Here we are, the first stage of the Overwatch League has come to a close, and it’s nice to crown a champion. But, the team many thought would be here as the stage began, Seoul Dynasty, was nowhere to be seen. Many predicted that the Korean rosters would dominate, and many were correct, as the Stage One Final came down to New York Excelsior and London Spitfire. In this rematch of the first game of the day, could London change the stars in their third game of the day, or would New York repeat? Who would walk away from this Best of 5 Title Match and be crowned champions?
Stage: Stage 1 – Week 5 – Matchday 20
Match: Stage 1 Finals: London Spitfire vs. New York Excelsior
Map 1 (Junkertown) Escort
London Spitfire started out with 5/6th of their most commonly started roster, only subbing Woohyal in for Fury. New York Excelsior must have seen this 1 man substitution strategy because they came out with Big Boss Pine on the stage.
London was able to push Obj A in seemingly record time, but Obj B was a different story. While they had more than enough time to take it, and ultimately did, through the great coordinated attack lead by Profit’s Genji, Pine had other ideas. Pine’s Widowmaker flank struck gold, taking down 4 Spitfire players, and nearly making the task of taking Obj B look impossible. Pine was, as is to be expected, the most prolific player on the Excelsior side, but Spitfire’s Profit seemed to have the edge over Pine. As the Payload neared the final Obj, London’s Ultimate usage shown through, looking more effective than that of New York. London was able to claim maximum points, even as the timebank ran out.
London started with a very aggressive defence. They stayed far forward and were punished for it. Pine’s Widowmaker punished any mistake by London, keeping New York moving ever forward. With over 4 minutes on the clock, New York was pushing the payload with almost no delay. Obj B was claimed after some impressive JJonak plays on Roadhog. I genuinely don’t know how JJonak stayed alive on the Roadhog, pushing London off the payload, giving his team opportunity after opportunity to advance. London looked to have absolutely no answer for New York’s attack. New York claimed maximum points, forcing an overtime and having over 4 minutes to advance the Payload in comparison to London’s 1 minute.
London’s second chance on attack proved fruitless, barely pushing the Payload past the bridge checkpoint. In the end, Libero met Profit, as Junkrat vs Junkrat battled it out to advance the cart. Libero proved that “there can be only one” crowning himself the Highlander as he took out Profit and stalled the London advance.
On their second chance on the attack, New York took less than 2 minutes to best the London advancement. London came out with a quad tank defence, attempting to catch New York off balance, but the Excelsior quickly assessed the situation and made the required hero changes to nullify the London defence. Libero took to the skies as Pharah, raining a hail of rockets down at the immobile tanks, chunking them out at little to no risk to himself. After that switch, New York quickly took the extra point, winning the map.
Map 1 Result: 4-3 New York Excelsior
Map 2 (Oasis) Control
Oasis has been London’s worst map BY FAR in stage 1. Over the last 2 weeks they’ve looked just less than average on the map, but overall, they’ve looked quite bad here. Pine sat during the Control map, being subbed out for Saebyeolbe and his excellent Tracer play. Would New York be able to capitalize on London’s abysmal track record on Oasis and go up 2-0, or would London be able to tie the match up 1-1?
Control Point A: Gardens
Neither team came out with Pharah, a usual staple of Oasis Gardens. The tactic seemed to work best for London at first, as they rolled over New York as the odd compositions met on the control point. New York changed it up after losing the first chance at the point switching Libero from McCree to Soldier:76 in favour of the longer range poke damage. London was able to keep their heads about them, holding the point, and their Ultimate advantages, to defend the second New York push. New York was able to gain control of the point as London reached 99% control, although London held on to 5 out of 6 of their Ultimates. The Soldier:76 call seemed to be the correct call for New York, as they were able to hold the point, forcing a 99%-99% over time. JJonak vs Bdosin proved an impressive Zenyatta vs Zenyatta show, with JJonak often looking the better of the two. New York was able to take Point A.
