Come Out Slingin’: Houston Outlaws Week 2 Preview

The 2020 Season has only just begun and things kicked off with a great weekend in Dallas and New York. Many teams are yet to make their debut as of yet. Among them are the Outlaws. With two games against Florida and Washington, it’s crunch time for our boys in green.

Outlaws vs. Mayhem

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Last time Florida and Houston met, the Mayhem managed to take the victory 3-1. Houston had just beaten the San Francisco Shock in spectacular fashion and followed up with two wins over Paris and Boston. Unfortunately, Florida brought that high to an end in disappointing fashion for the Outlaws and they plan to do it here again to start off 2020.

Florida has made some decent changes this off-season with an almost entirely new coaching staff and management. Top that off by letting go of players HaGoPeun, xepheR, DPI, and Swon — and bringing on Yaki and Gangnamjin — we now have a very different Mayhem compared to last year. Though it might not seem so at first glance, this team is much more different the longer you look at it. With the promise of a Yaki/Sayaplayer DPS line, plus the addition of Gangnamjin to the support line, there is lots of potential for 2020.

Keys to Victory

  • Shut down the DPS
  • Use flexibility to your advantage
  • Seriously, shut down the DPS

Houston’s keys to victory are rather simple, considering what little information we have so far. Florida may have changed, but if there’s anything we learned from last year, it’s to not let Sayaplayer hit his stride. If Sayaplayer is allowed the space to carry, he has the potential to do so easily. With D.Va back in the meta and MekO added to the roster, there’s lots of hope to shutting Saya down. If Houston has the cohesion to do so, Yaki will be the next biggest worry on the Mei.

Outside the dangers of the DPS, Houston can develop their own strategy of attack. With my totally professional armchair analysis, I know exactly how they should. Houston has set themselves up to be as flexible as any team. They should use that to their advantage. Should they simply try and keep Florida from catching on, Houston can bring results by constantly being one step ahead of them and setting the tone of the match. With a plan like that, Houston has the potential to simply outpace Florida.

Outlaws vs. Justice

Photo: Ben Pursell For Blizzard Entertainment

The Washington Justice are hopeful for 2020 and will put the Outlaws to the test on Sunday. Last time these two teams met, Washington brought home the W after a close 3-2 match. With the way Stage 4 ended last year for Washington, they’re looking likely to win this match-up. That of course won’t come easy.

Washington has made a fair amount of changes this off-season. With an extensive coaching staff and a new and improved tank line, the Justice will definitely be a challenge. That said, they do have a very small 7 man roster, since LullSiSH is inactive due to visa issues. The tank line is going to be hit-or-miss with rookie Ellivote and somewhat questionable rOar up front. Bringing up the rear, are supports ArK and AimGod. Though ArK is a very critical component to Washington, AimGod has always had his doubters and less than bright rumors surrounding him, making it another hit-or-miss situation. Of course, they still have the flashy duo of Corey and Stratus, with TTuba added this year as well to the lineup.

Keys to Victory

  • Shut down the DPS
  • Be aggressive
  • Play close

As with Florida, Washington has a very deadly hitscan in Corey. With a championship in the World Cup and a dominant performance in Stage 4, Corey is going to be a menace. The situation with him is almost identical to that of Sayaplayer, so I won’t delve too far into it.

The second key to victory, simply be aggressive. With a tankline like rOar and Ellivote, there’s a small possibility that there may be dysfunction on the team as LullSiSH, Ellivote’s second half of the tank duo, was expected to play with him. If Houston can properly be aggressive and coordinate, they may be able to run over the Justice.

This ties in to the last key, playing close. As long as they play a more coordinated game, making less mistakes than Washington, there’s a good chance Houston will succeed. Staying tight will reduce the chance of Corey picking off anyone from afar, allowing Houston to succeed purely by through better team-play.

Impact

General opinion right now holds that all three of these teams are in the lower end of power rankings in 2020. While these matches are important, at the end of the day they are simply a small start. Unless there’s a total domination, these matches won’t be too indicative as say, Gladiators taking it to the Titans last weekend, simply due to the closeness of the competition Houston faces this weekend.

Instead of looking more at team strength, I’ll be looking at these games on a smaller scale. This means analyzing individual performances more, looking at team cohesion, and observing what the Outlaws decide to do in terms of who they field. Will they put all their Korean players in? Will they be subbing their DPS in and out? Maybe they have map specific strategies or fielding decisions? These are the questions I will be asking this weekend when the Outlaws #AnteUp.

If you want to play along with the Watchpoint: Lobby staff, join our free fantasy Unlimited League (weekly roster draft) or Pick ’em League (pick the winners of each week’s matches). There are prizes for the top 3 teams in each league.

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