Overwatch League is back, and we've hit the halfway point of the season with Stage 3 under way. The top five has surprisingly shifted considerably since we last visited the power rankings, so let's jump right in.
1. New York Excelsior
Movement: No movement
NYXL steeled itself and took home the title at the end of Stage 2 against a rising Philadelphia Fusion. New York reverse-swept the Fusion to earn that title, but have been nothing short of dominant to start Stage 3 of the Overwatch League with a perfect combined map score of 8-0 against the Florida Mayhem and London Spitfire. Kim "Libero" Hye-sun has truly blossomed into a top tier DPS for New York and provides all the flexibility the team will ever need.
The first week of Stage 3 not only saw two XL victories, but also the return of "big boss" Kim "Pine" Do-hyeon. Pine sat on the sidelines for much of Stage 2 due to personal issues and while Libero has taken up Widowmaker duties well recently, Pine's return will be key for the XL's overall hitscan flexibility.
2. Philadelphia Fusion
The Fusion had less than a ten percent chance to make it into the Stage 2 playoffs in Week 5, but ended up stomping the Spitfire and making it into the final against New York. Josue "Eqo" Corona and crew could not close out against the XL, but still proved their class. Eqo was recently suspended for three games, but the Fusion largely looked good without him.
Simon "snillo" Erkstrom is as impressive as ever on Tracer, but had to flex a bit more in Eqo's absence, while Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok served as the team's backbone. Fusion still looked strong against an improved Boston Uprising and similarly improved Florida Mayhem, but the team was not running at full capacity. Look out when Eqo makes his return to the lineup.
3. London Spitfire
The Stage 1 champions fell to the Fusion to end Stage 2 and so far, Stage 3 has not been any more kind to the all-Korean roster. The Spitfire lost to the Houston Outlaws for the third time this year, surrendering the season series, while also dropping like a fly against the NYXL. London clearly has all the talent to stay at the top of the league and look good at its best, but there has been a consistent issue.
London's full-dive ran into problems against the Outlaws' controlled style centered around Jacob "Jake" Lyon's Junkrat, but the bigger problem at hand later in the week was roster swaps. The team's performance has varied greatly while starting members of the GC Busan roster, leaving the team with more losses than it needs. It is a long season, but giving away too many wins is less than ideal for late season placement.
4. Boston Uprising
Here comes Boston. The Uprising struggled in Stage 2 following the Mercy changes, but had a brief swing at the end of the stage, taking down the Los Angeles Gladiators. Boston continued that trend against Philadelphia, the Stage 2 runner-ups, and Houston, who just defeated the Spitfire in a 3-2 nailbiter. Kwon "Striker" Nam-joo continues to tear apart opposing backlines on the Tracer, in conjunction with perfect dives from main tank, Noh "Gamsu" Young-jin.
The Uprising might be the best pure dive team in the league right now, returning back to its form from Stage 1, and that is exciting for Boston fans as a whole. It remains to be seen if the team can really hang with the very best for an extended amount of time, but for now, it clearly sets itself apart from the middle of the pack.
5. Los Angeles Valiant
The Valiant have been in and out of the top of the rankings, but fifth feels suitable for the Los Angeles squad. The team's numerous transactions near the end of the signing deadline was an alarm for many fans, but it performed well with Brady "Agilities" Girardi, Indy "Space" Halpern, and Scott "Custa" Kennedy in the fold.
A decisive 4-0 over the Seoul Dynasty was its big win of the week, which was soon followed by an absolutely dominating performance over the new Shanghai Dragons lineup. The Valiant were impressive and Space is clearly a great replacement for Lee "Envy" Kang-Jae, but wins over Seoul's B-lineup and a Shanghai roster learning the ropes are still not of the greatest value.
6. Houston Outlaws
Oh, the Outlaws. Houston acquired its first Korean player in between Stage 2 and 3, in Jeong "Arhan" Won-yeop, but still ran a fully Western roster to open the stage. Another win over the Spitfire had the team looking great to start the stage, but the team quickly ran into the sledgehammer that was the Boston Uprising.
The Outlaws are still great at controlling the dive of other teams with Jake's excellent Junkrat play, while also having the best counter sniper in the league, Jiri "Linkzr" Masalin, so the team sits happily in the middle. Houston still challenges the top teams, but it continues to search for the consistency it boasted near the end of Stage 1.
