OWL Semi-Finals: LA Valiant vs London Spitfire – The Upsets just keep coming

2018-05-19 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

The Overwatch League’s Playoffs have been a roller-coaster so far. The first round was an unpredictable rodeo, and the Semi-Final round started with even more upsets and excitement. London Spitfire took on Los Angeles Valiant in the final match on day 1 of the Semi-Finals. Could the Spitfire continue their decimation of the LA teams on their way to the Finals? Or were the Valiant primed to revenge their fallen brethren in Purple, and bring down the high flying Aces of London? As the dust settled, London emerged victorious, going into their Thursday matches with Los Angeles up 1-0.

Starting Lineups

London Spitfire Logo

Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Spitfire – Nus, Bdosin, Birdring, Gesture, Profit, Fury

Los Angeles Valiant Logo

Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Valiant – Custa, Kariv, Agilities, Space, SOON, Fate

junkertown

Courtesy of Overwatch Wiki

Map One – Junkertown

London Spitfire started their attack with an immediate stall at the bridge. After a quick change of heroes, seeing Profit switch to Hanzo and Nus to Mercy, the Spitfire were able to break the Valiant defense. With that change, London began a double sniper push. Point B fell almost as quickly as point A post-switch, and the action shifted indoors. Fury’s D.Va ults were essential to the Spitfire’s ability to secure all three points, forcing the Valiant into unfavorable situations. The positioning changes, coupled with some impressive time and ult management by the rest of the Spitfire, saw London finish the map with and extra 37 seconds to spare.

The teams swapped sides, and Valiant took their turn on the attack. Point A fell with some resistance, but nothing that would indicate one team or the other was cruising along easily. However, Los Angeles stalled there. Every centimeter of the distance to point B was hard-won, with LA’s offensive prowess being parried time and time again by the Spitfire’s defensive capabilities. Ultimately, the Valiant were not able to capture point B, losing them the map.

London Spitfire 3-1

This map was much more about the tanks and supports than the DPS, as both teams’ DPS lines seemed to take a back-seat to their Tank and Support teammates. London may not have gotten off the line well, but they built a head of steam and continued to push, gaining confidence and speed with every meter of ground. London wasn’t the “hands down” best team here, but they played very well nonetheless, and were able to triumph over the Valiant.

Courtesy of Overwatch Wiki

Map Two – Lijiang Tower

No subs were made by either side going into Lijiang Tower.

Garden

The Spitfire gained control of the point first, but only after Valiant nearly captured it themselves. The map started out with a great push by Valiant to throw Birdring’s Widowmaker into an unfavourable position, but the boys in green were not able to capitalize on that initial effort. London captured the point, gaining 69% control before LA was able to wrestle it back out of their hands. Valiant only amassed 58%, however, before losing control back to the Spitfire. London pushed to 99% on the back of some impressive Winston play by Gesture, but handed the point back to LA shortly after, ultimately bringing us to a 99-99 tie. The final fight in overtime saw almost everyone’s ultimates used, but the Valiant were able to outlast the Spitfire to secure the round.

Night Market

London’s Control woes continued moving into the second point of Lijiang Tower. While Nus was able to build up his Valkyrie in nearly record time, the Spitfire couldn’t break through the Valiant’s defenses at all. The map looked like it would be over quickly as Agilities hit his stride on Pharah. But WAIT! With a crazy aggressive play, Profit flew into the point sans either a Support or Tank to back him up, popped his Pharah’s Barrage ultimate, took out two Valiant players AND STAYED ALIVE, turning the tide in London’s favor. With that, London gained control of the point, gaining 92% progress before the Valiant snatched it back. One long fight later, and the Spitfire were able to wrestle control back into their favor long enough to force a 99-99% finish. Los Angeles ultimately regained control, tying the map up at 1-1 going into the final control point.

Control Center

Gesture and Fury played out of their minds to catapult London to victory here. The Spitfire quickly gained control of the point by just bullying Valiant away from the objective. Los Angeles were forced back to their own spawn before regrouping and trying again. This push proved fruitless for much of the map, as London held control till 99%, and Fury kept his Zarya hovering around 90% charge. Nothing about this third point was close – London simply ran away with it, giving themselves a 2 map lead.

