Only eight teams played last week as a result of the league traveling east to Dallas for the Fuel's homestand weekend.
The homestand weekend missed each of the top four teams in the league, unfortunately leaving fans in the Dallas area unable to watch the league's most dominant teams live.
Still, that didn't take away from the hype.
The atmosphere looked electric (at least from my view watching the stream) and several players brought their best to Dallas.
Regardless, eight teams playing meant little changes to the rankings. This week's power rankings will look a little familiar.
Image credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
1. (-) Vancouver Titans (12-0)
Every week, the challenge is coming up with a new way to praise the Vancouver Titans Vancouver Titans OWL Rank #2 for being the league's best team. I won't try this week. They're just the best team in the league.
2. (-) San Francisco Shock (9-3)
With the way these two teams are playing, it's looking like we could get a rematch of the San Francisco Shock San Francisco Shock OWL Rank #1 and the Vancouver Titans in the Stage 2 finals. There's always a possibility of an upset, but it doesn't look like one will happen with the way things are going right now.
3. (-) New York Excelsior (12-1)
The New York Excelsior New York Excelsior OWL Rank #4 have had an extra week to sit on their defeat to the Reign. In Week 5, they have a rematch. I expect the Excelsior to play angry and dominate the Reign after their loss to them last time.
4. (-) Los Angeles Gladiators (9-4)
The Los Angeles Gladiators Los Angeles Gladiators OWL Rank #8 should be able to cap off Stage 2 with a victory over the Uprising. A 7-0 Stage 2 will make a great rebound from a Stage 1 that started 1-4.
5. (+1) Seoul Dynasty (7-5)
If teams were being ranked into tiers, the Seoul Dynasty Seoul Dynasty OWL Rank #7 would likely be in their own tier right now. They are definitely not at the level of the league's top four teams, but they look better than the league's other teams. Maybe a close match with the Valiant suggests otherwise, but regardless, I like how they've played this stage more than I have the 8-5 teams.
6. (-1) London Spitfire (8-5)
Despite their upset loss to the Chengdu Hunters, the London Spitfire London Spitfire OWL Rank #9 are still comfortably in the Stage 2 playoffs. That loss shouldn't be overlooked too much, though. It appeared the Spitfire tried to match the Hunters with DPS compositions when they didn't need to (surely GOATs would have sufficed on Eichenwalde). Perhaps that's just because hindsight is 20/20 or maybe it's a sign that they need to reevaluate how they adapt to individual opponents.
7. (-) Philadelphia Fusion (8-5)
This week the Philadelphia Fusion Philadelphia Fusion OWL Rank #10 stay in seventh, but almost fell to eighth. Keeping them from falling was the fact that the Fuel have the same problems as the Fusion. The Fuel have began consistently beating bad teams, just like the Fusion, but fail to beat the good teams. The Fusion remain ahead of their rivals from Dallas simply because the Fuel's 4-0 to the Dynasty is still too fresh.
8. (-) Dallas Fuel (8-5)
With all of that being said, the Dallas Fuel Dallas Fuel OWL Rank #15 look extremely good when they're playing at their best. Perhaps the whole team (and especially OGE ) was playing off of the energy the home crowd fed them, or perhaps they just responded well to the previous week's performances. Regardless of the reason, they looked good. If they can play well like that all the time -- or at least stop looking as bad as they do in their losses -- they can be a real threat to teams as we finish the first half of the season.
9. (-) Shanghai Dragons (6-6)
10. (-) Chengdu Hunters (6-7)
The Chengdu Hunters Chengdu Hunters OWL Rank #12 are carving out a place for themselves where they don't appear to be one of the league's top nine or 10 teams, but they're quite capable of knocking off those teams. Their meta-defying style is a contradiction in that it is quite beatable while also making them a threat to beat teams they're not supposed to. While they lost to the Spark, the Hunters will stay ahead of them in the rankings one more week simply because of their ability to earn the upset (as proven by their victory over the Spitfire).
