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OWL 2019 Stage 3, Week 3: Wings Up, Titans Down

Gillian Langland

Each week, we discuss the previous week’s Overwatch League matches to make sure you’re all caught up for the upcoming schedule. We’ll break the week into the expected and unexpected moments from the matches, gameplay and players.

The LA Valiant celebrate after ending Vancouver Titans' win streak in this week's OWL action. (Photo via Blizzard)

The LA Valiant celebrate after ending Vancouver Titans' win streak in this week's OWL action. (Photo via Blizzard)

The Expected

There is nothing better than watching the New York Excelsior face-off against the London Spitfire. The teams have met twice already and saw New York falling to London both times. This time NYXL was not going to let London have this rematch easily – if at all. Both teams desperately wanted this win and neither team was willing to concede to the other without a fight. It was an intense five-map game and it was worth every minute.

Nepal was an absolutely fiery first map with innovative strats from both teams being put to the test. NYXL ran a Doomfist/Sombra lineup that heavily focused on a more DPS-based composition, and London ran a Pharah/Widowmaker lineup to help counteract the East Coast behemoths. London held their ground until an unfortunate Mercy pickoff by NYXL led to a quick claiming of the point on Sanctum and eventual win.

The Nepal Village saw a fun Mei GOATS strat from NYXL, which surprisingly worked better for NYXL than I had anticipated and granted them first access to the point.

But first access doesn’t mean a guaranteed win.

London’s “Queen of the Skies” Pharah eventually proved to be too much for the NYXL. London denied them any more of a foothold on the point and quickly took it in favor of the Spitfire. With the first map win of the series coming down to the Temple, NYXL focused on a dive composition that allowed them to take the point first AND hold it. With only a brief point flip, NYXL regained the point and won with a massive EMP from Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park.

NYXL was in the series not to just win but to win with style. NYXL pulled out a clean Roadhog draft on Paris with a Hanzo to help clean up the first point on their attack. Flexible as always, the NYXL switched to the tried and true composition of the season: GOATS with Saebyeoble’s infamous Tracer as well. It won them the second point.

Then the series’ flipped to London on offense. London was spectacular in their attack with some incredible Sombra plays on Joon-yeong “Profit” Park. They claimed the two points and a good chunk of time in the bank. forcing the map to a second round of attacks.

NYXL focused their strat on a heavy DPS lineup, which managed to secure one point but not both. Again, we switched to London’s attack. They were able to close out the map but not for a lack of NYXL trying their hardest to defend against the Spitfire. NYXL lost Paris to the Spitfire 3-4 leaving the series 1-1 for NYXL.

Eichenwalde was a good map for the NYXL. It saw London switching up their composition to a heavy DPS comp that did nothing but slow their progress. London’s attack was good, pushing through until the castle where they were held at bay by the NYXL. New York managed to hold London off enough to starve them of a much-needed map completion—holding London to two points. NYXL’s attack was also slow, but NYXL was able to pull out some fast moves with the King of the West(ern)—McCree. NYXL pulled out an incredible quad-kill to push the payload past the castle gates and onto point three. The map finished with a score of 3-2 for NYXL, leaving the series 2-1 NYXL.

Dorado was a must win for NYXL and it was a close match, being pushed to overtime again. NYXL favored their DPS-heavy lineup, again, and much like the other matches, their initial push was successful and swift. It was a quick attack for NYXL, which quickly shifted to London. London settled into a fun double sniper strat making good use of Profit on Hanzo, which led to an easy map completion. On London’s attack, NYXL’s initial defense wasn’t good enough. They gave London too much room. London completed the map forcing a second round of attacks for both teams.

NYXL defended again, thanks to their larger time bank, but wasn’t able to hold back London as much as they wanted, allowing the Spitfire to push the payload past the courthouse. On NYXL’s attack, the team seemed to be ready to start all-out fights at every moment. The distractions of the Tracer duels and Overtime time ticking by led to NYXL not being able to push through and they fell to London 4-3.

Map five on Ilios, the final map, was a hard map for London from the start. The Lighthouse saw a hungry NYXL take the point first and then hold off Spitfire. The map progressed from a 99% to 99% after a flip from London. Ultimately, NYXL claiming the Lighthouse.

The Ruins were up next. If NYXL could win this one point, they would close out the exhausting series.  Spitfire had a good showing in the start of the round, even pushing it to 99%, only to see NYXL flip the point and force the map to an overtime fight. The fight saw players desperate for a win, but Dong-gyu “Mano” Kim’s smooth moves disposed of Spitfire. NYXL won the map. It was a crazy series forcing players to push past the exhaustion of multiple overtime maps and a game five. This is the type of series that gives life to fans and pushes professional players to set up their game.

The Unexpected

All good things must eventually come to an end and on Sunday, the Vancouver Titans lost their first game of the season. This closed out their Season Two record of winning 19 games in a row. The previously undefeated powerhouse from the North found their first loss of the season in the hands of the LA Valiant, who were 17th in the league before their win. In the regular play season, there was no better team than the Vancouver Titans and for many fans, it felt like they truly were unkillable titans. It was an incredible game to watch and one filled with some truly insane plays.

