New stage, new rules. For the first time, the Overwatch League Stage Finals will feature the top four teams in the standings—which means more fun with numbers as we try to anticipate who will make the cut for the big showdown on Sunday, May 6, when the Stage 3 winner is crowned.
Using a stochastic process, we simulated the remaining matches 1 million times, applying a coinflip for match results and taking map differential into account. With only Shanghai, Dallas, and Florida mathematically eliminated, here are the probabilities for the remaining nine teams in contention to land the top seed or reach the four-team playoff:
|Team||#1 Seed Probability||Stage Finals Probability|
|Los Angeles Valiant||31.32%||93.55%|
|New York Excelsior||18.85%||91.94%|
|San Francisco Shock||1.34%||42.17%|
|Los Angeles Gladiators||0.20%||24.00%|
The two charts show how Stage Finals and first-seed probabilities have fluctuated over the course of Stage 3. The percentage bars will continue to change based on match results from the final two weeks of the stage, and there’s a chance that one of the smaller bars could balloon into certainty, or one of the larger bars could shrink into nothing.
Barring any major collapses, the Boston Uprising, LA Valiant, and NYXL have all but clinched their spots in the Stage Finals, with one loss or fewer in the first three weeks of Stage 3. Of the three, Boston’s relative ease of schedule—they play Shanghai and Dallas in Week 4, before facing both LA squads in Week 5—should put them in a good position to clinch the first seed overall; the match against the Valiant on May 3 will be crucial for seeding, should the two teams remain this close in the standings.
With the format change this stage, first seed now carries with it not only an advantage, but also a responsibility: the top-ranked team at the end of Stage 3 gets to pick their opponent. If Boston finishes at the top of the stage standings, for example, they can choose to not only avoid the NYXL in their semifinal but assign New York’s opponent as well.
Tiebreakers for Seeding
Should two or more teams finish the stage with an identical win-loss record, the following tiebreakers will determine qualification and seeding:
- Map score differential
- Head-to-head result
- Tiebreaker match, details TBD
After the three leaders, there’s a tight cluster of five teams who could claim a spot: San Francisco is currently leading the pack, and three of their four remaining matches are against teams below them in the standings, which bodes well for their chances.
The Houston Outlaws have the toughest road ahead of them—they’re scheduled to face both LA teams, San Francisco, and Seoul—but three of their four opponents are direct competitors for a spot, so each win they secure would produce a larger swing in probability.
Currently, we’re looking at three new participants for the Stage Finals, with only the NYXL in position to try to defend their Stage 2 title. However, tricky matchups ahead for all the teams in contention means that each match day holds the potential for either a sharp rise or a precipitous tumble in the standings.
Stay tuned for more updates as the drama unfolds!
Probability model provided by Minli Xu, Senior Data Scientist for Blizzard Entertainment.
Three potential Stage 3 finalists are in action today, beginning at 4 p.m. PDT, when Boston takes on the Shanghai Dragons. Watch live on Twitch, MLG.com and the MLG app, OverwatchLeague.com, or the official Overwatch League app.