11. (+3) Hangzhou Spark (7-6)
Since Krystal played his first match for the Hangzhou Spark Hangzhou Spark OWL Rank #5 , they're 9-6 in maps in which he plays (three of those losses were when they were swept by the Shock). In the eight maps Adora has played during that time, the Spark are 3-5 (only one of those maps were against the Shock). While I do honestly want to give credit to the Hunters for their ability to upset, I'm also keep the Spark outside of the top 10 as punishment for their continued persistence in playing Adora.
12. (-1) Boston Uprising (6-6)
The Boston Uprising Boston Uprising OWL Rank #17 have had one week of rest since they were swept by both the Spitfire and the Titans in the same week. Hopefully they can look a little more competitive when they play the Gladiators next week.
13. (-1) Paris Eternal (5-8)
Much like every other NiCOgdh team, there comes a point in time in which NiCO must take the mantle of D.Va player. This time, it's to the dismay of Paris Eternal Paris Eternal OWL Rank #16 fans. If the team is unhappy with Finnsi , that's fine. But they can't settle for NiCO on D.Va and will need to use the extended break between Stages 2 and 3 to sign one of the many quality European D.Va players that are out there.
14. (-1) Toronto Defiant (6-6)
The Toronto Defiant Toronto Defiant OWL Rank #18 may lose their 12th straight map when they begin Week 5 with a match against the Titans. Their match later in the week against the Eternal will likely serve as a good barometer for just how far the Defiant have fallen this stage.
15. (+1) Atlanta Reign (6-7)
16. (-1) Los Angeles Valiant (2-11)
This is the second straight season in which the Los Angeles Valiant Los Angeles Valiant OWL Rank #6 tried to put KariV on DPS only to bring him back to flex support shortly after. Now that he's back to playing Zenyatta, they have a problem with too much talent on one position for a struggling team. Both KariV and Izayaki are good flex supports, but no one else on the roster outside of SPACE looks good right now. Maybe it's time to consider trading one to bolster another role.
17. (-) Guangzhou Charge (4-9)
A match with the Houston Outlaws is the best thing that could happen to the Guangzhou Charge Guangzhou Charge OWL Rank #11 after they've struggled for almost all of Stage 2. Shu alone should be enough to carry the Charge over the struggling Texas team.
18. (-) Houston Outlaws (3-9)
The coaching staff of the Houston Outlaws Houston Outlaws OWL Rank #14 deserve credit for experimenting with the lineup. Clearly what they're doing at the moment isn't working, and making lineup changes (especially experimental ones in which both SPREE and coolmatt play at once) acknowledges that. Unfortunately, the Outlaws' personnel problem can only be fixed with changes to the roster rather than changes to who plays. The Outlaws have been far too complacent on that front to change the trajectory of their season.
19. (-) Washington Justice (1-11)
It would be really exciting to see ArK and sleepy carry the Washington Justice Washington Justice OWL Rank #19 to an upset win in Stage 2's final week. It's unlikely to happen, but it would be great to show a team like the Outlaws what happens when you actually try to change the roster.
20. (-) Florida Mayhem (1-12)
Everyone else has already made the joke that Mayhem Academy are better than the Florida Mayhem Florida Mayhem OWL Rank #20 , so I won't make the joke myself. We'd have to see how the Florida Mayhem fare against Gladiators Legion to find out anyway.
Five teams have clinched spots in the Stage 2 playoffs, meaning there are three playoff spots up for grabs. Not only will we determine who is in the Stage 2 playoffs this week, we'll also see how the overall standings shape up in the season's halfway point.
In fact, the overall standings will be interesting to follow all week. Currently nine teams have winning records and all 12 teams who are in position to play in the season's end wildcard play-in tournament and/or playoffs are at .500.
As the season moves into the second half, teams should begin paying more and more attention to the overall standings and to where they stand in the playoff picture.