If you told me last month that the Dallas Fuel would be one of the most dominant teams in Overwatch League stage four, I probably would have laughed at you. Despite high hopes at the beginning of the season, the Fuel have been a perennial disappointment, finishing stage three with an embarrassing 1-9 record good for tenth place in the overall standings. But now they've gone 4-2 in stage four, having most recently taken down the London Spitfire—a dominant roster that ranks third overall.
Here are some of the reasons for the Fuel's newfound success.
Mickie is a pretty good Brigitte
Every single team that's doing well right now has the right players to thrive in this meta. For Dallas, Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod has been a huge part of their success. His D.Va has been one of the best in the world for quite some time, but it's his Brigitte that has had people talking lately.
He set the tone for the match against London with a kill on Jun-young "Profit" Park within the first few seconds of Blizzard World—the first map of the set. It wouldn't be the last time Profit was on the receiving end of a Shield Bash combo, either. London fully committed to their dive composition on attack despite Tracer being a poor option against Brigitte:
It's difficult to say what exactly London's thought process was here, but Mickie was happy to punish Profit once again. However, this entire point really showcases how dominant a Brigitte-centric triple support composition is against dive right now. London found it impossible to bring down Dallas' frontline due to all the armor and healing going around, yet they never switched. Dallas went on to take a quick first map after full-holding one of the league's best teams.
Horizon Lunar Colony went much the same. London one again had Profit on Tracer, and once again it did not pay off whatsoever. Here's Mickie and Timo "Taimou" Kettunen teaming up for a couple of kills:
Mickie lends Taimou his shield since his team isn't in need of healing or armor, and they find Ji-hyeok "Birdring" Kim across the map. A few seconds later, Profit makes another positional error and also falls victim to Taimou's Widowmaker aim. Again, Dallas holds and then goes on to win the map.
Would Lijiang Tower go any differently for London? No, not really. At least they showed some signs of life a few times on this map, but the results were the same. On Night Market, Profit attempted to go toe-to-toe with Mickie and took Brigitte out for a few. It didn't go so well:
The Brigitte boop is even a thing in pro play. It was a fitting end that punctuated Profit's entire night—death by poor positioning. Only this time it was a little more embarrassing because he was on Mickie's hero. London did go on to win the "map of shame" at least, but Dallas' 3-1 victory marked a stunning upset against a team they've been dominated by in the past.
One thing that has to be mentioned is that Brandon "Seagull" Larned has really stepped up his D.Va game to allow Mickie some time on other heroes. Through all their growing pains over this first season, this particular move really opened the door for Dallas to start winning games. The addition of tank player Minesok "OGE" Son coming off his suspension has also allowed Taimou to focus on DPS instead of flexing—another change that has helped the Fuel find some success.
Likewise, having a solid backline has helped Dallas stay afloat in tricky situations. Benjamin "Unkoe" Chevasson has always been one of the best duelers in professional Overwatch, and Jonathan "HarryHook" Tejedor Rua is an excellent in-game leader. Together, they have been giving Dallas a fighting chance even in the most bleak of situations.
There have also been some recent staff changes that might also be part of the new Dallas Fuel we're seeing in stage four.
New coach, new mentality
Dallas has had more drama than any other team in Overwatch League. The three most recent issues were to be related to burnout and general frustration. For starters, Taimou ended up in the hospital for stress-related symptoms:
And in the news: brains fine. I'm not dying.Really annoying feeling to have half of your body hurting/numb 247 though. ER peeps said its probably extreme stress and or migraine.Loool EZApril 23, 2018
Then there was DPS star Hyeon "EFFECT" Hwang flying home to South Korea for the duration of stage four. He cited many things including stress, a language barrier, and too many people having different opinions on how the team should operate as some of the reasons behind his decision. Losing EFFECT was another low point, but, as we've seen, the Fuel have rallied without him. Though his future still seems uncertain, EFFECT did say in a stream that he plans on coming back to support his team because they were sympathetic to his situation.
Finally, coach Kyle "KyKy" Souder left the team to join state rivals, the Houston Outlaws. It confirmed many people's suspicions that KyKy probably wasn't helping the situation in Dallas, but it still left the team in a bad spot. They have since hired veteran Overwatch coach Aaron "Aero" Atkins to fill the void, and apparently he was up for the challenge.
THIS is OG Dallas and it's beautiful to watch. Decisive, coordinated with tank abilities, clutch, BEAUTIFUL.They could well lose the next three maps but idc the Fuel aren't sucking any more and that warms my heart.May 27, 2018
Between the addition of Atkins and the Brigitte meta, the Dallas Fuel are finally living up to everyone's expectations. This is a lineup full of superstars that have played on some of the most brutal stages in the world and performed very well. Seeing them suffer through countless losses and struggling to barely edge out the Florida Mayhem in the standings was incredibly difficult. They might not win every game for the rest of this stage, but at least they're competitive once again, and that's what we wanted to see.