For this installment of our retrospective of the Overwatch League’s inaugural season, we’re looking at one of its final regular stage playoffs, and also one of its biggest. Blizzard updated the rules to include 4 teams in playoffs instead of only 3, meaning the top teams had an even harder battle ahead of them.
As we mentioned in our last part, the Boston Uprising went undefeated in stage 3, which would have been rewarded in previous stages would have earned them a bye into the playoff finals, however the amended structure would only reward the top team with the ability to pick which of the 3 other playoff opponents they would face in the semi-finals. In this case, those opponents were the previous stage playoff winners, the New York Excelsior and both Los Angeles teams. Careful not to test their winning streak too much, Boston elected to play the 4th seed, the LA Gladiators. The result was a predictable, but entertaining, 3-0 sweep by the men from Massachusetts, further feeding their winning streak and making their future seem bright.
It wouldn’t be smooth sailing though, as the NYXL also swept the higher-seeded Valiant in a 3-0 sweep of their own. The match was probably the most one-sided match in the season that didn’t involve Shanghai. New York’s very defensive style baited over-extensions from the Californians and their brilliant adaptation in positioning quickly shut down any push. For context, the Excelsior had the best overall standing in the League at this point, so their finals match against the Uprising, who had the best overall standings in the stage, seemed poised to be a battle of epic proportions.
It wasn’t. The Boston Uprising played excellently just as they had throughout the stage, but they were matched with an even more dominant team and simply couldn’t measure up to New York, who led another sweep.
Our favorite play was actually the one that sealed the final map. The Excelsior are on defense and are 3-2 for the final map. As the game goes into overtime, the Uprising push in to initiate a team fight, their payload only inches from the final point and right away its clear who is in control of the battle. Sabyeolbe’s Tracer holds back almost all of Boston by himself thanks to buffs from Ark's Mercy. Meanwhile, Jjonak pops his transcendence for even more healing while Pine is on the backline with his precise sniping, hitting Note out of his D.Va mech. The Uprising seem to try to fall back, but Sabyeolbe dashes in and tears through Note and the supporting Neko. As for the Uprising, Striker tries to attack the support line with his own Tracer, hitting Jjonak with his ultimate, but it’s too little too late as Pine and main-tank Janus clean up the rest of the enemy players. Striker quickly came face to face with Sabyeolbe who quickly eliminates him. New York had wiped each of the Uprising players in only a few seconds, while only losing a single one of their own
The irresistible force paradox says that an unstoppable force can never meet an immovable object, but the stage 3 playoffs proved that in that scenario, the object wins, as the Uprising’s unparalleled momentum was not enough to knock the NYXL from their OWL throne.
- The final standings for stage 3 were:
- Boston Uprising 10-0 Playoff finalists
- New York Excelsior 9-1 Playoff winners
- Los Angeles Valiant 7-3 Playoff semi-finalists
- Los Angeles Gladiators 6-4 Playoff semi-finalists
- San Francisco Shock 6-4
- London Spitfire 5-5
- Philadelphia Fusion 5-5
- Seoul Dynasty 5-5
- Houston Outlaws 4-6
- Florida Mayhem 2-8
- Dallas Fuel 1-9
- Shanghai Dragons 0-10
And with that, Stage 3 finally comes to a close and my god was there ever a lot of sweeps. It was a hell of development, but be sure to come back for our look at the 4th stage where things will be… a little different.