The Houston Outlaws extended their 16-map unbeaten streak to 18 before the San Francisco Shock finally snapped it in the third map, but that was just a blip en route to a fifth straight match win. Their 3-1 win moved them to 5-2 on the season and could give them a chance to move into first place if they beat the Seoul Dynasty on Saturday.
Image credit: Robert Paul, Blizzard Esports
The Dynasty are the best team in the very young Overwatch League, but the Outlaws' streak has shown that they are legitimate challengers. The main damage dealers have been having standout performances. Their offensive potential with Jake Lyon and Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin is strong, backed by talented tanks and an often-underrated pair of supports, but this is a team built on outstanding individual play, such as Matt "coolmatt" Iorio's D.Va ultimate against the Gladiators last week.
But in yesterday's match against the Shock, a sudden illness forced the team to take out Masalin for the night. The Outlaws subbed in Matthew "Clockwork" Dias, a former top Team Fortress 2 talent who had been mostly riding the bench. While he showed up and had some quality rounds on Masalin's typical picks such as Widowmaker, the real struggle was on Oasis.
Commentators Doa and MonteCristo mentioned early on that the Shock tend to excel on maps such as Oasis. It was on the control map that San Francisco pulled the upset, holding strong against Houston's attempts to retake the point across two maps.
On every map but Oasis, though, the Outlaws dominated. The real test will come Saturday against Seoul, which is coming off its first loss ever and is widely considered to be the best team in the league. A win for either would more or less secure a berth in the stage 1 title matches; it should be the match-up of the year so far.
When Seoul was still undefeated, one of its star players was asked who could beat them. His answer: "Personally, I don't think anyone can defeat us, but Houston is really good."