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Well, Stage 3 sucked.

Maybe my hopes in my last Strength of Schedule article were a little too high going into Stage 3, and I set myself up for failure. I was completely wrong about how the stage would turn out for Boston and I am admitting that now. I, like many fans, was pretty blindsided by the strange coaching decisions, and wasn’t expecting new lineups each week. We also weren’t expecting an absolute turn around from the Outlaws, and two close matches against the Eternal.

But that’s all in the past now, and it is time to begin looking forward and upward for the Uprising!

Stage 4 is finally here and Boston has a small, but very real chance of sneaking into the season playoffs. Boston is one of six teams that are 8-13 or 9-12 sitting on that 12th place bubble. Then there are teams like Dallas, Philly, and Shanghai that are comfortable now, but must have a successful Stage 4 to ensure their playoff birth. Despite their dangerously low position in the standings, Stage 4 bears a lot of promise for the Uprising.

Stage 4 Schedule

Boston Stage 4 Schedule

Boston plays a couple of new teams this stage, and with new opponents comes new challenges. They start the stage against a red hot Charge team, looking to prove they can play with top teams just as Hangzhou did in Stage 3. Following up are the Hunters, a team capable of upsetting the San Francisco and the London Spitfire. Luckily for Boston, their schedule contains only one top-8 team in the NYXL. Unluckily for Boston, the NYXL are one of the most dominant teams in the league, having only lost twice, both times to Atlanta.

OpponentHead-to-Head Record
Guangzhou Charge (12)0-0
Chengdu Hunters (12)0-0
Washington Justice (19)0-1
Florida Mayhem (20)5-0
Los Angeles Valiant (14)3-1
New York Excelsior (2)2-3
Atlanta Reign (11)1-0

Although Boston has the lead in the head-to-head, the LA Valiant are not the same team from Season 1. The Valiant have cemented themselves as a top tier team in the league after massive wins against the Titans and the Spitfire. If Boston wants to have a chance in the playoff race, they will need to have their best games against the Hunters, the Charge, and the Valiant. At 9-12, 9-12, and 8-13 respectively, each team needs every map win they can get.

But what teams have the best shot at improving that ever-so-crucial map differential?

Strength of Schedule

RankTeamAverage Opponent Map Win %
1Shanghai Dragons0.577
2Chengdu Hunters0.557
3San Francisco Shock0.539
4Dallas Fuel0.542
5Los Angeles Gladiators0.539
6Hangzhou Spark0.525
7Guangzhou Charge0.523
8Seoul Dynasty0.518
9New York Excelsior0.511
10Vancouver Titans0.499
11Philadelphia Fusion0.489
12Paris Eternal0.480
13 Los Angeles Valiant 0.479
14London Spitfire0.452
15Florida Mayhem0.446
16Houston Outlaws0.443
17Washington Justice0.439
18Boston Uprising0.430
19Atlanta Reign0.409
20Toront Defiant0.398

With the 3rd easiest schedule in the league, Boston has an excellent opportunity to secure their spot in the season playoffs. They even have help from their opponents schedule difficulty, as Chengdu, Dallas, and Shanghai all are in the top 5 for strength of schedule. Each map matters for Boston, so games against Washington and Florida need to be 4-0’s in order to maximize their chances. Games against Los Angeles and NYXL just need to be crazy upests.

Match Predictions

Guangzhou Charge (9-12)

This team is extremely talented, but struggled in the past. Unfortunately for Boston, they have looked increasingly better as time has passed. Nero and Happy are starting to play real DPS, and people should be scared. Let’s hope Colourhex and blasé are up to the challenge, because if they can perform like fans know they can, Boston should come out on top.
Prediction: Boston 3-2

Chengdu Hunters (9-12)

No one knows what the expect from this team, except crazy DPS oriented strategies. Jinmu and YangXiaoLong have looked incredibly impressive, and the Hunters have played well when they play well. Look for the support lines to be the defining match-up in this game, as Yveltal has slowly adopted Neptuno’s blood-thirsty Mercy play style. AimGod and Kellex will have to truly bring it this time around.
Prediction: Boston 3-2

Washington Justice (2-19)

Boston is 0-1 against the Justice, and cannot afford to make it 0-2. Stratus has arrived for Justice in a big way, but they weren’t able to close out games at the Atlanta Homestand. Boston is a better team than the Justice, they just need to perform like it.
Prediction: Boston 4-0

Florida Mayhem (2-19)

I can’t stress how important it is for Boston to 4 – 0 the weekend they play both Mayhem and Justice. While the Mayhem was able to tie a map with the NYXL, they still haven’t looked good enough to beat even mid-level teams. Unless of course you’re Houston.
Prediction: Boston 4-0

Los Angeles Valiant (8-13)

Boston’s first upset game is here, against a team with the same record after Stage 3. The Valiant have looked amazing and it pains me to say Boston is not favored in this one. Kariv and Agilities have come into their own as hard-carry players in the support and DPS role.
Prediction: LA 3-1

New York Excelsior (19-2)

The complete opposite of Florida, New York is the toughest team Boston plays in Stage 4. The silver-lining here is that Boston does historically perform well against New York. Not sure if its the deep-rooted rivalry between the two cities that causes Boston to step up, but they will need to come up big one more time.
Prediction: NYXL 3-0

Atlanta Reign (9-12)

Boston needed to reverse sweep Atlanta the last time these two teams met, but Atlanta looks revitalized after their Homestand weekend. This one will absolutely come down to the wire, as the last game of the Stage (and potentially season) both teams will leave nothing on the table – well, desk rather.
Prediction: Boston 3-2

I know some of these are a little gracious to Boston, but I believe this team will make massive leaps forward now that they have settled the support line and embraced more DPS comps. At 13-15, Boston will need some serious help from other teams to help sneak them into that last 12th seed. From now until the end of the season, Boston will be taking the underdog role. Let’s hope the boys in blue can make some magic happen.

Be sure to follow Brock on twitter for more breakdowns and analysis #BostonUp