Video Credit: Akshon Esports
After several weeks of upset-filled battle, the Overwatch League Playoffs have finally reached the the summit: the Grand Finals are set. Let’s dive right into the two intense semifinal matchups that led up to what are now the two grand finalists: Philadelphia Fusion and London Spitfire.
Semifinals Matchup #1: Philadelphia Fusion vs New York Excelsior
Despite slowing down towards the end of Stage 4, New York Excelsior was still the clear number one seed and favorite to win it all. League MVP Bang “JJoNak” Sung-hyeon, NYXL’s shining star, was the best Zenyatta Overwatch had ever seen, dominating across all four metas and leading New York to an astounding 34-6 record, 7 matches above any other team.
But the playoff meta was far different from that of the regular season — this new meta was one where Zenyatta wasn’t as important. As a result, JJoNak’s incredible Zenyatta play was rendered less useful, and determined to stick to their regular season strategies, New York played Zenyatta 82% of the time during the playoffs, a stark contrast to the league average of 49%. This choice turned out to be a fatal one, as New York would soon find out in their semifinal series against Philadelphia Fusion.
Another aspect of the playoff meta NYXL failed to adapt to was their amount of Hanzo use. Coming into Saturday, New York only used Hanzo 7%, as opposed to a league average of 50% by all the other teams. Their low usage of Hanzo was even more puzzling by the fact that NYXL’s Kim “Libero” Hae-seong played 2 hours and 2 minutes on Hanzo prior to the match, a time only second to Fusion’s Josh “Eqo” Corona.
Failing to effectively adapt to the meta cost New York big time, and they ended up losing 2-0 to Fusion, with the series scores being 3-0 and 3-2.
Video Credit: Akshon Esports
Semifinals Matchup #1: London Spitfire vs Los Angeles Valiant
Unlike New York Excelsior, Spitfire had a dreadful end to the end of the regular season, going 9-11 in their last 20 matches. They even started off the playoffs poorly, losing 3-0 in a quarterfinals match against the Gladiators.
However, Spitfire has since then made a mind-blowing run (12-1-1) in their last 14 maps, only losing once on King’s Row against the Los Angeles Valiant. That said, their series against Valiant was an one-sided one, with Spitfire taking both best-of-five series 3-1 and 3-0, winning overall 2-0.
One of the biggest reasons why London has been so successful in the playoffs is the phenomenal play of lead DPS Park “Profit” Joon-yeong. In this season’s playoffs, he’s dealing 8790 damage per 10 minutes, which is only surpassed by Fusion’s Eqo. Another impressive statistic is Profit’s 1,110 Winston’s Lab player rating across all characters, again only second to a Fusion player,.
The grand finals are now set, and with so many upsets and surprises in these playoffs, the favorites are up for interpretation, and only time will tell which team can come out on top and claim the title of Overwatch League Champions.