A long competitive schedule dating back to February 14 comes down to this: the Overwatch League (OWL) Play-Offs.
After four stages, corresponding stage playoffs, and an All-Star event, OWL has whittled its membership to 12 geo-located teams and is preparing to crown its Season 2 champion.
Let’s take a look at the Overwatch League Regular Season Recap, Play-Ins, and Possible Play-Offs outcomes.
What Is The Overwatch League?
The Overwatch League is the premier Overwatch competition and consists of franchises located around the world.
Now in its second season, OWL has taken a unique approach to eSports in that it has conducted business similarly to professional sports leagues in North America.
Teams are franchises and ownership groups must pay their way to play. Teams are assigned cities in an effort to cultivate regional audiences despite not regularly playing in those locations (yet).
Overwatch League 2019 Regular Season Recap
The first three stages produced three different stage playoff champions and have set up an interesting playoff.
The Vancouver Titans, the San Francisco Shock, and Shanghai Dragons took the Stage 1, 2, and 3 playoff titles, respectively, and all have a shot at playoff glory when the OWL Playoffs kick off this weekend.
At the end of Stage 4, combined regular-season records from each stage determine which teams move on to the Playoffs.
The Titans, with a 25-3 record, and the New York Excelsior (22-6) won division titles and clinched the top two seeds this season.
OWL 2019 Automatic Playoff Bids
The Atlantic and Pacific Division leaders get automatic bids to the playoffs and are designated as the first and second seeds.
The next four teams in the overall standings also earn automatic playoff bids and are seeded accordingly.
The Shock (23-5), the Hangzhou Spark (18-10), the Los Angeles Gladiators (17-11), and the Atlanta Reign (16-12) are the teams that earned automatic playoff bids in Season 2.
The final two playoff spots are determined in the opening-round Play-In portion of the playoffs.
OWL 2019 Final Playoff Spots
Teams seven through 12 participate in a two-round single-elimination bracket with the seventh- and eighth-place teams earning first-round byes.
The defending-champion London Spitfire (16-12) and the Seoul Dynasty (15-13) earn the first-round byes in 2019, and the Guangzhou Charge (15-13).
The rest of the field is made up by the Philadelphia Fusion (15-13), the Dragons (13-15), and the Chengdu Hunters (13-15).
Overwatch League 2019 Play-Ins Betting Preview
Let’s take a look at the favorite teams to advance to the next stage of the tournament:
OWL 2019 Play-Ins Opening Round
Guangzhou (-500) is a heavy favorite to defeat Chengdu (+285) in the first round of the play-in bracket on August 30. Guangzhou earned a 3-1 victory in the sides’ only meeting this season back on June 6.
Chengdu, on the other hand, has built something of a cult following in the OWL community and they could be a trendy underdog pick for the bold.
The Hunters are not as robust as the Charge overall. That’s why we’re giving the edge to Guangzhou (-500).
In the other opening-round play-in matchup, Philadelphia (-200) is favored to topple Stage 3 champions Shanghai (+135).
The Dragons had a woeful Stage 4 in which they posted a 1-6 overall record and nearly doomed their playoff hopes entirely.
The Fusion went 3-4 to bring their overall regular-season record to 15-13, good for 10th place.
Overall, Philadelphia is trending stronger than the Dragons, but Shanghai has proven they can win at big events having won the Stage 3 Playoffs. We’re tipping the Chinese outfit for an upset.
OWL 2019 Play-Ins Semifinals
Guangzhou’s first-round victory sets them up for a semifinal fixture with the defending OWL champs, the London Spitfire.
We’re giving the edge to the Spitfire in this one, not because they defeated the Charge 3-1 during the regular season on August 1, but because in these win-or-go-home situations experience is paramount.
London left a lot to be desired with a 4-3 Stage 4 record, but look for them to turn it around in time to qualify for the playoffs.
Matchups To Look Out For In the OWL 2019 Play-Ins Semifinals
Seoul vs. Shanghai in the other semifinal is a curious matchup. Both teams struggled in Stage 4 and qualified for the Play-Ins based on their performances in previous stages.
Shanghai, worse off in Stage 4 than the 3-4 Dynasty, entered this tournament in disarray but their first-round triumph will get them back on track.
Additionally, the Dynasty have struggled with the current DPS-heavy meta, so this would be an unfavorable matchup for them.
Overwatch League 2019 Playoffs Betting Preview
The main event playoff portion of the tournament is an eight-team, double-elimination event.
In the opening quarterfinal round our picks would see Vancouver past Shanghai, Hangzhou defeating the Gladiators, San Francisco over Atlanta, and, the surprise of the lot, London with the shock win over NYE.
On to the semifinals where Vancouver, led by kill machine and the regular-season eliminations leader (21.09) SeoMinSoo, continue to push on with a sweep of Hangzhou.
The Titans swept the Spark, 4-0 and 3-1, during the regular season and we have no reason to believe anything will change in the semifinals.
The same logic applies to the other semis matchup between San Francisco and London: the Shock dismissed the Spitfire in their only regular-season matchup and should do the same in the second round.
San Francisco were crowned Stage 2 champions earlier in the season and are fresh off an undefeated (7-0) Stage 4 campaign.
Possible Upper Bracket Contenders
A Vancouver vs. San Francisco upper bracket final would be a spectacle. The two best teams from the regular season with all to play for is an ideal situation for OWL fans.
The teams split their two regular-season matchups: a 3-1 win for the Titans in the first meeting and a 3-2 triumph for the Shock in the second.
That makes this decision even more challenging to make, but the Titans have been the class of OWL this season, and they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt.
But the Shock will have their shot at revenge. We’re calling on Atlanta to eliminate NYE, who were dreadful (3-4) during Stage 4, in the Losers’ First Round before meeting the Shock in the Losers’ Finals.
The Shock will hold on for a tough win over the Reign and set up a rematch with the Titans. An energized Shock side could defeat the Titans once, but needing a second win to claim a title is a big ask.
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