Every Wednesday, we’re here to help get you ready for the coming week in the Overwatch League with picks, polls, and our best videos and photos.

The Pickoff

We asked our team of Overwatch League analysts and experts to pick every game of
Week 1:

Thursday, April 4

Picks by Chris “Puckett” Puckett

Fusion vs. Excelsior 4:00 p.m. PST

Let me start by saying: it is going to be incredibly hard to justify any picks in Week 1 of the new stage since the meta hasn't been decided yet. From what I've heard, triple tank, triple support featuring Winston on main tank may be the strongest comp to run in Stage 2. This could be great news for the Fusion, who preferred running Su-Min “Sado” Kim on Winston instead of Reinhardt whenever they could in Stage 1. Despite this being a stronger matchup than in the previous meta for Philadelphia, I think it will be tough for them. The Fusion are facing a top-two team in the league. I have Dong-Gyu “Mano” Kim and the NYXL taking this one 3-1. If the Overwatch League gods are kind, we'll go to a Game 5 and see Alberto “Neptuno” González Molinillo fragging out on Baptiste.

Uprising vs. Reign 5:45 p.m. PST

With Daniel “Dafran” Francesca stepping away from the Overwatch League, Ilya “Nlaaer” Koppalov has an opportunity to show everyone what he can do in Atlanta’s starting lineup and Petja “Masaa” Kantanen should be able to take control as the vocal leader. I think the Uprising, behind Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth, will have an advantage in this first match while comms are still being sorted out by the Reign.

Dragons vs. Gladiators 7:30 p.m. PST

While most eyes will be on the Excelsior to set the meta against the Fusion, I think this is actually the matchup of the day. The Gladiators had a rough start in Stage 1 but closed out their schedule with back-to-back wins over Atlanta and Guangzhou to finish in 10th place. On the other side, the Dragons and their strong Sombra play managed to keep the Spitfire out of the playoffs with a 3-2 upset. I think this will be closer than most people expect, but Gui-Un “Decay” Jang takes player of the match.

Charge vs. Eternal 9:15 p.m. PST

Guangzhou should be considered a playoff-caliber team. They were forced to match up against the Titans twice in Stage 1, and without those two losses, you have to think they would’ve been able to finish in the top eight. Paris are coming out of a meta that many think played into the strength of their roster, and yet they finished in the bottom four in the standings. Paris needs to show the ability to adapt quickly to the new meta if they want to avoid slipping into the bottom tier of the league. I have the Charge winning 3-1.


Friday, April 5

Picks by Erik “Doa” Lonnquist

Spitfire vs. Mayhem 4:00 p.m. PST

Neither of these teams looked stellar (Note: not a Defiant pun. Note note: not a Boston pun) in Stage 1, having a measly four match wins combined so far in the 2019 season. Florida has a roster with some names you'd think would be putting up better performances, but aside from a few good rounds we haven't seen much yet. They've got a tough Stage 2 schedule, so matches like this are already “must-win.” The Spitfire had a hot streak in the middle of Stage 1, but fell flat again in their last two matches. The defending Overwatch League champs looked miserable playing 3-3 and might find a bit more flexibility in a new patch that still seems triple-tank, triple-support heavy, but might allow for something different as the meta develops. The Spitfire should win, but it's going to be messy.

Justice vs. Defiant 5:45 p.m. PST

Washington finally managed a win in their very last match of Stage 1, with a tight 3-2 victory over Florida. Adding Yeon-Jun “Ark” Hong is an upgrade at main support, but I don't think it's going to be a massive game-changer for the team in terms of results. The guy hasn't even changed his Twitter bio yet! The Defiant haven't made any roster moves between stages aside from the April Fools' addition of an inflatable duck, but they shouldn't need anything more than the great team play that got them into the playoffs with a 5-2 record to beat the Justice. They could even trade them the duck.

Valiant vs. Shock 7:30 p.m. PST

Think about this for a second: the last time the Valiant won a match was when they beat NYXL in the Stage 4 Finals last year. Crazy, huh? The massive changes in coaching that began in the offseason and culminated with the release of head coach Byung-Chul Moon after Stage 1 probably aren't helping, either. The Valiant continue to look like a team in turmoil and there's no telling when that might end. The Shock, on the other hand, are the polar opposite. San Francisco has made good on their promise that 2019 is the year they become dominant, with a Stage 1 Finals appearance as proof. That title match against the Titans ended in a loss by the slimmest of margins, and nothing makes me think this team won't be just as good—or better—in Stage 2. This match should be child's play for the Shock.

Gladiators vs. Dynasty 9:15 p.m. PST

Seoul were up and down throughout Stage 1 but managed to find a last-minute spot in the Stage 1 Playoffs—and proved they deserved it with an upset win over New York. Consistency has been the key issue for this squad since day one of the Overwatch League’s inaugural season, and it continues to be their main storyline in 2019 as well. Seoul's combination of new talent and veterans is a double-edged sword that will need to be wielded carefully if they want to capitalize on the success they've had so far. It felt a bit unnatural to not have the Gladiators in the Stage Playoffs after their appearances in Stages 3, 4, and the overall season playoffs last year. The team's roster changes in the offseason seemed good, especially when Decay became available to play, but it seemed like they never totally got into a groove on the communication side of things. Wins against two strong teams—the Reign and Charge—at the end of Stage 1 showed us a lot of improvement in that category though, and this match will probably be the closest one of the day. With LA's style trending closer to Vancouver's than New York's at the moment, I want to give them the edge, but it could go either way. Since I have to make a decision, though, I'll pick the Gladiators winning it 3-2.


