OWL Stage Three Playoffs: NYXL implode, will Hangzhou be next?
The commencement of Stage Three is officially underway this weekend and the results have been a further indication that no team is safe in this stage setting, regardless of their regular season form. Shanghai Dragons overcame a fearsome NYXL that seem revitalized alongside their newly reformed DPS tactics in game. The ace in the hole for Shanghai has consistently been their DPS duo of Diem and DDing, as they have slowly put together one of the most fearsome duos in the league. Seoul Dynasty have a large task ahead of them today as they look to decelerate the momentum of San Francisco Shock. The Los Angeles Valiant look to continue their miracle run against an in-form Hangzhou Spark in what will surely be a barn-burner decider for the semi final stage.
Seoul Dynasty vs. San Francisco Shock – Quarterfinal
Seoul Dynasty have begrudgingly put themselves in playoff position regardless of the roster issues that have plagued them as of late, but all is not lost for the fiery Korean roster. San Francisco Shock have decimated the league this year, even putting together a perfect stage run in Stage Two without dropping a single map. This time around, the name of the game isn’t focused on perfection but rather continuing the run of dominance that got them this far.
Expect a clinic to be put on for the San Francisco Shock hopefuls as they look to calmly steamroll their way through a Seoul Dynasty roster that simply does not have the personnel to keep up with their strats. Sombra play, GOATS, or double DPS wise, San Francisco continue finding new routes to win and their flexibility in this wacky meta has shown their true ability in spades. Seoul Dynasty at this juncture does not have the star power, or strategic ability, to really put one over their opponents. But anything can happen after witnessing Shanghai upsetting NYXL just last night.
Los Angeles Valiant vs. Hangzhou Spark – Quarterfinal
This last quarterfinal match is a lot harder to make out as both LA Valiant and Hangzhou Spark have turned around their play considerably since the first two stages. Los Angeles Valiant were the borderline laughing stock of the league alongside Houston Outlaws during Stage One, but the team changes made recently have turned around their roster for the better. Now, LA Valiant are dark horses to win the entire stage given the synergy between their ranks. Shax, KSF and FCTFCTN have all shown their prowess in this new look Valiant team, and they have enough coordination to string together more than just a map win in this series.
Hangzhou Spark have remained consistent this stage, but there is no denying their losses have looked shaky at best when comparing their performances to their wins. Spark have been their own worst enemies since the start of the season, regularly over performing when the spotlight was on them, but suddenly losing games to Toronto Defiant and Houston Outlaws with no real rhyme or reason. At this stage of the season, Hangzhou have put together a winning recipe that has remained consistent against top and bottom tier teams. Spark have also plied their way into this playoff run by beating top tier opponents. Adding LA Valiant to this list would be a bit time accomplishment for the burgeoning Chinese squad.
Shanghai Dragons vs. Vancouver Titans – Semifinal
With one upset under their belt, what’s stopping the Shanghai Dragons from repeating greatness and pulling off another amazing feat against the Vancouver Titans in similar fashion? Well, there’s at least seven reasons why Vancouver won’t let that happen so easily. Most recently, Stitch has come into the fold quite nicely for Vancouver as they have adjusted out of the 3-3 meta with relative ease behind his stellar Sombra.
While Vancouver remains multifaceted, there’s no real gauge for just how hot Shanghai will be given their recent run of form upsetting the NYXL. The momentum may very well be on their side during this encounter, but it’s important not to get carried away in the moment against a team that is notorious for punishing opponents when overconfident. As previously stated, Shanghai has more than just a few key players in their platoon that can cause grief to an otherwise silky smooth system that the Vancouver Titans have been running. While we don’t expect the Dragons to take this loss lying down, the Titans will surely do enough to put themselves over as victor.