New York Excelsior 3 - London Spitfire 2
The London Spitfire secured the No. 2 spot in the Overwatch League Stage 1 playoffs by taking a couple maps in a 3-2 loss to the New York Excelsior on Saturday at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
In what could very well be a preview of the Stage 1 finals, New York and London clashed in a battle of all-South Korean squads. Both teams looked dominant throughout the year, utilizing different playstyles to sweep through the competition. When these two teams finally locked horns, sparks flew, especially in the world-class DPS battles. Spitfire DPS duo Park "Profit" Joon-yeon and Kim "birdring" Ji-hyuk rolled in Game 1, with birdring's McCree carrying the Spitfire to a dominant hold on Eichenwalde before the Spitfire blitzed through the map. Not to be outdone, NYXL's duo of Kim "Libero" Hye-sung and Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong-yeol came storming back in Game 2 on Temple of Anubis, using an aggressive defense of the second point to tie up the series.
London's calculated, methodical approach worked wonders in Game 4 on Dorado, which came down to a nail-biting overtime push that birdring's Soldier:76 swung in London's favor with a clutch Tactical Visor. New York, meanwhile, went full-throttle with aggressive play, sweeping Game 3 on Ilios before eventually taking the tie-breaker Lijang Tower game with another 2-0 win. Both teams looked phenomenal in this series, and it was as close a series as anyone could've asked for. In the end, though, New York's aim was true, and star flex support Bang "JJoNak" Sung-hyeon was unstoppable all series long, giving NYXL a 3-2 win and locking up the first seed for Stage 1 playoffs.
While London didn't win, it secured a spot in Stage 1 playoffs by avoiding a 4-0 sweep. It waits to find out who it'll face on Saturday at 8 p.m ET, while New York will meet the winner of that series in the Stage 1 finals at 10 p.m ET.
-- Noah Waltzer
Houston Outlaws 3 - Boston Uprising 2
The Houston Outlaws punched its ticket to the Stage 1 playoffs on Saturday with a battle for the ages, taking the Boston Uprising down 3-2 in Burbank, California.
Right from the start, both teams had ups and downs, which led to a roller-coaster-style matchup with the final playoff spot on the line. Sure, the regular DPS stars showed up, like Houston's Jacob "JAKE" Lyon and Boston's Jonathan "DreamKazper" Sanchez, but all the DPS players in this game went through inconsistent periods. Picking up the slack were the tanks and supports, who stepped up in huge ways for both teams.
Things began as expected as Jake's Junkrat was a huge factor in Houston's Game 1 win on Eichenwalde, but Boston (6-4) came back with a vengeance in Game 2 on Temple of Anubis. Main tank Noh "Gamsu" Young-jin dominated as Winston throughout the series, leading Boston's signature dive playstyle, but support Park "Neko" Se-hyeon played phenomenally as well, giving Boston a lethal third damage dealer.
Both teams played hard and traded map wins back and forth, but Houston (7-3) got better play out of its tanks when it mattered most. Main tank Austin "Muma" Wilmot stepped up in a big way against a player of Gamsu's caliber, keeping Houston alive and creating space for Jake and fellow DPS, and player of the series, Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin. Muma's performance was instrumental in Houston's Game 4 win on Dorado, but the contributions from off-tank Matt "coolmatt" Iorio cannot be ignored. Coming up clutch as D.Va throughout the series, coolmatt's Zarya was instrumental in Houston's win on Lijang Tower-Command Center to kick off the tie-breaker map.
It was a full team effort, and Boston put up an incredible fight, but Houston got the job done on Saturday, locking up the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.
Boston now waits until Stage 2 to battle again, while Houston will face off with the London Spitfire on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.
-- Noah Waltzer
Philadelphia Fusion 3 - Florida Mayhem 2
The Philadelphia Fusion edged out Florida Mayhem in a tight 3-2 series on Saturday of the Overwatch League at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
For once, Mayhem looked incredibly strong. A team more renowned for its meme-y entrances than its expert play, Mayhem showed what it could develop into, namely, a deliberate and tactical team. Capitalizing on a handful of Fusion's sloppy plays with precision, Mayhem managed to flip points when needed but couldn't do much more to advance its lead. Struggling to coordinate against the Fusion trio of DPS Jae-Hyeok "Carpe" Lee, DPS Georgii "ShaDowBurn" Gushcha and tank Joona "fragi" Laine thwarted the Mayhem's careful planning time and time again.
After the Fusion handily won Numbani 3-2 thanks to Carpe's Tracer play, it absolutely crumbled in front of Mayhem on Horizon Lunar Colony. All of a sudden, DPS Kevin "TviQ" Lindström and tank Johan "CWoosH" Klingestedt dominated the map. Fusion ran away in terror from TviQ's Sombra, fearful of his EMP ultimate shutting down its abilities. The Mayhem took advantage of Fusion's cowardice and stole two captures points from under its nose. Then, on the Fusion's offense, CWoosH was able to clutch a final point defense with his Winston to clean out a limping Fusion.
Florida Mayhem would carry its winning momentum into Oasis, where TviQ once again tore through the Fusion's DPS lineup. Without its core DPS, Fusion simply couldn't pose much of a threat. But that changed in Junkertown. This time, it was the Fusion's lineup melting Mayhem's tanks, with Carpe's Widowmaker leading the charge to force a Game 5. In the end, Fusion's DPS won out once more, thanks in large part to a massive Mayhem blunder near Night Market on Lijiang Tower where Florida let themselves get easily flanked after burning all of its ultimates.
Both teams will next do battle in Stage 2, with Mayhem taking on New York Excelsior at 7 p.m. ET on Feb. 22, while the Fusion will scuffle with the Boston Uprising later that day at 9 p.m. ET.
-- Christiaan Kutlik