Stage Four of Overwatch League featured the debut of Brigitte: a tanky support hero who completely changed the meta. Her stun, AoE healing, and armor buffs have made it so that Winston, Tracer, and Genji have a much harder time causing the damage that they used to. Now that dive compositions have more specific uses, flexible and adaptable teams like the Houston Outlaws are starting to shine. They're better than their 2-2 stage records indicates, and they have the right mix of players to be successful in the age of Brigitte.
This is what needs to happen for them to make the stage four finals.
A more dynamic meta
Now that the overall pace of the game has slowed down, Genji and Tracer-centric dive compositions aren't quite as important as they once were. Teams that can field a reliable Zarya while not sacrificing much in the way of Widowmaker will be successful. The core group for the Outlaws right now consists of Jake "JAKE" Lyon and Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin on DPS, with Matt "CoolMatt" Iorio and Alexandre "SPREE" Vanhomwegen on off-tank duties.
Since Brigitte requires aim and aggression, the Outlaws have made sure that both JAKE and LiNkzr are reliable on Overwatch's new support hero. The 2.5 tank setup allows Brigitte to satisfy multiple roles all at once, falling right in line with one of the Outlaw's biggest strengths: flexibility. If sniping is required, JAKE can flex onto Brigitte while LiNkzr works his magic on Widowmaker. Then, if Junkrat or Pharah are needed in the same round, JAKE and LiNkzr can swap.
Having two fantastic D.Va players in CoolMatt and SPREE is great, but SPREE's Zarya makes him an obvious choice on certain maps with narrow corridors and chokepoints. This gives the Outlaws more tanking options depending on the situation. If they're going to stick with dive or want to go with D.Va and Reinhardt, CoolMatt will stay in. The beauty of this meta is that, even though Brigitte causes some problems for flankers, she has opened up the tanking game quite a bit.
The rest of the stage
In order for the Outlaws to pull it together, they have to stay more coordinated during fights. In their devastating 0-4 loss to the San Francisco Shock, JAKE was frequently getting picked off early, and damage was spread out too much for supports to keep the tanks topped off. Over-aggression is something this lineup can be prone to committing, but they must keep it in check and play very careful and calculated Overwatch from here on out if they hope to make it to the finals.
As it stands, the Philadelphia Fusion, Los Angeles Valiant, and Dallas Fuel have all found their place in this meta and are playing phenomenally. The Outlaws have historically struggled against the Fusion and Valiant, and the Fuel are one of the most oppressive teams of Stage Four. Though they have to face all three of these teams before the stage ends, there is a lot to be optimistic about.
You don't want to count on other teams' failures getting you places, but the Boston Uprising and Seoul Dynasty have struggled lately. Both of them are ahead of the Outlaws in the overall standings, but with only a few games separating seven teams, every loss they suffer will help. Right now, the Uprising remain winless in Stage Four while the Dynasty have only one win against the lowly Shanghai Dragons. If this trend continues, the Outlaws will have some room to work with as they approach a rough spot in their schedule.
Another buffer they can count on is their schedule for Week Three. Barring any sort of catastrophic meltdown, the Outlaws shouldn't have any trouble defeating the Florida Mayhem or Shanghai Dragons. They're the worst teams in the league, though the Mayhem do have plenty of upset potential. So long as they can keep Jeong-Woo "Sayaplayer" Ha in check and disrupt the Mayhem's backline, victory should be theirs.
Aside from potentially securing a spot in the Stage Four finals, the Outlaws are also candidates for making it to the Season One playoffs. If they can pick up some wins as Stage Four winds down and be one of the six best teams in the league, they could be in the running for $1 million. Even if they don't go all the way, there are still significant cash bonuses to be won: fifth and sixth place teams win $50,000, third and fourth place win $100,000, and second place wins $400,000.
There's a lot to be excited about right now if you're a Houston Outlaws fan. With a playoff berth in their sights and a meta that favors their style of play, the Outlaws just need a little momentum to get them where they want to be. So long as they don't beat themselves, they have an excellent shot of making it to the playoffs.