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Fuel bounce back, defeat Shock at Countdown Cup qualifiers

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The Countdown Cup qualifiers continued in the Western Region on Saturday, with the Boston Uprising, Atlanta Reign and Dallas Fuel picking up wins.

The Fuel (10-4, 15 points) took down the San Francisco Shock (9-4, 9 points) in a hard-fought 3-2 series win. Neither team looked particularly sure of what compositions to run, so this matchup was less a battle of wits than a battle of raw talent. Both teams’ talent-stacked rosters were tested in this series, with the Fuel coming out on top after losing a close series on Friday.

Dallas leaned heavily on DPS Yeong-han “SP9RK1E” Kim’s Pharah throughout the series, which paid off in Game 1 on Ilios as the Fuel took a 2-1 win. In response, the Shock leaned into bunker compositions to control the aerial threat, taking a 3-2 win on Numbani. Dallas took Game 3 on Rialto, winning the Pharah-favored map 4-3 after a long overtime push.

The Fuel fumbled a bit when they forgot to defend the point on Hanamura, giving the Shock a 2-1 victory to send the series to OT, but they recovered and came up clutch in Game 5 on Lijiang Tower, taking the map 2-1.

Dallas has already clinched a playoff spot in the 2021 playoffs.

In another battle of teams trying to stay near the top of the Western Region standings, the Atlanta Reign (8-6, 9 points) outlasted the Los Angeles Gladiators (8-5, 8 points) in a 3-2 series win. Throughout the series, both teams played a variety of compositions, unable to gain a discernible leg-up on the other.

Atlanta took an early lead with a 2-1 win on Lijiang Tower, but the Gladiators fired back with a dominant 2-1 win on Blizzard World. The Reign would in turn take Route 66 3-2, but the Gladiators bounced back with a 2-1 win on Temple of Anubis. In the series-deciding Game 5 on Oasis, the Reign enjoyed a huge performance from DPS Se-hyun “Pelican” Oh’s Pharah, taking the map 2-0 to secure the series win.

Finally, the Boston Uprising (7-6, 7 points) looked good in their 3-1 win over the Paris Eternal (7-7, 7 points), who had taken down the Dallas Fuel in an epic 3-2 series just a day earlier.

Paris leaned heavily on DPS Nikolai “Naga” Dereli’s Pharah throughout the series, but Boston had found a counter. The Uprising had their DPS players play Soldier: 76 while they played main tank Ji-won “Stand1” Seo on Orisa, which kept Naga out of the skies.

Boston took Ilios 2-0 as Paris looked shaky out of the gate, but Paris recovered beautifully with a 3-0 shutout on King’s Row. The Uprising then took Rialto 2-1 in a defensive battle before closing out the series with a 3-2 win on Volskaya Industries to wrap up the 3-1 series win.

The Countdown Cup qualifiers continue on Sunday with six matches:
Seoul Dynasty vs Los Angeles Valiant (East)
Shanghai Dragons vs New York Excelsior (East)
Hangzhou Spark vs Philadelphia Fusion (East)
Atlanta Reign vs Houston Outlaws (West)
San Francisco Shock vs Boston Uprising (West)
Los Angeles Gladiators vs Washington Justice (West)

Overwatch League standings by region, with win-loss record, map differential and league points

1. Dallas Fuel, 10-4, +14, 15
2. Houston Outlaws, 10-3, +14, 10
3. San Francisco Shock, 9-4, +12, 9
4. Atlanta Reign, 8-5, +14, 9
5. Los Angeles Gladiators, 8-5, +12, 8
6. Washington Justice, 8-5, +6, 8
7. Boston Uprising, 7-6, +3, 7
8. Paris Eternal, 7-7, -2, 7
9. Toronto Defiant, 6-6, -4, 6
10. Florida Mayhem, 4-8, -9, 5
11. London Spitfire, 0-12, -29, 0
12. Vancouver Titans, 0-12, -31, 0

1. Shanghai Dragons, 10-3, +17, 18
2. Seoul Dynasty, 10-3, +15, 10
3. Chengdu Hunters, 7-5, +7, 9
4. Philadelphia Fusion, 8-5, +10, 8
5. Hangzhou Spark, 7-6, +6, 7
6. New York Excelsior, 6-7, 0, 6
7. Guangzhou Charge, 3-9, -18, 3
8. Los Angeles Valiant, 0-13, -37, 0

–By Noah Waltzer, Field Level Media

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