The fourth year of the Overwatch League (OWL) is about to reach its climax. The eight teams duking it out could end up producing the most complex bracket in OWL history. Fans know what’s at stake. But some viewers may not be aware of the unique storylines that go beyond the winners and losers. Here are some interesting storylines about the 2021 OWL Playoffs.
The Ultimate Winner
If the Philadelphia Fusion win the Grand Finals, Jin-mo ‘Tobi’ Yang will pull off a historic feat. Tobi would become the first player in Pro Overwatch history to win a World Cup Gold Medal, Apex Championship, and Overwatch League Grand Finals. Multiple players have completed 2/3 achievements but none have fulfilled the trifecta. Out of all facts about the OWL Playoffs, this one could be the most underappreciated due to Tobi no longer starting.
Tobi would likely be the only player to ever complete this crowning accomplishment. With Apex long gone and the World Cup on hiatus, there aren’t many other players with a realistic shot. Furthermore, as one of the longest active pros, it would be a great sendoff if Tobi retires after this season.
Moving on from the Past
The Dallas Fuel pulled off many individual achievements during the 2021 regular season. However, there is still one part of history this franchise has yet to overcome. Despite their recent success, nothing can change that the Fuel have yet to win a single playoff game.
Dallas are the only team in the Playoff bracket with this issue. 2020 was their first-ever Postseason appearance but they were swept by the Washington Justice. A double-elimination bracket and their strongest roster to date gives them a strong chance to finally move forward.
Dynamic Duo MIA
Newer fans may not know how heavily involved Joon-yeong ‘Profit’ Park and Jae-hee ‘Gesture’ Hong usually are with the Postseason. 2021 marks the first time in OWL history where this dynamic duo will not participate in the OWL Playoffs. The previous three years saw them make it while playing for the London Spitfire and Seoul Dynasty respectively.
Looking beyond the Overwatch League, their Postseason streak reaches all the way back to 2017. While playing for GC Busan, the pair managed to win season 4 of Apex. This happened to be their first-ever major event. In other words, Profit and Gesture have always been in contention to win a title until now.
A streak of this magnitude is rare to come by. Even some of Overwatch’s most accomplished players saw failure at the start or towards the middle of their careers. Profit and Gesture have always been winners. Taking a step back may be difficult for the duo and their fans to easily accept.
A True Dynasty
The San Francisco Shock are currently the most dominant playoff team in Overwatch League history. The Shock’s current playoff record is 11-1. However, a different statistic may demonstrate their dominance even more. The Shock’s playoff map record sits at 42-13. Despite playing against the best competition in the world, the Shock consistently show up during the pivotal moments.
Different roster or not, San Francisco still have veterans with championship experience. The Shock by far have the most players with Grand Finals experience, with six. Dae-hee ‘Crusty’ Park, Head Coach of the San Francisco Shock, possesses an advantage as well. Crusty is the only person in the 2021 Playoffs to have appeared in the Grand Finals before as a Head Coach. His experience making decisions under the highest pressure could be a major difference-maker.
A Familiar Stage
Despite numerous changes to the League, there are still plenty of players with Grand Finals experience in this tournament. In total there are 15 players to have played at least one map in the Grand Finals. This includes Philadelphia Fusion Offtank, Gael ‘Poko’ Gouzerch who has been unable to travel to his team’s headquarters in Korea.
When including players who didn’t play, but were part of a Grand Finals team, the total goes up to 17. Won-sik ‘Closer’ Jung and Sean Taiyo ‘Ta1yo’ Henderson were on the 2018 Spitfire and 2020 Shock respectively. This level of experience will surely lead to some close matches with strong decision-making. But more importantly, it gives the Shock, Justice, Fusion and Gladiators a valuable edge over the other Playoff teams.
Staying for the Ride
While many all-time greats have retired throughout the years, multiple Season One veterans are still pursuing championships. The eight combined Playoff rosters boast 19 Inaugural Season veterans. It goes to show that longevity in Overwatch and esports, in general, is more than possible.
Evidently, these long-time players set a good example. They’re proof that determination and passion for the game can be enough to keep up with a constantly evolving league. The old saying isn’t totally true. Sometimes, an old dog really can learn new tricks.
The Final Countdown
In a constantly changing league, it’s impressive how many historic facts and storylines there are about the 2021 OWL Playoffs. There is so much potential history in the making depending on the end results. Tune into the Overwatch League Playoffs from September 21-25 to witness it all play out in real-time.
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