7. Seoul Dynasty
It was a make-or-break week for the Dynasty, and unfortunately for Seoul, the team broke. The first loss to NYXL was a close one, but the beatdown by Spitfire has brought back flashbacks of Stage 1 when Seoul fell apart at the end of the quarter to miss out on the playoffs. With only two matches remaining in the stage for Seoul, its postseason destiny is no longer in its own hands. It needs the LA Gladiators to lose some maps to have a chance at making the Stage 2 postseason.
Seoul has lived and died by how much space and work its DPS ace Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun can do, and he was shut down against the two all-South Korean teams this past week. He was serviceable against NYXL, grabbing 39 kills to 36 deaths, but was stonewalled in the series with London, dying the same amount of times as he did against New York and only putting up 26 kills. When Fleta has been at his MVP peak, Seoul win. When he doesn't put up numbers, Seoul, like it did last week, struggles.
8. San Francisco Shock
In a Week 1 with teams fielding new roster additions and a more volatile map pool that includes both Blizzard World and Junkertown, the Shock came out looking alright. Like many teams this past week, they look better than before and they should continue to improve with their latest additions of Park "Architect" Min-ho and Choi "ChoiHyoBin" Hyo-bin into the lineup in the coming weeks. Also like many teams this past week, the question is not only of how their new lineup will come together but whether it can happen in time to elevate the Shock from being the solid ninth-place team that they've been for the past two stages.
9. Los Angeles Gladiators
From one Los Angeles team to another, Ted "Silkthread" Wang had a strong debut this past week for Gladiators. He'll later be joined by Kang "Void" Jun-woo as the team's other offseason pickup and the Gladiators have a good record with recent acquisitions. Baek "Fissure" Chan-hyung continues to shine since he came to the team in Stage 2, and his tank play has opened up more opportunities for Lane "Surefour" Roberts and Choi "Asher" Jun-sung. Although it's repetitive to say, with most of these teams in the bottom six, it's not a matter of them being bad teams, but whether they can improve enough to make a dent in the mid-to-top tier of teams, and this is also true of the Gladiators, who will look to integrate their new players into a lineup that was improving through Stage 2.
10. Florida Mayhem
With so many teams fielding stronger rosters with new offseason acquisitions, the addition of Ha "Sayaplayer" Jung-woo to the Mayhem's starting lineup is a great move for the team and his debut lead to an unlikely Route 66 map win (despite an overall 3-1 loss) to the Fusion. Together with Andreas "Logix" Berghmans' Tracer, the Mayhem have a strong DPS duo that's unfortunately hampered by inconsistent play from their support line. The arrival of tank Kim "aWsomeGuy" Sung-hoon should help, but a push out of the mid-to-bottom of the league will require stronger support play and near-perfect cohesion.
11. Dallas Fuel
After a strong 3-1 victory over the Shanghai Dragons - a match that many had said could be the Dragons' best chance at picking up any match win - the Dallas Fuel seemed on the rise. Things were quickly put in their place by the LA Gladiators two days later, making the final map loss on Junkertown against Shanghai stand out worse by comparison. It's no secret that Dallas has talent, but the lineup continued to shift in pursuit of a consistent tank line while Son "OGE" Min-seok was out of commission. Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod and Brandon "Seagull" Larned filled fairly well in as the main tank and flex tank respectively, but their coordination with the rest of the team - and the team's coordination in general - is still sorely lacking, leaving the supports unprotected. Dallas does look better, but so do Florida and the Gladiators. Now the question is which of these teams can keep improving steadily throughout the split, and Dallas still has a long way to go.
12. Shanghai Dragons
Despite a few hopeful predictions of an upset against Dallas Fuel, the Shanghai Dragons extended the winless streak through the first week of Stage 3. The good news is that recent additions of Cheon "Ado" Gi-hyeon, Kim "Geguri" Se-hyeon, Lee "Fearless" Eui-seok, He "Sky" Junjian (formerly "zhufanjun" of Miraculous Youngster), and Kim "Daemin" Dae-min are a breath of fresh air for the team in the wake of Fang "Undead" Chao's departure. Lu "Diya" Weida's return could offer even more flexibility when it comes to DPS heroes. The bad news is that these players need time to learn how to communicate with each other and time is slowly running out. Many of the Dragon's mistakes this past week weren't mechanical but obvious communication errors that led to ill-timed attacks and pushes.