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Overwatch League enters week five of stage one

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DYLAN PADY, Sports Editor

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The Overwatch League (OWL) just began its fifth week of competitive play and will wrap up the first stage of matchups. OWL began in early December through various preseason efforts and made its official 2018 debut on Jan. 10.

Following the preseason, there are four, five week stages of competitive play before the playoffs. The playoffs are followed by the Grand Finals, and OWL even features an All-Star Weekend, allowing a handful of the greatest players a chance to compete.

At the end of each stage, title matches are played for a prize pool of $125,000. Spencer Moran, of Blizzard Entertainment, explained the procedure of winning the stage finals.

“Stage Finals take the form of a seeded playoff where the second- and third-place teams face each other first, the winner of which will take on the top-seeded team in the title match,” Moran said. “All matches will be best-of-five, and the higher seed will be the home team for each match.”

As of press time, the Shanghai Dragons, Dallas Fuel, San Francisco Shock, Los Angeles Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant and Seoul Dynasty have not completed their Wednesday night matchups, but the teams’ standings are as follows:

The London Spitfire are tied with New York Excelsior at 7-1, Seoul Dynasty follows at 6-2 and the Houston Outlaws, Boston Uprising, Los Angeles Valiant and the Philadelphia Fusion are all tied at 5-3.

On the other side of the spectrum, San Francisco and the Los Angeles Gladiators are tied at 3-5, Dallas and the Florida Mayhem are 1-7 and Shanghai is still looking for a single victory at 0-8. 

The 12 teams compete in a round robin and a single “match” consists of four games featuring the various Overwatch maps. The maps themselves have names, but are typically recognized through the following objectives.

Escort: the payload follows a set path and one team tries to move the payload while the other tries to stop it. If the defending team is near the payload, it will not move. The battle is constantly shifting as long as the payload remains uncontested.

Assault: one team defends a single point while the opposing team attempts to capture it. After the initial point is captured, a second point becomes active and provides a closer spawn advantage to the defending team.

Control: teams fight for control over a single point in a “best of three” format. Once in control of the point, a ticker begins counting, and as soon as 100 percent is achieved, the game resets with a new control map throughout the two or three rounds.

Hybrid: hybrid maps feature concepts from assault and escort maps. The payload is defended at a stationary position, if captured by the attacking team, it is then escorted to its destination.

As we near the first checkpoint of the season, London, New York and Seoul are favored to make it to the stage finals, but a couple losses could easily reduce their chances by at least 80 percent. As with any sporting league, and especially in OWL, there will always be the underdogs who show enough potential to dethrone the better teams.

London is scheduled to play a 5-3 Houston team, followed by their 7-1 rivals in New York. They defeated Seoul in week four with ease, but by no means are they out of the woods yet.

It is also worth mentioning that the first female OWL player will be signed to the Shanghai Dragons. Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon of South Korea will join with Lee “Fearless” Eui-Seok and Cheon “Ado” Ki-hyun, who will also be joining the Dragons.

Se-yeon is 18-years old and is famous for being one of the greatest off-tank players in the world, especially with the character Zarya. Se-yeon is so good at Zarya, she was accused of cheating back in 2016.

According to ESPN, the three players joining from South Korea have to begin learning Mandarin in order to communicate with their Chinese teammates.

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Overwatch League enters week five of stage one