So here we are, it’s finally time for the Stage 1 playoffs! Three teams all fought their hardest to get where they are now, and with a first place prize of $100,000 and the title of team-to-beat going into Stage 2 none of them were going to go down without a fight. For those who are unaware, the second and third place teams in the standings must first play a full Best of 5 match to determine who will play in the finals against the number one team for the first place prize. So in this context, London Spitfire and the Houston Outlaws first play a full game, and the winner advances to take on New York Excelsior in another Best of 5 to win the playoffs. With me so far? Good, in that case let’s take a look at how each of our finalists did!
Semi-Finals: Houston Outlaws vs London Spitfire
Honestly it’s not the result the Outlaws were looking for. They came a long way to get to the playoffs, and they had to get through some of the strongest teams in the world to do it. A 3-1 loss is certainly not bad however, especially against a team like Spitfire who have been playing incredibly this whole League. Despite the fact that the Outlaws lost Dorado to Spitfire when they last met this time they took it comfortably with a 2-0 win, and for a while it looked like they would be able to maintain their lead for the rest of the series. A quick turn around from their opposition however lead to a total sweep on the remaining maps. In the end it was a deserved win for London and they progress into Grand Finals going up against New York Excelsior.
Player of the Match: Profit (LDN)
Profit has won Player of all the Match multiple times since the beginning of Stage 1, and it’s really not too hard to see why. By the end of the second game on Ilios, after Spitfire began to turn the series around, he had more eliminations than both Jake and Linkzr from the Outlaws, combined, and I don’t think I need to tell you how incredible a feat that is. His adaptation throughout the series was a sight to behold, a deserved accolade.
Our Honourable Mentions:
If anyone else was in contention for Player of the Match alongside Profit it was without a doubt Bdosin. Probably the best Zenyatta play overall we’ve seen in a long time, and while he might not be the emotionless death machine that Jjonak is, netting significantly less eliminations than his Boston Uprising counterpart, Bdosin’s incredible Trance plays and target focusing turned some of Spitfire’s sour engagements round the other way. London have Bdosin to thank for a lot of their success here.
Grand Finals: London Spitfire vs New York Excelsior
And so the final game begins! NYXL came into this game after apparently relaxing and napping in their down time, a far cry from the inbetween match training Spitfire took part in. Perhaps it was this laidback attitude then that led to Excel’s loss at the hands of the only team that came close to competing with them standings wise. This of course is forgetting to mention that Spitfire had already played fourteen separate maps of Overwatch today, and I think most can agree that’s enough to take a chunk out of even the best teams the world has to offer. The story for London could not be a more perfect one to recount, losing the first two games on Junkertown and Oasis. It was then that something must’ve clicked in the heads of the England based team, and they quickly came back and took a win with one of the only reverse sweeps we’ve seen in the Overwatch League so far. It was almost like something from a movie the way it played out, but at the end of the day it was Spitfire who really deserved this win, and the $100,000 prize that came with it. A huge congratulations to London Spitfire for a win they fought so hard to achieve.
Player of the Match: Birdring
Birdring takes a well deserved Player of the Match here, he took on the famous Pine in multiple Widow duels and ended up coming out on top, a feat achieved by almost no other in the whole League. But even aside from his small victories over NYXL’s star player Birdring had some truly game changing plays in this series, worthy of a tournament winning player.
Our Honourable Mentions:
Once again picking honourable mentions without ranting on for pages is difficult. Perhaps it will seem like the cop out answer, but every player in this match was outstanding, as is fitting of Grand Finals. If you’re looking for names however, the walking highlight reel himself Pine really stands out. Special mention must also go to Nus’ Mercy, without whom a victory for Spitfire would have been all but impossible.
And that’s the game! Stage 1 draws to a close with a jaw dropping match between arguably the two best teams in the League, but the silence won’t last for long. Every team has until February 22nd (GMT, 21st if you live in the States) to prepare themselves for the beginning of Stage 2 where they get to do the whole thing all over again! With new players being drafted and signed the standings could easily take a different turn than in Stage 1, so be sure to check out the games when they go live!
If you haven't already, be sure to check out the rest of our coverage for the final week of Stage 1 starting here! And if this article has you totally lost, or if you just need a refresher course before Stage 2 begins, take a look at Alex's Idiot's Guide to the Overwatch League!