It’s the end of the regular season for the Overwatch League. Not in the present of course, but our retrospective of the league’s inaugural season has finally reached the final stage playoffs, so join us as we go over the last part of the regular season.
The highest seeded team for this playoff were the LA Gladiators, who went almost undefeated in stage 4, only losing to the LA Valiant, and were thus able to choose which of the playoff teams they would face in the semifinals. They chose… the LA Valiant. They probably thought beating their cross-town rivals in a playoff set would bring them a lot of local support, and it probably would, but they seem to have forgotten they would need to actually win for that to happen, as history repeated itself and the Gladiators were booted from the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Dallas Fuel hoped to make the most of their sudden stroke of luck in the stage and wanted to use it to hold on to their playoff spot more than anything. That probably explains why their gameplay was so overly-defensive in their early matches against the NYXL. They just did not want to stand their ground, avoiding direct confrontations with their opponents like the plague, and giving them a relatively easy 2-0 lead as a result. Aero must have given one hell of a locker room pep-talk though, because their next games were way more offensive, making strong pushes and staying in the Excelsior’s face as much as possible to tie the set 2-2… right before New York beat the Fuel in game 5 to move on to the stage finals. Dallas was good, but not good enough.
The grand finals were an almost constant war of attrition between the Excelsior and the Valiant. Both teams often captured their respective points with mere moments to spare. The deftness with which Libero was able to limit the Valiant’s movements with his explosives was only matched by Kariv’s expert combination of safe support play and clutch kills that kept Los Angeles in the fight far longer than a lesser Zenyatta could have managed. If we were to choose only 2 players that really made the finals exciting, it would undoubtedly be them. It seemed like anybody’s game, even after the Valiant won the 3rd map for a 2-1 lead, but little did the Excelsior know that that would all change.
LA started map 4 on defense, flawlessly shutting down every approach angle the NYXL had. Their defense was so tight that New York barely even touched the first point, and when they did, they were embarrassingly unprepared to follow through with a capture. This infamously came to ahead when New York Zenyatta player Jjonak popped his transcendence on the point with none of his teammates around. Once it was their turn to defend, New York went back to their coordinated playstyle, but couldn’t hold the control point long enough to reach the time limit, thanks largely to Kariv, who once again made deadly sniping whilst also keeping his team healed look easy. Not long ago, the NYXL seemed poised to sweep the upcoming league playoffs, but the city of angels’ valiant performance proved nobody was getting the championship without a fight.
Final Standings for Stage 4:
|Los Angeles Gladiators||9||1 Playoff semi-finalists|
|New York Excelsior||7||3 Playoff finalists|
|Dallas Fuel||6||4 Playoff semi-finalists|
|San Francisco Shock||5||5|
And that’s the regular season come and gone. It wasn’t a very even competition, just ask the 0-40 Shanghai Dragons, but what few teams were good enough to stay at its upper echelon consistently brought an excitement that proved the Overwatch League’s worth as a spectator sport. Let us know your favorite moments from season 1 and be sure to come back for our look at the league's first seasonal playoff event.