Los Angeles Gladiators – London Spitfire
The Los Angeles Gladiators are one of the two teams representing Los Angeles, California, USA, in the Overwatch League. The team is owned and managed by Stan and Josh Kroenke, owners of several American sports franchises, and founders of KSE Esports. Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, one of the world’s leading ownership, entertainment and management groups. As owners and operators of Pepsi Center, Paramount Theatre, Arsenal F.C. (Premier League), Los Angeles Rams (NFL), Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Avalanche (NHL), Colorado Rapids (MLS) and Colorado Mammoth (NLL), KSE’s sports and entertainment assets are second to none. The Gladiators roster is made up of players from around the globe. They have signed players from Counter Logic Gaming, Cloud9, Team Gigantti, Kungarna and CONBOX. The players have achieved some minor success across a number of different tournaments, though none had notable success at the highest levels of APEX. They will probably struggle at the beginning of the season, especially if the players fail to adapt to their new teammates. The team will be supported by David ‘Dpei‘ Pei as their Head Coach and Timothy ‘Tim‘ Albanese as Assistant coach. Kevin ‘Kez‘ Jeon was chosen for the Team Manager role.
Los Angeles Gladiators are coming into the match as underdogs on both Moneyline(priced around 7.00) and Handicap line(+1.50, priced around 5.50), which is not surprising if you consider the quality of the London Spitfire side. At the start of the season, spirits should be high and will play for the win, but they may struggle to even win a map, let alone two maps against a strong all-Korean roster.
As the name suggests, London Spitfire is the team representing London, United Kingdom.The team is owned by Jack Etienne, Founder and CEO of Cloud9, one of the biggest and most successful esports organization with top teams in the world’s biggest competitive games. They have years of experience in multiple games and active teams in everything from League of Legends to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In order to join the Overwatch League, they received multiple rounds of additional investment, so they weren’t outright bought-out by another major sports brand. They are currently the only EU-based team. The organisation had seen large success in the early days of Overwatch, being home to one of the best rosters in North America next to EnVyUs (now Dallas Fuel). They later bought an EU team in the form of Laser Kittenz, then took in South Korean team Kongdoo Pantera and rebranded as C9 Kongdoo. Anyway, they signed up most of the South Korean superstars from two of the strongest teams from the Korean APEX League; GC Busan and their own previous team Cloud9 KongDoo. With the kind of talent this team possesses, they are the firm favourites to win the league. All of the team coaching staff are coming from either GC Busan or the previous C9 team. The team will be under control by the Team Manager Seon-Woo “Claire” Jeon and Head Coach Beoum-Jun “Bishop” Lee. They can also count on the help of the two support coaches, Chang-Geun “changgoon” Park and Jeong-Min “jfeel” Kim. Team management, ownership and public relations are with Cloud9 owner Jack Etienne and Danan Flander, their General Manager.
London Spitfire, one of the main favourites to win the whole league, are priced around 1.10 on the Moneyline and around 1.12 for the -1.50 Handicap option, they should be able to beat both lines comfortably, although the odds look a bit too extreme, if you take into consideration that both teams will be playing their first game. With the strength of their all-Korean roster, they are expected to win most of the games this season, including against the Gladiators. In case of their success today, they will play against Seoul Dynasty on Saturday.
Dallas Fuel – Houston Outlaws
The Dallas Fuel is the team representing Dallas, Texas, USA, in the Overwatch League. The team is co-owned by Team EnVyUs and by nV investor Hersh Interactive. Team Envy has recently received investments from the Hersh Interactive Group, owned by Kenneth Hersh. Hersh is known for his endeavours in the oil and gas industry and with, Texas being one of the leading oil-producing states in the US, it makes sense why the name was chosen. Team EnVyUs is arguably one of the most successful Overwatch teams in North America, having performed well on the international stage several times, including winning the first season of APEX in 2016. They also have successful teams in other esports titles and now with the heavy support from the Hersh Family Investments group, they will be hungry for more success in the new league. Dallas Fuels roster strong enough to compete in playoffs. They have arguably the best Overwatch roster in North America, with many of its players been together since the days of closed beta. Their roster is mostly comprised of the EnvyUs roster that was still successful during 2017 including winning the first season of Overwatch Contenders North America, plus a couple of new additions, most notably fan favourite Seagull. They also signed xQc and Custa from Arc 6. Taking into consideration that the players know how to play together and the team was able to retain the coaching staff, they’re likely the strongest team not composed purely of Koreans, at least on paper. The team will be supported by an excellent coach, Kyle ‘KyKy‘ Souder, who coached the EnvyUs team to much of their 2017 success. Mat “TazMo” Taylor was employed as a Team Manager.
Dallas Fuel are coming into the game as favourites, priced around 1.30 on the Moneyline and around 1.50 for the -1.50 options, which is reasonable as the posses a stronger roster. They have the ability to win the game, but it could get very close, as Houston Outlaws don’t have a bad roster. The match is already being marketed as a Texas Derby, so motivation should not be a problem.
