Welcome to This Weekend in Esports, a brief overview of what to watch in the world of competitive gaming for the coming weekend.
For this weekend, the Overwatch League is wrapping up another stage of the regular season, League of Legends begins its spring playoff season, and the Esports Arena Las Vegas opens up in style.
Overwatch League - Stage 2 Playoffs
When: March 25
Where to watch: Twitch.tv/OverwatchLeague
The second stage of the Overwatch League regular season is wrapping up this weekend. While the standings will carry over through the next stage of competition, it's time for another three teams to advance to the Stage Playoffs, where they will compete for a bonus prize pool.
The New York Excelsior and London Spitfire being in the mix is to be expected. The Excelsior, in fact, will likely walk in as the favorites again. But it's a race to the third spot, with the Philadelphia Fusion leapfrogging the Los Angeles Gladiators earlier this week. Entering Friday, the Fusion and Gladiators hold identical 6-3 records with Philly holding the tiebreaker advantage by a single map.
Right behind them is the Seoul Dynasty, also sitting at 6-3. The Dynasty are arguably in the best position right now, as they next face an underperforming Florida Mayhem squad. That's followed up by the Fusion, who face a tough task against the Los Angeles Valiant, who aren't in contention for the Stage Playoffs, but are looking to climb the overall League standings. The playoff picture won't clear up until the very last game on Saturday, when the Gladiators face a squarely middle-of-the-road Boston Uprising team, who continues to push themselves to the next level.
League of Legends - Spring Playoffs
Game: League of Legends
When: March 24-25
Where to watch: Twitch.tv/RiotGames
The Spring Split is in the books and now it's time for the playoffs. No team is more shocked with how the playoff picture unfolded than Cloud9, who fell right out of a first place tie and now find themselves with the 5 seed facing off against Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng and Team Liquid. This is great news for Liquid, who stunned Cloud9 with a comeback win last weekend. As goes Doublelift, so too does Team Liquid, so all eyes will be on him to see if he can propel his team to victory.
Meanwhile, despite its massive roster upheaval, Team SoloMid seems primed to cruise to the finals again. At least at first glance they do. But it's easy to forget that Clutch Gaming handed TSM a 2-1 loss earlier in the regular season. Clutch enters the playoffs as a heavy underdog, but with a win over TSM already under their belts, they're going in ready to shock the League esports world.
Smash Masters League - Battle for Vegas
Game: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
When: March 24-25
Where to watch: Twitch.tv/ESASmash
The Esports Arena Las Vegas is officially open for business. And if Thursday's Grand Opening party wasn't enough excitement, it's time to Smash!
The Battle for Vegas kicks off the Smash Masters League, a year-long circuit set to unfold over the course of 2018. If playing to return for December's championship isn't enough incentive, there's also $25,000 on the line. But the Smash 4 world may look a little different than it has in recent months.
For those who haven't followed what's been going on since December's 2GGC Championship, Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios is momentarily retired. That means the Smash 4 scene is the wild west at the moment, with everybody else jockeying to grab the title of best player in the world. That includes 2GGC Champion Leonardo "MkLeo" Perez, Evo champion Saleem "Salem" Young, Nairoby "Nairo" Quezada, and a streaking Gavin "Tweek" Dempsey.
The winner of this tournament will go a long way towards taking that crown as the new best Smash 4 player in the world. But let's look at this another way. If the excitement for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Switch suddenly gets ZeRo's competitive juices flowing again, he can still come back at any time. And if that's the case, it's best to get a headstart now and try to get as far ahead of him as possible.
So what will you be watching this weekend? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments.