Spitfire and Boston Uprising. Going up against London Spitfire is going to end in disaster, as they are one of the strongest teams in the Overwatch League. Boston Uprising, the other team they are due to face, defeated Houston in a match in Week Three. While Houston Outlaws could possibly win this one, it’s hardly going to be easy.
Boston Uprising, who look to have a win against Houston Outlaws, are not entirely safe themselves. One of their matches will be against Philadelphia Fusion. Philadelphia Fusion have defeated New York Excelsior, which is again one of the top teams in this league, so they are hardly to be underestimated.
That brings us to Los Angeles Valiant, who will face both Seoul Dynasty, and the weakest team here, Shanghai Dragons. Seoul Dynasty could well scuttle Los Angeles Valiant’s move into the Semifinals. Philadelphia Fusion, on the other hand, will be facing not only Boston Upraising, but Florida Mayhem, possibly the second weakest team here. That match should be an easy win for Fusion.
There are three stages remaining in this event, and upsets are always possible in the Overwatch League. You’ll notice that the best teams here are all Korean, including players and coaches. The other teams have mixed rosters, except for the roster of Shanghai Dragons, which is entirely Chinese.
The ranking system in the Overwatch League
For those of you who are a little confused as to how ranking works in the Overwatch League, here’s a short review. Basically, a team needs to stay in the top five to reach the Playoffs. All of the twelve teams now participating could potentially earn six points over Week Five. While these twelve teams will also face each other in the three remaining stages, there are only six slots left in the Playoffs.
How does a team qualify for the Playoffs?
There are two divisions, Atlantic and Pacific, with six teams in each division. Champions from each division are given priority when attempting to qualify for the Playoffs.
If, for example, the top six teams from all the stages are from the Atlantic Division, and Pacific Division’s Champion ranks seventh, that team automatically gets a slot in the Playoffs, while the four remaining slots are up for grabs to the best four teams from both Divisions. This leads to intense competition, as each team tries to stay within the top five to make sure that the team in sixth place does not steal their spot.
How does the Leaderboard work?
Teams play a set of four matches in every match, with the team taking the most maps winning the match. If both teams win the same number of maps, there’s a tiebreaker. A team’s position on the leaderboard depends on the total number of points scored, with teams being able to earn three points in each match. A difference in maps won is used as a tie breaker in the Overwatch League if several teams have the same number of points. Therefore, it is crucial for a team to win as many maps as possible to maximize their chance of qualifying for the Playoffs.