Saturday, April 6

Picks by Mitch “Uber” Leslie

Mayhem vs. Fusion 12:00 p.m. PST

Philadelphia dropped the ball against Florida in Stage 1, no doubt about it. However, the later matches in the stage revealed to us just how important Isaac “Boombox” Charles is to the team, and their two regular-season losses in Stage 1 can be chalked up to his absence more than anything else. Philly are by no means a top-two team currently, but the Mayhem looked extremely uncoordinated in Stage 1. Their bright spot was undoubtedly Sang-Bum “BQB” Lee's flexibility, but at times his integration in the team looked somewhat gimmicky when his tank line struggled to follow up on the initiative he took to start engagements. Philly should be comfortable here.

Defiant vs. Uprising 1:45 p.m. PST

As much as the Defiant would like to maintain their underdog status, that time has passed them by. Toronto is not a flashy team, but rather is propelled with solid fundamentals and a no-nonsense playstyle. Some maps this stage will lend themselves to more DPS hero play, and the Defiant are well positioned to make this adjustment, whereas the Uprising—who have been linked to trade rumors in an effort to bring on more DPS players during the stage break—may not find this transition as comfortable. The tank matchup should be held well in hand by Fusions over Kyeong-Mu “Yakpung” Cho, but this was often the case last stage for the Uprising—and they will need to demonstrate improvements to be able to pressure Toronto in this match.

Excelsior vs. Dragons 3:30 p.m. PST

The NYXL are HEATED. After a characteristic choke in the Stage 1 Playoffs against a shockingly good Seoul, they will be out for blood and will accept nothing but another perfect stage. New York have leaned heavily on a single roster so far this season, but have always had the option of Do-Hyeon “Pine” Kim and Jong-Ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park waiting in the wings to diversify their lineup, should it be required. The Dragons had an acceptable Stage 1 (in contrast to their 2018 season), but a small gaffe against the Fuel sealed away their playoff chances. Jin-Hyeok “Dding” Yang and Min-Sung “Diem” Bae have been standout players for the Dragons and they will likely look better on maps that will allow more individualized DPS play, but the NYXL have always excelled at grinding down their opponents, and it is unlikely that the Dragons will have the fortitude to withstand this—especially now that New York have something to prove.

Hunters vs. Eternal 5:15 p.m. PST

The Eternal showed us last stage that they are more than just (exceedingly) pretty faces, but their bubble was quickly burst once opponents realized that their tank play was not all that it was rumored to be. While 16th place looks poor on paper, there were many teams that joined the Eternal at 3-4, and the Hunters were one of them. Chengdu gathered a lot of hype throughout the stage by playing whatever suited them, but it was when this roster showed they could transition to conventional 3-3 and challenge the Titans that people really began to regard them as a potential top team. As opposed to the Eternal, the Hunters peaked late in the stage, and this bodes well for their Stage 2 foray. I am not convinced of the strength of Paris' structure, and I expect to see the Hunters take the win here.


Sunday, April 7

Picks by Seth "Achilios" King

Shock vs. Charge 12:00 p.m. PST

While the Charge had a decent start in their debut stage of 2019, the Shock bounced back in a huge way from the inaugural season, making their first Stage Playoffs and taking the Titans all the way to a seventh map in the final. Based on that performance alone, the Shock should be expected to take this series, but the Charge won't go down without a fight.

Reign vs. Spitfire 1:45 p.m. PST

This is the hardest match of the day to call. The Spitfire's run through Stage 1 was like a carnival rollercoaster: extremely disappointing with almost no thrills. Their only significant victory was over the Gladiators, and they nearly got swept by the Justice but managed to reverse it. In theory, they have had more time to practice for Stage 2, so maybe they come prepared enough to find a win. For the Reign, a quarterfinal finish was a fantastic start for any expansion team, but with the departure of their main "doood," Dafran, it's hard to say how they will hold up initially. 3-2 London?

Titans vs. Spark 3:30 p.m. PST

The Spark had a seemingly decent start to Stage 1 after taking down the Valiant and Dragons, but the former proved to be the only winless team in the league, and the Dragons had not yet incorporated main tank Young-Jin “Gamsu” Noh into their lineup. After that, they suffered a series of heavy losses, only taking one more win over the Gladiators in an upset. Playing against the Stage 1 champions, the Spark have their work cut out for them.

Justice vs. Hunters 5:15 p.m. PST

The Justice started the season looking like the new iteration of the Dragons, but managed to get a 3-2 victory over the Mayhem on the final day of Stage 1. While Chengdu's bottom-five finish doesn't look much better than Justice's bottom-three placement, they had notably closer series against higher-ranked teams, including a tiebreaker loss to the Titans and victories over both the Charge and Reign. With the Justice struggling to beat teams in 3-3 mirror matches, I think they will struggle even more to take down "chaos incarnate" (the Hunters).


Poll of the Week

Photos of the Week: Stage Classic

San Francisco main tank Matthew “Super” DeLisi was emotional after his team lost a highly entertaining and hotly contested match against the Titans in the Stage 1 Finals.

On the other side of the stage, the Titans celebrated their first Overwatch League stage title with a symphony of high-fives and hugs.

Game/Set: Fragi

Philadelphia’s Joona “Fragi” Laine offers up his ideal settings for playing as Reinhardt and provides a few tips on how to get the most out of Fire Strikes and Earthshatters.

Defined: Stagger

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, stagger!

Inside the Comms: Titans

If you’ve ever wondered how Overwatch League pros communicate during matches, then you’ll enjoy the team audio from the Titans from their Stage 1 match against the Eternal.

The Overwatch League returns to the big stage for the start of Stage 2 on Thursday, April 4, at 4 PST, when the Philadelphia Fusion (5-2) take on the New York Excelsior (7-0). 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.