The San Francisco Shock maintained the top spot in our rankings this week with a 3-1 victory over the Shanghai Dragons in a Stage 3 finals rematch and a 4-0 win against the Dallas Fuel. The Vancouver Titans also had a 2-0 week to rise up and make the top of our rankings look very much like it did in previous stages.
The biggest change though was that the Washington Justice, perennially at the bottom of the standings, have cracked the top 10 of our rankings for the first time this season. They went 2-0 last week and are a league-best 5-0 with a 16-6-0 map differential in Stage 4. It's too late for them to make the season playoffs, but they seem well suited to the new 2-2-2 meta.
Previous Stage 4 rankings
1. San Francisco Shock
Record: 4-0 | Map W/L/T: 13-4-0 | Map Diff: +9 | Change: --
Given the volatility of the Overwatch League standings in Stage 4, there has been a lot of talk about the meta change due to the 2-2-2 roster lock that was implemented late in the season. Some of this chatter has been assuaged by the fact that most professional players have not been overly critical of the change and others have outright endorsed it. Yet there's still a lot to be said about the competitive integrity of a league with a forced midseason shift that fundamentally changes how the game is played.
The San Francisco Shock are the greatest argument against this volatility. While the Vancouver Titans have been held up as the best team for most of the year, the Shock have quietly been the most consistent. They've made every stage playoff, and while they've only won one of the three, the Shock have never looked outclassed by their opponents. In Stage 4, the Shock are indubitably the best team in the league. It says a lot that they have quickly made the roster adjustments needed to immediately adapt to the new meta and remain at the top. At this point, they should be heavy favorites for a finals appearance at least.
2. Vancouver Titans
Record: 4-1 | Map W/L/T: 14-7-0 | Map Diff: +7 | Change: +4
After suffering a crushing defeat against the Washington Justice last week, the Vancouver Titans have clawed their way back up to second place in our power rankings following a narrow victory over the London Spitfire and a clean sweep over the Philadelphia Fusion. The reintroduction of Lee "Stitch" Chung-hee into the lineup seems to have breathed new life into this team.
It was a good week for the Titans' individual players to shine: season MVP candidate Choi "JJanu" Hyeon-woo had a spectacular Roadhog performance against the Spitfire, while flex support sub Kim "Rapel" Jun-keun was subbed in at the half during the Titans' match against the Fusion to show off his Baptiste prowess. The Titans secured first place in the regular season with their two victories this week and now have a bye week during which to prepare for the Valiant's Rivalry Weekend, when they will face their rivals, the San Francisco Shock.
3. Guangzhou Charge
Record: 5-1 | Map W/L/T: 18-7-1 | Map Diff: +11 | Change: --
The Guangzhou Charge remain in third place this week after reverse sweeping the Seoul Dynasty on Thursday and defeating the New York Excelsior in a 4-0 shutout in the final match of the week. The roster has faltered at times, suffering a loss against the London Spitfire last week and looking disjointed in the first half of their series against the Dynasty, but their clean sweep of the NYXL has been the best that the Charge have looked all stage.
This week saw a standout performance from DPS rookie Lee "Happy" Jeong-woo, who originally rose to prominence for his outstanding Widowmaker play but displayed his flexibility this week, racking up 32 eliminations and zero deaths on Hanzo in the series against the NYXL. Their two victories this week have the Charge rocketing up to ninth place in the overall standings, and they look to be one of the more formidable teams going into the postseason play-in tournament.
4. Los Angeles Gladiators
Record: 3-2 | Map W/L/T: 12-11-0 | Map Diff: +1 | Change: --
The Los Angeles Gladiators are another team that has been consistent throughout each stage of the season, although they follow the old adage that the only consistent thing about them is ... their inconsistency. The Gladiators are a good team, but they're far from clean. This stage we've seen them take the Shock to a fifth map one week and then go down 0-2 to the winless Dallas Fuel before pulling off a reverse sweep. Fortunately, they have a strong foundation, debuting the idea of using a team's flex DPS like João Pedro "Hydration" Goes Telles in one of the tank roles during Week 1. And if there were individual stage awards, Gui-un "Decay" Jang's particular performance would make him a contender for stage MVP. The Gladiators have the tools in place to contend for a top spot, but they need to be more consistent.
