Overwatch League Playoffs: Play-Ins playout
The conclusion of the KIT KAT® Rivalry Weekend in LA gave us the 6 Playoffs and 6 Play-In spots for the OWL Playoffs stage. The six playoffs spots went to the two division leaders Titans/Excelsior followed by the SF Shock, Hangzhou Spark and the LA Gladiators. It was also a big weekend for the Atlanta Reign who managed to squeeze through into playoffs over S1 Champions London Spitfire. It was a bad weekend for the LA Valiant squad who were gate-kept out of play-ins by their city rivals the LA Gladiators.
With Valiant out of Play-Ins, the Chengdu Hunters retained their 12th place in the standings and their shot at Playoffs. To get there the Hunters have to go through the Guangzhou Charge in Round1 and Spitfire in the Round2. On the other side of Play-ins we have the Shanghai Dragons and Philadelphia Fusion duking it out in R1.
I have been on the Dragons hype train since pre-season and their Stage 3 playoffs performance got me nostalgic about the KongDoo glory days, but the Shanghai team flopped entirely in Stage 4 winning only one out of seven matchups. Now they face a mountain to climb if they are to make playoffs.
With all the matchups set and a new patch on the horizon, it is time to breakdown each Play-Ins matchup and theorycraft the likely playoffs participants. We cannot predict how the addition of Sigma to the tank lineup will impact teams and which teams will jump the occasion to showcase her prowess in the League, but we can predict the teams valuing Symmetra or Widowmaker will benefit most from the recent patch changes. We can also expect an increase in D’Va priority as she is unaffected by the global ultimate cost increase.
On to the matchups
Guangzhou Charge vs Chengdu Hunters – August 30 6:00 PM PT
The first matchup is as straightforward as rankings would propose. The Charge is an absolute favorite considering their recent form in and their performance against the Hunters in the past. Honestly, I would even put them ahead entirely in the upper bracket if they didn’t have to face Dynasty second. I do hope we get to see Happy aka Vesta aka “I own with Widowmaker” show his prowess against the Hunters and set the tone for the entire Play-Ins stage. In a possible Round 2 versus Dynasty, it would strongly depend on which squad shows up on the day. The head-to-heads show both teams understanding their ins and outs and we might see a tough matchup.
Shanghai Dragons vs Philadelphia Fusion – August 30 9:00 PM PT
The other part of the bracket is a nightmare to predict. The Dragons won Stage 3 in style and followed it up with a 1W6L streak into Stage 4. Their only win was against Dynasty almost a month ago. Fusion on the other hand has been a middle of the pack team this entire season. Yes, they started the season strong in Stage 1, but they followed that up with placements beyond the top 10 in every stage that followed.
On game day it will all depend on the form of the Shanghai Dragons. If the Stage 3 record setting, zero to hero Dragons show up, then it’s going to be Dragons all the way. But, if we are treated to the measly baby dragons of Stage 4 then Fusion can easily plow through forward. When it comes to the follow-up match versus Spitfire it will all depend on which team goes forward in the opener. Dragons should win over Spitfire but Fusion would fall. This also depends on how the entire bracket plays out.
In closing, my personal prediction is London Spitfire versus Shanghai Dragons in the Play-Ins final with SHD winning Play-Ins and the 7th seed, while the Charge make quick work of the other side of the bracket.
The OWL Playoffs begin this Friday at 6:00 PM PT (Sat 3:00 AM CEST) at https://www.twitch.tv/overwatchleague