There is little over a month until the return of the Overwatch League. The London Spitfire will be looking to mount a title defense, the first of its kind in the Overwatch League. Last season, the Spitfire came out on top in Stage 1, winning the Stage Playoffs. After that, they dwindled and barely scraped into the Season Playoffs. After a fortunate series against the Los Angeles Gladiators, they went on to face the Los Angeles Valiant, and eventually defeated the Philadelphia Fusion in the Grand Finals.
In the off-season, London brought on new coach in Kwang-Bok “Coach815” Kim, as well as new players Yung-hoon “Krillin” Jung and Hee-dong “Guard” Lee. Let’s take a look at the first seven opponents that the Spitfire will have to face.
Game 1: Philadelphia Fusion
A rematch of the Season 1 Finals. This game will be the opening game for Season 2. The match between the Fusion and Spitfire will set the tone and pace of the second season. The comps that each team uses, the style of play and even how many maps it takes the winning team will be watched by fans of every team. London will be looking to show that they deserve to be the reigning champions, while the Fusion will have a chip on their shoulder, seeking revenge on the team that stopped them from achieving a title.
London will be leaning heavily on Jae-hee “Gesture” Hong and Joon-yeong “Profit” Park. Questions have been asked of Gesture as a main tank for the Spitfire, so his first game will be one that either silences his critics or encourage them. Profit will be key in both GOATS and traditional comps. His Brigitte play can greatly help London in GOATS, while his Tracer is one of the best in Overwatch. Profit playing Hanzo would not be out of the question as well. For the Fusion, the key players to rely on will be Gael “Poko” Gouzerch and Jae-hyeok “Carpe” Lee. Poko redefined the role of D.Va during the first season of the Overwatch League. His “Poko Bombs” led D.Va players to truly rethink how they used their Ultimate abilities.
Expect this match to take the full five maps, and be hard fought from both sides. The strengths and weaknesses will be displayed on each type of map. However, London seems to have an edge and should be able to take the win in their first game of the season.
Game 2: Paris Eternal
The Battle of the Channel. The two European teams will be facing off for the first time. The Eternal lineup consists fully of European talent. On their roster, they boast three previous Overwatch League players. Those players include Terence “SoOn” Tarlier, Finnbjörn “Finnsi” Jónasson and George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha. However, this leaves most of their roster untested in the Overwatch League. Knowing this, the Spitfire should make quick work of their closest neighbors. Don’t expect the Eternal to simply roll over and give up, but expect London to outplay Paris in most aspects of their match.
This game takes place on Saturday, only two days after the Spitfires’ first match against the Fusion. This game will bring smiles to European fans, as it will take place at 8:00 PM GMT. European fans have suffered from the time difference throughout the first season of the Overwatch League. While that has not changed drastically for them, there are a few games that do cater to their teams (such as this game).
Game 3: Washington Justice
One of the weaker teams on paper, the new expansion team boasts three former Overwatch League players. Gi-do “Gido” Mun, Gi-hyeon “Ado” Chon and Joon-hwa “Janus” Song have previously played for Overwatch League teams. The rest of their roster are untested at the highest level of professional Overwatch. Most rankings put the Justice towards the very bottom of their lists. Expect them to pick up a few wins throughout the season, perhaps against other untested teams.
However, the Spitfire should roll over the Justice quite easily. This game could be a good time for Guard and Krillin to get into the starting lineup. No one is sure what to expect of Krillin, as he was a relatively unknown player from the Open Division. Guard played on Element Mystic in Korean Contenders, proving that he can be a high level DPS player.
Game 4: Hangzhou Spark
Many, including former Overwatch League host Jonathan “Reinforce” Larsson, think the Spark are the best of the expansion teams. They brought in the Overwatch World Cup phenom Xu “guxue” Qiulin as their main tank. Guxue showed that he can compete with the best when China took on South Korea in the finals at Blizzcon 2018. Alongside DPS player Cai “Krystal” Shilong, China took down both France and Canada to book a place in the finals against South Korea. Hangzhou fused two Korean Contenders rosters, X6 and Seven, to complete the rest of their lineup.
This will be the second time in two weeks that the London Spitfire will play two games in a week. The new scheduling system has been unfavorable to the Spitfire, who will finish their last three games in the last three weeks. The end of a heavy rotation comes arguably their second hardest game in the first half of the stage. The unpredictable nature of the Spark could prove to be difficult for the tired Spitfire to handle. This is a must-watch game for sure.
Game 5: Los Angeles Gladiators
A replay of the first Season Playoff series. The Gladiators have made a handful of roster changes, including bringing in a new main tank, as well as a third support player. The hometown team in LA are seeking revenge after they crashed out of the Season 1 Playoffs. This time, they will have a main tank that will not sit out (hopefully), which will be very important if teams are continuing to run GOATS comp. Chang-hoon “rOar” Gye has large shoes to fill in the main tank role for the Gladiators.
This may end up being the toughest match the Spitfire play in Stage 1. Lane “Surefour” Roberts versus Ji-hyeok “birdring” Kim will be the battle to watch. These two players have top-tier Widowmakers, and are often high up in the conversation of best hitscan players. Profit may tip the scales in London’s favor, as no one is sure the other DPS player who will lineup for the Gladiators. Interestingly enough, Surefour has now been listed as a flex player on the Overwatch League website. This Friday game in Week Three will be the highlight of the night.
Game 6: Shanghai Dragons
This match will be much more exciting than last season. Shanghai completely revamped their roster, keeping only three members from their Season 1 campaign. The infamous 0-40 season called for an overhaul, and Shanghai will be looking to scrub their first season from their minds. The Dragons will be bringing in four players from KongDoo Panthera, as well as Min-seong “diem” Bae, a close friend of Carpe of the Philadelphia Fusion.
This game will still be a win for the Spitfire, but they should not stomp them as bad as last season. Perhaps their bench players will get a chance to start, but the Dragons will put up more of a fight than in Season 1. With a new hunger for victory, don’t write off Shanghai this season.
Game 7: Seoul Dynasty
A meeting between two all-Korean rosters. Former Spitfire member Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek joined the Dynasty in the offseason, previously playing for the Los Angeles Gladiators. During Season 1 of the Overwatch League, these two teams met four times over the four stages. The Spitfire won all four games, and are looking to continue their great record against Seoul. Seoul disappointed fans in the first season of the Overwatch League. At the beginning, they were slated to be the best team in the Overwatch League.
The Spitfire should be getting a playoff spot for Stage 1. This tough game right before the playoffs could be just what the Spitfire need. The motivation from a tough game could push them to fight harder in the playoffs. Fissure versus Gesture on the main tank battle could be very interesting to watch as well.
The Overwatch League returns on Feb. 14 when the London Spitfire take on the Philadelphia Fusion. With new changes coming up in the game, including a new patch that is on the PTR, it will be interesting to see what changes each team makes before their first game. The London Spitfire will be preparing both GOATS and traditional comps for the first week.
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Featured Image Courtesy of the Blizzard Entertainment
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