The ESI Gambling Report is back with a vengeance. This will now be a weekly piece on a Friday and focus on esports betting in some form; whether that’s a preview of the weekend’s action, an interview, a thought piece or something else entirely.
You can sign up to our twice weekly ESI Dispatch newsletter here to make sure you never miss one of these reports.
First up, a preview of this weekend’s Overwatch League action. A handful of matches remain in Stage 1 for every team in the OWL surmounting pressure leading up to the playoffs held on Saturday night. With only the top teams in the standings competing for a spot in the postseason fixture and a sweet $125,000 (£90,450) prize pool, there’s an underline of importance in every game, every point, and every kill in Week 5.
Five weeks of grueling competition in the Overwatch League will come to an end Saturday evening with one team walking away with the Stage 1 title. While the low standing teams are most likely already looking towards redefining themselves in Stage 2, the competition on the upper side of the rankings couldn’t be more cut throat. Though several dicey match ups makes predicting tomorrow night’s champion burdensome, Esport Insider has your outlook moving into championship Saturday:
Coming into Week 5, the favorites were Seoul Dynasty, New York Excelsior and the London Spitfire to enter into the playoffs. However, in Round 1, Los Angeles Valiant altered the status quo by vanquishing Seoul in a 3-0 commanding series win. Not only was the victory shocking, it put Seoul’s playoff eligibility into serious jeopardy as the loss sent them below LA in the standings. Both team’s playoff prospects will be more clearly outlined in Round 3 when they face their next opponents. Clinching a spot in the finals wouldn’t be promised for either LA or Seoul; however, as there are a few contenders looking to climb back up from the lower ranks and make a name for themselves in Stage 1.
The Dark Horse
Regarded as the “dark horse” entering Week 5, Boston Uprising had an opportunity to send a tremor through the rankings and secure a playoff spot from the 7th seed. Boston’s pipe dream of being eligible to partake in the finals was contingent upon a 4-0 victory against their Round 2 opponents, Philadelphia Fusion, and a Seoul loss- both of which happened.
Credit: Overwatch League
In a post-game interview following their win over Philadelphia, Jonathan “DreamKazper” Sanchez commented on Boston’s recent reinvigoration stating: “We know we have to work harder than the other teams.” While Boston’s fate will ultimately remain in their own hands, a threat in the form of the Houston Outlaws could perforate their postseason intent. The two will clash later in Round 4 in what might prove to be a defining matchup.
At the end of Week 4, two teams practically sealed their postseason slots with a wealth of victories in the previous weeks, NYXL and London. Though the story hasn’t skewed very far from that as Week 5 got underway, the reality of a postseason skirmish between the two titans began to sink in.
New York Excelsior
NYXL is in immaculate form as they approach the Stage 1 playoffs. A leader in wins against top-6 teams and appearing to only accumulate more momentum with every matchup, New York is making it clear, they belong at the top. The only blemish on New York’s record came in a hard-fought 2-3 loss against Philadelphia, admitting afterward they were thinking ahead to their game against Seoul. Despite ending what could have been an undefeated Stage 1 performance, the loss set NYXL on a fiery crusade of winning, tightening up any loose ends.
Not to be outdone, London has quite the resume and firepower to support their top seed placing. Although storming through the first half of Stage 1, they appeared ‘awoken’ in Week 4 when they dismantled Seoul in what was the most anticipated match of the week in a 4-0 sweep before breezing past the Dragons in a dominating display. A handful of distinguished wins and battle-tested conditioning makes them the clear favorite in ceasing New York’s tear. If London can continue at this velocity, they’re undoubtedly going to be a heavyweight-contender in the postseason.
Credit: Overwatch League
#1 – New York Excelsior
#2 – London Spitfire
#3 – LA Valiant / Boston Uprising
While the tension between New York and London makes Stage 1 seem like a battle for third place, the campaign for the third seed couldn’t be more thrilling. A number of scenarios can berth one of the other four teams into the postseason to try their luck against the creme of the crop. My guess as to who that is? Los Angeles Valiant. LA blew us away in Round 2 this week as they conquered Seoul, forecasted as a postseason contender, and now having a dubious future thanks to the Southern California squadron. Essentially, this matchup broadcasted the message that the Valiant can hang with the big boys.
I can’t help but feed into the Boston Uprising hype right now. They just extended their winning streak from four to five this week and we haven’t seen a better configuration of the team yet. In the upcoming weeks and especially in Week 5, they appeared confident and collected, which has steadily converted them, becoming a fearsome team in the league. It’s certainly worth noting that Boston handed out London’s first and only loss leading up to Week 5, penetrating London’s immortality and driving the Uprising’s pendulum.
Credit: Overwatch League
I’m doubling down on New York as walking away with the Stage 1 gold on Saturday. My reasoning? The likelihood of any team trouncing NYXL in their current playoff form would appear pretty slim.
The only real threat to NYXL is London, who will square off against each other in Round 4. The encounter between the two giants should foreshadow some of the action in the finals. However, with London’s Thursday night loss against Houston, their playoff pitting is not guaranteed. NYXL will have a heavy advantage in the form of their consistency, something that London has historically lacked. Despite their world-class roster, London continues to bleed against teams they are projected to beat, as illustrated by a devastating loss against the Outlaws in Round 2. The inconsistency of the London squad makes myself and many others less inclined to believe they can actually challenge NYXL on this stage.
Although outrights to finish at the top are not being offered yet, there is still some action to wager on leading up to the postseason. Here’s a few notable games and the best respective places to risk (at the time of writing):
New York Excelsior vs London Spitfire
Houston Outlaws vs Boston Uprising
Philadelphia Fusion vs Florida Mayhem