Gaming Editor Roshni Patel catches us up on all of the action, as the wild card team, Philadelphia Fusion come close to winning stage 2
In a shocking turn of events the Overwatch League stage 1 champions, London Spitfire, were defeated by the wild card team, Philidelphia Fusion, who were then in turn reverse swept by the division and league leaders, New York Excelsior. It was a nailbiter pair of 5 game series’, where, at times, it truly was anyone’s game. Would the London Spitfire take the second stage like cocky Seung-Tae “Bdosin” Choi had predicted, would the wildcards Fusions shake up the league with a stage 2 win, or would NYXL prove their dominance once and for all? While NYXL did finally win out the series to take the title, it certainly didn’t start that way.
After pushing the endurance of the London Spitfires for the end of Stage 1, where to win they had to play an exhausting 14 maps over the course of one Saturday, Overwatch League Commissioner Nate Nanzer quickly rescheduled the stage play offs to Sunday, and unintentionally made it easier for us in the UK to catch the play offs, as they began at 9pm.
And what a beginning, as London very quickly and decisively took the first escort map, punishing the Fusion’s every misstep. But the Philadelphia Fusion weren’t going to be deterred, taking the following Nepal control map, a stage sore spot for them, and the Hanamura assault map; on which London were undefeated upon. Moving on to one of their stronger hybrid map types, Kings Row, it looked as if the Fusion were going to end the series in 4 maps, with an easy win over London.
However, the Spitfires shot back fighting tooth and nail to hold onto their stage play off hopes, tieing up the series and pushing the match to a 5th and deciding map on Route 66. Seemingly prepared for the eventuality, Philadelphia subbed out one 18 year old for another, taking out the aggressive DPS Josue “Eqo” Corona, in favour of the sneaky Tracer, Simon “Snillo” Ekström. It was a switch that paid off, as their star DPS player Jae-Hyeok “Carpe” Lee snipped out the enemy on Widowmaker, while Snillo sneaked into their back lines and waited to pounce upon their lower health opponents, allowing them to deny London the opportunity to glide the payload home and try again to take the map.
Suitably warmed up and on fire, many now predicted Philadelphia Fusion to take the stage title, and leave the league champions and number one seed, New York Excelsior, high and dry. And going into half time that certainly seemed the case as the Fusions took Route 66 and control map Lijiang tower, swapping Eqo back in for the control map. But clearly the team talk in the NYXL dug out during the half time break was productive, as they came back with a vengeance, reverse sweeping the victory from under Philadelphia’s feet, as the Fusion team began to tire and the NYXLs focused on taking out their low health supports, with British born Isaac “Boombox” Charles seeming to fall under pressure on camera more often than not.
While Philadelphia’s winnings from the stage finals were reduced, they were still reasons for the Fusion to be proud of their finals loss, as they functioned as a more cohesive team throughout the play-offs, often times correcting errors that had been losing them maps and matches earlier on in the stage; when the maps were still relatively new. But as NYXL proved themselves as the more dominant team, taking the stage 2 title with little more than some strategic words from their shot caller and support Yeon-Jun “Ark” Hong, it won’t be any surprise if we see the New York team in the Overwatch League stage 3 play off finals too.