Week 2 is in the books for Stage 3 of the Overwatch League, and a little reshuffling is in order in the power rankings. NYXL and Fusion maintain their top spots, but how long can NYXL hang on?
1. New York Excelsior
Movement: No movement
Even though New York dropped a series to Atlantic rival Boston in a close 3-2 series, there is still little question on which team is the best in the Overwatch League inaugural season. At a staggering +54 map differential and five games clear of its closest competitors in the standings, the rest of the season for the XL will be a tuneup for the playoffs where a single bad day could undo a season of dominance. Kim "Pine" Do-hyeon is still working himself back in the lineup, and a comeback five-set win of its own against the Houston Outlaws to close out the week following the defeat to Boston should shut down any thoughts of a possible slump coming New York's way.
2. Philadelphia Fusion
Movement: No movement
The Cinderella story of the second stage has proven itself as a legitimate threat through the first two weeks of stage three. The Fusion have become a team that is renowned for taking a series to the fifth map, and that happened twice in the past week against the Outlaws and the London Spitfire. This sets itself up nicely for another possible meeting with New York in the stage finals.
Although the NYXL will likely take home the honor of best regular season team barring a massive slide, Philadelphia might win out when it comes to individual MVP. Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok has been nothing short but extraordinary on the Fusion and the only mainstay in the team's DPS line. His matches versus Houston and London will only strengthen Carpe's argument to be named the league's most valuable player, as he put up 118 kills and only died 55 times in his team's two match wins. As long as Carpe is on the roster, the Fusion should remain among the elite in the Overwatch League.
3. Boston Uprising
Nothing said about the Boston Uprising this past week echoes more than Noh "Gamsu" Young-jin's words after his team's surprising upset victory over the New York Excelsior: "We had bad issue. But, only thing that we have to do is going forward[sic]." That's exactly what Boston did as a unit to beat the best team in the league in their first match of an eventual 2-0 week with their new DPS player, Stanislav "Mistakes" Danilov. It was a cathartic and special win to witness, one that showcased Boston's greatest strengths -- especially their dive compositions around the tank line of Gamsu and Lucas "NotE" Meissner with Park "Neko" Se-hyeon flexing onto Roadhog when necessary.
Kwon "Striker" Nam-joo continues to make a case for himself as one of the best Tracers in OWL and Mistakes' Sombra was consistently good. The narrow 3-2 victory over the Florida Mayhem showed that the team isn't quite coordinated enough to be considered top two, but with such a strong tank/flex line and Mistakes continuing to synergize with the team, Boston's next two matches against the London Spitfire and Seoul Dynasty are must-watch events.
4. London Spitfire
It hasn't been the brightest beginning to London's Stage 3. After losing to the Philadelphia Fusion in the stage two semifinals, the Spitfire have begun Stage 3 with only one win in its first four matches, that coming in the form of a 3-0 win over the Florida Mayhem who won't be contending for a playoff spot this year. In matches against possible playoff opponents, London has been spotty at best since taking home the Stage 1 championship in a reverse-sweep over the NYXL. Kim "Birdring" Ji-hyuk, a contender for the league's top DPS for a large part of the season, has found himself in a mini-slump, dying 21 times to only 12 kills of his own in the team's loss to the Fusion. Birdring will need to be at his best if London wants to reemerge as a threat to New York as the league's best squad.
5. Houston Outlaws
The Outlaws have drawn a bad lot to start Stage 2. In the first two weeks it has played the Spitfire, Uprising, Fusion, and NYXL. A though schedule leaves the Outlaws at a less than impressive 1-3 record, but the in-game results tell a story of a team that is still closer to the top than not. Houston has especially set itself apart from the rest of the league on payload map, Junkertown, where Jacob "Jake" Lyon and Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin stifle opponents with Junkrat and Widowmaker.
The Outlaws went toe-to-toe with the Fusion and the NYXL in consecutive matches, forcing both teams onto a map five on Oasis. The Texas-based team couldn't close out either series, but at one point had leads in both series. Next week against the Mayhem and the Fuel, is a chance for Houston to prove that it is a step up on the lower half of the league.
6. Los Angeles Valiant
The Valiant have succeeded with its new additions of Scott "Custa" Kennedy, Indy "SPACE" Halpern, and Chae "Bunny" Jun-Hyeok. Bunny, in particular, has clutched out numerous points for the Valiant and proven that he can handle his Tracer. Valiant is solid, but still untested, having only played teams toward the bottom of the rankings and still have much to prove.
