We kick off Phase 2 of the OWL 2019 season with a new patch, a shift in meta and a derby matchup between the Philadelphia Fusion and New York Excelsior to start matches out. With the meta not yet set in stone, we might see an abundance of DPS picks or some strange 3 tank 3 support meta get developed. For now, we can only analyze the patch notes and see which teams might perform better on the merits of talent in this first week of Phase 2.
In the Excelsior/Fusion matchup we are seeing NYXL enter with a 7-0 score line (not counting the playoffs flop), going against a 5-2 Fusion with the current “dps” meta maybe giving them a slight edge. I believe in the end it will come down once again to esports veteran Alberto “Neptuno” González and some miracle highlight moments that will give Philadelphia the edge in the opener.
On Saturday, Fusion meet the Florida Mayhem for a rematch of their Phase 1 bout, which they lost arguably due to the absence of Isaac “Boombox” Charles on their roster. In fact, both of their defeats in Phase 1 were with the Brit missing from the roster. With full strength and coordination, they should make quick work of the Florida squad coming into Week 1.
The Boston Uprising gave a good performance in playoffs although they unluckily had to face the dominating squad of Titans in their short run. With the new meta upon us, the team had its fair share of speculation about trying to sign more DPS players coming into Round 2. Luckily, their first opponent, the Atlanta Reign, is facing the departure of “burgerflipper” Dafran from the roster and having to adapt to a new DPS in Ilya “Nlaaer” Koppalov, the infamous CS:GO veteran.
While the first matchup might be an easy win, it might be a tall order to challenge the Toronto Defiant in their second matchup. The Defiant are no tough opponent stylistically, but when it comes to metagame and fundamentals, I believe they have caught up to the meta already and will come in the matchup against the Uprising full force. In the end, a 1-1 week for Boston is nothing to feel bad about.
The Charge squad had an “unlucky” schedule in Phase 1, being matched against the Titans twice during the stage. If they had dealt easier opponents, they probably would have made it to playoffs and our view of them might be different. This week they have to face the Paris Eternal on opener day, followed by a match against playoff finalist SF Shock who managed to give even the Titans a run for their money in a 7-map bout. It looks like a 1-1 week as well for the Guangzhou squad; where they should easily beat Eternal with the meta shifting away from Eternal’s core strengths, but then falter against an over-performing SF Shock who are delivering on their promise to bring out the big guns in 2019.
The champions really need to start performing before they get swept away to the D tier of OWL. The entire Stage 1 was a messy endeavour where even the worst of performers (Washington Justice) gave the Spitfire squad a run for their money. This week they face the likes of Atlanta Reign who we mentioned are facing a roster swap with the departure of “McDafran”, which might just be the edge Spitfire needs to get on track. Before that, they face the “easy” opponent of Florida Mayhem, so in theory this should be a 2-0 week for the Spitfire. Anything less would be a serious flop for last year’s champions regardless of new meta or whatnot.
With the four core teams to look out for this week out of the way, let us take a stab at predicting the winners of all 16 matches coming into Week 1: (accounted for meta shift)
- Philadelphia Fusion -vs- New York Excelsior
- Boston Uprising -vs- Atlanta Reign
- Shanghai Dragons -vs- Los Angeles Gladiators
- Guangzhou Charge -vs- Paris Eternal
- London Spitfire -vs- Florida Mayhem
- Washington Justice -vs- Toronto Defiant
- Los Angeles Valiant -vs- San Francisco Shock
- Los Angeles Gladiators -vs- Seoul Dynasty
- Florida Mayhem -vs- Philadelphia Fusion
- Toronto Defiant -vs- Boston Uprising
- New York Excelsior -vs- Shanghai Dragons
- Chengdu Hunters -vs- Paris Eternal
- San Francisco Shock -vs- Guangzhou Charge
- Atlanta Reign -vs- London Spitfire
- Vancouver Titans -vs- Hangzhou Spark
- Washington Justice -vs- Chengdu Hunters