And there it is. Stage 3 has finally come to a climax, and it was one of the most intense and surprising so far.
It all kicked off with a sweeping 3-1 victory from the Philadelphia Fusion, who were up against the struggling Dallas Fuel. While the Fusion have also had a difficult Stage 3, it’s been nothing compared to what the Fuel have been going through. They’ve fallen to eleventh place and it seems they just can’t find their footing in terms of strategy. Philly was able to take them down despite using both of their newest DPS players, Eqo and Snillo. The LA Gladiators then took out the Florida Mayhem 3-0. They drew in the first round, but the Gladiators swept them from then on. A close game between the Houston Outlaws and the San Francisco Shock ended the day, with a win from the Shock. San Francisco has been on a roll lately, after having a rough first two stages.
The Shock followed it up less than twenty four hours later with a 3-0 victory against the Florida Mayhem. This put them at fifth place overall in Stage 3, just barely unable to make playoffs. A big game between the Boston Uprising and LA Valiant went to Boston 3-2. Boston has been in first for almost the entire season, and the Valiant have been showing up this stage, reaching third place. Thursday ended with a 4-0 victory over the New York Excelsior over the Dallas Fuel.
The first match on Friday allowed the Boston Uprising to go undefeated in Stage 3, however, as they took the win over the LA Gladiators. LA was able to hold their playoff spot. Then, the Shanghai Dragons took on the NYXL, and although they didn’t take the win, they did impressively take Round 2 on Numbani. Then, the London Spitfire and the Seoul Dynasty had a close game, with London taking the win in the end.
London took another win on Saturday when they went up against the Dragons. It was a 3-1 game, with the Dragons taking round 4. A surprising 4-0 victory from the Seoul Dynasty followed when they went up against the Houston Outlaws. Seoul surprised in a few ways, one of which was putting Ryujehong on the Winston. Ryujehong is known as one of the best supports in the league, but putting him on the tank seemed to work to their favor. Gido flexed to the Zenyatta, and it made for much more controlled and thoughtful plays from the Dynasty. The final match of Stage 3 pitted the LA Valiant against the Philadelphia Fusion, which ended in a 3-2 victory for the Valiant.
Week five is always special, as it means we get an extra day of OWL. On Sunday, the Stage 3 playoffs hit off with number one taking on number four. The undefeated Boston Uprising took a 3-0 win against the LA Gladiators, which struck out the Gladiators. The Valiant then tried their best against the New York Excelsior to no avail, with the Excelsior taking it 3-0. That meant the New York Excelsior would have to go up against the undefeated Boston Uprising. But in a stunning effort from the XL, New York took the series 3-0, giving the Uprising their first and only loss. It’s been impressive to see what the Boston Uprising have been able to do in Stage 3. They held sixth place throughout Stage 1 and 2, with a win/loss ratio of 6/4 both times. Their adjusted roster has seemed to work for them, with the addition of Mistakes on DPS, but it still wasn’t enough to take down the unstoppable NYXL it seems. We’ll have to see if Boston or anyone else will be able to step up and take the Stage 4 playoff title from them or if they’ll just go on winning everything like they have been so far.
Stage 4 starts on Wednesday, May 16. It will be the final Stage before the Playoffs and the eventual Grand Finals, which will be taking place in New York’s Barclay Center, it was recently announced. Next Wednesday’s match will begin at 7 pm EST, pitting the the LA Gladiators against the San Francisco Shock.