The Inaugural Overwatch League Grand Finals are upon us. Two teams have proven themselves the best in the league, as the London Spitfire and Philadelphia Fusion have punched their tickets to the ‘big game’.
Fans and analysts speculated for months on who would make it to the finals, with changes to the meta constantly throwing wrenches into the works. At the beginning of the year, most expected that the Seoul Dynasty and New York Excelsior (NYXL) would make an appearance in the Grand Finals.
After Stage 1 it seemed like the NYXL were even destined to make the finals, although the London Spitfire threw their hat into the ring. Stage 2, unbeknownst to us at the time, gave a glimpse at how the Grand Finals would work out: London, NY, and Philadelphia all made the stage playoffs, and NY went on to win over Philadelphia, continuing their dominance of the League. Philadelphia showed their prowess, but looked a team just on the edge of greatness.
The second half of the season saw a significant meta change, and offered up some surprising results. The Boston Uprising became the first team to go undefeated in a stage, NYXL continued their reign at the top of the table with few competitors to their claim, the Valiant and Fusion kept a presence near the top of the table, and perhaps most surprisingly, the Seoul Dynasty and London Spitfire began a slip towards near irrelevance. Seoul eventually slipped as far as missing the season playoffs entirely, and London started to become a meme as analysts still praised their prowess but fans began abandoning hope. (Shoutout to all those reddit users who HATED my 1 and only [I plan on making it a recurring piece next season] OWL Power Rankings.)
As the season wound down, the table was set for the OWL season playoffs. The top 6 teams would get in, while the 7th through 12th were given an early break before the World Cup.
New York and Los Angeles Valiant were given a bye week (but don’t tell EQO that may have played into the Fusion’s victory over the Excelsior), while the remaining four were paired off to battle for the chance to take on the division leaders. Boston fell to Philadelphia, while a Fissureless LA Gladiators stumbled against the London Spitfire after sweeping their first match in the best of three.
Which brings us to the Grand Finals. The setting: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY. The match; best of 3 games, best of 5 maps each. In one corner: Stage 1 champions, a team of S. Korean players looking for retribution as they were all passed over for a spot on their country’s World Cup roster–the London Spitfire. And in the other corner: coming into the playoffs with the lowest seed, the self-proclaimed underdogs of OWL, from where there is perpetual sunshine, the gang’s all here–the Philadelphia Fusion.
Philadelphia made it into the playoffs on the tail end of a 6-4 Stage Four. This kept them just ahead of the Houston Outlaws, who finished with an identical Stage Four down to mirrored map differential. London, on the other hand, nearly slid down the table like their country-mates Seoul Dynasty, coming off the back of a 4-6 Stage Four which was preceded by a .500 Stage Three at 5-5. This Grand Finals match has everything fans could ask for. London is a hot and cold team who, when playing at their hottest, looks absolutely unbeatable. Philadelphia plays a strong, unflashy game, with their strength in their ability to minimize mistakes and keep a unified front in almost any situation.
While each team qualified for the Grand Finals in their own unique manner, a quick look at both teams’ map mode percentages over both the season and the last month (playoffs) may give a view into how the Grand Finals could finish.
Philadelphia Fusion All-Time Performance
Philadelphia Fusion 1M Performance
London Spitfire All-Time Performance
London Spitfire 1M Performance
Clearly we’ve got some hot and cold modes for each team. I personally would love to see even an offseason attempt by OWL to implement a ‘map draft’ like CS:GO. We will break this down by mode, and look at the last month’s performance.
Over the last month, Philadelphia has been perfect on Hybrid maps, going 2-0 and 3-0 on King’s Row and Eichenwalde respectively. London, on the other hand, has only a 60% win rate on Hybrid, dropping King’s Row twice while recording one win, and themselves going undefeated on Eichenwalde. Eichenwalde has potential to be one of the best maps in the Grand Finals, as it is one of only two on which each team has been undefeated recently. Philadelphia does have the advantage here if we see King’s Row played.
On Control, London has bucked the trend of their 50% all-time record with a convincing 80% win rate over the last month. Two wins apiece on Oasis and Lijiang Tower, with only one loss on Tower, sees them sitting at 4-1. Philadelphia has had their own issues with the Control format, with a 55% all-time record. The difference here is that the Fusion haven’t had recent success either with a 40% win rate on the mode over the last month: 2-3 overall with one win apiece on Oasis and Lijiang Tower. London fans are used to dreading the Control format, but in this Grand Finals it may fall in their advantage.
Escort sits as Philadelphia’s second best mode over the last month. They have a 67% win rate here, with an undefeated 3-0 record on Dorado boosting their poor outings on Junkertown (1-2). This is in contrast to London, as their Escort winrate sits at 83% over the last month. The Spitfire are flying high on Dorado at 3-0, with a 2-1 record on Junkertown. Dorado is the other map in which both Grand Finals participants are batting a thousand. Junkertown may give the edge to London, but Dorado should line up to be another smashing map.
The final map mode is, of course, Assault. This is also the only mode in which one team has had played more games over the last month. Due to London’s four straight 3-0 game wins over Los Angeles Gladiators and Los Angeles Valiant, after their first game against the Gladiators went 0-3, the Spitfire have only played one Assault map, and it finished in a draw. Philadelphia, however, has played four total matches on Assault over the last month. They sit at .500 with a win each on Volskaya Industries and Hanamura, but two losses on Hanamura. Assault is the hardest mode to get a read on going into the Grand Finals. While Philadelphia sits at a 50% win rate, they have played three more matches on this mode than their opponents. Will London show some rust while playing on Assault, or will their lack of recent games work in their favour, as Philadelphia hasn’t seen London play on Assault much since the meta switch?
For an indication on how this match may turn out, I would recommend going back to the Stage 2 playoffs and watching the London vs Philadelphia match from March 25th. The Fusion had the upper hand here, and could very well again. Both teams come into this match in similar situations, the Spitfire as high-powered Korean favourites and the Fusion as the mismatched, ragtag team of underdogs.
Personally, I think the London Spitfire will be our Overwatch League champions at the end of Saturday in Brooklyn. The team has been firing on all cylinders since their loss to the LA Gladiators earlier this month, going 3-0 in games, and 9-0-1 in 10 maps since. Philadelphia has accomplished an amazing feat knocking NYXL out of the playoffs, but even EQO needs to accept that the meta shift prior to the playoffs only compounded NYXL’s Stage 4 woes. London beat both the hottest team in OWL (the LA Gladiators) and OWL’s best non-Korean rostered team (LA Valiant) on ‘home turf’ to advance to the Grand Finals. Philadelphia tested their mettle against a flagging NYXL and a far-overrated Boston Uprising to punch their ticket. Just like Croatia did in this year’s FIFA World Cup, Philadelphia has reached the all important Finals. Just like Croatia, I foresee the Fusion coming up short against the firepower of the London Spitfire.