Two weeks down, two Texas teams finally debuted, and we are two weeks out from our first, regular season play outside of Los Angeles. There were a lot of twos this weekend, but given the clarity that this stage’s playoff picture now has, we are still kicking it with three winners and losers.
- Los Angeles: Good news and more good news: the Valiant have finally won this season (Atlanta was their first victim), and the Gladiators are still undefeated this stage. Heck, the viewing audience finally got their crosstown matchup (2-1 Gladiators) with a weekend full of gladiatorial twitter barbs. The Gladiators have a much weaker schedule, and their map differential isn’t double digits. Still, they are second overall this stage (NYXL is first) with four wins, are guaranteed at least a winning record on this stage and are already in prime position to make the stage playoffs.
- San Francisco Shock: Are the Shock, much like the aforementioned Gladiators, benefitting from a much weaker schedule this stage? Absolutely. Like, a really, really weaker schedule now that we’re two weeks through the stage? Yes. Are they still third in the Stage Standings (and full season standings)? Yes. Well I’m here to say those two stats are less important than these stats: the Shock are pounding everyone they face this Stage, are undefeated on both matches and maps (if they drop either next weekend you can flame me for jinxing them), and is still very much the same team that took the Vancouver Titans to seven maps in the Stage One Championship.
- Dallas Fuel: Getting last week off seemed to pay off for Dallas. The Fuel swept Toronto and handily took down Paris, 2-1. Dallas looks like a team with creativity and variety that could join the Stage Two Playoff picture. That will come in handy when Dallas makes its Homestand in Week Four, making this the perfect time for Dallas to shower their hometown fans with hope for the season and future.
- Florida Mayhem’s Blizzard World performance: That was a rough map to watch. Everything was going so well for the Mayhem even after losing the first point to Paris on an EMP/Dragonblade combo. Florida pushed Paris back so much that the teamfight went back to the first spawn point…after Point A was taken. Much to Florida’s agony, once Paris started pushing the payload they survived to the end with overtime. After Florida parted ways with their head coach, there’s no doubt they’re in full rebuild mode now.
- Houston Outlaws Strategy: Anybody who watched Map One against the Vancouver Titans saw vintage Houston Outlaw gameplay. DPS heavy compositions that steamrolled their opponents. Houston has always been their best playing DPS…so why try running GOATS heavy comps against the GOAT kings? Houston took Map One with creative compositions and their strengths. Vancouver then ran roughshod over the Outlaws on the other three maps because Houston tried to beat Vancouver at their own game and failed miserably. Also, seeing Houston’s GM spend the aftermath criticizing OWL analysts more than defending the teams’ strategy is a less-than-stellar look. That’s not how to win over fans and ensure them of future success later down the road this season.
- Guangzhou Charge: Stage One ended with Guangzhou just barely out of the playoff picture; Stage Two is only two weeks done and Guangzhou is already practically eliminated. Guangzhou is winless both in matches and maps, sitting at -16 in the map differential column. Two weeks into this stage and Guangzhou is already looking ahead to Stage Three because even if they win every map from here on out they’ll still only finish with a -4 map differential, and that won’t do any good when it comes to tiebreakers.
Normally I throw around a few plays that stuck out for the entire week, but this week had one of the best plays of the season. Erster pulled off the rare team kill on the Washington Justice. Atlanta is quickly making a name for itself as a highlight factory with some of the year’s best plays.