Gladiators sweep Outlaws in key Countdown Cup qualifier

The final day of the 2021 Overwatch League regular season wrapped up Saturday for the Western region with the Los Angeles Gladiators, San Francisco Shock and London Spitfire picking up wins.

In a battle of teams trying to secure a top-3 spot in the West, the Gladiators (11-5, 11 points) dominated the Houston Outlaws (11-5, 11 points) in a 3-0 sweep.

The story with Houston throughout the year has shown that the Outlaws will stick to their initial gameplan through thick and thin, not adapting much to what their opponents showed. Unfortunately for Houston, Los Angeles was more than prepared to take advantage of the Outlaws’ stubbornness in a critical game.

The Gladiators started with a 2-0 win on Oasis, running a variety of dive looks while the Outlaws focused on a Winston-led dive composition featuring a seemingly out-of-place McCree. Los Angeles would simply apply pressure from multiple angles throughout the series to disrupt Houston, taking Hanamura 2-0 and Numbani 2-1 to take the series sweep.

With the loss, the Outlaws get knocked out of Countdown Cup contention.

In other Saturday action, the San Francisco Shock (12-4, 12 points) took down the Toronto Defiant (9-7, 9 points) in a 3-1 series win.

The Shock have been quietly gaining momentum throughout Countdown Cup qualifying, playing solid bunker and brawl throughout this tournament cycle. The Defiant tried to run dive and make things difficult for the Shock’s backline, which worked for a while, but San Francisco adapted and overcame to punch their ticket to the Countdown Cup.

Toronto kicked things off with a 2-1 win on Busan, but San Francisco came back with a 2-1 win on Hanamura. From that point on, this series was all Shock; San Francisco went on to take Numbani 2-0 and Rialto 3-0 to lock up the series win. Both teams will participate in the upcoming Countdown Cup, and both qualified for a playoff berth.

Finally, in a battle of teams at the bottom of the standings, the London Spitfire (1-15, 1 point) picked up their first win of the season at the last possible outing in a 3-2 slobberknocker against the Vancouver Titans (1-15, 1 point). Both teams played up tempo, leading to some fast-paced if sloppy gameplay.

London started with a 2-0 win on Lijiang Tower, then Vancouver tied up the series with a 2-1 win on Temple of Anubis. The Titans then went ahead in the series with a 2-1 win on Blizzard World, but Vancouver couldn’t put the series away on Rialto, giving London a 3-2 win. In a tie-breaking game five, the Spitfire fought hard to pick up their first win, taking Oasis 2-0.

Both teams had been eliminated from playoff contention, but the result means that every team in the Western region ended the season with at least one win.

The OWL teams have competed in three weeks of matches to determine qualification for the Countdown Cup’s double-elimination playoff brackets, which will be contested Aug. 19-21.
The top six teams from the West and the top four teams from the East will make the initial playoff rounds. Two teams from each region will advance to the double-elimination final playoff round.

The Countdown Cup continues on Sunday with six matches:
New York Excelsior vs Chengdu Hunters (East)
Seoul Dynasty vs Philadelphia Fusion (East)
Paris Eternal vs Toronto Defiant (West)
Dallas Fuel vs San Francisco Shock (West)
TBD vs Atlanta Reign (West)
TBD vs Los Angeles Gladiators (West)

Overwatch League standings by region, with win-loss record, map differential and league points

West:
1. Dallas Fuel, 11-5, +14 17
2. San Francisco Shock, 12-4, +19, 12
3. Atlanta Reign, 11-5, +20, 12
4. Los Angeles Gladiators, 11-5, +20, 11
5. Houston Outlaws, 11-5, +10, 11
6. Washington Justice, 9-7, +3, 9
7. Toronto Defiant, 9-7, 0, 9
8. Paris Eternal, 8-8, 0, 8
9. Boston Uprising, 7-9, -4, 7
10. Florida Mayhem, 5-11, -12, 6
11. Vancouver Titans, 1-15, -35, 1
12. London Spitfire, 1-15, -35, 0

East:
1. Shanghai Dragons, 12-4, +19, 20
2. Chengdu Hunters, 11-5, +16, 13
3. Seoul Dynasty, 12-4, +18, 12
4. Philadelphia Fusion, 10-6, +13, 10
5. Hangzhou Spark, 7-9, +1, 7
6. New York Excelsior, 7-9, -3, 7
7. Guangzhou Charge, 5-11, -18, 5
8. Los Angeles Valiant, 0-16, -46, 0

–By Noah Waltzer, Field Level Media

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