In the stage 3 break, the Houston Outlaws remembered that they didn’t have to play GOATS. This turned out to be a huge boon as they were really bad at playing 3-3. This stage, they embraced playing DPS heroes, Jake and Danteh in particular, and in the first two matches, they went to 5 games against the NYXL, losing, but winning in 5 against the San Francisco Shock. After NYXL, their only loss was to… uh… the Florida Mayhem… Yes, that Florida Mayhem.

Outside of their victory over the Shock, the teams they defeated weren’t particularly impressive. They beat the Boston Uprising, Paris Eternal, Washington Justice and Toronto Defiant. So they beat 2 of the bottom 3 teams in the league, while losing to the other one. How can a team play this underwhelming and still beat the Shock? Well it’s pretty simple, the Shock still can’t play against Sombra, and Viol2t can’t play Ana. Knowing this, we can almost count out the Outlaws win over the Shock. Yes, it was impressive considering the Shock just came off of an undefeated stage 2 championship, but the stage 3 Shock don’t look nearly as powerful as before. Their victories were plentiful, but equally underwhelming. They beat the Atlanta Reign (2-5) 3-2, then beat Seoul 4-0, then stomped a bunch of mid table teams in Boston Uprising (1-6), Florida Mayhem (1-6), and London Spitfire (3-4).

So we know the Titans are the favourites, and we know that it’s by a considerable amount, but we still need to figure out what the conditions of their victory is. Statistically, these two teams are really hard to compare because Houston greatly overperformed this stage and the Titans were average, but because the meta shifts on it’s own schedule increasing the length of time grossly exaggerates the Outlaws bad record. Despite the Outlaws record of 5-2, they were still miserable this stage on Assault and Hybrid maps with 58% and 50% winrates. When you include stage 2, they drop to 38% each, while their other map rates (both above 80%) drop to under 50%. This bodes very well for the Titans as those are their best map types and they have an ace up their sleeve here. The Outlaws are 1-2-2 on Volskaya Industries this year and the Titans are 5-0-0, while being undefeated on Volskaya going back to early 2018 as RunAway. They also share the glory of being equally terrible on Paris, so it’s nice to know the Titans won’t have a guaranteed loss. The Titans are 0-3 on Paris on stage 3, but 3-3 going back to stage 2, the Outlaws are 1-1 this stage but 1-3 going back to last stage, so while the teams do appear to be trending in opposite directions, this one is at least close.

Now Hybrid is the Titans bread and butter. The Outlaws are 1-0 on Numbani, 2-1 on Eichenwalde and 0-2 on Hollywood. Titans are 3-0 on Hollywood, 2-0 on Numbani and 1-1 on Eichenwalde. Going back farther, this gets a lot better for the Titans. Like, undefeated since 2017 on Numbani levels of elite play, so now that we have the two middle maps going to the Titans, where do they stand in round 1 and 4?

Let’s start by saying that the Titans are at 86% winrate on every map type minus Assault in stage 3. That’s because 3/7 of their Assault games have been on Paris and all of them were losses. On Control, the Titans are 8-1 on Ilios, and 5-1 on Oasis, but only 3-3 on Nepal and Houston is undefeated on Nepal this stage, the Titans need to dodge Nepal. Even going back 6 months, the Outlaws are 4-1 on Nepal, so even when they were bad, they were still good on Nepal. Getting Ilios or Oasis is going to be key for this match. This stage, the Outlaws have only lost on Watchpoint: Gibraltar among Escort maps. The Titans on the other hand are 3-0 on Watchpoint, while tying a record here against the LA Gladiators. This map doesn’t need to be played as the Titans have a very good shot at taking this 3-0, but if we have to go this far, Watchpoint: Gibraltar is going to be the best way for the Titans to close out this series.