- March 27, 2018
New York Excelsior once again won the most matches in stage two to rank first in the Overwatch League. The only match they lost was against London Spitfire in week one of stage two. In each stage, the team that scores the most points directly qualifies for that stage’s grand finals. The teams that ranked second and third face each other in the semifinals and the winner then faces the best team in that stage.
Well, any guesses as to who were ranked second in stage two? None other than London Spitfire, of course. They lost two matches out of ten. London Spitfire lost their opening match in week one against Houston Outlaws, and surprisingly enough, to Los Angeles Gladiators in week three.
Philadelphia Fusion ranked third in stage two of the Overwatch League. They won seven out of ten matches in this stage. Philadelphia Fusion first lost their match against London Spitfire in week two, then lost to Seoul Dynasty and New York Excelsior in week three. They’ve lost all their matches against the best teams in the league. Philadelphia Fusion were still able to make third place because they won three more rounds as compared to Seoul Dynasty.
There are still two more stages left in the Overwatch League, and the Atlantic Division continues to dominate the league. Only the top six teams from all the stages combined will be able to participate in the League’s Playoffs.
Overwatch League Semifinals
Philadelphia Fusion crush London Spitfire
In the semifinals and finals, teams face each other in a best of five series. The first map for the match was Watchpoint: Gibraltar, followed by Nepal, Hanamura, King’s Row and Route 66.
LDN decimated PHI in Watchpoint: Gibraltar
Watchpoint: Gibraltar is one of LDN’s strongest maps. Their defense was so strong that PHI were not even able to achieve their first target, and time ran out. But LDN are not merely good defensive players, but are good at offense as well. Now the teams switched places and PHI were supposed defend the payload. To win the match, LDN just had to push their payload 0.01 metres ahead of where PHI left theirs. The moment the match started, LDN broke through PHI’s defenses and almost took the match at once. But PHI made a last minute stand, and dragged the map on for another sixty seconds before LDN could put them down. They now needed two more maps to enter the finals.
PHI hit back hard to take Nepal
PHI changed their strategy a little in Nepal to adapt to LDN’s playing style. Both teams made an aggressive move towards the capture point and encountered each other there. The first team fights in control mode are always crucial, and the winning team usually takes the lead. While both the teams were engaged at fairly long range, PHI’s ‘fragi’ moved in with his tank hero Winston, and took all the damage for his team. The team’s co-ordination was amazing, and they surrounded LDN on all sides, allowing them no avenue for escape. The initial victory gave PHI the advantage, and they successfully defended the base from the inside. At this point PHI had nearly won the round, and just needed one percent to capture the point.
At this point, LDN took control and moved to capture the point. They successfully captured it, and reached thirty one percent, but PHI just needed one rush for that one percent. They did exactly that, and took back the point, and won round one.
In round two, PHI went triple tank and it was quite successful at the start, but then LDN countered their triple defense with Reaper, and took control of the point. At this point PHI were at 29% and LDN were at 36%. Round two was quite intense, and each team took over the point from time to time, and PHI were again interrupted at 99%. LDN then held the point until they reached 98%, but they were not able to stand against PHI’s continued aggression. PHI proved here that they are not a team to be underestimated, and for the first time since stage one, PHI won a map against LDN.
Exceptional plays by PHI in Hanamura
PHI has learned a great deal by engaging the top teams in the world. They were more flexible in their hero choices, and played with more patience, waiting for the perfect moment to engage in battle. It goes without saying that each team tried to lure their opponents onto open ground for the kill. But, this time PHI were prepared, and countered every move that LDN made. They managed to take point A effortlessly, and now they just needed point B to win round one. LDN finally adapted, though, and took PHI seriously, coldly defending the base, until only twenty seconds remained. However, PHI reunited for one last push, and killed each and every member of LDN, taking point B and round one.
LDN never thought that they could lose in defense, but now it was their turn to attack, and PHI were defending the bases. Well, PHI didn’t allow LDN to capture even one point, and time simply ran out. PHI were leading the semifinals, and needed just one more map to reach the finals.
LDN take King’s Row with 151 seconds to spare
PHI started out on the attacking side, and they quickly captured point A and released their payload. Now they had to defend their payload, and reach point C as quickly as possible, because the more time one saves in round one, the more time one gets when it’s one’s turn to attack once again. Well, PHI were unable to reach point C as fast as they captured point A. They did complete the round, but used more than half of their time. LDN moved much more quickly, and this gave them an advantage in the next rounds.
