The Houston Outlaws began Stage 2 with a thrilling victory over the Stage 1 champions, the London Spitfire. For a while, it looked as if the all-Western roster was ready to pick up where it left off in Stage 1, but a reverse sweep at the hands of the Philadelphia Fusion sent them tumbling into a three-game skid.
Last night, in dramatic fashion, the Outlaws brought it back, reverse-sweeping the Florida Mayhem to end their losing streak at 13 maps.
The struggling Mayhem flexed their muscles early on Hanamura and Lijiang Tower, jumping out to a 2-0 map lead going into halftime. After the match, Houston DPS Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin said that the Mayhem’s experience as a team made the match especially difficult.
“Mayhem have played a long time together and have really set strategies,” he said. “That always gives trouble to scrambling teams like us. They are a good team, but we aren’t the Houston we were in Stage 1. We might have been a little too ‘high,’ you know, but we are talented players that are a strong team no matter what the meta is.”
Going into the match against Florida, Houston had dropped 11 maps in a row, and the players didn’t look like they were on the same page. LiNkzr believes this comeback victory is the Outlaws’ first step to getting back on track.
“We knew we had a lot of problems that needed to be fixed,” he said. “Yesterday, we tried to regroup our thoughts and really get everyone on the same page, and slowly started working out how to play the game again. Today, we kind of accomplished the bare minimum of what we needed to win fights consistently.”
LiNkzr noted that the atmosphere for the team was different on Friday than in their last few matches—even down 2-0, no one was ready to give up.
“In previous games, people were shutting down and people weren’t talking, but today was different,” he said. “Even though we lost the first two maps, we were really confident that we could come back in that game and do what is necessary to win.”
The comeback started on Hollywood, and LiNkzr knew he could perform his best on his favorite spot—one where Widowmaker duels really matter.
“Hollywood’s street phase has historically always been a very good [location] for me,” he said with pride. “I probably have gotten most of my holds on Hollywood’s second point, based on my Widowmaker play. On that point, neither of the Widowmakers really get help, because if she does, you end up losing really hard somewhere else. It’s an even duel where the mechanics matter, and for it to go back and forth showed that Logix is a very talented Widow [player]. It is always interesting to have those duels where you can’t make positional mistakes, and every shot counts.”
After holding the Mayhem before the second point of Hollywood, the Outlaws needed to win Gibraltar to take it to a fifth map. Florida first put together a decent attack, but Houston had just enough in the tank to finish their push—although it wasn’t easy.
“The third point was a real struggle,” LiNkzr said. “We got the payload around the corner, but we hadn’t really discussed how to break the defense of the tanks staying close and the Widow covering the sightline. We have to figure out how to use the tanks and DPS to make the space for Widow, if they are going for the duel.”
Gibraltar may have been a test, but Houston dominated Florida on tiebreaker map Ilios, winning 2-0 to complete the reverse sweep. Overall, the match wasn’t pretty, but a hard-fought victory like this was just what the team needed.
“We were in a huge slump emotionally, so I think getting this [win] is a good boost going forward,” LiNkzr said. “It means that whatever we are doing is working on some level, and everyone is putting their minds to getting better. Right now, we just have to avoid getting overconfident again and keep working on the finer things.”
When asked to honor one of his teammates as MVP of the match, LiNkzr picked out the Outlaws’ main tank, Austin “Muma” Wilmot, with zero hesitation.
“I would say Muma is always the MVP,” he said. “He never shuts down, he never stops talking about what he need to do, and plays so phenomenally on all the tanks in his repertoire.”
Now that the Outlaws have ended their losing streak, LiNkzr and crew are eager to cultivate a winning streak. LiNkzr himself is looking forward to playing against two teams who can offer good Widowmaker duels.
“I really want to play against Seoul and the Shock,” he said. “Last stage, I did not get to play against the Shock, and both teams have really good Widowmaker players that play different styles. I think playing against them and getting more Widowmaker duels is going to be fun.”
The London Spitfire will take on the Los Angeles Gladiators at 1 p.m. PST to begin the final day of action this week. Catch the matches live on Twitch, MLG.com and the MLG app, OverwatchLeague.com, or the official Overwatch League app.