Spitfire Take Flight in Stage 1 Playoffs
The last games of the Overwatch League Week 5 were underway as teams looked to clinch their spot for the Stage 1 Playoffs and a share of $125,000. Only three teams could make the playoffs, but as the standings currently stood five teams were in the running – New York Excelsior, London Spitfire, Houston Outlaws, Los Angeles Valiant and Boston Uprising. Two major games on the last day of the Stage 1 regular season decided what teams would be in the playoffs and which ones wouldn’t.
Making the Playoffs
The first game of Week 5 Day 4 was none other than the New York Excelsior vs London Spitfire, followed by the Houston Outlaws vs Boston Uprising. With hopes and dreams of being crowned the Stage 1 champions, these games were nothing short of competitive, both series going the distance with a Map 5 tiebreaker on Lijang Tower. The New York Excelsior ended up securing a Map 5 win, a 3-2 series win over the Spitfire and sole possession of first place. Even with the loss, the Spitfire managed to clinch a playoff spot based on map win differential during the regular season.
With two teams in the playoffs only one more team could make it. That team being the Houston Outlaws, who won 3-2 over the Boston Uprising. With the Stage 1 playoffs set, the London Spitfire tried their hand against the Houston Outlaws – one of the few teams who beat them in the regular season. The winner then looked for their shot to beat the kings at the top of the table, the NYXL.
Stage 1 Playoffs Semifinal: London Spitfire vs Houston Outlaws
Map 1: Dorado
After the regular season matches finished up, and a short break for the playoff teams, the first playoff match between the London Spitfire and Houston Outlaws commenced. In the first ever Overwatch League playoffs teams had to win to a best of five maps to take the series, with a potential sixth map as a tiebreaker. With the series maps revealed, Map 1 between the Spitfire and Outlaws took place on Dorado. Commonly known for his Jakerat, Jake “Jake” Lyon’s Junkrat play defined the Outlaws defense against the Spitfire on the first two points of Dorado.
With grenades and mines all around, the Spitfire couldn’t seem to get past the minefield and into the backline of the Houston Outlaws. With a stellar defense on Dorado, the Outlaws held the Spitfire to only one point. The outlaws then carried their defensive momentum onto their attack round where they pushed the payload and finished the map, taking Map 1 on Dorado 2-1 against the spitfire.
Map 2: Ilios
With an unsuccessful Map 1 win, the Spitfire look to take Map 2 Control Point on Ilios. Dominate and deadly, the Spitfire DPS players Jun-Young “Profit” Park and Ji-Hyeok “Birdring” Kim had their way with the Houston Outlaws. Controlling team fights and finding kills, the Spitfire swiftly take both rounds on Ilios to secure a 2-0 Map 2 win. To the Spitfire’s credit, at the end of both rounds on Ilios, Profit had 24 eliminations and only died once – a commanding performance by the DPS from the Spitfire. Even though they got off to a slow start in Map 1, the Spitfire manage to tie the series back up 1-1.
Map 3 & 4: Temple of Anubis/Eichenwalde
After a dominate performance by the Spitfire on Map 2 they carried that momentum into the next two maps. The DPS for the London Spitfire shined againas they took both points on Map 3 Temple of Anubis and managed to full hold the Houston Outlaws on their defense – not giving them a single tick of the control point meter – resulting in a 2-0 Map 3 win on Temple of Anubis. With the Spitfire flying high and the Outlaws batter and bruised, the Spitfire look to finish the series with a Map 4 win on Eichenwalde. Able to capture the point and push the payload, the Spitfire take a point on their offensive round.
However, the story of Map 4 was the Spitfire’s defense, they again manage to hold the Outlaws and not give them the first point. A 1-0 victory on Map 4 means that London Spitfire win the series 3-1 against the Houston Outlaws, guarantees them at least $25,000, and a rematch in the Stage 1 Finals against the New Excelsior who they lost against at the beginning of the day. With the finals set, who will be crowned the first ever Overwatch League stage champion: New York Excelsior or the London Spitfire?
Stage 1 Playoffs Finals: London Spitfire vs New York Excelsior
Map 1: Junkertown
Map 1 took place on Junkertown and it was battle of the snipers. Birdring from the Spitfire and NYXL’s Do-Hyeon “Pine” Kim both contented for sight-lines, trading picks back and forth. At one-point Pine flanks behind the Spitfire with his Widowmaker and gets a casual four kills, nearly wiping the entire Spitfire team by himself. After the Spitfire regroup they manage to push the payload and capture all three points on Junkertown, with no time left. On NYXL’s attack they run triple tank with Seong-Hyun “JJonak” Bang on Roadhog, who normally plays Zenyatta in the support role, to mitigate the damage that Birdring could do. The NYXL quickly take all three points on Junkertown with just over four minutes left in their time bank to force an overtime round. With a very advantageous time bank left, the New York Excelsior take Map 1 on Junkertown with a score of 4-3.
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) February 11, 2018
Map 2: Oasis
Map 2 went to Oasis where the teams battled to control the point. The London Spitfire started off strong on both rounds of Oasis, getting the control point meter to 99 percent before having it flipped by the NYXL. To New York’s credit they fully held the point from 0 to 100 percent, locking out the Spitfire from both rounds and the map. After a Map 2 on Oasis that slipped out of the London Spitfire’s reach, the New York Excelsior were only one map away from being crowned as Stage 1 champs. And then they began to do it.
Maps 3, 4, 5: Horizon Lunar Colony, Numbani, Dorado
Map 3 Horizon Lunar Colony is where the London Spitfire began their reverse sweep. Unable to take down Birdring and the Spitfire’s overtime defense, the New York Excelsior fell to the London Spitfire. London Spitfire take Map 3 Capture the Point on Horizon Lunar Colony with a score of 3-2. Map 4 went to Hybrid on Numbani where the Spitfire displayed one of the most impressive defensive holds in all of the Overwatch League. Birdring was nearly untouched by the opposition during the match, dealing free damage and finishing off kills. With little success and unable to break the Spitfire’s defense the NYXL were full held, unable to take the point on Numbani.
The Spitfire walk away with a Map 4 victory on Numbani 1-0, series tied 2-2. Map 5 Escort the Payload on Dorado was the final map of the series and someone was walking away as the victors. That team was the London Spitfire. They completed the reverse sweep against the NYXL, winning Map 5 Dorado with a score of 2-1. What turned out to be a marathon of a day and a run through the playoff gauntlet, the London Spitfire took flight as they were named the first ever Overwatch League Stage 1 Champions.
Featured Image Credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment