The lull between the end of regular play and the beginning of the season playoffs affords us the opportunity to take a look back at the inaugural season of the Overwatch League. What did the League do right, where can they improve, and what should be abandoned like the payload on Blizzard World? Here’s a look back at some of the best moments of the season, some of the worst, and what we can hope for in the seasons to come.

Stage 1 — Setting The Stage

Stage 1 served as an introduction to the teams and players we would come to know and love (and possibly revile, depending on where your loyalties lay). Stage 1 was also when Mercy was queen. The power of her Valkyrie ultimate made her the strongest single target healer in the game, and her ability to toss out resurrections without penalty gave her the power to reverse the course of team fights.

The teams who mastered this Mercy meta, who kept her alive the longest or utilized her ultimate the best, were the teams that saw the most success. And in Stage 1, those teams were the Seoul Dynasty, the London Spitfire, and the New York Excelsior.

Best Moment: Stage 1 Week 5 Day 4

This was the most grueling day in Overwatch League history. It was the final day of Stage 1 regular play and Stage Playoff day. In the first match, the London Spitfire and the New York Excelsior, the two best teams in the League, met for the first time in a match to decide the seeding for the Stage 1 Playoffs. New York won that match 3-2 earning, them a bye into the Stage finals and sending the beaten Spitfire to the semifinals to face the winners of the second match of the day: the Boston Uprising vs. the Houston Outlaws.

Boston and Houston were fighting for a spot in the playoffs, and the resulting match is on the short list for one of the best matches of the season — an insane, high scoring, knock-down, drag-out fight that came down to the last possible moment.

The battle between Boston and Houston would have been the best match of the stage, but fate would have it that London and New York weren’t quite finished with each other yet. London, after losing to New York 2-3, then beating Houston 3-1, went on to face a rested New York Excelsior and reverse swept them 3-2. It was an incredible feat of stamina and perseverance that can literally never be repeated. After this 12-hour day of games, the League would change its playoff format, adding an extra day for the Stage semis and finals.

Stage 2 — Drama Bombs

Stage 2 can be neatly summed up in two words: player drama. Teams shuffled rosters around, adding and trading players before the April 1st deadline, while some players simply could not adjust to the new lifestyle playing in the League forced them to adopt. A handful of players washed out, burned out, for disciplinary reasons had to sit out, or for worse offenses had to be kicked out. Everything was in upheaval. There wasn’t a week in Stage 2 where something important didn’t happen off the stage.

Best Moment: The Best Most Handsome Main Tank

The best story to emerge from the great player trades of Stage 2 was the instant rivalry formed between the Los Angeles Gladiators and the London Spitfire. London, in a move that would haunt them for the rest of the season, traded their back up main tank Fissure to Los Angeles.

When these two teams met for the first time post-trade, London was at the top of their game, playing like Stage 1 champions should play. The Gladiators, however, were a middling team, 3-2 and adjusting to their new main tank. Going into this match London was the clear favorite. But London didn’t have Fissure anymore. The results speak for themselves.

Stage 3 — The Teams Mix Things Up...With Mixed Results

Things got weird in Stage 3. Teams started experimenting with compositions hoping that whatever they cooked up would give them edge the needed to keep winning or stop loosing. Dallas had DPS player Seagull take over for Flex Mickie in the off-tank role. Seoul got seriously funky, putting Flex Support Ryujehong into the role of the main tank, with mixed results. New York’s Saebyeolbe saw more playtime as Widowmaker than Pine. While Shanghai’s addition of Ado, Fearless, and Geguri helped them see their best stage yet, they still didn’t win a game (but they did win nine maps, more than any other stage).

Best Moment: Boston’s Uprising

Of all the teams you’d expect to have a perfect 10-0 stage, Boston was not one of them. In fact, after losing who was widely considered their best player, no one was sure how Boston would perform. Would they fall apart as others had after losing a team lynchpin? Or would they manage to hold it together long enough to eek out a respectable showing?

Boston needed to step up. And they did, in a big way.

Prior to this match, New York hadn’t dropped a game since Week 1 of Stage 2 — they were on an 11-game winning streak that included the Stage 2 championship. New York could not be beat, especially not by a battered team of relative nobodies whose morale was at their lowest point of the season. Boston managed to upstage New York in what became the biggest upset of the season. Then Boston kept winning.

That string of victories, impressive as it was, wasn’t enough to hold off New York in the Stage 3 finals, but it did earn the team the respect they deserved and a spot in the season playoffs.

Stage 4 — Brigitte Enters The Fray

Stage 4 added new support hero Brigitte to the hero roster, and while she didn’t quite bring about the death of the all-powerful Dive Meta, she did open up new opportunities for teams to finally find their niche. For other teams, the new post-Brigitte meta was their last shot to rack up enough wins to make the season playoffs. No team utilized Brigitte more effectively than the Dallas Fuel. Stage 4 was the only stage where Dallas had more wins than losses. A feat that, with a little help from the London Spitfire, saw the Dallas Fuel make their first appearance in the Stage playoffs.

