As the Overwatch League playoffs draw closer and teams work to secure spots, the race between the Chengdu Hunters, Los Angeles Valiant and Seoul Dynasty is heating up, as it seems unlikely that all three will qualify.
Currently, the Dynasty, Hunters, and Valiant are in 8th, 11th, and 14th places respectively, with three series wins separating the Dynasty and Valiant. These three teams have had varied trajectories over the entire season, with the Valiant failing to win a single match in stage one and the Dynasty going 0-2 in the first week of stage four, and with a look at their upcoming schedules it seems clear that any of these teams could fail to make the cut.
With the Dynasty’s week stage one performance it’ll be important for them to stem the bleeding as they take on the Valiant, Charge, Defiant, Dragons, and Fusion in the remainder of the stage. With the Valiant, Charge, and Dragons looking in top form the team does not have an easy path ahead of them and will be looking to secure wins against the Defiant and Fusion for stability; however their +13 map differential does improve their chances.
On the contrary, the Valiant have a mixed scheduling in the coming weeks, taking on the Dynasty, Fuel, Mayhem, Uprising, Gladiators, and Shock. Given that the Fuel, Mayhem, and Uprising have all had lackluster performances Custa & Co. should be able to secure wins over them, and heavily contest the Dynasty, Gladiators, and Shock. If they can net those wins and improve their map differential, which is currently -3, they could be in a position to knock other teams out of contention for the season.
So, where do the Hunters fit into this? Chengdu is currently 11th places overall with an 11-12 record and went 2-0 in week one of stage four, but their upcoming schedule is stacked. Ameng will have to roll his way through the Gladiators, Excelsior, Spark, Shock, and Outlaws throughout the rest of the stage, meaning they will take on the 5th, 2nd, 4th, 3rd, and 15th teams respectively. The team can assuredly claim a victory over the Outlaws, but the other four may be a taller order, one that the Hunters may struggle to serve, as they only managed to win against the Uprising and Fusion in five-game series.
There is the obvious possibility that another team could fail to rise to the occasion and find themselves on the outside looking in but given upcoming schedules and current records that seems unlikely. The 12th place Reign will be pitted against the Eternal, Outlaws, and Justice in the upcoming weeks and are coming off of a win against the Spark, so they should be expected to secure those victories; this is however the first team to lose against the Valiant, so they have certainly surprised in the past. From 9th place the Fusion are coming off an 0-2 week in stage four, but have the Outlaws, Defiant, and Eternal ahead of them, which should inspire confidence in Philadelphia residents. Finally, in 10th place the Charge are heading into a tough schedule against the Spitfire, Spark, Dynasty, Excelsior, and Fuel, but come off a 2-0 week in stage one and have been looking stronger in 2-2-2 compositions as Happy can finally play Widowmaker.
There is of course the chance that any other team could rise to the occasion and make a run at it, given some of the incredibly close series differentials in the lower-ranking teams, but with a surging Valiant, a faltering Dynasty, and the opponents awaiting the Hunters, those are the three teams that should be watched the closest.