Dynasty is bleeding and the Outlaws are out for blood.

EDITORS NOTE: The Houston Outlaws announced an hour before their match that both LiNkzr and Mendokusaii will not being playing in the team's match vs Seoul Dynasty due to illness.

Week three of the Overwatch League was full of exciting, nail-biter, 3-2 map sets between teams of all different predicted skill levels, and it gave us a taste of what the League
can and should be. And then week four thrust us right back into darkness. 4-0 final scores abound, even out of three of the week’s most highly anticipated matches: Valiant v Fusion (4-0); Fusion v Dallas (4-0); and Spitfire v Dynasty (4-0).

But never fear; the Outlaws are here. The Houston Outlaws, specifically, who take on the Seoul Dynasty in the second match of day three, week four, stage one of the Overwatch League. With Dynasty now felled to the Spitfire, the Outlaws are sitting comfortably at third place in the standings. Until Wednesday, they had not dropped a map in four series, and they have yet to lose a match since their tough games in week one.

“We knew the map streak was going end eventually. We were hoping it would end with Seoul, if anyone.”  “The maps we’re playing against Seoul? It’s, like – those are the perfect maps for us, so I think we can take that set.”

- Coolmatt, postgame interview after 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Shock.

Seoul looked invincible until last Wednesday when the Shanghai Dragons, of all teams, proved that Old Faithful could bleed. Then, they lost 3-2 to the New York Excelsior. The competitiveness of the latter match-up indicated to most that Spitfire v Dynasty was going to be the match to watch this week – but it fell flat.

Dynasty departed from their usual lineup, substituting Gido for their tried-and-true flex support, ryujehong; utilizing Bunny in all four maps as opposed to Munchkin or Wekeed; and, benching main tank KuKi for the day.

Dynasty prefers Miro, as opposed to KuKi, for aggressive, straight dive compositions, but said playstyle proved ineffective against the Spitfire. London slowed their pace and favored anti-dive heroes like Junkrat on Thursday, and Seoul struggled to adapt.

“I think they split their team for the match tomorrow,” wrote the Outlaws’ general manager, Flame, in his Discord on Thursday. “And it bit them but they probably prioritize beating us over beating London.”

The Outlaws’ head coach, TaiRong, expressed similar ideas.

As a team, the Outlaws have become disciplined, cohesive, and confident in their play in a relatively short amount of time, no doubt thanks to an excellent coaching staff. They look radically different from week one where they lost to the Philadelphia Fusion and the New York Excelsior, and they have the potential to knock Dynasty down another peg.

Much of said upset potential comes from their stellar DPS duo, Jake and LiNkzr. Both are mechanically skilled and can play a variety of heroes at a high level, but what is most important is that they are among the absolute best at two meta heroes: Junkrat and Widowmaker, respectively.

Jake favors Junkrat more than anyone because he is the best at it, and if Dynasty could not handle Spitfire’s Junkrat, then they are in for a rude awakening tonight.

LiNkzr was out sick on Wednesday, but all evidence suggests that he will play today. He can undoubtedly hold his own against Fleta on Widowmaker, should it come to that, and the match-up will not be one to miss.

But who we should all be watching today is Muma. The sole main tank for the Houston Outlaws is an incredibly smart player who milks each tank hero’s kit for all it is worth. He is anxious to prove himself the best Winston in the world, a title that Miro has long held, and Muma habitually overperforms when his team needs him to. He did so on Wednesday against the Shock and will do the same today against the Dynasty.

If Houston knocks Seoul down another peg this week, it will no doubt be on the back of Muma’s habitual excellence.

 All this being said, victory is not assured. Dynasty may look more vulnerable than ever right now, but they are not a squad to underestimate, and the Outlaws should not (and will not) be lured into a false sense of security.

Seoul is unlikely to run anything but their proven lineups today, which all notably include ryujehong. Many of their limitations from Thursday, perhaps including their inability to handle Junkrat, will be tempered. Fleta remains a force to be reckoned with in his own right, and the Outlaws will be out-classed in any Tracer match-up that occurs, regardless of who Dynasty designates for the role.

And while Houston is good, Spitfire’s former-GC Busan lineup (which is largely what they fielded against Dynasty on Thursday) is better. Even if Houston wins, it will not be another 4-0 to kickstart a second map win-streak.

 While Junkertown and Eichenwalde favor the Outlaws (the former even more-so than the latter), Ilios and Horizon Lunar Colony are up for grabs. Control continues to be Houston’s weakest game mode, and since the control map for this set is not Oasis, Seoul can capitalize on their weak spot. Ilios will likely come down to whose Widowmaker prevails and, should the Outlaws decide to run Pharah, whether or not Jake is having a good day on the hero.

Similarly, Horizon Lunar Colony should be contentious. Both teams are comfortable on the map and were among the first to run compositions that included off-meta heroes like Moira and Sombra. This is another map that Dynasty absolutely must take if they want to win the series, as again, Junkertown and Eichenwalde heavily favor the Outlaws. With any luck, the series will go to a fifth tie-breaker map.

Dynasty looks mortal after their last three series where the Outlaws look invincible after theirs, yet both teams head into this match-up with something to prove. Both are vying for a coveted end-of-stage playoff invitation and for a spot in the top three. If Dynasty cannot pull it together tonight, then they will be eliminated from contention for the former and the latter.

The Seoul Dynasty takes on the Houston Outlaws tonight at 6 Pacific. See the official Overwatch League schedule for more details. All photos inside the Blizzard Arena stadium taken by Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment and subsequently released by Blizzard for publication.

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