The OWL playoffs are almost upon us, bringing about the culmination of months of hard work for 20 of the best teams in Overwatch. While playoffs tend to be a little less fruitful for Overwatch bettors than the regular season, there’s still plenty of cash to be made wagering on the 2019 OWL Playoffs.
But, before we talk about the playoffs, we need to talk about the Play-Ins.
The Play-Ins act as a last chance qualifier, similar to what CS:GO does for its Majors. The 7th-12th teams in the standings are given a shot to qualify for the playoffs in a single elimination six team bracket, where the 7th and 8th seeded teams are slotted into the semifinals spot, and 9th-12th are put into the quarterfinals.
So, before we can talk about the playoffs proper, we first need to talk about this single elimination Play-In bracket.
The six teams in the Play-Ins are London Spitfire and Seoul Dynasty in the semifinals, and Guangzhou Charge, Philadelphia Fusion, Shanghai Dragons, and Chengdu Hunters in the quarterfinals.
Here we see the returning champions, poised to make a run through the Play-Ins and into the championship game to secure back to back championships in the Overwatch League. They narrowly missed making the actual playoffs, tying the Atlanta Reign’s record, albeit with a terrible Map Win differential.
Unfortunately for London, they don’t look nearly as strong compared to the field as compared to last year. Marred by an inability to adapt to shifting metas, and declining dominance from their previously dominant DPS duo, London don’t look to be in a good spot.
Seoul Dynasty are one of three teams to make it in with a 15-13 record. A one-time powerhouse of Overwatch, the second Korean team on this list never quite lived up to expectations. They had a lackluster first season, finishing at 8th place and missing the playoffs by a wide margin.
This DPS heavy meta doesn’t exactly play to their strengths, as it stops them from relying on talents like ryujehong and tobi. Instead, it forces players like Fleta and ILLICIT to step up in the biggest moments, which is not something that the Dynasty have been good at.
The Charge have an interesting roster, although it seems to be on that works for them. They’ve managed to cobble together a playoff team(ish), out of a hodgepodge of disparate parts. One of the big shocks of the season was this group’s excellent flexibility and adaptiveness to the meta.
They had a consistent season, placing well in all four stages, and ended stage four with a sizable winning streak. That momentum should no doubt carry into the playoffs, where they’re poised to leave their mark on the post season.
The Fusion are easily the best multi-national roster, and have managed an impressive resume with the most diverse roster in the Overwatch League. While they’ve been up and down this year, it’s hard to find a team more resilient and team focused than the Fusion.
Carpe is shining in the new meta, and their DPS focused roster gives them a ton of flexibility in a meta that now requires DPS. While Tank and Support lineups generally stay constant with the Fusion, that DPS flexibility gives them the ability to change things up on their opponent.
The Dragons are an incredible comeback story. While their roster was essentially overhauled in between their historically terrible season 1 and their Play-Ins appearance in season 2, a complete reversal from the organization and team is still incredibly impressive. While they’ve been improving steadily through each stage, this Play-Ins appearance is the icing on the cake, and cements them as one of the great historic esports franchise.
The new coaches have been extremely effective at stewarding their new group of mercenaries into a cohesive team.
The general love of the Dragons may skew the lines for this upcoming weekend, which is something you should be wary of. I don’t love them as an upset pick, and I’d stay away.
The Chengdu Hunters have been one of the most electrifying teams in Overwatch, bucking the meta at every turn, and innovating Hammond play at a top tier. They squeaked into the Play-Ins with the worst map differential, and the playoffs are all the better for it. The Hunters are perfectly poised to take a big upset win over someone like the Fusion and the Spitfire.
While the Hunters don’t have any real shot at taking home the trophy this season, they will definitely take home the trophy that goes to the people’s champ, and that’s really all that matters.
Realistically, the Hunters could very well make it thought the Play-Ins into the playoff bracket. This team reminds me of teams like Furia and Renegades in CS:GO, with weird oddball upset potential.
The playoffs bracket holds the six best teams in the Overwatch League for this season. The Vancouver Titans, the New York Excelsior, the San Francisco Shock, the Hangzhou Spark, the Los Angeles Gladiators, and the Atlanta Reign.
The Vancouver Titans are the continuation of one of the most accomplished Overwatch teams of all time. Shrouded in a sort of mythology, what used to be RunAway came into the OWL and dominated. They were undefeated for most of the 2019 Season, dropping just a handful of games to the Shock, amongst other lower tier opponents.
They’re the obvious favorite, and the clear team to beat if anyone wants a shot at the title of best in the world. The 2019 Overwatch League champions will inevitably have to go through them.
New York Excelsior
The NYXL are back again, looking to make their name in the playoffs once more. Last year they fell short to the Fusion in 2 sets. The winners of the Atlantic Division, the XL have been no joke, dominating Stage 3 in impressive fashion.
Unfortunately for New York, their adaption to the new meta has been less then inspiring. Their Stage 4 has been full of disappointments, and I don’t have high hopes for them moving forward.
San Francisco Shock
The Shock have the second best record in the Overwatch League this year, and for good reason. Their mix of tier one American players with a Korean backline have been a potent combination, with sinatraa especially providing the oomph that the Shock needed.
This is a team that benefited from the meta shift in a big way, going undefeated through Stage 4 with some big wins. They look like the most realistic competitor to the Titans, although only time will tell.
The Spark have been maybe my favorite team this season. From their excellent color scheme to their lovable Chinese Main Tank, it’s been hard not to get caught up with Spark fever. Their Stage 4 was iffy, dropping maps to several playoff teams.
The Spark are not a team that I would rely on with money on the line. A lot of their success comes from a different game entirely, as they were an excellent GOATS team.
Los Angeles Gladiators
Another mixed team, the Gladiator’s results have been a corresponding mixed bag. They haven’t won two games in a row since Stage 3, their coordination is a mess, they just aren’t a team that I love going into the playoffs. I like them as an early upset candidate.
The plucky Atlanta Reign have managed to sneak into a playoffs spot in the 2019 Overwatch League season, and I couldn’t be happier. This team has been electric in the back half of the season, coming on strong and pushing themselves into the conversation. This is a team with legs, legs that could carry them deeper than you might think.
This event is difficult to predict, due to the nature of the new meta. While recency bias is something to avoid, most results from before Stage 4 can effectively be thrown in the garbage. Keep an eye out for teams that look better than their record, and don’t be afraid to bet on the hot teams.