Control Point B: City Center
Again, Pharah was absent here, as New York chose a Soldier:76 + McCree combination, while London preferred to go with Tracer + McCree. New York was the closest to taking the point for nearly 2 minutes, which would have given themselves a huge lead. Finally, though London was able to push New York from the point, gaining control to break the tie. From there, London’s defence of the point seemed insurmountable, as New York was pushed to desperation. London held the point, as Bdosin and Nus’s support Ultimates kept the Spitfire alive in fight after fight. Again, London lost the point at 99% control, as New York’s prolonged fight was finally able to overwhelm the London position. In their defence of the point, New York layered takedowns of London players, holding out, to force yet another 99%-99% Overtime. London couldn’t regain control of the point yet again, as a truly impressive final stretch of play by Saebyeolbe’s Tracer proved too much for London to overcome.
New York takes the early 2 map lead in this best of 5. One more win and the Excelsior claim Stage 1 and $100,000 in the win.
Map 2 Result: 2-0 New York Excelsior
Map 3 (Horizon Lunar Colony) Assault
London started out on the attack, and Seoul took a lower defensive position to force the Spitfire hand as early as possible. London’s offence looked out of sync to start, but after an impressive Sombra Ultimate out of Bdosin, and an aggressive use of Mercy’s Valkyrie by Nus the Spitfire attack grabbed the advantage and claimed Obj A. Obj B fell into Spitfire hands much quicker, as Birdring’s Widowmaker hit seemingly every shot, and Bdosin’s Zenyatta finishing off 12 enemies in their final push. London gave themselves 4:25 in case of any extra rounds.
New York’s attack began with the traditional 2/2/2 composition, with JJonak on Zenyatta. New York was able to contest the high group immediately out of the gate, but London held strong with some fast-paced movement. New York was more than happy enough to take some time to regroup after their failed first attack, but when the second push ultimately failed again, you could sense some desperation. Gesture’s Orisa was a big part of the London defence. Obj A fell to the Excelsior attack, as Libero’s Genji cut through the backlines of London. From the fall of Obj A, for just over 2 minutes, New York constantly kept the pressure on Obj B, while London’s defence worked furiously to keep the point in their control. New York ultimately took the point, but only had about 2:30 to work with, in their 2nd attempt on offence.
New York came out with the same composition as their first attempt on the attack, and it seemed just as slow as the first go around, seemingly squandering their 2:30. As overtime ticked, London was able to mount an impressive defence, even as they began it without their Mercy. London left themselves in a good situation, giving themselves 4:24 to take just over 66% of Obj A.
London’s attack went single healer, as Nus stayed on Mercy, but Bdosin went with the Sombra pick in order to control the health packs, and give London a bit more dedicated damage than the traditional 2/2/2 composition. London’s first attack failed, and as the Sombra EMP ultimate expired Bdosin immediately switched off Zenyatta. This proved to be one of the two missing pieces of the puzzle for London, as after that Birdring changed to Junkrat, as New York had no Widowmaker threat to deal with, and London was able to claim Obj A, winning the map and forcing at least a 4th.
Was this the beginning of the reverse sweep for London? Or would New York give London a taste of the same medicine the Spitfire had administered to the Houston Outlaws?
Map 3 Result: 3-2 London Spitfire
Map 4 (Numbani) Hybrid
London came into this map subbing Rascal in for Profit, while New York made no changes. This substitution limited the Spitfire hero pool but gives them the opportunity to run the Pharah/Soldier duo.
Proving me wrong almost immediately, Rascal did take Pharah, but Birdring elected to grab his more well-known Tracer. London took a long way around the back, claiming the high ground to the left of the payload. New York’s JJonak on Ana was the true story of London’s attempt to gain control of the Payload, seemingly having his Nano boost perpetually available. London was able to take control of the Payload, however, and nearly pushed to Obj B, but were stopped just short of their second point.
