The second half of the current Overwatch League season kicks off today after a long break following stage two. This break allowed teams the time to perfect their strategies and prepare to fight even harder in the third stage.
One significant new addition to stage three is Havana, Overwatch’s newest map, which is now in the map pool. Havana was first introduced to players during this year’s Archives event, Storm Rising, and is a classic escort map full of twists and turns through various settings, from open streets to a warehouse to the seafront. Since this map only went live a couple of months ago, it’s likely that many players spent their break practicing their skills in preparation.
Some more technical changes that will be implemented during stage three include a “Match of the Week” feature, which will air a previous match on Sunday, as the first game of the day. Blizzard have “adapted a flex system allowing [them] to shift matches around to feature specific matchups.” The first Match of the Week will put New York Excelsior vs London Spitfire in the spotlight, and you can check out the full schedule below.
A Professional Viewer feature was also announced for stage three, which allows viewers to rewatch any Overwatch League match from any perspective you choose, including first-person, third-person, and bird’s eye views. The feature will be available on PC through a special add-on on Battle.net, and matches will be available to rewatch on Monday, after all games conclude, every week for America, and on Tuesdays for the rest of the world.
Stage three will see the return of the Homestand Weekend, this time hosted by Atlanta Reign at the Cobb Energy Centre in Atlanta, Georgia. On July 6 and July 7, eight teams will go head to head in Reign’s home city, including Shanghai Dragons, New York Excelsior, Guangzhou Charge, Florida Mayhem, Toronto Defiant, Philadelphia Fusion, and Washington Justice.
There will be eight matches across the two days, and those coupled with signing sessions and fun community activities makes for an amazing weekend for local Overwatch League fans. If you’re interested in seeing some top-tier Overwatch League action, you can buy tickets to the Atlanta Reign Homestand Weekend here.
Another big event happening this stage is the LGBTQ community Pride Day, which is taking place this Friday, June 7. This is a great opportunity for local and worldwide fans to celebrate diversity within the Overwatch League community, and if you’re heading to the Blizzard Arena this Friday, you will receive a blue “brandana” with the pride flag and all the twenty team logos on it. The brandanas will be for sale in the OWL shop, along with some Pride t-shirts.
Also attending Pride Day are several LGBTQ organizations that are local to Los Angeles and surrounding areas, including the Qweerty Gamers, and the Gay Gaming Professionals. These organisations both focus on supporting the gaming community, and especially LGBTQ people within it. If you’re considering heading to watch some of the games on Friday, make sure you read Blizzard’s blog post about it, which includes information about the coinciding events happening in Boston, MA, Seattle, WA, and London, UK.
Although San Francisco Shock took the stage two victory, two teams have consistently been on top of the leaderboards throughout the first two stages: The mighty Vancouver Titans and New York Excelsior. Vancouver have maintained their number one spot, boasting a 14-0 record, and they’ve only lost one playoff game throughout the entire season so far. New York Excelsior sit behind the Titans with a 12-2 record, and San Francisco are hot on their heels with an 11-3 record. These three teams are definitely the ones to watch.
Since Vancouver had their stage two victory snatched from them by Shock, they’ll be looking to reclaim their crown in stage three, and they’ll take down anyone that stands in their way. However, since the top three are so close, each team will be fighting tooth and nail, and every map will count. Even letting a team fight slip may result in a loss, which will certainly be a risk for NYXL and SF Shock. We saw this happen during the stage two playoffs, in which Shock grabbed the early advantage and the Titans were unable to recover.
On the other end of the standings, Florida Mayhem finished stage two with a disappointing record of 0-7. Although they fought hard and did manage to pull some maps from some of the top teams, it wasn’t enough to secure them a victory. They’ve spent a lot of time transitioning to an all-Korean roster, and hopefully during the break they’ve focused on strengthening their GOATs composition, as it didn’t match up to other teams’ comps last stage.
The new Mayhem roster haven’t had much time to bond as a team, but hopefully they’ve done the best they can to build synergy in the time they’ve had. This could be the key to a better performance this season, as it will allow them to strengthen their composition and communicate more effectively.
This is already shaping up to be an exciting, busy stage, and with only two stages separating the teams from the Overwatch League 2019 Playoffs, the fight is about to start heating up. Pride Day takes place on June 7 and the Atlanta Reign Homestand Weekend starts on July 6, which are two great opportunities to get involved in the Overwatch League community, whether you’re local or overseas.
Stage three kicks off on Thursday, June 6 at 7pm EDT with San Francisco Shock vs Homestand hosts Atlanta Reign. Tune into the action on Upcomer.