Rodeos and redemption: Overwatch League Houston homestand preview

The home team may be the Outlaws, but plenty of their guests are also looking to show off in the Lone Star state.

Photo by Ben Pursell via Blizzard Entertainment
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Deep in the heart of Texas, the Overwatch League hopes to bring some fire to Houston. While the league’s first homestand in the city is guaranteed to be entertaining, many hopes are riding on the Houston Outlaws.

After a 0-4 season start, which was rife with illness, bad travel, and lost luggage, some people think the Outlaws are cursed. Considering a water main broke in Houston the day teams arrived, causing a boil order for much of the city, it’s looking like the Outlaws might have displeased some form of esports deity. 

Even if the Houston Outlaws are cursed, this weekend is full of interesting games that will hopefully not be marred by any more cosmic disruptions. 

New York Excelsior vs. Florida Mayhem 

The NYXL go into this weekend with a 3-1 record, having only lost to the Philadelphia Fusion in a relatively close match. The Florida Mayhem got destroyed by the Fusion. In theory, this game should be a 3-0 stomp in favor of New York.

In reality, though, this match may be closer than it deserves to be. Philadelphia managed to showcase the uncharacteristic sloppiness that the NYXL keeps bringing to matches. Florida, meanwhile, had some highlights when they faced the Houston Outlaws. 

This match, which starts the weekend on Feb. 29 at 2pm CT, will test two major theories going around the Overwatch League community: Is New York actually getting sloppy, or are their opponents just stepping up to the plate?

On the other side of things, are the Florida Mayhem actually getting better, or did they just play a flu-ridden Houston Outlaws squad?   

Toronto Defiant vs. Atlanta Reign 

Most North American teams have played at least one game this season. The Atlanta Reign, however, have been waiting in the wings and observing their competition. This match will be the first time fans get to see their stacked roster in action. The Toronto Defiant bring a 1-1 2020 season record into this match, which includes one extremely close game with the current league leader, the Philadelphia Fusion. 

Toronto’s DPS has been stepping up to the plate, especially Lane “Surefour” Roberts. As an unknown entity, the Atlanta Reign’s talented DPS squad is something he and his damage dealers will have to adapt to on the fly. Atlanta DPS Jeong “ErsTer” Joon’s return to the Overwatch League stage should be both impressive and terrifying.  

Houston Outlaws vs. London Spitfire 

If the Houston Outlaws want redemption, there is no better place for them to find it than in front of their raucous homestand. London may be a team made up of rookies, but they’ve impressed the league with their performance so far.

After a miraculous reverse sweep against the Washington Justice, London is coming into this match with renewed self-confidence. Two solid weeks of devastating losses must be swept aside for the Houston Outlaws to gain some kind of team-wide mental clarity.

Paris Eternal vs. Atlanta Reign 

The second day of the Houston homestand starts with Philadelphia taking on the Boston Uprising at 12pm CT, but by the look of the Fusion’s prior games, that should be a quick match. The day really begins when the Paris Eternal and Atlanta Reign face off at 2pm CT. Atlanta will be a formidable opponent for the Paris Eternal, who currently have a 2-1 record in the season.

Paris’ newcomers, like DPS Jung “Xzi” Ki-hyo and off-tank Choi “Hanbin” Han-bin, have been able to outpace weaker teams. Atlanta could throw a wrench into that strategy. 

London Spitfire vs. Florida Mayhem

Depending on how the first day of the homestand goes, this match could be bigger than expected. If both the Spitfire and Mayhem bring home losses on day one, they’ll want to show up to this match with renewed vigor. No matter the results, these two teams are relatively on the same level and should put on a good show.

Though he was sick last week, London’s off-tank Shin “Bernar” Se-won should put a stop to Lee “Gargoyle” Beom-jun, who has been a standout on the Florida Mayhem. The match begins at 4pm CT. 

Toronto Defiant vs. Houston Outlaws  

For the Toronto Defiant, this is likely just another match in their busy schedule. If the Houston Outlaws lose their first match against the London Spitfire, this will be the team’s last chance to show off for their home crowd. It won’t be an easy win.

Houston’s tank line could easily overtake Toronto’s with some increased coordination. Even if that happens, Houston’s DPS has suffered so much that Toronto’s Andreas “Logix” Berghmans could demolish the backline before anyone even notices. Houston’s best hope is to put some fire back into hitscan Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin and pit him against the Defiant’s DPS line.

All of the Houston Homestand action begins at 2pm CT as the New York Excelsior takes on the Florida Mayhem.