The 2021 Overwatch League (OWL) season has reached its final day. The Shanghai Dragons play the Atlanta Reign in the Grand Finals. As two of the biggest regular season powerhouses, it’s a fitting end to the year. With how big of an event this is shaping up to be, an OWL Grand Finals preview is in order.
It’s been a long road for the Dragons. After having their infamous 0-40 campaign back in 2018, they have continuously shown progress. It’s poetic almost that they are now part of the Grand Finals.
The last few days have shown how hungry they are. Jae-won ‘Lip’ Lee has been dominating. Lip’s level of play on a pivotal meta hero like Sombra has put his team over the top. If he continues to farm EMPs and make key individual hacks down the stretch, Shanghai should be in great shape.
However, it’s not just up to Lip to finish this championship run. The coordination between the tanks and DPS must continue to be perfect. Lip and Byung-sun ‘Fleta’ Kim’s follow up is a major key. Min-chul ‘Izayaki’ Kim making consistent plays on Zenyatta and Ana is important as well.
Generally speaking, the Dragons have all the tools they need. They have proven time and time again they are worthy. Now it’s matter of executing one final time.
The Reign truly came out of nowhere. Not even the biggest Reign supporters expected them to make the Grand Finals during the Preseason. It’s an exciting surprise for the fans.
This team works at two levels. The first is their main playmakers. The DPS line plus Seung-hyun ‘Ir1s’ Kim usually make the big kills happen. On the other side of it is their less flashy but equally as important stabilizers. Petja ‘Masaa’ Kantanen’s veteran leadership leads the way while Xander ‘Hawk’ Domecq continues to make underrated plays.
What gives the Reign a chance of winning this match is their general comfort in the meta. Primarily, the Reign have utilized rush compositions. It is their bread and butter. But what some opponents have learned the hard way is this not the only thing they’re good at. The Reign are far more adaptable than they once were.
Aside from showing competence on numerous compositions, their mid-game adaptations are strong. Se-hyun ‘Pelican’ Oh and Kai ‘Kai’ Collins are capable of making numerous impactful swaps. Their diverse hero pools and playmaking potential can keep Atlanta in any match. And when the rest of the roster offers strong support, this team is tough to beat. If the Reign keep playing the way they have the last couple of days, anything is possible.
Prediction: 4-2 Shanghai
While the Reign are worthy title contenders, it is difficult to see anyone surpassing the Dragons. Evidently, they have a clear advantage over the other teams in this tournament. They have already beaten quite a few strong contenders in convincing fashion. Disrupting their flow over a seven-plus map series will be a monumental task.
However, it is definitely possible for the Dragons to lose. The Reign seem to have caught fire. This team is more than talented enough to make some magic happen. They themselves feel comfortable in the current meta and clearly feel more confident than ever before. They also play far a far different style than Shanghai does which could give them trouble.
But as it stands, Shanghai are the clear favorites. Their excellent adaptability, flexibility and tempo control should give them the edge. There are more situations where the Dragons should be favored. No matter the result, a new champion will be crowned for the first time in two years.
While there is no way of telling if this matchup will come down to the wire, there is some guaranteed excitement no matter what. The pre and halftime shows will give fans an early look into Overwatch 2. During the preshow at 5 PM PT, there will be an in-depth look into Sombra and Bastion’s reworks. At halftime there will be an Overwatch 2 exhibition match with pro players.
Fans will get their first look into what 5v5 pro play could look like in its early stages. Having one less teammate and heroes which feel a bit different should lead to some interesting experimentation. Clearly, the fourth season of the Overwatch League is about to end with a bang. With how eventful the day is shaping up to be, it is absolutely worth tuning in for. The future of this franchise is just around the corner.
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