London Spitfire 2-1

London Spitfire have proven that a map and match can be won by the tanks, and Gesture is starting to prove that there may just be someone better than Fissure. London goes up on the match two maps to zero, but no team has been reverse swept more (in)famously than the Spitfire thus far. Going into the half, the Spitfire were flying high, but their resolve would need to hold if they hoped to pull out the upset and go into Friday’s matches with the one-match lead.

Courtesy of Overwatch Wiki

Map Three – King’s Row

Again, no subs were made here. King’s Row had been another issue for London throughout the season, but they had looked hot so far through two maps.

London’s attack looked lethargic and uncoordinated in the first map after half-time. Los Angeles were able to hold the Spitfire to only one tick on point A. This looked like it would be a quick map victory for the Valiant.

Los Angeles took their time on attack, knowing they only needed to win one fight. The Spitfire’s defense held well, but after a well-timed layering of ults for the Valiant, this map was over. Agilities comboed his Genji Dragonblade ultimate with Kariv’s Ana Nano Boost, and the rest was history.

Los Angeles Valiant 1-0

Los Angeles knew what they were doing coming out of the half, pushing London onto another unfavorable map. We finally had ourselves a match as the Valiant cut the Spitfire’s lead in half with a victory on King’s Row.

Courtesy of Overwatch Wiki

Map Four – Hanamura

London and LA came into this match knowing who and how they wanted to play. Yet again, no subs were made.

London’s attack began after about 2 minutes of dancing around without attempting to touch the point. LA took a weird tactic and allowed Bdosin to get a full tick unopposed, a strategy that proved their downfall as the Spitfire quickly turned that into a full point A capture. London’s Point B attack was atrocious, however – their ult economy was terrible, and they consistently used almost everything to get absolutely nothing in return. Momentum remained in the Valiant’s favour.

So, after a lackluster attack, and a pretty poor defense of point A, London realized that the Single Support Strategy ought to be relegated to Platinum- or lower-ranked games. The team composition change proved effective, and coupled with a Valiant attack that was the Overwatch equivalent of bashing one’s head against a brick wall and expecting it to crumble, the Spitfire held for a draw.

London Spitfire 1-1 LA Valiant

London’s ability to adapt is one of the best in the league…when done correctly. Nus’s adjustment to Ana and Bdosin’s switch to Zenyatta were the deciding factors that allowed the Spitfire to grind out a draw after a lackluster attack.

Courtesy of Overwatch Wiki

Map Five – Dorado

London began their attack looking good, but not great. Things changed quickly, and they were able to steamroll through the map to grab every point with 2 minutes left in their time bank. Utilizing a dual sniper and triple tank composition to apply constant pressure to the hometown boys, the Spitfire effectively transitioned into a new composition and were able to overcome their slow start in the push to point A.

LA, on the other hand, couldn’t seem to get any momentum going in their attack. They were able to take two points, but the second one was after a long Overtime fight, and London seemingly let them have it to gain time and Ultimates.

London Spitfire 3-2

Map Five was almost no contest. The match was a fast give and take throughout, but this map saw London silence the crowd and absolutely roll the Valiant. The last point on map Four, then map Five showed that London was the better team. Their ability to adjust and exploit weaknesses trumped the high damage output of the Valiant’s DPS players every time.

Overall Match: London Spitfire 3-1 Los Angeles Valiant

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

MVP: Gesture

While the DPS players often capture the spotlight, the tank duo of Gesture/Fury has been possibly the best in the OWL throughout the season, and they have stepped up big time so far in the playoffs. Birdring can take over in situations where his team is in need, but Gesture is always a strong presence whether diving the enemy backline or beating back a dive on his own. This dude proves that no, London does not regret letting Fissure go.

Austin White
Austin White is Overwatchscore’s ‘London Spitfire’ beat writer. An avid esports fan and gamer, Austin spends his free time playing, watching, and writing about video games. You can find his articles both at Overwatchscore as well as EGF. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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