RECAP: Overwatch League Stage One Playoffs

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What began as a series of very one-sided match’s was capped by one of the single most grueling confrontations ever witnessed on the Blizzard Arena stage. With only one team able to walk away with the crown of stage one champion the stage was set for some of the best Overwatch a person could ask for. Before we dive into the detail let’s get a quick over view with a look at the final bracket.

As the finals show, the bulk of the matches this weekend were pretty lop-sided, even if, in the case of Seoul’s win over New York, the victor was a resounding surprise. But the big match of the week, of course, was the Grand Final between the San Francisco Shock, and the Vancouver Titans. After each managed to reach the Grand Finals without losing a single game, both teams looked poised to walk away with the championship.

Both teams participating in the stage Grand Finals are renowned for their signature styles of Overwatch. Namely: aggression.  Each team is recognized as being relentless in their pursuit of their objectives, and never allowing their opponents to catch their breath. Where most matches finds these teams crashing against a much more passive opponent, often trying to weather the storm of assaults hoping to get the crucial kill that might spare them, both teams met each other with an eagerness that was borderline savage.

With huge ultimates, leaving players strewn around the maps often being generated at a speed rarely seen the entire match devolved into a precise, skillful battle that left little time for anyone to catch their breath. Up until the very end the games in the match had swapped back and forth, with San Francisco taking one game, just to be followed by Vancouver answering back with a victory in the subsequent game.

San Fransisco’s Victory where hinged largely on the massive amount of damage, and Graviton Surges, star Zarya player Sinatraa was able to provide his team, coupled with the amazing Earth Shatters main tank Super pulled out time and time again to quell the offensive momentum Vancouver would have rolling in their favor.  And with some clutch self-destructs coming through by player Choihyobin when some particularly critical saves had to be made.

Meanwhile, Vancouver saw stand out performances from their tank line as well, as BUMPER, JJANU, and SeoMinSoo, gave noteworthy performances on Reinhardt,, and Zarya, respectively. And, while not quite as flashy or noticeable, I feel it would be remiss not to mention the stellar Zenyatta play of Twilight here. He did a remarkable job, both keeping transcendence for when his team needed it most, as well as just managing to out survive his counter part Viol2t, giving Vancouver that extra edge when they really needed.

By the time the series had reached game seven it was all too obvious that all involved were running on fumes. It would be sheer tenacity and grit that was going to allow one of these squads to walk away with the title. And after San Francisco finished the chosen map(Rialto) in a time most team would envy, as most offenses fail to complete the map at all two-thirds of the time, it seemed San Francisco had possibly locked the series.

That was until Vancouver, as if through nothing save naked will and determination, blasted their way through the map, and in the process, setting a new Overwatch league record time as they hedged out the old record by nearly a full minute. When it came time to make their second attack attempts San Fransisco failed to reach point A with the minute they had remaining. With nearly three and a half minutes for their offensive Vancouver secured the point and acquired the stage one championship.

Looking back at it now i can honestly say it was one of the best championship matches, in any competitive sport i have ever witnessed. The kind of match where you feel bad for whoever ends up losing because both have played so magnificently that it feels almost a crime for them not to walk away with the win. It’s going to be a hard show to follow-up, but as the Overwatch League takes the next week off to catch its breath i can honestly say i cannot wait to see what comes next.