The Overwatch League, the current, and by far largest, official competition for Blizzard’s competitive first-person-shooter, has just concluded its first five weeks, bringing ‘Stage 1’ of the league to a close. While there were some great moments from nearly every team and some great plays throughout, only one of the twelve teams could be declared the Stage 1 champions and claim the cash prize of $100,000.
The Stage 1 playoffs came down to a nail-biting match between two of the league’s most proficient teams, the London Spitfire and the New York Excelsior. The match started off heavily out of the London Spitfire’s favour, as the NY Excelsior played two extremely great games to the point where the Spitfire didn’t have an answer to the team’s strong coordination and the now infamous sharpshooting of the Excelsior’s Pine. The pressure was now on the Spitfire: If they lost even a single match from this point forward, they would lose the Stage 1 finals and the prize money with it.
It initially seemed like that would be just that as the Spitfire ran a pretty questionable strategy of switching one of their strongest support players, Bdosin, from his preferred Zenyatta to Sombra. Despite a shaky start, the Spitfire managed to turn around the match and actually claim the next two maps, helped greatly by some bold (if risky) calls by their main support player, Nus. This meant the title-match would come down to one final showdown, the prize resting on the outcome of one final payload race through the map of Dorado. This would normally be a good thing for the Excelsior since they had only ever lost once on this map previously in the tournament…unfortunately, it was a loss against the Spitfire. It was time to see if lightning really could strike the same spot twice.
Both teams played exceptionally during this final map, with some standout moments coming from the Excelsior’s star DPS player, Saebyeolbe. The Spitfire made a valiant attempt to push the payload and managed to get it almost the entire stretch before being shut down. Their real victory came when the Spitfire once again proved their masterful defence is not easily overcome and managed to completely halt the Excelsior before the second point, a move that goes on to win them the round and the title match.
So with that, the Spitfire is crowned the Stage 1 title winners and receive both the prize of cash and prestige. The league is far from over, however: Stage 1 sees the Excelsior resting confidently in first place, with Spitfire only a few points behind in third. However, the Houston Outlaws stick to their strong second place, and the Los Angeles Valiant continue to follow the leading pack closely, threatening to slip into the top three. It’s also probably too soon to count the Seoul Dynasty out since they remain a fairly considerable competitor despite falling from their originally untouchable lead.
Stage 2 is certainly looking like it will be quite a clash, not the least because it will see the latest patches from the game implemented, which will probably mean a drastically reduced presence for support character Mercy. Personally, I’m still hoping that the Shanghai Dragons can pull themselves out from the bottom of the league: It would be one hell of an upset if the team managed to go on to actually win the league.
In any case, keep an eye out for more news in the future regarding the league’s future events.