Every Wednesday, we’re here to help get you ready for the coming week in the Overwatch League.
Match of the Week
New York Excelsior (6-0) at San Francisco Shock (3-2)
Friday, March 8, at 7 p.m. PST at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles
Watch: overwatchleague.com, Overwatch League app, Twitch, ESPN app, MLG.com, MLG app
Maps: Busan, Numbani, Volskaya Industries, Dorado, Nepal (tiebreaker, if needed)
We asked our team of Overwatch League analysts and experts to provide their picks for this matchup:
Brennon “Bren” Hook
The Excelsior have shown a clean and surgical understanding of the meta; their play style is defensive and reactionary and favors aggressive teams well. The Shock, on the other hand, have had almost five days to prepare for this match, including time to watch more recent game tape from Sunday’s New York vs. Dynasty match. With their solid coaching staff, I think they will have a decent shot at bringing this team down a peg or two. New York still have not been challenged by a top team and I feel as though most analysts are overestimating their strength as a result. I still think it will be an incredibly even series, but the Shock should have the minerals to overcome the NYXL lads.
Robert “Hexagrams” Kirkbride
A battle featuring two of the best Zarya players on the planet—Jay “Sinatra” Won and Yeon-Gwan “Nenne” Jeong—this match will be one for the record books. It will definitely be a clash of play styles, between the aggression of the Shock and the measured defensive posture of the Excelsior. New York punishes mistakes better than any other team in the league, and the aggressive style of San Francisco will leave them open to counter plays. New York has not lost yet, so until they do, I refuse to pick against them.
Matt “Mr. X” Morello
This is such a tough match to predict. New York looks to be on fire and is just crushing opponents with ease, while the Shock have looked very strong playing against some of the league’s best. I'm going to go with New York 3-1 in this one, but I wouldn't be shocked if we see this matchup again during the Stage 1 Playoffs. The thing that puts the Excelsior ahead slightly here is that they are so good at capitalizing on so many little mistakes. The Shock make few and get out of them with sick individual skill, but I'm not sure that will work against the NYXL.
Josh “Sideshow” Wilkinson
Though untested by any top team—or any high-tempo team—I would expect the NYXL to come out of this match as 3-2 victors. They are masters of the punish game, abusing errors in positioning to the max, and have a huge amount of Shock match footage to analyze. With all week to prepare for this match, I expect the Excelsior to be totally ready for the Shock's aggressive style, whereas the Shock are facing a back-to-back week with matches against New York on Saturday and then Paris on Sunday—forcing them to split preparation time for two of the top teams in this stage. The map pool is insanely interesting and could play a huge role. The Shock have looked very unsure on Busan, opting to run some combination of Myeong-Hwan “Smurf” Yoo, Dong-Jun “Rascal” Kim, and Nam-Ju “Striker” Gwon for their flexibility, but suffering in their teamwork as a result. San Francisco head coach Da-Hee “Crusty” Park needs to shore up this potential weakness or risk going to a very quick 0-1. The next two maps, however, have been some of NYXL's worst. They have yet to win on Numbani after losing it to Boston and Seoul in shocking manner, and have played a very poor Volskaya quad-DPS strategy in a loss against the Valiant. They could easily get full-held on either of these maps if they haven't learned from their mistakes.
I expect the NYXL to come out on top here. San Francisco's aggressive, fast-paced style will allow New York to play their game. They will be able to stay back—play tight and defensive—enabling their deadly backline to do what it does best, which eventually, will force the Shock to overreach. NYXL's front line will, as per usual, be ready to punish their opponents and take advantage when they overextend. All that said, I do think the Shock will be the first true test for the Excelsior this season; I expect this to be a close series.
More: Grav Bag: The frontrunners gave a masterclass in having fun and destroying opponents | Top Plays: Week 3
Get caught up on all the Excelsior’s and Shock’s matches before their showdown:
Poll of the Week
This season we’re going to help everyone get on the same page when it comes to the lingo you hear watching Overwatch League matches and playing the game on your own. Now up, ult-economy!
Photo of the Week: Titans of Industry
The Titans knocked off the Valiant 3-1 on Friday, removing LA from Stage 1 Playoffs contention. Vancouver is now 4-0 and in a great spot to lock up a top seed in the playoffs with the Eternal and Hunters on deck this week.
New York’s Do-Hyeon “Pine” Kim offers up his ideal settings for playing (and practicing) as McCree, and offers a few tips on how to get the most out of the Deadeye ult.
Favored Fan Photo: Jake from...
These fans have a ready-made ad campaign in mind for Outlaws DPS Jake “Jake” Lyon—if and when he decides to trade in his green and black jersey for a red shirt and some khakis.
The Overwatch League returns to the big stage on Thursday, March 7, at 5:30 p.m. PST, as the Atlanta Reign (3-1) takes on the Los Angeles Gladiators (1-4). Watch all 2019 season matches live and on demand on overwatchleague.com, the Overwatch League app, our Twitch channel, MLG.com, and the MLG app.