Chants of “Wings Out” pierced the walls of the casting booth on the second day of the Semifinals. The LA Valiant and London Spitfire were ready to fight for the chance to book their ticket to Brooklyn and the inaugural Overwatch League Grand Finals. Over the chants, Mitch “Uber” Leslie quipped to his casting partner Matt “Mr. X” Morello: “Only one team can take flight.”
Map One: Dorado
The doors of Dorado opened, beginning London’s attack against LA’s mirrored single-support, double-sniper composition. The battle began with Gesture, Bdosin, and Birding teaming up for a halt-hook-headshot onto Custa’s Mercy. With LA’s solo support gone, London moved quickly through the streets of Dorado, easily claiming the first two points. The Valiant didn’t even secure their first kill until the point was eight meters from the finish line. The two teams traded ults and swapped comps, with the Valiant stalling for over four minutes. London finally finished a slow push to Point C with four seconds in the timebank to spare.
In contrast to London’s lighting fast first stages, the Valiant’s first battle in Dorado’s zocalo didn’t go as intended. They lost the first fight, drawing out the second into an extended brawl until they finally secured Point A. Valiant managed to make up some time getting the second point, as London sent a posse to hunt down Soon’s Widow, delaying their defensive efforts. The third point played out slowly, with most fights starting (and ending) with a pick for London. With two minutes left, the Valiant attempted to position themselves around the third point, blocking entrances from spawn. This approach backfired, spreading them too thinly to stay healed. It wasn’t long before London managed to stagger them badly, brushing off stragglers one by one and taking the map. Given the outcome of Wednesday’s game and London’s initial performance on Dorado, they seemed set to take the match.
Map Two: Oasis
Whatever curse Oasis held over London during the season appears to have been broken. The Spitfire opened City Center using a triple DPS comp. Profit’s Tracer and Birdring’s Soldier: 76 were joined by Fury’s Reaper, whose self-healing allowed the trio to run endless flanks and take on any foe. A few easy fights let London take the point 100%-0%, with Gesture’s Winston securing the win.
For LA fans, the grass seemed greener on Gardens as Soon’s Tracer got pick after pick. Eventually, though, Birding stepped up on Widow, sniping Soon to begin a long fight that ended with London in possession. Soon swapped to Zarya and built a quick Graviton, but a risky Big Bang combo wasn’t enough to bring down the Spitfire. London maintained control, and after a brief overtime took Oasis. The Spitfire were a step closer to Goldenboy, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Grand Finals.
Map Three: Eichenwalde
On the other side of half-time, the Spitfire revved their engines and the Valiant spread their wings as Mr. X shared a staggering stat: during the first two maps, London managed 100 kills to LA’s 49. As Profit and Nus approached with a Pharah/Mercy duo, the Valiant narrowly defended during the first fight as Valiant’s flex support, Kariv, switched from Hog to Tracer and raced back to contest. London’s flex support had the final say, though, as Bdosin unleashed Whole Hog to clear the objective and activate the payload.
Eichenwalde was definitely the place where the difference between these flex supports became clear. Whether landing hooks as Roadhog or unloading rounds as Tracer, Bdosin made it clear that not only is he comfortable flexing off of support heroes, he thrives while doing it. With Bdosin running rampant and Gesture’s Winston crashing through the Valiant’s back line, London made their previous attack on Dorado look shoddy.
As the teams prepared to switch sides, the LA audience was noticeably quiet. The camera swept down the line of Valiant players, many looking despondent as London stood on the brink of claiming their spot in the Grand Finals. When the camera reaches Custa, shot caller and main support for the Valiant, he hardly shared that same despairing look. Instead, he was focused, speaking animatedly, possibly sharing a strat or rallying the troops. As the timer ticks down and the game started again, a new chorus filled the room:
“Let’s go Valiant!”
It was clear that the fans, as dire as things looked, hadn’t given up hope yet. The Valiant’s attack round was a microcosm of the match so far, showing the strengths of both teams. LA, ever slow and steady, took the first point with a bit of style from Custa as Bdosin continued to flex his muscles on Roadhog and Tracer. As his flex keeps flexing, Gesture went deeper than a Cheez-it groove, maximizing Winston’s kit to chase the Valiant off the payload.
Even still, the Valiant kept their heads in the game, forcing Spitfire into a bad position and grabbing second point. Blizzard Arena once again was filled with chants of “Wings Out,” the kill feed lights up green, and LA takes the third point to take the game to timebank rounds. With a time bank of 57 seconds to London’s not-quite three minutes, the writing may have already been on the wall for the Valiant, though. They managed to unlock the payload and push it just past the portcullis before London cleaned up with a devastating Dragonstrike and Pulse Bomb combination.
London, with nearly triple the time, plays the same strong game they played all day – they easily push the payload under the choke, past a dragon, and into the goal. The crowd erupts in applause, this time from London’s side, celebrating the team that fought that slipped in Stages 3 and 4, entering the playoffs as the bottom seed, returning to glory and a spot in the Grand Finals.
After the game, Bdosin shared in an interview what guided the Spitfire through their slump in Stages 3 and 4: their fans cheering them on through their toughest times. Bitter words, surely, for the LA Valiant fans who rallied behind their team all night only to watch the season come to an end. Bdosin’s words were also a call to action for Valiant fans – keep on chanting for your team, especially now, when they need it most.