Houston Outlaws vs New York Excelsior
If you're the Houston Outlaws, this is basically as hard of an opener as they could have gotten. Factually speaking, it could've been worse, but the Excelsior, regardless of their state, are always a tough nut to crack.
This is an interesting match, all things considered. It is still followed by the moments that came before. By those highlight reels and exceptional displays of skill from both teams. But that was more than a year ago, and right now, we're seeing two completely different variants of both teams.
On one hand, we have a New York Excelsior that isn't in first place. Nor second. That, in and of itself, is a shocking sight. They're still an absolute giant, a team that is exceptional in every conceivable regard, but they're not the best. Not any longer. And they haven't been in quite a long while. That's strange, and it's not because of any favoritism or allegiance. Seeing them end the second stage in fifth place was confusing. They only dropped two matches so it's not like they were getting blown out of the water, but still.
A New York Excelsior that isn't at the top of the world isn't the one we expect. We became accustomed to their dominance and exceptional play. But that was many metas ago, and now there are some new kids on the block, wearing orange jerseys. Regardless, New York is still an exceptional team by every metric. The meta is also shifting towards their favor and we might finally get to see old faces like Pine get some play time. As strange as it might sound, New York became a spectacular gatekeeper. They simply don't have the tools to fight against San Francisco or Vancouver right now, but on a good day they'll mop the floor with any other team.
Even in this meta.
Either way, they're entering Stage 3 with a chip on their shoulder. They want both redemption as well as revenge, and they're not going to stop until they attain it. Fortunately for all NYXL fans across the globe, they have a pretty laughable schedule going forward. Their only real tests will be two clashes against the London Spitfire, and if they manage to take the former champions down both times, they're basically guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Going forward, every single map matters, not just for the stage playoffs but for the overall playoffs as well. They need every win they can get, and their road starts here -- against Houston.
Speaking of Houston, there's not much left to be said. They're entering this stage without much hype and momentum. Perhaps that's even an understatement. They have zero hype behind their backs, and they no to blame but themselves. To not register even a single win in Stage 2 was laughable, given the talent they have to work with. But with GOATS getting out of meta (at a slow pace, but evident), they should be improving. They're veterans at this point, and it's only a matter of time before they get back to their middle-of-the-pack status. It might not happen as quickly as their fans might hope, but it's bound to happen sooner rather than later.
In the end, we simply have to side with the New York Excelsior. How could we not? Even though they often failed to clutch things out when it mattered the most, this is definitely no such moment. There's nothing on the line, no evident pressure to be had. Just a simple match against an opponent that is far beneath them in every conceivable fashion. Anything other than a clean 4-0 in favor of New York would be a shocking result.
|New York Excelsior||1.02||4||Win|