5. London Spitfire
Record: 4-2 | Map W/L/T: 14-10-1 | Map Diff: +4 | Change: -3
The London Spitfire drop to fifth place this week after some small but crucial mistakes led to a potential series victory against the Vancouver Titans just slipping out of their hands. Despite falling 2-3 in the series, the Spitfire looked dominant on the maps they won, taking Busan 2-0 and executing a full hold on Hollywood.
The defending champions then fired back on Saturday, eliminating the Houston Outlaws from postseason contention with a 3-1 scoreline. DPS Kim "Birdring" Ji-hyeok has been subject to some criticism for being underwhelming in the past, but he stepped up admirably this week, earning Player of the Match honors for his outstanding Hanzo and Reaper play, especially in combination with Hong "Gesture" Jae-hui's Orisa and Park "Profit" Joon-yeong's Mei. The Spitfire will look to clinch a top-six spot the same way they did last year: by honing their trademark synergy along with their remarkable individual talent.
6. Los Angeles Valiant
Record: 3-1 | Map W/L/T: 10-7-1 | Map Diff: +3 | Change: +3
The Valiant just keep climbing. Since starting 0-7 in Stage 1 and having a 2-12 record entering the All-Star break, Los Angeles has gone 11-4 and will probably get it into the league playoffs. Part of their late-season rise has to do with simply overcoming a bad start, but numerous roster changes, including the addition of Russell "FCTFCTN" Campbell and the return of in-game shotcaller Scott "Custa" Kennedy, really prompted the Valiant's jump back to the top. Nowadays, communication might be the greatest strength of the Valiant, and it showed against the Florida Mayhem last week. General fluctuations in individual play from both Custa and Brady "Agilities" Girardi stand out as the team's biggest issues, but that's almost a nonissue considering how much progress the team has made since their bad start.
7. Atlanta Reign
Record: 3-0 | Map W/L/T: 10-2-0 | Map Diff: +8 | Change: --
Did not play last week.
8. Washington Justice
Record: 5-0 | Map W/L/T: 16-6-0 | Map Diff: +10 | Change: +8
Of all teams that remain unbeaten in Stage 4, the Washington Justice are by far the most surprising. They had a close call against the Houston Outlaws this week, but their 2-0 Week 3, ongoing win streak and volatility of the overall standings means that this week, the Justice crack the top 10 in our power rankings for the first time ever after wallowing around No. 18-20 for the first three stages.
This past week, I asked Washington Justice support Hong "ArK" Yeon-joon what had changed on the team, and while he admitted that improved teamplay was part of it, he fully credited the 2-2-2 role lock, which has allowed the DPS duo of Corey "Corey" Nigra and Ethan "Stratus" Yankel to shine. The Justice were also fairly creative this past week, pulling out an interesting Mei/Symmetra strategy on Lijiang Tower to counter Mei/Reaper.
9. Chengdu Hunters
Record: 3-2 | Map W/L/T: 13-10-0 | Map Diff: +3 | Change: -4
Chengdu rose to the fifth spot in the rankings last week for the very first time, but they nudge down a bit after losing to the struggling Hangzhou Spark. In their losses, Chengdu often beat themselves, and last week's match was no different. Generally, the Hunters have been pretty good about adapting midgame, but that skill disappeared almost entirely against the Spark. Still, Chengdu tend to be hot and cold, and the team generally profiles as one of the stronger DPS teams in this meta. Everyone wants to believe in Chengdu, but until they can be explosive each and every game, it's best to be conservative about expectations for them.
10. Seoul Dynasty
Record: 2-3 | Map W/L/T: 9-12-1 | Map Diff: -3 | Change: -2
Oh, Seoul. Seoul is well past their choking ways, but series like last week's against the Toronto Defiant is reason enough for fans to worry. Seoul is creative with in-game strategies, often switching out nearly their entire roster to better suit their opposition and the map type. Sometimes that augments their DPS star Kim "Fits" Dong-eun, but other times it leaves the team without a real answer for midgame adaptation. Lately, it feels like Seoul go through the motions and hope for individual performances to save them, whether it comes from Fits or their original star carry, Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun, who now only plays hitscan on long narrow payload maps.