The New York Excelsior entered the season widely considered the underdogs of the Eastern-rostered teams, with their previous claim to fame being a loss in Apex Season 2 to what would become the Seoul Dynasty team. The team was widely dismissed as having no real chance at the season playoffs, with a reputation of being unable to close when it mattered most. At the end of the Inaugural Overwatch League Season, however, it is the New York Excelsior as the top seed going into the season playoffs. This is not an overnight success story, so let’s take a look at how we got here in order to help us see where we are going.
In the Overwatch League Pre-Season (that erroneously set many season-long expectations) the New York Excelsior record was 1-1. While they defeated their city’s historic rival, the Boston Uprising, they fell to their Overwatch Apex nemesis, the Seoul Dynasty.
The New York Excelsior started off Stage 1 strongly winning their first four matches in weeks one and two. On January 25th, history was made when the Boston Uprising defeated the London Spitfire, the first time a dominant Eastern-rostered team had lost in the OWL. The shockwaves of this match carried into the next, where the Philadelphia Fusion handed the New York Excelsior their first loss of the stage.
The next night, January 26th, the New York Excelsior returned to the Blizzard Arena and, in yet another surprising turn, finally vanquished adversaries the Seoul Dynasty, who had thus far been dominant and undefeated in the Overwatch League. The New York Excelsior extended their winning ways to end Stage 1 with a 9-1 record and top seed for the Stage 1 Finals.
On February 10th, in their regularly scheduled match, the NYXL defeated the London Spitfire 3-2. Both teams met again later that night in the Stage 1 Finals, where the Curse of LW Blue struck again. The London Spitfire reverse swept the NYXL to claim the Stage 1 Championship Title.
With the reverse sweep fresh in their minds, the NYXL fell early in Stage 2 Week 1, once again to the London Spitfire. This was their last loss in Stage 2, as they went on to win the following 8 straight matches and found themselves again as the top seed for the Stage 2 Finals with a 9-1 record.
This Stage Finals, the NYXL found themselves facing the first team to defeat them in the Overwatch League, the Philadelphia Fusion. Conditions were ripe for yet another statistical upheaval, with the Fusion still hot off their victory over previous Stage champions the London Spitfire. The Fusion took the first two maps, but the Curse of LW Blue was resoundingly broken as the NYXL triumphed with the reverse sweep for the victory, finally claiming the Stage 2 Championship Title.
With a Stage Championship finally secured, the NYXL continued their rolling and winning ways into Stage 3, easily dominating their week 1 matches. In week 2, in their only loss of Stage 3, they fell to their traditional rivals, the Boston Uprising. Concluding the Stage with another 9-1 record saw the NYXL back at the Stage Finals.
After dispatching the Los Angeles Valiant in the first round, they again faced the only team that had handed them their single Stage loss, the Boston Uprising. The Uprising themselves had achieved a perfect 10-0 Stage record, a first in the Overwatch League. In a game that echoed the NFL Superbowl XLII, during which the New York Giants defeated the undefeated New England Patriots, the NYXL defeated the Boston Uprising with a decisive 3-0 to capture the Stage 3 Championship Title.
Going into Stage 4, the NYXL had secured a seasonal playoff spot with their 27-3 record. By week 2, however, they one-upped themselves, locking in the number one seed with their record of 31-3. In week 3, the NYXL suffered their first Stage loss to the Los Angeles Valiant in a hard fought 2-3 match.
The following week, the NYXL suffered their second loss in Stage 4 to the Los Angeles Gladiators, the first time they had lost more than one match in a stage. Yet another week later, in week 5, the NYXL suffered their third stage loss to the Boston Uprising. Despite the slew of losses and a 7-3 Stage 4 record the NYXL still advanced to the Stage 4 Finals where they defeated the Dallas Fuel in the first round, but lost to the Los Angeles Valiant for the Stage 4 Title.
Rest assured, there will be NO sand in the Seasonal Playoffs.
Expect to see NYXL return to traditional hard-hitting form with proven strategies.
The Support Tag Team Champions of Overwatch, Jjonak and Ark, will be present the majority of time. Anamo (often referred to as the OTHER Ark) will see some play time as well in non-critical moments.
Mano and Mek0 forming the tank Wall of M is a given. Should Mek0 be needed for a triple support comp, there’s a good chance Janus will do the tank rounds to keep Mek0 warmed and focused for the different role.
Saebeyolbe will be a constant damage dealer while also fulfilling the in-game leader role. Libero and Pine will undoubtedly be swapped in and out again as the situation and map dictate, although I think the swaps will most likely occur during matches instead of just maps.
With their first round bye, the New York Excelsior will face the winner of the Boston Uprising vs Philadelphia Fusion series. Regardless of the winner of that series the NYXL will be facing a team that has taken victories over them in Stage 1 and Stage 3. Despite those loses the NYXL has a better seasonal record over the Philadelphia Fusion, but have drawn equal in their matchups with the Boston Uprising. This has created a true rivalry between the two historical cities in the newest regional sport. Statistically speaking, the NYXL should advance to the Grand Finals.
On the other side of the bracket are another three teams who have also delivered losses to the NYXL, two of them most recently in Stage 4. Should the NYXL advance to the Grand Finals, whoever they face will be a team that has beaten them before and could potentially do it again. The Los Angeles Valiant have the same record against the NYXL as the Boston Uprising, and more importantly delivered the most recent defeat in the Stage 4 Finals.
However there are two factors in play that statistics cannot account for:
- Homefield Advantage: The Grand Finals will be played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. For the duration of the Overwatch League Inaugural Season only the Los Angeles Gladiators and Los Angeles Valiant have enjoyed the “homefield advantage”. This will be the first time the NYXL will enjoy such an “advantage” where their supporter crew The 5 Deadly Venoms can represent en masse sending energy to the stage, but it could also add an immense amount of pressure to perform well in front of the crowd
- The Curse of LW Blue: Yes, the curse was theoretically broken in the Stage 2 Finals… but as with most bad juju… was it REALLY broken? While the Stage Championships are exciting, the Playoffs and the Grand Finals are far more prestigious as it encompasses the entire season
Despite the outcome of the Playoffs and Grand Finals, the NYXL have ended the regular season with a bar setting 34-6 seasonal record for all the future Overwatch League Teams to try and surpass.