By: Ollie Powell and Ian McCafferty
The Atlantic Division was an interesting beast in Stage Two. It contained two of the most improved squads in the entire league in the Mayhem and Fusion, but also had regressions from Boston and Houston. That’s all before we even mention Stage One champions London Spitfire or the eventual Stage Two champions New York Excelsior.
For what it’s worth no team from the Pacific Division has made a stage playoff yet and Seoul is the only Pacific team even in the top 6 in the standings at the moment. So for the time being this is the defacto top tier in the Overwatch League.
As we move into Stage Three, it will be a bit easier for everyone as there isn’t going to a be a massive meta change like the end of the Mercy meta. We’ll probably see an uptick in Sombra play, but that’s about it. No Brigette until Stage 4 anyway. Stage Three should closely mirror Stage Two.
So what can we expect from the Atlantic in Stage Three?
Boston Uprising (12-8, 6-4 Stage Two)
Uprising struggled to adapt to the meta shifts at the beginning of stage two, being one of the biggest benefactors of the strength of Mercy. However, they slowly found their feet by winning their final four matches despite trade rumors circulating around their Korean core of Striker, Gamsu and Neko. With Sombra expected to play a big part during stage three, Mistakes could have a significant part to play in Boston’s stage three performance and can form a nasty DPS trio with Striker and Dreamkazper. A top-six finish is easily attainable, and while a play-off place may be a step too far, they’ve already proven themselves to be enough of a surprise package that writing them off would be an error in judgment.
Florida Mayhem (4-16, 3-7 S2)
Praise Be Mr. Logix
The most improved team during Stage Two, the instant impact of their head coach R2der cannot be underestimated. A move into a standard dive meta certainly helped, but their play has become more aggressive and their comms cleaner under the tutelage of the Korean. Logix seemed to return to form as the stage progressed and the synergy the team was supposed to have in Stage 1 began to show itself. While wins over Fuel, Valiant and Shock aren’t exactly groundbreaking, it was a huge step forward for a team that only won one game in its first 15 matches. Add in that they took maps off of NYXL, London and Seoul in Stage 2 and things are looking up.
With their signings of Awesomeguy and Sayaplaya, widely considered the best Widowmaker during his time in APEX, Florida could be a dark horse for a playoff spot if their rapid improvement continues.
Houston Outlaws (12-8, 5-5 S2)
With fans and professionals alike realizing a top quality Tracer player was a priority, Houston management went and signed a Genji main. Right. While a good win over Seoul Dynasty was not enough to paper over the cracks of what was a rough stage two for the Outlaws, we’re not entirely sure what to expect from the boys in green heading into stage three. The shift away from the Mercy Meta and back to more pure dive didn’t seem to hurt them right away, but as teams adapted, the Outlaws began to have some trouble. After ripping off wins against London and Boston in Week One, Houston took a 2-0 lead on Philadelphia before losing the next 13 straight maps to Fusion, NYXL, Valiant and Mayhem. A miraculous reverse sweep of Mayhem kept them afloat, but heading into the final week they were 3-5.
Despite all that, there’s still plenty of talent on the roster for the Stage One playoff participants. Linkzr has genuine quality, and Jake has carry potential on Junkrat, but whether Arhan is the solution to their DPS problems remains to be seen. Having Lunar Colony and Junkertown back in the map rotation will be a huge positive, but their lack of a tier one Tracer and continuing communication issues may still hold them back.
London Spitfire (15-5, 8-2 S2)
London’s goal going into stage three is to find some consistency. They continue to be a top three OWL squad and one of the most confusing. The loss to Fusion in the playoff is forgivable, as Carpe was unconscious for those five maps, but Stage Two saw London lose to Houston and get soundly defeated by Gladiators, while also beating NYXL. They also dropped maps to Fuel, Shock and Mayhem. They have an immensely talented roster with proven quality both in their starting six and on the bench and have the best DPS duo and starting tank in the league. If they can find a way to consistently match the heights they hit in 4-0 victories against Fusion and Dynasty, Spitfire could find themselves cruising to a stage three title.
New York Excelsior (18-2, 9-1 S2)
The standout performers of the season so far, the stage two champions have world-class talent in every position. SBB continues to shine as the best Tracer in the league, Libero has found a new level in recent weeks, and NYXL has arguably the best tank and support lines in the world at the moment to round out a world-class team. Their one undoing could be a lack of depth in some key positions. Expect their domination to continue if the starting roster can avoid any mishaps. It would be absurd to bet against a team that’s 18-2 and their reverse sweep of Philadelphia for the Stage Two championship shows they have an extra gear when they really need it. Look for New York to make their third straight appearance in the stage playoffs.
Philadelphia Fusion (13-7, 7-3 S2)
While defeat in the playoff final will be a disappointment, this should not overshadow what has been a terrific stage two for the Fusion, solidifying their current position of “best in the west.” Fusion were one of the most improved squads in Stage Two, going from a middling 7th place team with a -4 map differential to 3rd place with a +12. The team benefited from adding a dash of patience to their hyper-aggressive dive style and the DPS quartet of Carpe, Shadowburn, EQO and Snillo are an absolute terror. Taking on Philly is going to be a scary proposition in stage three. There are still exploitable holes in their style and strategy, mostly their perchance to leave Boombox and Neptuno exposed, which was displayed by their heavy losses to the Korean teams during the regular season. Despite that though, Fusion should be in the hunt for a playoff spot once more.
Atlantic Division Rankings Pre-Stage Three
- London Spitfire
- Philadelphia Fusion
- Houston Outlaws
- Boston Uprising
- Florida Mayhem
This division is truly stacked heading into Stage Three. While the top three are pretty much set, you could put Philadelphia at No. 2 if you really wanted, the bottom three are almost interchangeable at this point. The most important thing here is that just because you’re 5th or 6th in the Atlantic doesn’t mean you’re a bottom tier team. While Mayhem have to stay there for the moment given their overall 4-16 record, they’ve been impressive as of late. Houston and Boston are very close, but Houston stays above given the prospect of more Junkrat in Stage Three.
The Atlantic remains the stronger division in OWL, but with the recent surge from the Los Angeles Gladiators and the continuing existence of Seoul Dynasty, we’ll have to wait and see if the Atlantic stranglehold on playoff spots continues. Here’s to more excitement in Stage Three.