A matchup between London Spitfire, a title favorite, and Florida Mayhem started action Thursday in Week 1, Day 2 of the Overwatch League's inaugural season. Here's how the day broke down.
London Spitfire 3, Florida Mayhem 1
In the opening match of Week 1, Day 2 of the first stage of the Overwatch League, the London Spitfire took a decisive 3-1 win over the Florida Mayhem in the Blizzard Esports Arena in Los Angeles.
Game 1 on Dorado showed a glimpse of what Florida Mayhem could be despite its six-man squad: decisive, coordinated and lethal. It repeatedly pushed back the Spitfire on defense and scrapped out a last-minute hold on Point 2. On attack, the Mayhem benefited from a deep flank by Kevyn "TviQ" Lindstrom's Widowmaker and showed excellent target prioritization onto London's supports, which snowballed Florida to a surprising Game 1 win. However, in Game 2, London started to take Florida Mayhem seriously. London was able to effortlessly push through Temple of Anubis on attack and was an ironclad wall that Mayhem couldn't penetrate on defense.
Even after being handed such a defeat, the Florida Mayhem started strong in Game 3 on Oasis by bringing out the deadly Orisa/Roadhog tank line. A flaw of Mayhem's play, though, was that it was dependent on Roadhog's hook to find kills. London, on the other hand, could catch Mayhem players out of position repeatedly while staying alive long enough to gain a numbers advantage, and the Spitfire took Oasis 2-0.
By Game 4 on Numbani, it was plain to see that London Spitfire had dissected the playstyle of Florida Mayhem. London's star DPS and series MVP Ji-hyuk "Birdring" Kim was nearly untouchable on Soldier: 76 and Genji and tore Florida apart on offense. On defense, London Spitfire took a low-ground defense to let Florida Mayhem come to them. Once Florida was in, all London had to do was reengage onto Florida, which crumbled under the pressure as London wrapped up the 3-1 win.
Florida will try to recover when it takes on the Boston Uprising at 9 p.m. ET on Friday, while London prepares to take on the Philadelphia Fusion at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday.
-- Liam Craffey
Philadelphia Fusion 3, Houston Outlaws 2
Philadelphia Fusion made its Overwatch League debut and proved its competitive worth against the Houston Outlaws in a 3-2 victory.
Being the only team to miss the preseason, the Fusion had a lot riding on this match. It also entered the series as an unknown commodity to most fans but did not disappoint with its scrappy play against a team widely considered among the top five in the league.
Things started hot with Philly's DPS duo of Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok and George "Shadowburn" Gushcha playing what they're known best for, Tracer and Genji, respectively, on Dorado. Houston was in dire straits as Shadowburn and Carpe tore through its front and back lines with ease. When the sides flipped and the Outlaws took to the attack, though, the true nature of this series revealed itself: This would be a battle of adaptability.
All across the series, both sides flipped roles as they tried to poke holes in the other's defenses. Houston Outlaws DPS duo Jacob "Jake" Lyon and Jiri "Linkzr" Masalin truly showed off their flexibility in that role, with Linkzr single-handedly locking down Horizon Lunar Colony thanks to his laser-like aim on both McCree and Widowmaker.
On the other hand, Carpe and Shadowburn seemed content to stick to Tracer and Genji, with Carpe switching to Widowmaker in a handful of occasions to open the map for his team. When Philly needed big plays, Shadowburn was more than able to deliver, using two excellent Dragonblades as Genji in Game 4 on Eichenwald to wreak havoc, but in the end, Houston forced a Game 5.
The talent both Carpe and Shadowburn displayed, and some lack of cohesion from Houston's supports and tanks, stole the show on the decisive map. Their prowess allowed the Fusion to out-muscle the Outlaws on a tiebreaker Lijiang map to lock down the 3-2 win.
Both the Philadelphia Fusion and the Houston Outlaws are up on Saturday for their second games. Philadelphia Fusion will play first against the London Spitfire at 2 p.m. ET, while Houston will take on the New York Excelsior at 4 p.m. ET.
-- Christiaan Kutlik
New York Excelsior 3, Boston Uprising 1
In a much-anticipated match, the latest chapter in the New England rivalry went in favor of the New York Excelsior as it closed out Thursday's Overwatch League competition with a 3-1 win over the Boston Uprising.
Going into the inaugural season of the Overwatch League, some had pegged the Uprising as a bottom-tier team, with the most common criticism being a lack of star power. While Boston showed that it is certainly a scrappy team that has upset potential, compared to the star power of the NYXL, it simply couldn't keep up.
Interestingly, New York's biggest star, DPS Kim "Pine" Do-hyeon, played only in Game 3 on Ilios, but he hard-carried New York to an impressive 2-0 win on the map as McCree, picking up highlight-reel plays in his one and only outing.
As this series demonstrated, Boston's biggest flaw seems to be a lack of adaptability, as the team seems to know only how to run traditional Genji/Tracer dive. Granted, Boston's strategies did well enough to pick up a win in Game 2 on Horizon Lunar Colony.
Once NYXL adapted and utilized counter-dive team compositions, however, Boston was repeatedly stuffed when it tried to engage, eventually going out of the series with a whimper in a poor performance in Game 4 on Numbani. While Boston will head back to the drawing board, New York will look to continue to develop the team without overusing Pine's ridiculously strong play, as Pine alone won't be enough to take down some of the titans of the Overwatch League.
Boston looks to get back on track on Friday at 9 p.m. ET against the Florida Mayhem, while the New York Excelsior prepares to take on the Houston Outlaws at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
-- Noah Waltzer