The first stage of the inaugural season of the Overwatch League will be entering its final week, delivering what is sure to be an exciting conclusion to what has been an excellent month of competition. With only 2 victories separating first and seventh place, the regular season is far from over. The Stage Finals will see the top three teams competing this Saturday February 10th at the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles beginning at 8PM EST. The second and third seeded teams will face off before challenging the Stage’s top regular season team for a $125 000 grand prize.
The past week was full of dominant performances that while only producing a single series requiring the full five games, set the stage for the coming weekend perfectly. Four teams now rest at five victories on the season, Seoul Dynasty has six and both New York Excelsior and London Spitfire have seven of the possible eight.
One of these teams is guaranteed to suffer at least one more defeat this weekend, as the two will face off in their final regular season match. New York will enter the game without having played a match against a top team in two weeks, as both of their matches last week against Dallas and Shanghai were relatively easy victories. With what should prove to be another relatively easy victory against a struggling Florida squad on Thursday, their lack of intense matches in recent weeks may make them vulnerable.
London Spitfire will enter the match from a very different perspective. After preparing all week for a strong Seoul Dynasty they were able to execute brilliantly last week and earn themselves a clean 4-0 victory. Their first match this week will only be slightly easier, facing a Houston team that has been good all season and will be fighting for their playoff lives. It will not be a match the Spitfire can take lightly and may have them spreading their resources thin this week in an attempt to adequately prepare for both match-ups. This is certainly the regular season match of the week, and could likely serve as a prelude to the Stage finals.
Seoul’s setbacks against New York in week 3 and London in last week’s first match, the team once heralded as the favorites for the OWL’s first season were now hearing fans wonder if they would also lose to Houston. Although Seoul was ultimately able to emerge victorious and leave the week with a 1-1 record, it puts them in the most jeopardy of losing their playoff berth for Stage 1. The series was also very close, as Seoul required all 5 games to find the victory, making Seoul seem very beatable even for the non all-Korean rosters. This is something the Los Angeles Valiant were sure to notice as the upcoming series between them will determine the Valiant’s playoff chances. This will not be a series Seoul can take lightly, as losing it could cost them there shot at the Stage 1 title.
The Boston Uprising were able to secure both of their games, including a victory few predicted over the Los Angeles Valiant, in order to keep themselves mathematically involved the playoff hunt up until the final weekend. While the team was doubted by many fans and analysts entering the season, their play last week was excellent and they were rewarded with sweeps over both Los Angeles rosters.
This makes Boston’s final two matches, against Philadelphia and Houston, ones to look out for as they still have playoff implications. Should Philadelphia emerge victorious from their encounter with Boston, the Fusion also have a strong chance at finishing with seven victories on the season as they too will face the faltering Florida Mayhem.
Unfortunately for Shanghai Dragons, Florida Mayhem, Dallas Fuel, Los Angeles Gladiators and San Francisco Shock the playoffs for Stage 1 of the OWL are now out of reach. Their final week of matches will still count towards their full regular season records however, making them as important as any others,
Regular season action resumes tonight at 7PM EST with a match-up between the Shanghai Dragons and Dallas Fuel. Shanghai is still searching for their first victory on the season while Dallas has struggled tremendously, making it a benchmark series for the Dragons. With so many important series that could alter the final playoff standings this won’t be a weekend of games you’ll want to miss. You can watch the official broadcast as well as see exact schedules, standings and more on the official Overwatch League Website.