OWL Playoffs Betting in Week 3 – The Final 6 Teams Battle It Out
By Jory Hollander
| September 10, 2019
The upcoming weekend marks the third and final week of Overwatch League bracket play. The lowest-seeded teams of the tournament, Seoul Dynasty and London Spitfire, have been eliminated, leaving the top six teams to battle for the last two spots in the Grand Finals.
The addition of Sigma has had a resounding effect on the league, and every remaining playoff team is utilizing him in almost every composition. Sigma’s presence in every lineup has consolidated the meta to the point where most teams are using variations of the same composition.
Although the playoff compositions have been similar, there is a growing distinction between the styles of the remaining six teams. Styles make fights, and the various storylines going into week 3 projects to make it the best weekend of Overwatch yet.
In this article, I’m going to take a look at three matchups from Week 3 of the OWL playoffs, give you the odds, and predict the winner of each series.
The Hangzhou Spark lost their first match of bracket play to the LA Gladiators in a tight seven-map series. The Spark looked tentative and unsure of themselves in the new Sigma meta. Lackluster Sigma play had many analysts worried about Hangzhou’s chances for the rest of the OWL playoffs.
Hangzhou responded to their loss by defeating the Seoul Dynasty 4-1 in the first round of the lower bracket. The Spark displayed much more competence against Seoul, and Ria’s Sigma improved greatly from the match against LA.
Players are still learning the nuances of Sigma’s kit, but it’s become clear early on that an attacking style is a key part of strong Sigma play. The best Sigma players in the league have been utilizing Sigma’s high damage output and Accretion’s stun to set the pace of engagements.
GodsB greatly improved his Reaper play from Stage 4 when he was near the bottom of the league for Reaper players. GodsB has been one of the best total damage dealers in the postseason, and his cerebral style rarely creates opportunities for the enemy team.
Bazzi’s Doomfist play was one of the biggest surprises of the weekend. Many expected him to struggle in the matchup versus FITS, who is known as one of the best Dooms in the league. Bazzi outplayed FITS, and his Doomfist’s cohesion was one of the winning factors for the Spark.
Atlanta Reign -164
The Atlanta Reign pulled off the upset of the weekend when they took down the Shock in a seven-map thriller. The Reign, a team who finished Stage 4 with a 7-0 record, looked unstoppable until the NYXL bested them in round two of the winners’ bracket.
Atlanta is not afraid to experiment with off-meta hero picks. The versatile damage duo of Babybay and Erster played Ashe, Junkrat, and Symmetra against New York on certain maps. Some of these picks took the Excelsior by surprise, but New York did a good job making the necessary adjustments during the match.
The Reign used Bastion in their match against San Francisco, and it was ultra-effective against the Shock’s double shields. Since that match, the first of the weekend, we’ve seen many other teams borrow the Bastion strategy as a way to counter Sigma/Doomfist.
The Atlanta coaching staff inserted Gator into the lineup for FRD to start the playoffs, and Gator’s Sigma has been a revelation for the Reign. Gator plays one of the most aggressive Sigmas that we’ve seen in the league, and many believe he might be the best Sigma player in the world.
Gator’s high-level Sigma play gives the Reign a great chance to make it out of the lower bracket. Sigma is borderline overpowered, and winning the Sigma mirror matchup gives Atlanta an advantage in every match they play.
Atlanta is favored to win this week 3 playoff matchup versus Hangzhou because they’ve been the better team over the past six weeks. The Spark have been playing a conservative take on the current meta, more or less shadowing what their opponents are doing.
Atlanta’s biggest advantage in this match will be the Sigma play of Gator. Gator has been one of the best Sigmas in the OWL playoffs, while Ria has been one of the weakest. The Spark’s inability to account for the difference in Sigma play will end up being the difference in this series.
The line is close for this matchup, but I believe it will be more lopsided than the oddsmakers suggest. Atlanta will win this matchup 4-1 and take their next step towards the Grand Finals.
#3 San Francisco Shock vs. #5 Los Angeles Gladiators
San Francisco Shock -385
The San Francisco Shock’s loss to the Atlanta Reign was a surprise result, but don’t forget that Atlanta was the other undefeated team during Stage 4. The seven-map series between the Shock and the Reign was one of the best of the year.
San Francisco ended up losing map seven in shocking fashion when they failed to send a player to contest the payload.
The mistake at the end of map seven could have dealt a devastating blow to the Shock’s confidence, but the team showed no ill effects from the loss during their next series against London. San Francisco easily dispatched the Spitfire in a clean four-map sweep following day.
Atlanta used Bastion to great effect in their match against the Shock, and it ended up being a key to the Reign’s victory. San Francisco learned from this strategy and decided to utilize a Bastion of their own in the next match against London.
