You know about the Overwatch League. Maybe you never got into it or maybe you’ve never been into Esports at all. Maybe you spent your 100 free tokens on the prettiest skin you could find and that’s the closest you’ve gotten to following the League. But now you’ve heard about the Overwatch League Playoffs. And you’re wondering. What’s going on in the Playoffs? Who will be playing? Who are the teams and the players to keep an eye on? Well, that is why I’m here today. As an avid fan of the Overwatch League and its teams all season long, I will answer all of your questions.
We’ll start with the structure of the Playoffs. Starting on July 11, the top six teams from the Overwatch League’s Regular Season will face each other in a single elimination bracket to become the first to win the Overwatch League championship, and the prize money that comes with it. The Playoffs will be split into three weeks, each week a different round in the bracket. The first week, starting on July 11, will be the Quarterfinals. The next week, starting July 18, will be the Semifinals. The weekend of the third week, July 27-28 will be Grand Finals.
The Overwatch League was divided into two divisions: the Pacific Division, and the Atlantic Division. The top team in each division, regardless of overall seeding, qualifies into the Playoffs, and receives a first round bye. This means they skip the Quarterfinal week and instead will start their fight to the end during the Semifinals. This season, the two Division leaders are the New York Excelsior for the Atlantic, and the Los Angeles Valiant for the Pacific, ending the season in first and second seed respectively. After these teams, the teams seeded third through sixth qualify, and will start their battle in the Quarterfinals. These teams, in order, are the Boston Uprising, the Los Angeles Gladiators, the London Spitfire, and the Philadelphia Fusion.
Every matchup will be a Series of up to three matches, played over a course of three days. Each match will be a best of five maps played.The first team to win two matches by winning three maps in each match, will move on to the next round. Also, it’s important to note that the third match won’t be played if a team has already won two. After the Quarterfinal series, complete, the lower-seeded winner will face the New York Excelsior, and the higher-seeded winner will face the Los Angeles Valiant. From there, the two winners of the Semifinals move on to the Grand Finals, and will face each other in one final Series to declare the World Champion of the Overwatch League.
MEET THE TEAMS:
The first matchup of the Playoffs will be between the Boston Uprising and the Philadelphia Fusion, starting at 8 p.m. EDT on July 11. So, we’ll talk about these teams first.
The Boston Uprising is the third seed from the Regular Season, and are the only team to sweep a stage, winning ten games in a row in Stage 3. This is no small feat, especially since Mistakes, originally brought onto the team as a Tracer and Sombra specialist, was pushed into the flex DPS role towards the start of Stage 3. Despite this, Mistakes performed masterfully, and was the perfect DPS partner to Striker, the team’s resident Tracer player. Add to them the tank line of Gamsu, a well-known and accomplished player in APEX, which was at the time the highest tier of Overwatch tournament play, and NotE, a D.Va player who got his start with Toronto Esports, and a strong support roster of Kellex, a Mercy player known for rezzing and escaping in the most impossible circumstances, and AimGod and Neko, two accomplished Zenyatta players originally competing in APEX like Gamsu, and you have the solid roster of the Boston Uprising. Although the trend from Stage 3 didn’t carry over into Stage 4, there’s no doubt the Boston Uprising, originally thought of as a random mishmash of players, are one of the top tier teams in the Overwatch League.
The Philadelphia Fusion ended the Regular Season in the sixth seed, making them the last team to qualify for the Playoffs. However, you shouldn’t just write the team off. The Philadelphia Fusion reached the Stage 2 Playoffs, losing in the finals, and can clearly hold their ground against the best of the best in the Overwatch League. And their DPS duo carries the team along while winning the hearts of fans all over the world. Carpe has passed through many teams in the past, and has shown off his talent in each and every one. His Tracer is the hero that he is known for, but since the League started, his Widowmaker has stolen the breath of every watcher as he takes out entire teams by himself. Eqo is the perfect match to Carpe’s hitscan, playing projectile heros with massive success, and with a deep hero pool that gets larger as every match goes by. Their tank core is made of SADO, a strong and accomplished Winston player, and with HOTBA as offtank. HOTBA was also in APEX, proving himself and his skills long before Overwatch League was announced. And finally, their supports are out of this world, with Neptuno as Mercy, and the greatest Battle Mercy in the Overwatch League, and Boombox playing Zenyatta, who in past made a name for himself by killing key targets early and winning whole fights for his team. With this amount of skill on the team, the Philadelphia Fusion have a strong shot at the title of World Champion.
The other Series in the Quarterfinals will be the London Spitfire versus the Los Angeles Gladiators. Their first match will begin at approximately 10 p.m. EDT on July 11, the exact start time dependant on the previous match.
