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Overwatch League: the Fight for Third Place Heats Up

Excelsior, however, look unbeatable.
Overwatch League: the Fight for Third Place Heats Up
The fight for third place at the stage two finals is heating up at Overwatch League. As it currently stands, the Los Angeles Gladiators (10-8) fought for their playoff lives as week four concluded, beating both a struggling Houston Outlaws (10-8) roster and the improved Florida Mayhem (3-15) to secure the coveted spot. But with only a +12 map differential for the stage, third place is anything but locked. Closing the gap are the Philadelphia Fusion who have been heating up again, winning both of their matches to improve to a +9 differential. Also at +9 are the Seoul Dynasty (13-5) who, though they lost twice this week, are a constant threat to the rest of the league. As for the top two spots in stage two, the New York Excelsior will be the team to beat - they're in first place with an untouchable +20 map differential heading into a fairly easy week five. The London Spitfire (13-5) are in a very confident second place with a +14 differential and only the anemic Shanghai Dragons (0-18) and Dallas Fuel (5-13) standing in their way this week. We very well may see a rematch from the stage one finals between these teams, but whoever ends up in third place will be hungry for an upset.

Los Angeles Gladiators continue to be impressive

It's been quite the adventure for the Gladiators over the last few weeks. They had some ups and downs, but after beating the Los Angeles Valiant and the London Spitfire following the acquisition of former Spitfire main tank, Chan-Hyung "Fissure" Baek, they've been very consistent. Fissure's aggressive style was an instant fit for the Gladiators, who have become known for overwhelming their opponents with very strong and fast DPS strategies. [caption id="attachment_103063" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Chan-Hyung "Fissure" Baek Chan-Hyung "Fissure" Baek | Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment[/caption] Their match against the Houston Outlaws perfectly illustrates what the Gladiators are able to do in must-win situations. Along with improved dives, their creativity has been crucial to their success. Joao Pedro "Hydration" Veloso de Goes Telles continues to develop his niche picks, giving the Gladiators an edge in tricky situations. He brought out Doomfist against the Outlaws on the Control Center of Lijiang Tower to counter their heavy tank composition and it worked beautifully, stuffing advances before they were able to gain traction. No one else has really been playing Doomfist at his level, so finding suitable players for scrims has probably been challenging for the competition. The Florida Mayhem gave the Gladiators fits early on in their week four matchup, forcing a draw on Volskaya Industries and sweeping on Nepal. But the Gladiators came back strong after halftime, holding the Mayhem to just one point on both Hollywood and Route 66. Those first two maps did hurt their overall differential, but the Gladiators are in top form heading into the final week of the second stage.

London Spitfire settle in

Though London remains one of the top teams in the league, they are prone to the occasional upset. Often a point of scrutiny, the Spitfire frequently rotate their players seemingly regardless of the matchup, sometimes putting themselves in holes they can't climb out of. Coach Chang-Geun "changgoon" Park has been instrumental in developing this powerhouse roster. After their victory over Seoul last Saturday, changgoon said in an interview that he hopes their fans understand that there is no "A team" or "B team," but rather a group of professionals who have all earned a starting role. He went on to say that the Spitfire will continue to ensure that every player get the playtime that they need to stay at the top of their game. [caption id="attachment_103064" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Seung-Tae "Bdosin" Choi Seung-Tae "Bdosin" Choi | Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment[/caption] Still, it does make one wonder how many maps could have been salvaged if Ji-Hyeok "Birdring" Kim had been playing instead of Dong-Eun "Hooreg" Lee, for example. Most other teams have DPS players of Birdring's caliber on lock for every map. The one-shot potential from his Widowmaker and McCree is through the roof, whereas Hooreg tends to stumble in similar situations. Regardless, London will more than likely make a stage two finals appearance which should be enough to silence the naysayers. They still have some cohesion issues to work on, but it finally feels like there's less turbulence between the C9 KongDoo and GC Busan players that make up the Spitfire's roster. Coach Chang must be doing something right.