Stage 1 of Overwatch League is in the past. It had it’s ups and downs and its own share of drama, but ultimately the London Spitfire came out on top. We are now four weeks into stage two and it seems like OWL is really starting to take on a life of it’s own as a minor sports league- Competition and Drama a plenty. In the article we will be rounding up the news from the past few weeks from upsets and our predictions for the league, as well as all of the scandal, bans and fines that have taken place.

Competition
This Stage does not seem as cut and dry or as easy to predict as stage 1. In the signing window between stage one and two there have been player trades and pick ups that have shaken things up in some pretty exciting ways. London Spitfire, stage one champions, have notably sold both main tank player Fissure and projectile DPS specialist Rascal. Rascal was sold to Dallas Fuel, a team we will talk about later but sadly even a player as talented as Rascal doesn’t seem to have made too much of an impact on that team, whereas Fissure has gone over to the LA Gladiators. Fissure is a player that was revered in Apex as a player in contention for the top tank player spot, along with the likes of Gesture who now plays for the London Spitfire. Fissure had been benched by the Spitfire since they had worked out what their premiere lineup formed of the best from GC Busan and Kongdoo Panthera, and in this last week of competition Fissure demonstrated that this was probably a mistake. After walking off of stage having secured a 4-0 victory against the stage champions and a previously dominant looking Spitfire, Fissure has taken over the internet with Memes of his dominance over his previous teammates popping up everywhere. It is easy to see why; Fissure has been hailed by casters in previous matches as having near flawless tank play on both Reinhardt and Winston. He is always in the right place at the right place at the right time, his game-sense is absolutely phenomenal and his ability to make individual plays as a tank is absolutely outstanding. Is the hype over Fissure justified? Will be prove to be the carry tank that the Gladiators need to prove themselves as the top western team? It is too early to say at this point. One thing is for sure, Fissure is definitely our player to watch as be looks to create a fissure between his team and the rest of the teams from the west.

 

Teams like the LA Valiant, Houston Outlaws and Boston Uprising are either looking inconsistent or are simply struggling a lot more this season. One would assume this is because of the Meta shift between stage one and two. Mercy is no longer queen of the game and so a lot more comps have become viable and map specific, meaning teams have to have a few more looks at as dominant a state as their preferred composition. The Valiant and the Outlaws have enough raw talent that you can probably assume they’ll have the current wrinkles in their game sorted out by the end of this stage, although by then it could be too late and for the Outlaws especially it could take a player signing to solve their missing Tracer specialist issue. Unfortunately the Uprising seem to have really broken down the Mercy with dive play style but outside of that they are looking more than little shaky at times; some more solid tank play however and we could see the DPS firepower on this team allowed to shine.

Our top three picks for contenders to the throne are as follows:
1) New York XL. A team that is looking more consistently terrifying than anyone else in the league at the moment, and only taken down by the Philadelphia Fusion who are a team who’s playstyle directly counters the NYXL’s considered and surgical style. Saebyeolbe is continuing to prove that he could well be on a level above any other Tracer player in the League, and mayeb in the world, which is certainly a feather in the cap of the NYXL.
2) London Spitfire. The stage one champions are still looking dominant, which cracks in the armour only starting to show in more recent matches against some wild card opponents. We still place the Spitfire very highly and see no reason why we will not see this team of super humans in the playoffs to secure a second stage victory.
3) Wildcard! Philadelphia Fusion! This team swing wildly between looking like they could take any of the giants in the League down, to getting pushed to have to reverse sweep almost every team they play. They are a team with an extraordinary amount of potential and can look absolutely untouchable at times. If they can work out some of their weaknesses and solve some of their over aggression issues, they could absolutely be in contention to walk away with a stage victory in the inaugural season.

The Drama
As with any sporting league it seem that some of the players and coaches are incapable of behaving and following the example set by most of their peers and colleagues. For the sake of simplicity I will insert verbatim the outline of rule violation and sanctions against each offender below:

Timo “Taimou” Kettunen, of the Dallas Fuel, is fined $1,000 for using anti-gay slurs on his personal stream.

Tae-yeong “TaiRong” Kim, of the Houston Outlaws, has received a formal warning for posting an offensive meme on social media. After the incident, TaiRong issued an unprompted public apology, and made a donation to the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, actions which were taken into account when determining the judgment against him.

Ted “Silkthread” Wang, of the Los Angeles Valiant, is fined $1,000 for account sharing, a violation of the Blizzard End User License Agreement.

Félix “xQc” Lengyel, of the Dallas Fuel, is suspended for four matches, effective March 12, and fined $4,000. xQc repeatedly used an emote in a racially disparaging manner on the league’s stream and on social media, and used disparaging language against Overwatch League casters and fellow players on social media and on his personal stream. Previously, xQc has been warned, fined, and suspended for similar infractions.

Obviously one of these offences is not on the level of the other three, Silkthread violating Blizzard End User License Agreement is not fantastic but honestly not the end of the world. TaiRong made what at the very least was a very tasteless and inappropriate joke (you can find it on twitter if you must but it will not be posted here) but his actions since have demonstrated a sense of personal responsibility that the League deem to be just compensation.

Taimou and xQc are both players from the Dallas Fuel and have both now done and said things on their stream that really are inexcusable, especially for people with their level of exposure and with the amount of young people that look up to them. xQc’s recent actions especially have caused a slew of his fans to now take what was deems a racially insensitive action and turn it into a meme in the Twitch chat of the Overwatch League, which is very disappointing and led to a number of bans which makes the OWL twitch a far less friendly place to be. One would hope that the responsibility and influence that these players have dawns on them and some responsibility can be taken before things get out of hand like this again. Behaviour like this is unacceptable and it is at least positive to see the League deal with these issues.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for OWL updates as Stage 2 unfolds! Feel free to join our discord below and to follow us on twitter! Let us know who you are supporting and who you think will walk away with the crown! GG!

Ezcarrot.

[EDIT] Since time of writing xQc has been released from the Dallas Fuel for his actions. This would seem to be a good move for both the League and for Lengyel, hopefully a return to full time streaming with mean that an xQc scandal a week is not the most talked about aspect of the League going forward and xQc can focus on things that make him happier. For more discussion on this topic go to @realEZCARROT on twitter and let me know your thoughts.