The London Spitfire play-in games are happening after a top six seed was all but locked up. The Spitfire exit Stage 4 with more questions than answers, in a meta that was thought to benefit them, without much time to figure things out. The good news is, a meta shift looms large. With Sigma entering pro play, London will have a second chance to adapt to a new meta.
Spitfire Stage 4 Review
The team’s play since role lock took effect has been wildly inconsistent. They beat bad teams. They looked like threats to repeat when they played Guangzhou. And they even put on a solid performance in a map five loss to the Vancouver Titans. Even with the debacle against the Florida Mayhem (they didn’t secure a map), they had a win-and-in game against the Atlanta Reign.
Atlanta embarrassed them. It wasn’t just a beating. It was a “didn’t give up an objective until the match was decided” beating. The Spitfire were sent into their bye week during Kit-Kat Rivalry Weekend licking their wounds and searching for answers. The Reign had to win two easy games against the Fuel and Uprising and London would be bumped to the play-ins. And, as expected, Atlanta completed a perfect stage and the champs were relegated.
For a team with such immense individual talent, London never seemed cohesive in 2-2-2. Ji-hyeok “birdring” Kim had flashes of brilliance. Joon-yeong “Profit” Park looked like the Grand Finals MVP at times. And Jae-hee “Gesture” Hong still received praise as a top Orisa player. Yet time and time again rotations were off, synergies weren’t executed and the team appeared overly reliant on pure skill.
The beauty of Overwatch is that it is ever adapting. Getting to the playoffs is step one. Step two is learning the playoff meta better than the remaining field. The London Spitfire still have a chance to repeat, but the cohesion will have to return as they adapt to the playoff patch.
London Spitfire Play-In Preview
As upsetting as it may be to London fans, the play-ins are potentially a blessing in disguise. The sixth seed swiped by the Atlanta Reign earned them a match-up with the favorites in the San Francisco Shock. As the top seeded play-in team the Spitfire have one extra series, but an easier path. The best seeded team remaining after the play-ins earns a shot at the inconsistent New York Excelsior.
The #OWL2019 postseason is officially here! This weekend, six teams will battle for the final two spots in the playoffs.
Which two do you think will make it through?
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) August 26, 2019
There is a lot up in the air for London’s opponent still, but one thing is for certain. It is not Guangzhou. The Charge look like potentially the strongest team in the play-in tournament (6-1 in Stage 4). Even though the Spitfire handed the Charge their only loss of the Stage in Week 2, it shouldn’t be a match-up any Spitfire fan wants. There is a possibility that Chengdu pulls the upset and faces London, but the likely opponents are either Philadelphia or Shanghai. The only certainty is that London will face the worst remaining seed.
Either one of these match-ups will see London heavily favored. In a first-to-four series, the Spitfire’s talent should be enough to overcome either the Fusion or the Dragons. They have an additional advantage thanks to scheduling. If London plays the winner of this game, their opponents will have roughly a 12 hour turnaround between series. 12 hours to prepare for the defending champs. 12 hours of rest to prepare for an all-or-nothing game with their season on the line. Advantage London.
Most Likely Match-up: Philadelphia Fusion (15-13; 3-4 in Stage 4)
Philly will be favored to make it through the first round. DPS play has been pivotal so far in 2-2-2 and the Fusion have a stellar pair. Jae-hyeok “Carpe” Lee and Josue “Eqo” Corona pose a real threat to London’s season. Profit and Birdring will have to bring their “A” game to go toe-to-toe with Philadelphia’s duo. Anticipate Spitfire’s damage pair to do just that.
Prediction: Spitfire 4-2 Fusion
Possible Opponent: Shanghai Dragons (13-15; 1-6 in Stage 4)
Shanghai has been atrocious. The Stage 3 champions looked to be a favorite in role lock, but things never materialized. Throughout Stage 4, it has been obvious that their strength was with three DPS on the stage. Without Yong-Jin “YOUNGJIN” Jin, Min-seong “diem” Bae and Jin-hyeok “DDing” Yang all on the stage, Shanghai likely never gets to face London. If they do…
Prediction Spitfire 4-1 Dragons
The Wildcard: Chengdu Hunters (13-15; 4-3 in Stage 4)
The Chengdu Hunters are not a team anyone wants to face with their season on the line and they just squeaked into the postseason. The Chinese squad have shown creativity in every meta this season and are a nightmare to prepare for. Their biggest advantage is having four tanks on the roster. If one of them can show they are the best Sigma player on the stage this weekend, Chengdu is a Cinderella story waiting to happen. Would anyone be surprised if it’s Ding “Ameng” Menghan?
Prediction: Hunters 4-3 Spitfire
London Spitfire Play-In Expectations
The skid has to stop. The London Spitfire will have to make it through this weekend for their season to not be viewed as disappointing. Repeating is exceptionally difficult. The NYXL are the only team to even have multiple stage titles. But finishing outside of the playoffs would be an entirely different story. Salvaging the seventh seed this weekend would at least give them a chance to upset New York.
Player to Watch: Gesture OR Jun-ho “Fury” Kim
The player to watch is whoever plays Sigma. There has been a lot of speculation on how he will be used, but the consensus seems to be that he will be used frequently. Regardless of which tank picks him up, it will be vital to the champs postseason hopes that they make an impact on him.
Header Image Courtesy of Ben Pursell for Blizzard Entertainment
For more content, hot takes, and dad jokes follow me on Twitter!
Follow The Game Haus for more sports and esports coverage.
“From Our Haus to Yours”