The Valiant's close maps against the Fuel this week are not necessarily a cause for concern, but highlighted that the team can be "out-dove." Los Angeles's upcoming matches against Baek "Fissure" Chan-Hyun's Gladiators and the traditionally aggressive London Spitfire will be the team's first true test.
7. Los Angeles Gladiators
Los Angeles has two teams and the Gladiators currently trail the Valiant again, but all the tools are still there. After a rough first week against the Shock's excellent Sombra play, LA bounced back against a steadily improving Shanghai Dragons and limping Seoul Dynasty. The aggression was more controlled this week from Baek "Fissure" Chan-Hyun and the team appears to be stabilizing again.
A close match against the current Dynasty does not herald that the Gladiators will return to being a stage contender, but it's a start. LA opted to start more of Joao Pedro "Hydration" Goes Telles in Choi "Asher" Jun-Sung's absence to allow Lane "Surefour" Roberts to focus more on Tracer duties. Asher is key to the lineup, but the DPS duo of Hydration and Surefour is worth running more in the future, as it proved how deadly in-match flexibility can be.
8. Seoul Dynasty
Another week and the question of "what's wrong with the Seoul Dynasty?" persists. Once the core of South Korea's most successful and well-known organization in Lunatic Hai, the current Seoul Dynasty looks sluggish and surprisingly uncoordinated, likely thanks to continuing shifts in the starting lineup. Many of the Dynasty's wins have narrowly come after Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun puts the team on his back, and he was sorely missed in the Dynasty's eventual 2-3 loss to the Los Angeles Gladiators after having to leave due to illness.
New support Heo "Gambler" Jin-woo is frequently caught out by enemy DPS due to his risky positioning. Boston, Philadelphia, the Valiant, and Gladiators are all on the rise, and even mid-to-bottom teams in the standings have improved across the board. Without the usual hot start to the season, it's going to be a tall task for Seoul to break their streak of missing stage playoffs.
9. San Francisco Shock
San Francisco is currently in a position where it has one eye on the future while still attempting to keep itself in decent shape heading into Stage 4. With the Shock for all intents and purposes out of the playoff race for the end of the season, the team has time to see which players and compositions should be mainstays for the team going into the second season of Overwatch League where the franchise will expect better results. The debut of esteemed South Korean DPS Park "Architect" Min-ho was a mixed bag; though he failed to find any traction in his first series against the Los Angeles Valiant, he found space and opportunities to succeed in the team's win over the still winless Shanghai Dragons to give a glimpse of his potential.
10. Florida Mayhem
Florida remains 10th place in the ranking following solid performances last week against both Boston and London. The Mayhem isn't a killer by any means, but in recent weeks has proven that it can generally challenge mid and top tier teams more closely than both the Fuel and Dragons.
Kim "AwesomeGuy" Sung-Hoon and Ha "Sayaplayer" Jung-Woo's introduction into the lineup have not paid instant dividends, but brought forth a higher level of play. However, the team is currently leaving its backline to die more often than not and that will continue to hold back the Mayhem. That might be especially problematic in its against a dive-heavy, desperate Shanghai Dragons this week.
11. Dallas Fuel
Like the Shanghai Dragons below, the Dallas Fuel are improving. Son "OGE" Min-seok is a massive improvement that gives the team a true starting main tank, allowing them to finally execute dive compositions much better. Hwang "EFFECT" Hyeon still overextends when it seems like he feels a lot of pressure to carry, but having a stronger tank line will help create more space for him going forward.
Yet, the sudden release of DPS player Kim "Rascal" Dong-jun and coach Kyle "KyKy" Souder could undo much of the progress that has been made so far, and continues to hint at systemic issues with the team. Again, the problem for Dallas isn't that the team has looked particularly bad, it's that other teams have continued to improve around them while they've been trying to sort out their issues.
12. Shanghai Dragons
With almost the entire Blizzard Arena behind them on the Overwatch League's "Shanghai Dragons Day" the Shanghai Dragons nearly defeated a Matthew "super" DeLisi-less San Francisco Shock for a first-ever match win. After a surprise win on Numbani, it came down to Junkertown, but the Dragons still couldn't close out the match. With every match, the Dragons look slightly better. Cho "Ado" Gi-hyeon and Lu "Diya" Weida are a strong DPS duo and Ado's Genji duels with Dante "Danteh" Cruz were exciting to watch. The problems for the Dragons are likely communication-based, with all three lines (DPS, tank, and support) frequently out-of-sync with each other. Kim "Geguri" Se-yeon and Lee "Fearless" Eui-seok make for a strong tank line, but they haven't been able to coordinate with the Dragons' aggressively positioned supports, who frequently die to enemy DPS, setting the Dragons back regardless of map type.