We’ve covered 4 stages, 23 weeks and 91 days of the highest level of Overwatch to have ever been played at a time. And now we’re finally ready to witness the best among the highest skilled league with the inaugural season’s playoffs. This is what it’s all been leading up to.
Overwatch League playoffs operate on slightly different rules than stage playoffs. The top 6 teams of the season qualify for a tournament bracket wherein the third seed team plays the sixth seed and the fourth seed plays the fifth seed, all while the first-place team in each division receives a bye. Oh yeah, we haven’t explained divisions yet, have we? Well, that’s because they really didn’t matter until this point in the season, but the jist of it is that Dallas and all the teams from Asia and California form the Pacific division while the rest are the Atlantic, meaning the NYXL and the LA Valiant took the top spots. The remaining playoff teams were the LA Gladiators, the Boston Uprising, the Philadelphia Fusion and the London Spitfire.
Like we’ve been saying, the Fusion had started going downhill after impressing in stage 2, so a set with the rather inconsistent Uprising seemed like it would be one of the least noteworthy bouts of the playoffs. Almost as if to nip these doubts in the bud, the teams came out swinging right away with some of their most impressive plays this season. Striker was sniping so well you could forget that the Boston player had just started using Widowmaker, while Philadelphia’s Carpe was living up to his DPS acronym by pulling off high-damage maneuvers seemingly every second. The whole thing was extremely offensive, which made for some of the most thrilling games from a spectator perspective. They say a team is only as strong as its weakest link, though, and that was undeniably true for Boston’s Kellex, a Mercy player who made many a poor positioning choice and kept getting picked off easily. Despite convincingly taking game 2, the Uprising would rise no longer.
The Spitfire was another team that fell into a rough spot after an early season high, which was only exacerbated when they played the Gladiators in the quarterfinals, a team hey had never scraped a single win on. As for the Gladiators themselves, they already had a plan to beat London, mainly by making the controversial decision to put Iremiix as their starting main tank instead of Fissure. The idea was to keep the team more centralized during the match, which they believed was a better fit for the meta and that direction favored Iremiix’s comparatively more conservative playstyle the best. The first match was a complete sweep in the Gladiators’ favor, but then the Spitfire came back around. Something just clicked and out of nowhere they were playing like they did in stage 1 again. Everyone was unquestionably on point as their newfound synergy and accuracy brought them to an easy win straight into...
Yeah, we’re not done talking about the Spitfire or how much ass they were kicking at all. When we said that everyone on the team was playing incredibly well, we really did mean everyone. Their set against the LA Valiant had Fury, Bdosin and Nus showcasing some of the smoothest movement in the league, Birdring reminded us all how great his aim was without a wrist-injury, Gesture was writing the book on playing Orisa and Profit’s DPS skills were right up there with Carpe. The Valiant fought, well, valiantly, but it was clear as early as Birdring’s first kill on fellow Widowmaker player Soon that this was a London sweep.
Back on the Fusion’s end, another blowout was happening, and much like with the Valiant, it would result in another two of the top teams being eliminated. After almost half a year as the best team in the league, the Excelsior looked weak. We can talk all day about whether the Fusion was just too good or if New York simply choked, but either way, Philly won and it wasn’t even close. They were looking frighteningly dominant going into the grand finals, but it wasn’t over yet.
London was calling.
So those were the many, many sweeps of the Overwatch league season 1 playoffs. Be sure to let us know your favourite part of the quarter and semifinals in the comments below, and be back very soon for the last part in our retrospective, where we examine the matches that ended it all.