The last week of Overwatch League play before the Countdown Cup kicked off Friday with a statement win from a top tournament contender and a scrappy overtime win from a team in need of momentum.
The second-place Philadelphia Fusion picked up a 3-0 sweep over the 13th-place Dallas Fuel and made itlook easy.
The day's other match, in stark contrast, was a messy brawl in which the eighth-place Los Angeles Valiant outlasted the 17th-place Houston Outlaws 3-2.
The Fusion (20-2) started their bench DPS duo of Seung-hyun "Ivy" Lee and Hee-Su "Heesu" Jeong, the latter in lieu of MVP candidate and team captain Jae-hyeok "Carpe" Lee. Carpe would check into the series in map three, but it wasn't out of need. The Fusion simply dominated the Fuel from bell to bell.
Philadelphia ran dive compositions to great effect, preventing Dallas from finding a foothold without having to commit key abilities.
The Fusion jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead heading into the halftime break after a pair of dominant wins, 2-0 on Ilios and 3-1 on Watchpoint: Gibraltar. After the break, Carpe decided he'd play today and locked in Widowmaker on King's Row, where he shined with 10 final blows to zero deaths in a 1-0 full-hold.
The loss was a brutal one for the Fuel (7-9) right before the tournament, considering how lopsided it was for a team that includes developing players such as DPS Stefan "Onigod" Fiskerstrand. Thanks to their 2-1 record over the course of the past few weeks, however, they should still enjoy a decent seeding for the tournament.
The Fusion, though, after losing in the North American final of the Summer Showdown, looked amped up and ready to finally win a tournament after reaching the top four of the two previous events.
The Valiant (10-8) were on a hot streak in the middle of the season but have cooled off significantly over the last few weeks. It's hard to say whether they've failed to adjust to the new meta or if they simply aren't as good as they were when they could run double hitscan compositions with Tracer and Ashe.
Los Angeles looked good early Friday with dive compositions on Nepal, picking up a 2-0 win to start the series, but the Outlaws responded well with a 2-1 win on Watchpoint: Gibraltar. Houston took the lead in the series with a 2-1 win on King's Row, but in true Outlaws fashion, couldn't put the series away.
The Valiant then came alive, taking Volskaya Industries 2-0 to force a tiebreaker.
With the score tied up at 1-1 on Lijiang Tower, the Outlaws had control of the point at a 99-99 percent standoff with the overtime clock running, but choked in the last fight. Valiant DPS Kyle "KSF" Frandanisa's Genji carved up the Outlaws with his Dragonblade, flipping the point and snatching a win right of the Outlaws' hands.
Houston (6-14) took its second heartbreaking loss in as many months, dating back to a C9 in the final fight of the most recent Battle for Texas against the Dallas Fuel in Week 24.
The win will help Los Angeles secure preferential seeding for the Countdown Cup, but getting taken to the limit by a Houston team with not much to play for raises more questions than answers.
Week 26 of the Overwatch League continues on Saturday with six matches:
--Seoul Dynasty vs. Guangzhou Charge
--London Spitfire vs. Hangzhou Spark
--New York Excelsior vs. Shanghai Dragons
--Paris Eternal vs. Washington Justice
--Toronto Defiant vs. Vancouver Titans
--Houston Outlaws vs. San Francisco Shock
Overwatch League Season 3 standings, with match record (W-L), map record (W-L-T) and map differential:
1. (Pacific East) Shanghai Dragons, 22-2, 53-14-1, 39
2. (Atlantic South) Philadelphia Fusion, 20-2, 53-19-0, 34
3. (Pacific West) San Francisco Shock, 18-2, 44-12-2, 32
4. (Pacific East) Guangzhou Charge, 17-7, 41-38-0, 3
5. (Atlantic North) Paris Eternal, 15-6, 41-27-0, 14
6. (Atlantic North) New York Excelsior, 14-6, 46-23-2, 23
7. (Atlantic South) Florida Mayhem, 13-6, 37-24-0, 13
8. (Pacific West) Los Angeles Valiant, 10-8, 33-33-0, 0
9. (Atlantic South) Atlanta Reign, 9-7, 34-22-0, 12
10. (Pacific East) Hangzhou Spark, 8-11, 30-40-2, -10
11. (Pacific East) Seoul Dynasty, 8-10, 20-32-1, -12
12. (Pacific West) Los Angeles Gladiators, 7-8, 29-30-4, -1
13. (Pacific West) Dallas Fuel, 7-9, 27-31-0, -7
14. (Atlantic North) Toronto Defiant, 7-12, 28-40-0, -12
15. (Pacific East) Chengdu Hunters, 7-14, 33-47-1, -14
16. (Atlantic North) London Spitfire, 6-9, 24-33-0, -9
17. (Atlantic South) Houston Outlaws, 6-14, 32-47-3, -15
18. (Pacific West) Vancouver Titans, 4-11, 14-35-0, -21
19. (Atlantic South) Washington Justice, 4-15, 20-48-1, -28
20. (Atlantic North) Boston Uprising, 2-17, 14-55-3, -41
--Field Level Media