Friday Feature: Overwatch League Grand Finals

Posted by Amna July 27, 2018 in Reviews

The Overwatch League Grand Finals are about to begin, with the first match on Friday at 7 p.m. EDT. As with the rest of the Overwatch League Playoffs, the Grand Finals will consist of a best of three of best of five matches. After Friday, the other matches will occur on Saturday, with the second match beginning at 4 p.m. EDT, and the third and final match following immediately after, if necessary. But before we talk about the Grand Finals, allow me to summarize the events of the first two weeks of the Overwatch League Playoffs.

In the Quarterfinals, the Philadelphia Fusion faced the Boston Uprising. Although the Boston Uprising won the second match, the Philadelphia Fusion came back, winning the first and third matches to secure their place in the Semifinals. On the other side, London lost their first match to the Los Angeles Gladiators on the first day, but on the second day swept matches two and three back-to-back, winning six maps in a row to move on to the Semifinals.

The Semifinals were the first Playoff games played by the New York Excelsior and the Los Angeles Valiant, the first and second seed in the Regular Season. On the first day of the Semifinals, both first matches were played. London defeated the Valiant, losing only one map in the match, while the Philadelphia Fusion swept the New York Excelsior, putting both the London Spitfire and the New York Excelsior in a great position to win the Semifinals and move on to the Grand Finals. When the Los Angeles Valiant and the London Spitfire met again, the London Spitfire won three maps in a row to secure their place as a finalist. And although the New York Excelsior had a better showing in their second match versus the Philadelphia Fusion, the Philadelphia Fusion won the match on the fifth map, winning the Series and moving on. This means that the Grand Finals will be the Philadelphia Fusion versus the London Spitfire.

When comparing the commonly played heroes of the Regular Season and the Playoffs, there were both obvious hero roster changes and yet very similar compositions at the same time. For example, the London Spitfire and the Philadelphia Fusion still had a strong Mercy presence in nearly every map. D.Va similarly maintained a strong presence, though her playtime has decreased with the newest patch. Widowmaker is also a strong presence, though not as assured as Mercy or D.Va, she maintains the most played hero for the hitscan DPS players of both the Philadelphia Fusion and the London Spitfire. Hanzo is the most played for the projectile DPS players, however a majority of playtime is spent playing other heroes. Zenyatta is still the usual flex-support, but compositions of solo-healing and having the flex support play Roadhog are being seen more now in the Playoffs compared to the Regular Season, and the main tank players have more time on Orisa and Reinhardt in the Playoffs than they had in the Regular Season. However, Winston is still the most-used main tank, and Gesture, the main tank of the London Spitfire, has over half of his playtime spent on Winston.

Along with the common compositions we are used to, mainly two tanks, two DPS, and two supports, the Playoffs brought along a lot of experimental and successful “off-meta” compositions from all of the Playoff teams. Although eliminated in the Quarterfinals, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how the Los Angeles Gladiators tricked the London Spitfire on King’s Row, where Surefour remained in spawn as the Gladiators forced the Spitfire to move into the line of sight of the attacker’s spawn, and then Surefour swapped to Widowmaker and killed two before London could react. Later, in the Semifinals, the London Spitfire used an off-meta comp to win Oasis versus the Los Angeles Valiant, where they had Lucio and Brigitte as healers, and three DPS heroes to rush the point, and out damage the healing the Valiant had before the Los Angeles Valiant could take advantage of the low healing the Spitfire had. And against the Boston Uprising, the Philadelphia Fusion substituted in HOTBA for Boombox, and played Tracer on Volskaya, resulting in two tanks, three DPS, and one support. With all the creativity and experimentation going on in the first weeks of the Playoffs, it’s hard to know what to expect composition and strategy-wise going into the Grand Finals.

As for the map pool, between the two, and likely three, best of five matches we will see in the Grand Finals, the entire Playoffs map pool will be played, with some maps played multiple times. The first match’s maps will be, in order, Dorado, Oasis, Eichenwalde, Volskaya, and Junkertown. The second’s will be Junkertown, Lijiang, King’s Row, Hanamura, and Dorado. The third map works differently, however. To start, the Philadelphia Fusion, the lower-seeded team, would pick the first map under the Escort category, with the London Spitfire choosing whether to attack or defend first. The loser of that map would pick the next map, a Control map, and the loser of that map would pick the third map, Hybrid, and the winner would decide whether to attack or defend first. After these three maps, the pattern would continue for a fourth, Assault map, and the fifth map would be the remaining Escort map. If a sixth tiebreaker map is needed after five maps, it would be Nepal.

The stage is set in the Barclays Center in New York. The finalists have fought their way to the end, all the way through the Quarterfinals and Semifinals to make it to the Grand Finals. And now they’re going to face each other to determine once and for the best team in the world, winning the title of the Overwatch League World Champion. Who will it be? We’ll have to watch and see for ourselves.