In round three, PHI were once again on the attacking side, but with so little time available, they moved too hastily, and were thus unable to penetrate LDN’s defenses. Now LDN just needed to acquire point A to win the map, and they did have plenty of time to do that in round four. They patiently waited for PHI to charge in, and then took them out one by one, taking the map.
PHI then mounted an excellent defense of Route 66
Route 66 is an escort map and the team that reaches their goal sooner wins. PHI reached their target from point A to C with eighty three seconds to spare. They replaced EQO with snillo for this map, and it seems it was the right thing to do. Snillo played Tracer, taking twenty two kills and dying just six times. This level of sheer aggression made it possible for PHI to not only reach their target, but also to defend it effectively in round two. LDN were unable to reach point C, and were disqualified from the title match.
The Grand Finals
New York Excelsior Vs Philadelphia Fusion
These Grand Finals in the Overwatch League were nothing short of exceptional, and while NYE did dominate, PHI made them fight for every inch of ground there. As a matter of fact, PHI momentarily put NYE in danger of losing the match series, as they took the first two maps in succession. Their performances in Route 66, especially, were very much above par. However, NYE are really the dominating team in the Overwatch League, and once they saw they were in danger, hit back very hard in the last three maps. Nevertheless, the fact that PHI forced NYE to fight the series right up to the decider map shows that PHI have massively improved their tactics and playing style.
PHI once again dominated Route 66
It seems snillo is the key to PHI’s success in Route 66. Once again, for this map EQO was replaced by snillo and he did an amazing job with Tracer. It was not as easy to push the payload against NYE, as it was against LDN. NYE brilliantly defended their bases, and did not allow PHI to reach point C. However, PHI did cross point B, and now all they had to do was to stop NYE from reaching that far while they defended the bases. Once again, the DPS combo of Carpe and snillo was very effective even while defending the bases, and they successfully stopped NYE before they reached point B. With this, PHI won the first map.
An intense battle in Lijiang Tower
Both teams started out evenly in round one, but the tide turned when NYE’s ‘Libero’ sneaked up on PHI, and took over the capture point when PHI were at 94%. At this point, there was no way that PHI could have taken back the point, and they lost the round. In the next round, PHI used the same tactics against NYE, and used Junkrat to sneak up on them, combining this with Zarya’s ultimate, and they stopped NYE at 99%. NYE took some time to recover, but by then PHI had captured the point, and the map moved into the next round. Round three was completely dominated by PHI, and they seemed to have adapted to all NYE’s tactics. NYE never had a chance in this round, and now PHI were just one map away from winning the title match.
NYE hit back hard in Volskaya Industries
After losing the first two maps, NYE were in danger of losing the Overwatch League Finals. They had no choice but to go all out against PHI. NYE stuck with their best heroes, and did not switch them. It was NYE’s turn to defend points A and B against PHI. With their two tanks, two supports and two DPS, NYE defended the points so well, that PHI were not able to progress beyond 56.1%. Now NYE just needed to equal that to win the map. NYE successfully captured point A, and then moved to point B with more than enough time on their hands. PHI lost patience, and attacked randomly, decimating themselves before NYE’s combined strength. NYE took advantage of the situation, and quickly moved in to capture the point, and won the map.
NYE heroes effectively took Hollywood
NY made more effective use of their heroes than PHI in this map. They took down PHI by separating them from their supports. PHI were struggling, and tried to counter NYE by switching between heroes, but nothing worked. NYE completed their objective much faster than PHI, and the finals went into the fifth map.
NYE win in Watchpoint: Gibraltar – the decider for the OWL Finals
One thing we’ve learned watching NYE play in the Overwatch League, is that they are exceptional in defense. PHI were only able to capture two points before time ran out. NYE did not even need to reach the target to win the map. They just needed to move 0.01 metres further than PHI did, in less time, to win the match. This was quite easy for NYE, and they reached their target in just three minutes. That’s all that it took for them to win the match, and one hundred thousand dollars. While that may have seemed an easy victory, PHI hardly made this match series an easy one for NYE.
PHI ranked second, and won twenty five thousand dollars. Stage two is over, and now there will be a week long break before the next stage begins. But we can be sure that we will be seeing an upgraded PHI in stage three, a team that can certainly take on one of the best teams in Overwatch League. While they are unlikely to win this event against the likes of NYE, this is certainly a team that is upgrading its skills and capabilities, and a power to be reckoned with in the Overwatch League, and in the Overwatch universe at large.