Like Thanksgiving dinner, sometimes the most exciting action happens in the middle of the table. And that's proven by the mid-tier Houston Outlaws, who deserve some love on Easter Sunday after getting two wins against fellow mid-table teams.
First, the Outlaws dominated the bottom-feeding Boston Uprising 3-1, and then they pulled off a 3-2 reverse sweep against the sometimes-impressive Toronto Defiant.
After messing around with their DPS rotation for much of the year, Houston kept it consistent this weekend by playing Danteh alongside Linkzr. Despite Blase and Hydration's impressive hero pools, this pairing gives the Outlaws a balanced, complementary tandem that can deal damage from distance and up close.
That was on full display, as Linkzr's sniping and Danteh's up-close-and-personal Tracer play gave Houston the space to grab wins, thereby encouraging their fans and dissuading their detractors.
It remains to be seen if the Outlaws are improved enough to eat into the OWL's $5 million prize pool for 2020, but this weekend was a strong start.
Saturday, April 11
Hangzhou Spark 3-0 Chengdu Hunters
Vancouver Titans 0-3 Guangzhou Charge
Philadelphia Fusion 3-2 Paris Eternal
Houston Outlaws 3-1 Boston Uprising
Washington Justice 0-3 Dallas Fuel
Sunday, April 12
Chengdu Hunters 3-1 Vancouver Titans
Shanghai Dragons 3-0 Guangzhou Charge
Houston Outlaws 3-2 Toronto Defiant
Philadelphia Fusion 3-2 Atlanta Reign
San Francisco Shock 3-0 Los Angeles Gladiators
Full schedule and standings available here.
Saturday: Danteh Is Back on Tracer
With D.Va, Reaper, Sombra and Ana banned for Week 10, it was unclear how the meta would shift—especially for DPS roles, where Reaper had been a mainstay for much of the year.
After the 3-2 duel between the top-tier Philadelphia Fusion and Paris Eternal, Houston's 3-1 victory over Boston was actually the day's closest match. That's not very impressive, seeing as how the majority of Boston's players (outside of Jerry and Myunbong) may be better suited to playing in Contenders.
But you know what was very impressive? Danteh's return to his original main: Tracer.
While Jerry kept things tight with pop-off performances, Danteh lived in Boston's backline and made life miserable for the Uprising's squishies. After the match, he showed his happiness with the new meta on Twitter: "im glad i got to play tracer again ggs."
Sunday: Danteh Is Still on Tracer
The Toronto Defiant are no world-beaters, but they're definitely better than the Uprising. While the Uprising have just one win and a minus-14 map differential after this weekend, the Defiant have three and a minus-three.
That disparity was made apparent Sunday, as Toronto jumped out to a 2-0 lead over Houston.
But the Outlaws were not deterred. Possibly inspired by their fellow Texans, the Dallas Fuel, Houston followed the Fuel's lead and ran Danteh on Tracer directly into an opposing Torbjorn. Dallas won its Saturday match 3-0 against the Washington Justice, successfully ignoring the obvious threat that a turret with 100 percent accuracy presents to Tracer's game-low 150 health.
Houston did the same against Toronto, but Linkzr deserves much of the credit for creating an environment conducive to Danteh's flawless Tracer play. Finland's gift to esports routinely clicked heads and, on Hanzo especially, put on a sniping clinic.
After the match, Danteh offered the following advice to upcoming opponents on Twitter: "torb is NOT the counter to tracer." Unless Tracer or the Finnish turret craftsman gets banned for next week, we'll be looking forward to finding out how true that is.