The regular season of Stage 2 for the Overwatch League has concluded, but the action is far from over. Eight teams compete this week in the Stage 2 playoffs for the chance to be crowned the Stage 2 champions.
After five weeks of fierce competition during Stage 2, only eight teams remain. Each team has been seeded into a playoff bracket based on their Stage 2 performance. The action begins on Thursday with the first two quarterfinal matches when the Shanghai Dragons face off against the San Francisco Shock, followed by Hangzhou Spark challenging the London Spitfire. The rest of the quarterfinals will finish on Friday. First, the New York Excelsior will take on the Los Angeles Gladiators. The defending Stage 1 champions, the Vancouver Titans will face off against the Dallas Fuel in the last quarterfinal.
Following the quarterfinals, the remaining four teams will face off in the semi-finals on Saturday. The action concludes on Sunday, when the Stage 2 champions will be crowned. While having the bragging rights of being the Stage 2 champions is motivation for most teams, it is not all teams are competing for. Their is a total of $500,000 dollars in prize money up for grabs this weekend, with the winning team earning $200,000.
New Playoff Teams
Perhaps the most exciting part of the Stage 2 playoffs is the amount of teams competing in their first ever playoffs. One of the most exciting story line to follow throughout Stage 2 has been that of the Shanghai Dragons. Last year, the Dragons had a historically poor year. Not only did they finish in last place, but they failed to win a single match the entire season. After making a number of roster changes, including picking up Boston Uprising’s star Tank player Gamsu, the Dragons have become a contender this season. Though missing the playoffs in Stage 1, the Dragons were able to barely make the Stage 2 playoffs as the eighth and final seed.
The Shanghai Dragons are not the only franchise making their first playoff appearance this week. The Hangzhou Spark also qualified for their first ever playoff spot. As pointed out by the Guangzhou Charge on Twitter. The appearance of both the Dragons and Spark in the playoffs is historic not only for the individual franchise, but for China in general, as it is the first time a Chinese team has qualified for the Stage playoffs. While an exciting feat for the Dragons and Sparks, they have a difficult path to advance as they face off against the San Francisco Shock and London Spitfire respectively in the quarterfinals.
The first time China is represented in playoffs and we have two great teams! @ShanghaiDragons @Hangzhou_Spark good luck, we’re sending our energy your way 💙❤️💖 #OWL2019 #FeelTheCharge #Bang #Breakthrough pic.twitter.com/LqB7FtGkRS
— Guangzhou Charge (@GZCharge) May 6, 2019
Are the San Francisco Shock THAT Good?
Over Stage 2, the San Francisco Shock made history by being the first team to finish a Stage with a perfect 28-0 map record. While impressive, such a statistic should be taken with a grain of salt. Throughout Stage 2, the Shock had a relatively easy schedule. A majority of their opponents failed to qualify for the Stage 2 playoffs. In fact, the only playoff teams that faced were the seventh and eighth seeded Shanghai and Hangzhou teams. Not to take away from the Shock’s historic performance, but they have yet to prove themselves against some of the better teams of the league such as New York or Vancouver. The Stage 2 playoffs will be San Francisco’s best chance to prove that they are truly an elite team.
Can Anybody Beat Vancouver?
Despite the historic Stage of the San Francisco Shock or the first playoff appearances for the two Chinese teams, all eyes are still on the Vancouver Titans. Looking at their place in the standings, it is surprising to see the defending Stage 1 champions as the third seed in the playoffs. While finishing undefeated in Stage 2, their map record of 25-3 meant they finished behind San Francisco and London, who won the Pacific and Atlantic Divisions for the stage.
However, Vancouver’s third place seed does not mean they are not the favorites heading into the Stage 2 Playoffs. Not only were they 7-0 during Stage 2, but they have yet to lose a match in the entirety of the season. Furthermore, they have already proved themselves to still be dominant against playoff caliber teams. For example, they recently defeated the Dallas Fuel, their quarterfinals opponent, with a convincing 4-0 victory. While there are plenty of teams who might be able to contest the Vancouver, the Titans have yet to show any signs of stopping their dominance over the Overwatch League. In short, they are the clear favorites for the playoffs until someone can finally prove that the Titans are beatable.
Stage 2 has been a historic Stage for the Overwatch League. Not only did it have the first ever Homestand, when the league traveled to Dallas for a weekend, but it also featured the first ever 28-0 map record by a team. Will these patterns of “firsts” continue with a new team winning the Stage 2 playoffs? Or will the Vancouver Titans defend their title? Be sure to tune in this weekend, starting Thursday, to find out!
We are a go. #OWL2019
Stage 2 Playoffs start this Thursday at 6PM PT.
Who do you see as our Stage 2 Playoffs winner!? pic.twitter.com/GDgr6ixshJ
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) May 8, 2019