The final week of Stage 3 before Atlanta's home weekend has come with more upsets and close matches.
Included in the lists of both upsets and close matches was the Shock's 3-2 defeat at the p̶a̶w̶s̶ hands of the Chengdu Hunters. That defeat marks the third straight week these rankings' number one team has lost.
For most of the league's teams, Stage 3's regular season has ended. For eight teams, there is still one more week to be played in the Peach State.
Among those teams are Stage 3's only undefeated team and all three teams that have gone winless in Stage 3. Of the three winless teams, only the Reign and Defiant play each other, meaning there is a possibility two teams go winless in Stage 3.
Seven teams have locked themselves into the Stage 3 playoffs. As for the eighth spot, the Dragons are in pretty good shape to clinch their way in and just need a win over the Fusion to do so.
So here are how Scrub's OWL Power Rankings look entering the final week of Stage 3.
Image credit: Ben Pursell for Blizzard Entertainment
1. (+1) Vancouver Titans (20-1)
The dance between the Vancouver Titans Vancouver Titans OWL Rank #2 and the Shock for the number one spot continues this week as the Titans take it over once again. They looked much better running Sombra compositions with Stitch in to play Sombra and with JJANU substituted out to let SeoMinSoo play Zarya. This might be the lineup that wins the Stage 3 title.
2. (+2) Hangzhou Spark (14-7)
For the first time in ages, there is a new team entering the top three. The Hangzhou Spark Hangzhou Spark OWL Rank #5 have played well throughout Stage 3 -- in fact, they nearly beat out the Titans for the Pacific team with the best Stage 3 record. Their close victories over the Valiant and Dynasty proved they can beat good teams and they now find themselves firmly in the top four of the season's standings.
3. (-) New York Excelsior (17-2)
A slow start against the Fuel keeps the New York Excelsior New York Excelsior OWL Rank #4 from taking the second spot in this week's rankings. However, barring any disasters, the Excelsior should finish Stage 3 undefeated and only one game behind the Titans for the best record in the league. The Excelsior are in great shape and will be eager to prove themselves in the Stage 3 playoffs.
4. (-3) San Francisco Shock (16-5)
It's not easy to pin down why the San Francisco Shock San Francisco Shock OWL Rank #1 have been slow to make the changes necessary to adapt to Stage 3's meta -- it could be that they've continued to win most of their games and thus have been reluctant to make changes, it may be that they realized they needed to adapt too late and now don't want to bother adapting to a meta that will soon be out the door (assuming that 2-2-2 lock is indeed coming in Stage 4) or it could simply be that they cannot adapt well. It's unlikely the stage playoffs will give us any clearer of a picture, so we may need to wait until next stage to find out.
5. (-) Los Angeles Valiant (8-13)
6. (-) Seoul Dynasty (12-9)
After floating around .500 for much of the season, the Seoul Dynasty Seoul Dynasty OWL Rank #7 are finally stringing together wins. They're now in position to contend for a top six spot to automatically qualify for the postseason playoffs.
7. (-) Shanghai Dragons (11-8)
Two wins in Atlanta will push the Shanghai Dragons Shanghai Dragons OWL Rank #3 to a 6-1 record in Stage 3 and a 13-8 record, good enough for sixth place, on the season. They've slowly gotten better with time this season and have quietly put themselves in contention for an automatic bid into the postseason playoffs.
8. (-) Los Angeles Gladiators (13-8)
The Los Angeles Gladiators Los Angeles Gladiators OWL Rank #8 were unlucky enough to run into the Titans right as they found their magic in this meta with their new lineup. Still, they should be playing the top teams more competitively at this point in the season.
9. (+2) Houston Outlaws (8-13)
While the Houston Outlaws Houston Outlaws OWL Rank #14 have looked pretty good this stage, they haven't played any good teams since beating the Shock. They're locked into the stage playoffs and will have plenty of good competition there to prove themselves against.
10. (-1) London Spitfire (12-9)
Under no circumstances should Profit be on the London Spitfire London Spitfire OWL Rank #9 bench. He is the team's star player and is a dark horse MVP candidate. Sitting him against the Shock was not the correct way to try and adapt to Stage 3's meta.
11. (-1) Philadelphia Fusion (11-8)
It's true that the Philadelphia Fusion Philadelphia Fusion OWL Rank #10 look better when playing DPS heroes as opposed to GOATs, but the difference isn't enough to convince me they'll be in good shape once the meta changes. Yes, their mostly unchanged starting lineup finished second last season. However, they were the sixth and final team to make last season's playoffs and this is a new season with better teams. I have confidence they'll make the play-in tournament, but I have doubts they'll make it further.
12. (+2) Chengdu Hunters (9-12)
Time and time again the Chengdu Hunters Chengdu Hunters OWL Rank #12 look done. They lose too often to weaker teams and it seems their plummet through the standings is inevitable. Time and time again they then upset a much better team -- or at least put up a good fight -- and look like they have a chance at fighting for the playoffs again. This week's high was incredibly short -- right after they beat the Shock they lost in a devastating 3-0 to the Dynasty.
13. (-1) Guangzhou Charge (7-12)
Week 5 will give the Guangzhou Charge Guangzhou Charge OWL Rank #11 an opportunity to rematch the Dragons immediately following their 3-1 defeat to the team. A victory over such a tough team would be a huge boost for the Charge as they enter the race for a spot in the postseason's play-in tournament.
14. (-1) Paris Eternal (8-13)
After a 3-1 start to Stage 3, the Paris Eternal Paris Eternal OWL Rank #16 looked poised to make their first ever stage playoffs. Three straight losses led to that quickly falling by the wayside. Still, they aren't the worst of the worst. The Eternal are by no means spectacular, but they've done enough to put themselves in play-in contention.
15. (+1) Dallas Fuel (10-11)
Taimou helped the Dallas Fuel Dallas Fuel OWL Rank #15 put up a good fight against Stage 3's only unbeaten team in a performance that brought excitement and was reminiscent of his Envy days. His later substitution out of the match reveals a problem with having both aKm and Taimou on the same team that has persisted since the beginning: their hero pools are too similar to play both. That means the Fuel must play one or the other and if the Fuel wanted aKm for any reason (that reason being that they could play GOATs with him on Zarya), then Taimou had to leave the game.
16. (-1) Boston Uprising (8-13)
The Boston Uprising Boston Uprising OWL Rank #17 can finally breathe a sigh of relief as their nightmarish Stage 3 has come to an end. They lose a spot this week because losing in five maps to the Fusion is less impressive than losing in five maps to the Excelsior.
17. (-) Atlanta Reign (7-12)
All five of the Atlanta Reign Atlanta Reign OWL Rank #13 's matches to open Stage 3 have been against teams with winning records. Their final two matches are against a pair near the bottom of the standings and thus should be winnable for the Reign.
18. (-) Toronto Defiant (7-12)
It's hard to get a good read on how the Toronto Defiant Toronto Defiant OWL Rank #18 's new additions fit into the lineup after just one week of play. The players will likely need some time to gel and get accustomed to playing with their new teammates in this new environment. Unfortunately, the Defiant don't have a lot of time to let Logix and Mangachu do that -- they only have nine matches left to get themselves back into position to make the postseason play-in tournament.
19. (-) Florida Mayhem (2-17)
20. (-) Washington Justice (2-17)
The majority of the teams playing in Atlanta's Homestand Weekend will miss the stage playoffs, meaning that most of the teams in the stage playoffs will enter it with a one week break.
It will be interesting to see how that works against or for the Excelsior and the Dragons (assuming they qualify for the stage playoffs) when they play against rested opponents the following week.