And with that, Stage One of the Overwatch League is officially over. This week the Six Pack is taking a look back at the standout parts of an exciting first quarter.
1) Best Finals: London Spitfire vs. NYXL
The first finals in Overwatch League history took place this Saturday and they didn’t disappoint. The London Spitfire and the New York XL faced off in a five-game series that saw its fair share of twists, turns, and most importantly, stunning plays.
London found themselves down 2-0 at half-time due to some slick team play and the work of fan-favourite player Do-Hyeon ‘Pine’ Kim. Facing three must-win games in a row, London dug deep and managed to set up a deciding fifth match taking place on escort map, Dorado. The main reason why they were able to get that far was the stellar play by their star duo of Kim ‘Birdring’ Ji-Hyuk and Joon-Yeong ‘Profit’ Park. Birdring managed to somehow improve his already masterful Widowmaker play, hitting pick after pick and outplaying his NYXL counterpart. Profit, on the other hand, kept the pressure on New York’s backlines with his strong Mcree play and masterful rip-tire use as Junkrat.
Between their regular season finale, semifinals matchup and grand final, London played 14 maps on Saturday and somehow managed to keep their energy up. On the tiebreaking Dorado map, London managed to put up a strong defence to win the Stage One Championship and the $100,000 prize that came with it.
You can watch the highlights of the Grandfinal here.
2) Stage One MVP: Jacob “Jake” Lyon
Choosing a Stage One MVP was a tough decision as there were a number of standout players like Dreamkazper and Birding who really elevated their team’s play. That being said, no player contributed to the overall cohesion and success of their team quite like Jake. Going into the season, Houston was viewed by many as a mid-level team and one that would have to fight their way to squeak into the playoffs, but that narrative didn’t fly with Jake.
Even though they got off to a rough 0-2 start, Jake set the stage for his team with his infectious smile and confidence found its way into hearts Houston’s other players in no time. This led to Houston setting a league-best 16 map winning streak and ultimately becoming the only non-fully-Korean team to secure a spot in the Stage One playoffs. Jake’s play in Stage One was highlighted by his timely rip-tires that often ended fights before they began, and his ability to find the enemy support players has bordered on the supernatural.
In the team’s press conference following their playoff loss to London, Jake was asked if he had any words for the Outlaw’s haters after being doubted throughout Stage One. He responded with a sly smile and a simple, “Thank You.” The message is clear: doubt Jake and the Outlaws at your own risk.
3) Most Surprising Team: Boston Uprising
The Boston Uprising was the team that no one predicted would succeed heading into the season. Now it seems like no one can take their eyes off of them. Boston started off as a bit of a joke, with the other teams and players taking shots at them and their pre-season speculation writing them off altogether. What has transpired since then has shocked and surprised fans and players alike.
I’ve talked about Boston before on the Six Pack and my analysis still holds true. Led by Dreamkazper and Striker, Boston has grown as a team, and now feature some of the best communication in the league. They are very much the team to beat right now as they have exceeded all pre-season expectations. They managed to follow up a set of two weeks in which they defeated the eventual Stage One Champion, London Spitfire, the much-hyped Dallas Fuel, as well as both LA teams with a commanding win against the Philadelphia Fusion and a narrow defeat at the hands of Jake and the Houston Outlaws.
Granted, the team took a while to gain their confidence and started the season with only one win in their first four matches, but since their victory against London, they have risen to the forefront of the league.
4) Most Disappointing Team: Dallas Fuel
If the Boston Uprising exceeded all expectations then the Dallas Fuel is the team that fell way short. With a record of three wins and seven losses, Dallas isn’t the worst team in the league or even the second worst for that matter, but they were expected to be much better. Going into the season Dallas was ranked by many as the top non-Korean team and one of the favourites to capture the Stage One title and the Overall Championships. Their first game against The Seoul Dynasty reinforced this belief, even though they suffered a 2-1 loss they kept the match close against what was believed to be the top tier all Korean team.
In actuality, the loss marked the start of a horrendous first stage for the Fuel that saw them suffer one setback after another. They not only started Stage One with massive losses, they also lost their top tank player, Felix ‘xQc’ Lengyel, to a suspension. xQc was suspended for the whole first stage because of his homophobic comments directed at Houston Outlaws tank, and Overwatch’s League’s only openly gay player, Austin ‘Muma’ Wilmot. As if communication off the pitch wasn’t a big enough disaster, the team found itself lacking cohesion in the early stages, leading to the frustration of many of their players and fans.
They have recently shown some life, winning their last two matches and just playing better as a whole. If xQc can smarten up and the team can continue to improve their communication, then the Fuel could very well put this nightmarish start behind them. Even if they continue to underwhelm, they’ll still have their sweet, sweet Valentine’s Day cards.
5) Best Shoutcasting Duo: Uber and Mr.X
***I’d like to apologize to DoA and those who enjoy puns because Best Shoutcasting DoA would have been a great title for this section.
Up to this point, the Overwatch League has featured some great commentary that has managed to meet and at times surpass the energy and enthusiasm of other sports. Leading the pack in this regard is the team of Mitch “Uber” Leslie and Matt “Mr. X” Morello who deliver their brand of infectiously informative play-by-play on a consistent basis. Uber serves as the enthusiastic purveyor of metaphorical genius with his over the top play-calling style and distinctly Australian flare, whereas Mr. X calls a technical game, often explaining the metaphors used by Uber.
Some of Uber’s best calls include gems like, “He’s got so much room he can build IKEA furniture,” which refers to a sniper not being challenged and allowed to snipe freely, and,”We don’t have time for your breakdancing so get out of the club,” to describe a healer trying to dodge the fire from the entire enemy team and getting eviscerated as a result.
Here’s a clip of the team in action:
Overall, Uber and Mr. X’s commentary elevates whatever game they’re casting, regardless of whether it’s a matchup between the top-rated Seoul Dynasty and Houston Outlaws or a lower tier matchup between the Florida Mayhem and the Shanghai Dragons.
6) Most Exciting Match: Boston Uprising vs. London Spitfire
It was hard to choose the most exciting match out of the 120+ games that have been played so far in the Overwatch League, but after some consideration the choice was clear. The week five matchup between the Boston Uprising and the London Spitfire stands out among the rest because it was the first major upset in Overwatch League history, and set the stage for a more competitive end to Stage One.
Going into the match Boston looked rather hopeless with their only win coming from a match against the hapless Florida Mayhem, and suffering a string of losses at the hands of Seoul, NYXL and San Francisco. At the same time, The London Spitfire were 4-0 and looked rather untouchable in their previous matches. Right away the game was more competitive than expected, with London narrowly winning the first match on Numbani by a score of 5-4. On the next map, Anubis, Boston’s defence stood tall and Dreamkazper went off with his clutch Genji play, securing a 3-2 win and starting the improbable upset.
After swapping trading wins on Illios and Junkertown, Boston shocked the Overwatch world, by winning the tiebreaking match on Lijiang tower, handing London their first loss of the season and sending notice to the teams and fans who doubted them.
The highlights of the match can be found here.
What were your standout moments from Stage 1 and what do you want to see in Stage 2 and beyond? Let us know in the comments below!