The Houston Outlaws is the team representing Houston, Texas, USA, in the Overwatch League. The team is owned by Hector Rodriguez, Owner and CEO of OpTic Gaming, a long-running esports team based in the USA. They are successful in Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War, and Counter-Strike, with a total prize earning to date of almost a million dollars. Even they are quite successful in other esports titles, OpTic never had an Overwatch roster prior to the Overwatch League. Rather than picking up superstar players from South Korea, like many other teams, Houston Outlaws picked a mix of North American and Europe players. Most of these players once played together as FNRGFE(team started by ex-Fnatic, NRG eSports, and Gale Force eSports players searching for a new team). Rawkus and SPREE were formerly of FaZe Clan, and LiNkzr, Mendokusaii and JAKE were DPS players for Team Giganti, Cloud9 and LG Evilrespectively. They also signed up several members of the USA national squad from the 2017 Overwatch World Cup. They did great against the mighty Korean team at World Cup 2017, but it doesn’t make them exactly the outright favourites to win the league. The Houston Outlaws roster is backed by extremely well-chosen support staff, including head coach Tae-Yeong “TaiRong” Kim, who previously led South Korea to victory in the first Overwatch World Cup. He can count on the support of the two other coaches, Hyeon-woo ‘HyeonWoo’ Kim and Adam ‘MESR’ De La Torre. Mat “flame” Rodriguez was chosen as a General Manager.
Houston Outlaws are heading into the match as underdogs, priced around 3.10 on the Moneyline and around 2.40 for the +1.50 option, but they will be confident of causing an upset. They may not be playoffs contenders like Dallas, but they have managed to obtain strong players and if you take into consideration that they are backed up an excellent support staff(including TaiRon, who led the Koreans in the first Overwatch World Cup), they could make the first game very close and take at least two maps.
Boston Uprising – New York Excelsior
One of the first teams announced for the inaugural season of the Overwatch League were Boston Uprising, a team owned by Kraft Group, also owners or a soccer team New England Revolution and an NFL team New England Patriots. As the name suggests, they represent Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Uprising’s roster features a range of players from a variety of nations and sporting backgrounds. They mostly all hail from very different teams, including Toronto Esports, Luminosity Gaming Evil, ROX Orcas, 123(yes, that is the name of the team), Tempo Storm, Afreeca Freecs, CONBOX, Team Singularity and RX Foxes. There are only two players who were previously on the same team, NotE and Snow, both from Luminosity, so it will be interesting to see how have the players “adapted” to their new teammates. If you take a look at the roster below, they have quite an international team, with players from South Korea, USA, Canada, Ethiopia and Denmark. Supporting the team will be head coach Da-hee ‘Crusty’ Park, along with assistant coaches Jackson ‘Shake’ Kaplan and Rollon ‘Mini’ Hamelin. The team will be back by an analyst Mohid ‘MrBleeple’ Asjid, As its president of gaming, Boston signed Chris “HuK” Loranger. He has been involved in the early days of Overwatch esports, was present at analyst desk for the ELEAGUE’s Overwatch Open and a member of Team Canada in last year’s Overwatch World Cup. He was a famous professional Starcraft II player, which should help with the organisation’s first steps into the world of esports.
Boston Uprising are coming into the game as underdogs, prices around 4.70 on the Moneyline and around 3.10 for the +1.5 handicap. Although they are expected to struggle against an all-Korean roster, they are priced quite high on the handicap market. Their team is not as bad as the general public suggests, the players should be pumped for the first game and could well go on and beat the +1.50 option.
The New York Excelsior is the team owned by Jeff Wilpon(COO of the baseball team The New York Mets and executive vice-president of Sterling Equities, a real estate company). The team is the first ever professional esports team representing the city of New York, USA. They are one of the five teams from North America in the Overwatch League. The New York Excelsior have signed South Korean players only, all of the Luxury Watch Blue roster, one player from LW Red and one from Meta Athena. One of the LW Blue stars, Yeon-oh “Fl0w3R” Hwang, is currently on the inactive roster as he is unable to play due to being underage (currently 17 years old, he can train with the team, but can’t compete until he is 18 years old). Once available, he will take on the DPS position. Even at the age of seventeen, Fl0w3R is already considered as one of the most versatile and well-rounded players in the game. Anway, if we take a look at the roster below, we can see they have an amazing team, full of South Korean stars, and should be able to aim for the very top. The team will be managed by South Korean coaches Hyun Sang “Pavane” Yu and Hyeongseok “WizardHyeong” Kim, with the help of American assistant coach Andrew Kim. Both Pavane and WizardHyeong were part of the LW Blue before joining the NYXL. Scott ‘BEARHANDS’ Tester will act as the team’s director of player personnel.
The market rates New York Excelsior as a favourites prices around 1.10 on the Moneyline and around 1.30 for the -1.50 option. Their team is filled with strong South Korean players and they definitely have the ability to beat both lines, but I feel they are overvalued at handicap market, especially as this is their first game.
All matches are played in BO4 format, with an additional map being played if the game is level after the fourth map. Yesterday, Pinnacle opened the lines with the +0.50 option, and even if the game went to the fifth map, the match would be graded as 2-2. Example: If you took San Francisco Shock +0.50 against Los Angeles Valiant, your bet would be graded as a win, as the match ended with the fifth map being played. Anway, to avoid confusion, they have changed the format to the -1.50/+1.50 option, which is basically the same.
Dallas Fuel v Houston Outlaws
Prediction: Houston Outlaws to win
Odds: 3.10 Pinnacle
Dallas Fuel v Houston Outlaws
Prediction: Houston Outlaws +1.50 Asian Handicap
Odds: 2.42 Pinnacle
New York Excelsior v Boston Uprising
Prediction: Boston Uprising +1.50 Asian Handicap
Odds: 3.14 Pinnacle
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