Overwatch League has finally come to the last stage of Season 1, Stage 4!
Since this is the last stage where OWL teams have a chance to qualify for the playoffs, intense competition between all teams is expected to take place. Notably, teams between 4th place, occupied by Seoul Dynasty, to 8th place, held by the LA Gladiators, only differentiate by 3 wins in the whole league standings. They must prepare for their last effort in order to make it to the playoffs.
Also, the matches are expected to go differently since Brigitte will be joining OWL after Moira; Brigitte’s addition will bring about a huge change to the compositions of each team. Meanwhile, many fans are focusing their attention on what patch version of Hanzo will be in Stage 4, as Hanzo has been rising to become one of the top DPS heroes since his remake.
Here are 3 interesting parts you should keep your eyes on while watching the Stage 4 matches to make them more enjoyable!
■ Point 1. NYXL’s 3 Consecutive Wins vs Boston’s Rising
New York dominated the stage once again!
New York claimed its 2nd victory in the title matches for Stage 3 following its first in Stage 2; their results are a total of 27 wins and 3 losses throughout Stage 1 to 3. They refused to budge in the top of the standings, with 9 wins and 1 loss in each stage.
New York, the team that successfully put their names up for the title matches, could be seen as the most favored candidate for victory in Stage 4 as well. Not only that, they even resolved what was considered their biggest weakness - the team’s health problems - when the newly-recruited Anamo managed to fully integrate into the team.
Will New York be able to also dominate the Stage 4 and complete season 1 with their victory?
▲ The New York Excelsior won with all players performing well as a whole.
(Video clip by kelsangnator, Twitch)
Even though Stage 3 ended with the New York winning twice consecutively in the title matches, many Overwatch fans will name Boston when picking the most incredible team in Stage 3.
Although the Boston Uprising finished Stage 1 and 2 with a moderate score of 6 wins and 4 losses, they became literally ‘undefeatable’ with 10 wins and 0 losses in Stage 3.
The entirety of Boston played amazingly well; the Korean players were highly praised, but the rest of the team was not to be outshined. STRIKER made many superb plays throughout Stage 3, which had many saying that he is a DPS worthy of playing in the OWWC. Actually, the whole team in general showed such great synergy that they seemed almost as one.
Will Boston’s rise continue in Stage 4 or will there be a team that will put a stop to their winning streak? We’ll just have to wait and see.
▲ STRIKER on the loose in Stage 3, will he dominate Stage 4 as well?
(Video clip by mailorder, Twitch)
■ Point 2. Results in Stage 4 will be decided by Brigitte and Hanzo?!
The biggest change since Season 1 began is waiting to be applied in Stage 4 - Brigitte and remade Hanzo.
Brigitte has entirely different mechanisms compared to previous healers; healers were usually prey to assassin heroes even if they were more aggressive than certain healers. However, Brigitte can counter and kill enemy assassins with her powerful stun and shield.
Brigitte already became a major topic of discussion among many pro gamers; there are even talks of the dive comp, which had been one of the strongest metas for a long time, becoming useless due to Brigitte countering Genji and Tracer.
Because of this, the key factors for victory in Stage 4 will be the players’ ability to play as, with, and against Brigitte. Notably, Widowmaker, Pharah, and Hanzo, heroes that have become the main DPS in OWL lately and can poke from a distance, are expected to be played more.
■ Point 3. Now is the time when everyone should keep their eyes on the playoffs
Actually, we expect every team playing Stage 4 to be keeping their eyes on the playoffs rather than Stage 4 itself.
Only the top 6 teams will be qualified to play in the playoffs, which features a first place prize of $1,000,000. Now each team will be intently calculating how many wins they will need and which team they will need to keep their eyes on to make it to the playoffs.
The difference of divisions, which seemed rather faint during past stages, will now be meaningful, since 2 of the 6 teams proceeding to the playoffs are the team placed 1st in each division. The rest of the 4 teams will be the top 4 teams based on the league standings (no matter what division). Thus, even though it is a rare chance, there may be a team which won’t be qualified to play in the playoffs even if they are placed 6th in the total league standings.
First, NYXL took 1st place with overwhelming results (27 wins, 3 losses, 68 differential) in the Atlantic Division. This puts a huge gap between them and the runner-up, the Boston Uprising (22 wins, 8 losses, 27 differentials); New York would still qualify for the playoffs even if they do score 10 whole losses in Stage 4. If New York gets 6 wins in Stage 4, they’d still proceed to the playoffs as the 1st place team regardless of other team’s matches.
On the other hand, the competition over 1st place in the Pacific Division is growing ever darker as time goes by. 1st place goes to Seoul Dynasty (19 wins, 11 losses, 19 differentials) which is placed 4th in the league standings based on their scores up to Stage 3; however, this could be changed anytime by the LA Valiant (18 wins, 12 losses, 21 differentials) in just one match, and since Valiant has one more win, Dynasty cannot relax just yet.
Also, these two teams are closely followed by other teams in the playoffs cutoff; the Philadelphia Fusion (18 wins, 12 losses, 9 differentials) in 6th, the Houston Outlaws (16 wins, 14 losses, and 13 differentials) in 7th, and the LA Gladiators (16 wins, 14 losses, 5 differentials) in 8th can possibly catch up in Stage 4, meaning no one can guarantee which team will be placed 7th once Stage 4 ends.
It will be difficult for the San Francisco Shock (12 wins, 18 losses, -14 differentials) in 9th to make it to the playoffs. They have been going for a change in team atmosphere with Architect and their new coach, Crusty, joining them. However even if they do get all 10 wins, while the Boston Uprising get 1 win, the London Spitfire (20 wins, 10 losses, 38 differentials) 3 wins, Seoul Dynasty 4 wins, and both the LA Valiant and Philadelphia Fusion 5 wins, those teams would still have more wins than San Francisco.
Hence, San Francisco, the Dallas Fuel, Florida Mayhem, and lastly, the Shanghai Dragons are expected to focus on Stage 4 itself rather than the playoffs. The Shanghai Dragons, who are sitting at 30 losses, should aim for at least 1 win before Season 1 ends.
After Stage 4, which runs from May 17th to June 18th, ends, the 6 teams that qualify for the playoffs will compete against one another for 10 days starting from July 11th.
In the quarterfinals, the 6th seed from the regular season will play against the 3rd, and the 5th against 4th. Whichever wins in the lowest seeded quarterfinals will play against the 1st, and the winner from the highest seeded quarterfinals will play against the 2nd seed. Each series is BO3 (each match is best of 5 maps), and whichever team manages to get 2 wins first will win the series.
The 2 winners from the semifinals will play against each other in the grand finals taking place on July 28th and 29th in Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY. If you want to know which team will have the glory of the first victory in OWL Season 1, don’t miss the Stage 4 games!
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