Best Moment: The Shanghai Dragons’ Most Devastating Loss

This isn’t so much a “best” moment as it is a notable one. Taken with the Dragon’s other 39 losses, this match against Florida isn’t really memorable. But on its own, this match encapsulated the highest highs and the lowest lows of any match in the entire season. This game was the Dragon’s last chance. They’d been steadily improving, tightening up their play, getting aggressive in their attacks, solid in their defense (remember, this was a team who even before the new players could shut out Seoul). If there was ever a time Shanghai was going to finally, finally get win for the season, this was it. And for the first half of the game, it seemed like it might just happen.

For half a game, the dream was real. If you could bottle the energy in that arena when Shanghai was up 2-1 against Florida, you could power the entire world for a year. One of the great things about the League is the community and their ability to support and cheer for a team that is really, really bad. When Florida then reverse swept Shanghai 3-2, all that energy was sucked out of the room, and Overwatch League fans everywhere everyone were heartbroken.

Maybe next season.

What To Expect From The Playoffs

Here are the top six teams going to the Overwatch League Inaugural Season Playoffs.

#1. New York Excelsior

No surprises here. The Excelsior was a team that, for a while, was kind of underhyped. Yes, they performed well, but in the beginning it was always Seoul, London, and then New York, almost as if they were an afterthought. But they soon became the team synonymous with success. Deep hero pools made them resistant to the meta changes that ravaged teams like Seoul and Boston, and overall team cohesion just made them good. They play well and they play well together.

#2. Los Angeles Valiant

The Valiant has always been a solid team. The addition of Space and Custa turned this solid team into a great one. The Valiant are a steady team, not a flashy one. They’ll beat you to death with top-notch fundamentals, not killer plays. The Valiant is the kind of team that will creep up on you and wear you down until you lose, making it look like barely anything happened at all.

#3. Boston Uprising

I’m scared for this team. They never placed higher than sixth in three out of four stages, and the only reason why they’re in third now was that one miracle stage when they went 10-0. After that, they were never the same. The only games they won in Stage 4 were against Seoul, Shanghai, Florida, and oddly, New York. That isn’t the record of a team that has a good chance in the finals. Hopefully the team we do see in the finals will be that outlier team, the version of Boston that can go 10-0 and come out of a slump to beat New York. For their sake, they have to be.

#4. Los Angeles Gladiators

If the Valiant is the slow and steady team that wins the game, their cross town siblings are the aggressive, flashy younger brother that also wins the game. Fissure going over to the Gladiators was the most impactful trade of the season, not only for his individual skill, but for his ability to bring out the best in his teammates. Fissure is a shot caller and a play maker, with a great personality that makes him easily one of the top choices for the League MVP.

#5. London Spitfire

Like the Boston Uprising, the London Spitfire is another team with a dubious spot in the finals won by past performances instead of more recent ones. With so many players to field, their lineups were all over the place. But even after benching four players to streamline that lineup and with Birdring back after an injury kept him sidelined, London still hasn’t returned to their Stage 1 playoff peak.

#6. Philadelphia Fusion

The Fusion are perhaps the greatest wild card in all the playoff teams. Their record is all over the place. Sixth in Stage 1, third in Stage 2, eighth in Stage 3, then back to sixth in Stage 4. They’re a team that can beat the New York Excelsior (they were the first team and only team to beat them in Stage 1) and a team that can lose to the Dallas Fuel. Their playoff success will largely depend on two things: Carpe and luck.

Final Thoughts

The matches — great. The production — great. The teams and the players — great, great, great. But what made the Overwatch League Inaugural Season so amazing was the fans. From the very first broadcast, the Overwatch League put the fans first, made them just as important, just as front and center to the Overwatch League experience as the teams, the casters, and the matches themselves.

This dedication to the community is what the League will need to carry forward when games break out of Los Angeles and into their home markets. For now, Blizzard’s doing it right by supporting watch parties all over the world and bringing teams to the fans in their home cities. But not everything’s perfect. As it is now, the format of the League is brutal on its players. Hopefully with the addition of new teams, games can be spread out to one a week, or two games a week across five or six days instead of four. I’d also like to see a player based organization that can advocate for themselves so horror stories like Shanghai’s 12-hour a day practice schedule aren’t repeated.

If you’re craving your weekly dose of competitive Overwatch during the downtime between end of regular season play and the Playoffs, Season 2 of Contenders begins on July 3rd. Or check out the Overwatch League’s Twitch channel for rebroadcasts of the best moments from your favorite teams. The Playoffs begin Wednesday July 11th, starting with the match between the Boston Uprising and the Philadelphia Fusion.

Ash, the first of her name, keeper of Zenyatta lore, protector of Hanzo mains and Mother of Shanghai Dragons, is a content writer for the Overwatch section of MMO-C and Gamepedia.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Overwatch League 2018: Regular Season Recap started by ComradeKoch View original post
Comments 1 Comment
  1. mmocfd328e0b6e's Avatar
    This thing "Overwatch League" is so overcomplacated.
    And I really hate the "selected audiance" there. It feels like those shows where people have to laugh when a bulb lights up above the stage... Blizzard brutaly moderates it because they have to appeal for children too.
    It is about time to get games which are rated for only adults and focusing on those people who can handle harsh language, blood, racism, negativity. It is part of the human nature. There are no pure people.

    Soon only Korean players will rule this game too. So who cares anyway.

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