Stage 2 was a playground for the giants of the Overwatch League. Only the eight playoff teams clocked out above .500, while four teams finished with six or seven wins (compared to just two in Stage 1). Despite a five-team turnover in the stage playoffs, in the end we got a rematch between San Francisco and Vancouver—but no one was complaining.

Along the way, we made some history. For one, there were more speedruns than a track-and-field meet. China had their first two representatives in the stage playoffs—as Shanghai and Hangzhou both made it. The Shock completed the first-ever golden stage by winning 28 consecutive maps over seven matches, a rare accomplishment that goes into the books as an integral part of their inspirational run to the Stage 2 title. Outside the server, 4,500 fans packed Allen Event Center for both days of the Dallas Fuel Homestand Event, a front-row seat to the future of the Overwatch League.

If you missed any of the action, we’ve got some of the highlights below. With the extended break following All-Stars, Grav Bag is also going on vacation. See you in June for Stage 3!

UPSETTING THE BIG APPLE CART

The only thing more surprising than Atlanta’s Week 3 victory over the previously undefeated New York Excelsior is that they managed it a second time, in Week 5. But the original achievement not only marked the biggest Elo swing to date in the 2019 season—meaning it was, statistically speaking, the biggest upset—it shattered our understanding of both teams. The Reign had been floundering in Stage 2 until this point, and you can pinpoint the return of their swagger to the exact moment Andrej “Babybay” Francisty realized his team had ended New York’s hopes of mounting a comeback. Meanwhile, the NYXL’s reputation continued to take a hit. Atlanta—and before them, the Seoul Dynasty—exposed critical weaknesses in one of the strongest rosters in the league, which could have big ramifications in Stage 3 and beyond.

Emerald Gao

STAT OF THE STAGE

Late last night, I was watching San Francisco Shock tank Matthew “Super” DeLisi bask in the post-stage-title glow on his personal stream, when he stopped to give his viewers a lesson in ultimate usage:

His colorful description of how the Shock overcame an incredible deficit was the culmination of an entire stage’s worth of efficient ultimate usage plus execution of a strategy that forced their opponents into inefficiency traps. During Stage 2 proper, the Shock and Titans lead the league by a large margin in teamfight win rates—rates that only increased when they used their ultimates, reaching 75.4% and 66.0%, respectively. In fact, five out of the six playoffs teams had at least 7% higher teamfight win rates when using any ultimate than non-playoff teams (Hangzhou were, unfortunately, middle of the pack). Turns out ultimates are pretty darn important in Overwatch.

During the regular season, the Shock and Titans led the league in “ults-used” teamfights, but the Shock didn’t stop there. As Super described above, the Shock also excelled at disrupting their opponents’ ability to win teamfights even if they used their ultimates. In their seven regular-season matchups, every opponent that faced the Shock had a lower-than-average teamfight win rate when they used any ults. Imagine knowing that even if you used Graviton Surge against the Shock, you were less likely to win a fight than an average teamfight—with or without ults—against any other team. That’d be demoralizing!

The Shock’s efficiency extended to the playoffs, where they maintained a 67.6% ults-used teamfight win rate—only 8% lower than their regular-season rate and 13.1% higher than the Titans’ 54.5% ults-used win rate. When these rivals met in the finals, the Titans were no match for the Shock’s disruptive tactics and only won 45.5% of their ults-used teamfights, while the Shock cruised to a 4-2 victory with a 60.5% win rate.

To quote Super: “...And there it is.”

Ben “CaptainPlanet” Trautman

MOMS KNOW BEST

The Stage 2 Finals fell on Mother’s Day, and the Overwatch League reunited five sets of mothers and sons to tell their stories. In a lovely written feature, Amelia Savery documented some of the moms’ lessons about “trust, love, social media, the perception of esports, choices, and letting go.” In the accompanying video feature below, the moms were treated to messages from their sons before discussing their experiences raising future pro gamers. It’s a poignant reminder that none of us get to where we are without the support of those who love us. I’m not crying—we’re all crying.

HIGH FIVE

A six-man Pulse Bomb, three—count ’em, three—insane support plays, and a clutch Self-Destruct to turn the tables comprise the five plays that got the most engagement across our social media channels in Stage 2. Take a look:

PHOTO OF THE STAGE: TEXAS FOREVER

The inimitable Robert Paul captured the moment of victory for the Dallas Fuel against the Houston Outlaws in the Homestand Weekend finale. In front of 4,500 fans, the hometown favorites claimed a hard-fought 3-1 victory over their in-state rivals, and this photo—the “VICTORY!” screen on the player’s computers, Min-Seok “OGE” Son and Dylan “Akm” Bignet’s celebrations mirroring the fans in the crowd, the pyrotechnics just starting to go off—is an instant esports classic.

The Overwatch League returns to the big stage for the start of Stage 3 on Thursday, June 6, at 4 p.m. PDT, when the Stage 2 champion San Francisco Shock (11-3) take on the Atlanta Reign (7-7). 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.