The London Spitfire was fifth overall after the Regular Season ended. Originally a mix of two APEX teams, one of which was G.C. Busan, champions, the London Spitfire was heavily favored throughout the Regular Season. And their skills were put on display as they reverse-swept to win the Stage 1 playoffs and competed again in the Stage 2 Playoffs. Although their record slipped from Stage 2 to the final stages, they are still a powerhouse of talent and can never be counted out in the Playoffs. The DPS players, originally from separate teams, have joined together to become a fearsome duo since the Overwatch League began. Profit and birdring are both well known for their tracer play, and birdring is also to be feared on his Widowmaker and projectile heroes. Gesture and Fury similarly only started playing as a tank duo when picked up for the London Spitfire, but have such strong synergy together some wouldn’t even know. Bdosin and NUS are the support duo. Both played in APEX at the start of their careers, and have proven themselves again and again, with Bdosin taking and winning countless duels and NUS helping and healing as needed, so good you don’t even notice his presence until it’s gone. If there’s a team a lot of people might count out when they shouldn’t, it’s the London Spitfire.
Los Angeles Gladiators
The Los Angeles Gladiators ended in fourth, and one of the favorites of the home Los Angeles crowd and all over the world. Although the team was slow to start, ending Stage one with a 4-6 record, they picked their record up fast after acquiring main tank Fissure from the London Spitfire, and eventually playing in the Stage 4 Playoffs. Bischu and Void support Fissure from the offtank slot, switching in and out depending on if Zarya or D.Va is going to be played. Surefour is a well-known DPS player, having played in the pro scene of Overwatch from the near beginning, playing on Cloud 9 and eventually working his way to the Los Angeles Gladiators. With him in the DPS role is Hydration, a strong flex focused on the projectile heroes. And in the back, supporting all of them, are BigGoose, a Mercy player who also has an affinity for whipping out his pistol, and Shaz, a strong Zenyatta player you think twice before challenging to a fight. Overall, the Los Angeles Gladiators have taken their players, all from many different teams and areas, and combined them into a strong contender in the Playoffs.
Los Angeles Valiant
The Los Angeles Valiant, leader of the Pacific Division, and overall second seed, is a very strong team and great contender for World Champion. Space, their offtank, is widely considered one of the best offtank players in America, despite only playing sice Stage 3. He masterfully runs with Fate, the main tank of the team, and together they hold the frontline of the Los Angeles Valiant strong. In the back, the supports are no slouches either, with Custa as main support, keeping his team alive and bringing them back when they die with skill and mastery, and Kariv, a strong Zenyatta player, who when needed will flex to various DPS heroes, including Widowmaker. And of course, the DPS of the Los Angeles Valiant pave the way for their team, with SoOn playing Tracer and Widowmaker, and Agilities taking the flex DPS role, although he is very well known for his skill on Genji and Pharah. The Los Angeles Valiant almost swept Stage 4, ending the Stage 9-1, but ultimately made up for this by going into the Stage 4 Playoffs and winning, setting themselves up as very possibly the first World Champion.
New York Excelsior
The New York Excelsior is the leader of the Atlantic Division, as well as leading all the teams in the Regular Season. With a massive 85% win rate during the Regular Season, there is no doubt that the New York Excelsior is among, if not the fan favorite for the World Champion. To compare, the Los Angeles Valiant in second has a 67.5% win rate. The New York Excelsior is a powerhouse, with all nine roster players excelling at their roles, and are widely known as among the best of all time. The DPS core is made up of Saebyeolbe, the Tracer and hitscan player, Pine, a specialist in all the hitscan heroes, and Libero, the flex DPS with a vast hero pool, filling any need the team might have. The tanks have Mano and Janus playing main tank, both to equal ability and switching out as different playstyles are needed, and MekO, who plays offtank with a specialty in D.Va, playing seamlessly with whichever main tank is in play. And finally, the supports have Jjonak, a Zenyatta who is considered by many Zenyatta players, including himself, as the best Zenyatta player, and the role of main healer, typically Mercy, is covered by Ark, who is so skilled at his job playing Mercy you hardly even notice him, and Anamo, no less skilled than his teammate. This team often boasts about their skills, and then perform to back up their claims. They were back to back Stage Champions in the Stage 2 and Stage 3 Playoffs, and have been wowing Overwatch League fans since the beginning of the season.
You have now begun your journey into Esports. You have learned about the Overwatch League Playoffs, heard all about the teams and their players, and now the only question you have left is: “Who are you cheering for?”