London didn’t do themselves any favours here, giving New York a very accomplishable task. London Rascal took Junkrat in hopes of spamming grenades on the New York advance. While New York forgoed the usual Pharah attack in hopes of diving the London backline and taking the payload quickly. After a prolonged attack, in which Libero and Saebyeolbe looked like they could nearly take the entire Spitfire roster down on their own, London was remarkably able to hold the payload in their control through an impressive layering of Ultimates. London repelled wave after wave of New York’s attack, forcing the time bank to zero and ultimately holding New York to only grabbing 33% of the Objective.
London won map 4, forcing a map 5 and giving Blizzard arena a true show as they threatened the reverse sweep. The dive attack by New York seemed like the definition of insanity; “bashing your head against a brick wall expecting it to fall” (or something like that). Would London Spitfire take the momentum from maps 3+4 and finish out the sweep, or would Big Boss Pine stand in their way of victory?
Map 4 Result: 1-0 London Spitfire
Map 5 (Dorado) Escort
London subbed Profit back in for Rascal, while New York left Pine out of the lineup yet again. For arguably the most well-known player in Overwatch League, this is getting odd not seeing Pine on stage in must-win situation. MonteCristo reminded us that New York Excelsior is a roster made up mostly of Lunatic Watch, who were notorious for a failure to finish their competition in situations like this. Let’s also keep in mind that Dorado was the only map London took off New York earlier in the day.
Saebyeolbe’s Widowmaker was the defence New York needed here on Dorado. London seemed to have no response for the Sniper, until Bdosin reminded the league why his Zenyatta was a force to be reckoned with, sniping the sniper with his own long range. At long last, London was able to claim Obj A, scoring their first point of the map, and beginning to build up their snowball towards Obj B. The Payload made its way to Obj B without a stall until they reached the actual point. With about 3 minutes in the bank, London made their way to Obj C. London’s Birdring on Widowmaker kept New York on their toes as they seemingly had no response to London’s own long-range killer. Again, the payload seemingly didn’t stop until the actual objective as London pushed towards their goal of maximum points on Dorado. As the clock fell under 60 seconds, we were treated to a prolonged fight. Profit came in on Genji and got 3 kills with his Dragonblade Ultimate, but the New York players had such a shorter walk from their spawn that they were never down for long. London’s advance finally stalled for good at 81 meters, just barely not claiming Obj C.
New York would have a tough time of it to win this map and the match. The only loss on Dorado that New York has in Stage 1 was handed to them by the London Spitfire earlier today, and they decided to go again with the dive composition that hasn’t been working for them so far this day. Libero’s Genji was able to find his way behind the London backline, harassing Birdring as Widowmaker, and helping his team by distracting the London players. This allowed the New York to claim control of Obj A. New York’s advance towards Obj B was much slower than that of London, as the Spitfire defence seemed without weakness. Profit’s Junkrat rivalled that of Houston Outlaw’s Jake in between Obj A and B here on Dorado, as his grenades rained down on the New York players, and his RipTire Ultimate seemed to have Support homing built in, as he took down JJonak and Ark time and time again. In the final push to take Obj B by New York, Profit again took down the Ark’s Mercy to start the Spitfire defence, cutting the New York attack off at the knees. London was able to hold off the New York attack for good, claiming the map, completing the reverse sweep, and winning Stage 1.
Map 5 Result: 2-1 London Spitfire
Match Score: 3-2 London Spitfire over New York Excelsior
Bdosin is quite possibly the most steadfast player on the Spitfire roster. While Profit and Birdring’s DPS proficiency always propels London forward, Bdosin’s Zenyatta always seems to hold the Spitfire together, allowing his teammates to find the positions to make the plays they need to make.
Match Rating: 10/10
It worked out quite amazing that we got to see almost entirely new maps in this match as compared to the first NY vs. LON match of the day. Unfortunately for London, most of those maps seemed to be ones in which they struggled, while New York really didn’t. 3 games in 1 day initially seemed far too big a task for London, as they played 14 maps in total this Saturday, but after the slow start, the Spitfire soared and brought it back to claim the Title of Stage 1 champions.