Bastion deals a fearsome amount of damage over time, and STRIKER used Bastion’s Turret Mode to melt shields from the Spitfire’s Orisa/Sigma tank line. The pressure on London’s shields forced Gesture’s Sigma to play defensively and gave the rest of San Francisco room to operate.
The Shock’s drubbing of the London Spitfire culminated during map four when San Francisco made substitutions to get their bench players some run. This move, in the clinching map of the series, shows how much confidence the Shock has in their team and players.
Los Angeles Gladiators +261
The LA Gladiators find themselves in the lower bracket after losing to the juggernaut Vancouver Titans. The Titans’ experience playing in long series gave them the upper hand, but the Gladiators still showed a lot of promise against one of the best teams in the league.
The Gladiators don’t have problems securing eliminations largely due to individual greatness from their DPS Surefour. Surefour has been asked to play a variety of damage heroes during 2019 and is now settling into a primary role as Reaper.
Reaper has massive damage and multi-kill potential, which makes him a favorite pick of almost every playoff team. Surefour’s Reaper currently ranks first in the postseason for Damage and Death Blossom kills per 10 minutes.
Hydration, LA’s projectile DPS specialist, had an up and down match against Vancouver. Haksal outplayed Hydration’s Doomfist in the mirror matchup for most of the series, but a swap to Pharah for map three single-handedly won Rialto for the Gladiators.
Los Angeles’ glaring weakness during the OWL playoffs has been Control maps. The Gladiators are 0-4 on Control so far this postseason — something that Overwatch League bettors will want to keep an eye on moving forward.
The San Francisco Shock made a statement to the league during their 4-0 victory versus the London Spitfire. They showed that they are still a force to be reckoned with even though they had a misstep early against Atlanta.
The Gladiators are big underdogs going into this matchup because the Shock have historically proven to elevate their play in must-win games. Los Angeles likes to cater their strategy around Surefour, but this could create problems against a balanced San Francisco squad.
The Shock’s teamwork allows them to execute more fight-winning combos than the Gladiators, and I think it will be the difference in this series. The Shock will win a close series 4-3 and move on to a rematch with Atlanta.
San Francisco Shock
#1 Vancouver Titans vs. #2 New York Excelsior
Vancouver Titans -179
The Vancouver Titans looked like the team to beat through the first two weeks of the postseason. The Titans have been tested in each of their matchups, but solid mid-match adjustments have made the difference and allowed them to pull away.
Vancouver didn’t utilize Doomfist very often during the regular season, but this hero has become a crucial pick in the postseason. Haksal stepped into the Doomfist role for the Titans and was immediately a force to be reckoned with.
Haksal’s dominance on Doomfist shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. The 2019 Rookie of the Year excelled on every hero he played during the regular season. Haksal’s positioning and angles put him in the top tier of Overwatch League Doomfists.
TiZi was inserted into the starting lineup for BUMPER for the first two matches of playoffs. This substitution was noteworthy considering BUMPER is a top-tier main tank and MVP candidate. TiZi likely assumed starting duties because of his Orisa specialty, and it appears that Vancouver’s coaching staff made the right move.
New York Excelsior +133
The New York Excelsior had some of the lowest expectations coming into the postseason because of numerous playoff failures in the past. The lack of expectations may have taken the pressure off New York, who has been dominating the playoffs and living up to their #2 seed.
The Excelsior’s run through the 2019 Overwatch League playoffs has been fueled by a change in the team’s core strategy. New York has long developed its team strategy around JJONAK, their flex-support superstar and 2018 league MVP.
JJONAK’s Zenyatta offers long-range damage dealing potential that was effective in the GOATS meta. This meant playing a more defensive style of Overwatch, devoting more resources to protecting the backline, and trying to win the chip-damage war at long range.
The Excelsior have adopted a more balanced playstyle now that Zenyatta has fallen out of favor and JJONAK is playing Moira. New York is now devoting resources to the proper heroes, and they look every bit of a team who earned a #2 seed with a 22-6 record.
This series between the #1 and #2 seeded teams may not be the match that fans expected, but New York seems to have finally shaken off the curse of postseason disappointment.
Both of these teams have been playing a rigid take on the meta and rely on their talent to overcome their opponent in the mirror matchup. Mirror matchups have favored Vancouver all season long, and there’s no reason why that would stop now.
Pharah and Bastion picks from New York might give them the advantage on a couple of maps, but the Titans will come away with the series win, 4-2.
All OWL playoff odds in this post came courtesy of SportsBetting.ag, one of the best betting sites for US customers. People from outside the US should consider using Betway instead.