Boston Uprising 3 - Los Angeles Gladiators 1
The Boston Uprising became the first Overwatch League team to finish a stage undefeated with a 3-1 win against the Los Angeles Gladiators to open Friday night's action at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
The Uprising started the series with a 2-0 lead after taking both Volskaya Industries and Numbani almost unopposed. While Boston is at the top of the standings, the Gladiators still managed to play well below its usual level in the first half, especially on Numbani. It seemed as though the well-oiled machine that is the Boston Uprising was simply too much for the Gladiators to handle, which threw off Los Angeles' gameplan coming into the series.
The Uprising was in control from beginning to end with the exception of Nepal, the third map, where the Gladiators won in relatively commanding fashion. This wasn't a huge concern for this Boston team, however, as the Gladiators were historically the better team on the map, giving it a leg-up before the map even got underway.
Gladiators DPS Choi "Asher" Jun-sung did his best to bring his team back from the brink of a sweep, but he fell short of pushing the series to a tie-breaking Game 5 when Boston narrowly edged out Los Angeles on Route 66. Unfortunately, the coordination and overall power from the Uprising lineup was as powerful as ever, dismantling the offense of the Gladiators in a methodical fashion. Shoving the payload on Route 66 past the finish line made Boston the first team to tally a 10-0 record in a stage.
With this victory, the Boston Uprising will now look ahead to the Stage 3 playoffs this Sunday where it will be able to pick its first opponent by virtue of securing the top seed. The Gladiators, on the other hand, will now have to await the rest of Friday and Saturday's action to determine its Stage 3 playoff fate.
-- Steven Nguyen
New York Excelsior 3 - Shanghai Dragons 1
The New York Excelsior took a 3-1 victory over the Shanghai Dragons on Friday at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
While Shanghai set the record for most consecutive losses by a pro sports team with its 29th straight on Friday, the Dragons continued to surprise spectators as it put up a fantastic fight against the No. 1 team in the Overwatch League's season standings. Most surprising of all was how the second map, Numbani, played out. The Dragons executed a fantastic defense on the last point to set up an ending akin to the Tortoise and the Hare. While the Excelsior tried to use all of its ultimates to blitz through the Dragons, the Dragons simply sat back and slowly built up a proper ultimate economy to push forward and secure the victory.
Despite the heroic attempts from the Dragons to finish off the upset, however, it wasn't in the cards. New York regained its composure in the second half and picked up easy victories on both Nepal and Route 66 to close out the series. Despite the loss, though, Shanghai is still making strides, and no one showed more improvement than DPS Lu "Diya" Weida and his Widowmaker.
Diya usually doesn't often do well in high-pressure moments, but his abilities on the hero almost propelled the Dragons into to the timebank stage on Route 66 in Game 4. In the end, the Excelsior is just a better team and put an end to the Dragons to secure a 2-0 week for itself before the playoffs are locked in on Saturday night.
The Excelsior is in a fantastic spot going into the playoffs but will have to wait until Sunday to find out who it will face in the playoffs. The Dragons, on the other hand, will have to face the London Spitfire at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday to close out its Stage 3.
-- Steven Nguyen
London Spitfire 3 - Seoul Dynasty 2
The London Spitfire overtook the Seoul Dynasty in a 3-2 victory on Friday at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
Regardless of the victor, the story of the night was inevitably going to be centered around the absence of Seoul Dynasty main tank Gong "Miro" Jin-hyuk. After much discussion surrounding his possible benching due to his poor performance over the last couple weeks, it appears that the Dynasty finally decided to switch things up, replacing Miro with one of the least likely candidates: its team captain, Ryu "ryujehong" Je-hong.
Even though ryujehong is the main support for Seoul, the flex star's play as main tank ended up being a massive improvement for the Dynasty squad. Despite the team looking off-kilter during much of Stage 3, there was a level of decisiveness and clean play Friday that we haven't seen from this team in quite some time.
While Seoul did not manage to finish the series with a win, it absolutely should leave this series feeling good about the direction the team is heading.
London had some struggles early on against Seoul, complements of Dynasty DPS superstar Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun and his incredible Widowmaker accuracy. Fortunately, the Spitfire's main tank Hong "Gesture" Jae-hee was on fire for the evening and created enough space for his supports to survey the battlefield and see where they were needed most.
The Spitfire can also leave the evening feeling great about its 10-0 record on Numbani, where it absolutely demolished the Dynasty. The key for London here was in enabling resident Tracer player Park "Profit" Joon-yeong to get behind Seoul's supports and secure kills, which was made easier by the lack of play time the new Seoul lineup has had together in their current positions. While only one team could win tonight, both showed some excellent improvements that could translate directly into playoff spots once Stage 4 rolls around.
The Spitfire will look to take out the Shanghai Dragons at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, while the Dynasty square off against a slumping Houston Outlaws at 6 p.m. ET that same day.
-- Tyson Tavolazzi