The Titans secured the first map on Oasis with a very dominant 2-0 win. This is not to discredit the Valiant as they put in a good fight against the Titans, but not good enough to secure the win. Their loss on Oasis came down to the Titans being able to flip the point in overtime and win the point. The Titans looked strong, but LA had the grit and defiance to potentially secure at least one map against the Titans.

On Paris, the LA Valiant had a strong defense to start off the map holding the Titans to overtime on point A and then denying them point B. The normally stoic and strong Titans defense crumbled on LA’s attack— allowing LA to grab point A after only a couple of minutes and eventually Point B to win the map.

Eichenwalde was the map where the LA Valiant looked like a top eight team—especially after setting the record for the second fastest victory on Eichenwalde in the history of the Overwatch League. To put in perspective, the LA Valiant secured all three points with four minutes and ten seconds left on the clock. Not only did they capture all the points with such an incredible time, but they also managed to hold off the Titans in key moments allowing them to only walk about with point A and point B. Without that final point, it was a surprising 2-1 series lead for the Valiant.

In what would be the final map of the series, the LA Valiant looked like a different team on Dorado. They were confident, had fantastic ult management and had the team synergy required to overcome the TItans. They had a fantastic map on Dorado and won the series 3-1. The question will be can the Valiant rinse and repeat their dominant performance with the Spark and Spitfire in Week 4.

Florida Mayhem have been experiencing a bit of a rough stage, and season, and it’s been hard to see how they could win a series in their current state. But in a surprising turn of events, their series against the Houston Outlaws was a breath of fresh air for the team. They pulled out some innovative compositions to pull off a well-deserved win.

Ilios was a good start for the Outlaws, who ran a solid DPS composition, moving away from the traditional and expected GOATS. The triple DPS was too much damage for Florida’s 3-3 composition (with a Reinhardt) to handle. Florida constantly lost the point to Houston. With a solid win on Ruins for Houston, the Well proved to be just as a solid of a win with little resistance from the Mayhem. Houston was starting to show they were favoring Orisa, and it would be an easy series if Florida didn’t step up their game and figure out how to deal with Houston.

Casters and fans knew that Florida is winless on Paris so it was a struggle to imagine how they were going to win the map.  Florida got creative and used a triple tank composition with the help of the guardian angel herself, Mercy. Add in a fantastic Widowmaker played by Jung-woo “Sayaplayer” Ha, and the Mayhem crushed their attack round with over four minutes in the bank.

Houston’s attack was just as impressive. Houston flexed their DPS muscles and showed some dominance. The problem was they got comfortable, or confused, and went back to a 3-3 comp that quickly saw them fall apart. They finished the map with forty seconds in the bank, and the map went into another round of attacks/defense. Florida destroyed Houston on their second attack and defense. Florida won the map 3-2, and fans were beginning to see a switch in Florida—the team that could potentially win this series.

Hollywood was an interesting map for Florida as they focused less on a quick offense and opted for a five-protect-one strategy with McCree at the center of it all. This led to an easy first point. The second half of the map had many Widowmaker fans excited with Sayaplayer’s devastating snipes on Widowmaker. His Widowmaker carried the Mayhem to a completion on Hollywood. Houston didn’t venture too outside the box with their strategy and opted for Sombra GOATS. This didn’t go in favor of Houston as Florida countered Houston’s Sombra GOATS with an aggressive dive composition. Mayhem denied Houston more than one point on Hollywood and closed out Hollywood the winners.

Florida started their attack on Watchpoint: Gibraltar with the a typical 3-3 composition featuring Zenyatta against Houston’s Ana/Sombra 3-3 defensive comp. It seemed like it would be an easy win for Florida with Houston giving little pushback. The Mayhem were only stopped at the third part of the map with Houston taking control and winning several consecutive fights.  Florida were unable to get past 84.5m. Houston took the attack. Houston did not fool around and took the first two parts of the map with relative ease. The Mayhem found themselves holding Houston at bay and had locked Houston into the part of the map called “the carwash.” Houston pushed through eventually but was only able to claim the first two points.

In a team fight that could only be described as anime-worthy, Florida took the series while fans watching held their breath in anticipation. Florida winning the fight came down to an insane switch to Bastion by Jae-mo “xepheR” Koo. If there was an award section of the Overwatch League, that fight would win biggest clutch fight of the season. Overwatch League, let’s make this happen!

Florida beating Houston was absolutely incredible. It’s Florida’s second win of the season, and it was a well-deserved, well-fought win. We all hope that this is the turning point for the Mayhem and that they can start to pull off these wins in the future.

This week in the Overwatch League proved to be a spectacular display of Overwatch. The Valiant pulled off a miracle, the Florida Mayhem did the impossible and NYXL and the London Spitfire showed us what a true match of Overwatch looks like. It was an incredible week for fans around the world.