The Stage 4 Playoffs delivered some of the best Overwatch of the inaugural season. Today, the Overwatch League Rundown takes a look at the best moments, top plays and even crowns the MVP.
1) A Valiant Championships
After a disappointing Stage 3 playoffs that saw a lack of real competition, there was a bit of fan skepticism heading into Stage 4. After all, every game in the Stage 3 championships ended in a shutout, and seeing as the NYXL were back in the playoffs, another clean sweep seemed all but inevitable. However, that skepticism turned out to be unwarranted, as the Stage 4 championships ended up being full of drama, intrigue and a couple of upsets to boot. The drama started before the matches even began as the L.A. Gladiators shocked the Overwatch world by choosing the #2 L.A. Valiant as their Semi-Finals opponents, instead of the #4 ranked Dallas Fuel. Explaining his team’s choice, DPS phenom Lane ‘Surefour’ Roberts said that they wanted to give the fans an exciting match and so the fifth instalment of the Battle of L.A. was born.
The match was a back and forth affair that saw the teams deadlocked at one win apiece entering halftime. On the third map, Lijiang Tower, the Gladiators managed to pull off the win, thanks to a 26-elimination and 5-death performance by Surefour, as well as some great tank play. Facing elimination, the Valiant dug deep and managed to draw even in a close match on Kings Row, before putting up a top-tier defence on Dorado to capture the series win. There were a number of great plays from that match, but it was Terrence ‘Soon’ Tarlier’s Widowmaker mastery on Dorado that sealed the win for the Valiant.
The other semi-final featured the defending champion NYXL facing off against the revitalized Dallas Fuel, and it ended up being far closer than expected. Even though the NYXL managed to win the first two matches in rather decisive fashion, the Fuel refused to quit and ended up winning the next two games to set up another winner take all fifth match. A big reason why they were able to even up the series was the Widowmaker play by Timo ‘Taimou’ Kettunen, and heading into the fifth game Dallas looked like the more dominant team. However, in true NYXL fashion, the powerhouse squad saved their best effort for last. On Dorado, they managed to put up an impressive defence as they stopped the Fuel well short of the second checkpoint and ended up winning the match on their following attack.
And so the finals were set. The NYXL vs. The L.A. Valiant, in a match, to decide the final Stage playoff champion of the Overwatch League’s inaugural season. Both teams showed flashes of brilliance in the first two matches and ended up going into halftime tied at a win apiece. That being said, it was the Valiant who looked like the more confident team, and they managed to take the lead on Oasis thanks a masterful dragon-blade by Canadian player, Brady ‘Agilities’ Girardi.
Even with the Valiant’s dominant performance on the previous map, they were still going up against the league-leading NYXL. As a result, it still seemed like a foregone conclusion that the NYXL would take Blizzard World and force a fifth and deciding match. Then, the unthinkable happened. The L.A. Valiant managed to fully hold the NYXL, only allowing them to get one tick on the first control point. That feat was extra impressive as the NYXL had yet to be fully held on Blizzard World all season.
On the Valiant’s attack, they managed to knock NYXL’s captain Jong-yeol ‘Saebyeolbe‘ Park off of the high ground, and away from his team, which led to an easy kill on the superstar player. As a result, the NYXL was playing a man down for a few seconds, and the Valiant made the most of their advantage by picking off the NYXL’s remaining players one at a time and winning the match and the Stage championships as a result. Not only did the Valiant manage to end the NYXL’s two Stage reign, but they also became the first non-fully Korean rostered team to win a Stage Championships. Here are some great plays from the exciting day of Overwatch!
They say that “in space, no one can hear you scream,” but I’m not sure if I believe that after watching the Overwatch League’s Stage 4 Championships. The fact is that Indy ‘Space’ Halpern caused a whole lot of Overwatch League fans to scream loudly thanks to his insane ultimate usage, and high brainpower target selection. Overall, Space simply didn’t die a whole heck of a lot, and he managed to consistently be one of the leaders in terms of eliminations in every match that he played.
As a result, it’s hard to choose a play to sum up his strong performance, but the play that really stood out occurred in the Valiant’s opening match against the L.A. Gladiators. With the Valiant’s attack being stymied a bit and Surefour pulling off a key pick against enemy sniper Soon, Space sent off a glorious self-destruct that managed to kill three Gladiators players.
This allowed the Valiant to roll through checkpoint ‘A’, on the way to their series win and eventual Stage championship win. What’s perhaps most impressive about Space is the fact that he is just 18, and wasn’t even eligible to play in the Overwatch League’s first two Stages. In the time that he’s been a member of the Valiant, he has helped transform the team from a talented but inconsistent squad, into one that looks like they could be the ones to capture the Grand Finals.
That being said, it’s hard to be an MVP calibre player on a bad team, and a portion of the credit for his MVP recognition should also go to the Valiant’s main tank Pan-seung ‘Fate’ Koo. The duo worked almost seamlessly together throughout the playoffs, as they focused down enemy supports and pressured enemy DPS lines, which freed up space for the rest of their team to do what they do best. If Space can carry his dominant play and synergy with his team into the playoffs, then we could very well see the Valiant playing at the Barclays Centre in July.