Yiska: So the Valiant are the second best team in the Overwatch League. It seemed like yesterday we were at in-and-out. What happened and does that place actually have edible food?
Eden: Do you want me to comment on fast food or the game first?
Yiska: Only the game, Eden. Only the game.
Eden: So I have mixed feelings this stage and I am uncomfortable with my opinions on Valiant. I think it’s pretty clear that pre stage 4, they were the gatekeepers of mediocrity. This stage they still don’t look THAT much better, but the empirical results pretty much forces our hand to say they probably have improved. Or many other teams are still very inconsistent in this meta.
Yiska: I just came from a podcast where we discussed this and our conclusion was that the Valiant have just been solid over all the stages and with coach Moon coming in, their fundamentals improved significantly. The problem Valiant suffers from is that they most often aren’t doing it flashy, they are showing up to work and get the job done. If we cut away the delusion in that and indeed look at the results, they were a top 3 team over the season and because it relies on fundamental improvement, they are here to stay.
Eden: So I think it’s too early to say they will not face setbacks, but I agree that they have a reasonable base. I don’t think there is a good case of marginal improvement. This really has been a pretty massive difference. I went ahead and cataloged the wins they had in each stage over what I’d consider worthy opponents in that stage
stage 1: they beat Houston
stage 3: they beat Fusion
and then this stage: they beat Gladiators, NYXL (granted sandbagging), and London (granted up and down)
there is some reason to think this has been a pop in form if it isn’t at least a combination of meta and randomness
Yiska: Let’s say they finish the stage unbeaten which is not impossible but challenging considering they are playing the shock and fuel, and let’s suppose that they will get to the finals of the stage playoffs and lose against NYXL there. Would that make them your second favourite team to win the Overwatch League this season?
Eden: No. Although let me state again that I am uncomfortable with my feelings on Valiant. This feels a bit like we are on a weird branch of possible universes with some very delicate factors that are needed to produce what we see. So what do you say is their basis of strength? The coaching addition only? Or do you feel the meta has been a factor? To your question, no. If you look at team success from a single stage and then project it out when it wasn’t attached to a very clear reason for a change (like picking up Fissure to Gladiators), it hasn’t been reproducible.
Yiska: They also brought in Custa which might have some impact too. Also, it isn’t just the single stage that they are looking like they will win it all, but they are actually second in ranking over the entire season. I don’t think the meta has favoured them much but maybe just mellowed out other teams edges. If not the Valiant, who would be your second favourite?
Eden: They are second only in that they have been the kings of mediocrity throughout the season and now are having a single point of being in the conversation previously as a top 3 team (at least in my view). And that is pretty damning of those stages because there was always a massive gulf in past stages between top 3 and the rest of the league.
Yiska: Were they not a top 3 team in stage 3 too? They did finish third.
Eden: That’s up for debate, but stage 3 was also the stage with the biggest gap between number 2 and number 3 by far. In terms of wins and losses, they have generally hovered at the top of the mediocre pack and that has generated a lot of wins throughout each stage. But in terms of actual average form, they have generally been always way worse than the second best team in the league (whoever that was at the time) and their record would probably be worse than Gladiators overall in wins if Gladiators had Fissure a stage earlier.
Final Playoff Predictions
Yiska: I think the last point is a fair assumption. So you’ve successfully dodged the question but I won’t let you. Who currently is the team you see most likely to win Overwatch League after NYXL?
Eden: So it is either Valiant or London right now in just raw chance of it happening because they get to play one less series to make it to the final. But conditioned upon reaching the final, I think London has a better chance. I think it’s pretty even in prospective form of the teams though between Valiant, Boston, London Gladiators and Fusion going into a new meta in like a month. I just put London because there is a piece of evidence they have it in them to reach that form. I’d put overall the chance of an NYXL win at a ridiculous 70% considering there are 5 other teams competing
But when I answered before, I wasn’t considering the bye. My answer still is that if it was a full bracket, they wouldn’t be number 2. But I also don’t think there’s a huge gap between number 2 and number 5
Yiska: This has been very pleasurable to me. I love that I made you say London. It’s the only viable answer, they have the talent and they have a month to put it together. Now you just addressed the free bye both Valiant and NYXL get for winning their division. We’ve seen in CSGO events in the past that receiving a semifinal bye actually came up biting those receiving it, as there once was a ridiculous record of 10+ winners in a row not being the team that received the bye. Do you think there is a downside to receiving it in OWL too, seeing how there is a month long preparation pause which might soften a teams grasp of the game and doesn’t let them harden against lesser opponents in round 1?
Eden: So I think we should be careful when talking about the ground rules of brackets generally, which is in most cases the favorite has far from a 50% of actually winning the event. THAT IS NOT WHAT BEING THE FAVORITE MEANS! If we had equally skilled teams getting a bye, then in many formats it would be somewhat rare for that team to win, since there are usually fewer teams getting that privilege. What you have is that there is variation in team form and you have to beat one of the teams that is on a particularly good form most likely to win the event.
Now in the case of NYXL, there is such a massive gap that I think they are favored pretty heavily and if they lose then it’ll be another interesting test case like we had of stage 1 where a team that is seen as overall being better against a battle tested team warmed up and hungry into that last game.