The 2019 Overwatch League playoffs got off to an electric start over the weekend. The top eight teams from the 2019 season battle their way through the double elimination bracket for an opportunity to become 2019 Grand Finals champions.
Two teams said goodbye to their season, two teams are one win away from securing their spot in the finals and the remaining have another chance by making a run through the loser bracket. Join us as we look back on all the best moments from the first weekend of the playoffs with our weekend wrap-up.
Both the Seoul Dynasty and the London Spitfire said goodbye to the 2019 season with two straight losses each.
The Dynasty faced off against the number one seed - Vancouver Titans - and were frankly outmatched in the fairly one-sided affair. The Titans looked strong in against the Dynasty, but Seoul still had a chance to make it through the loser bracket. That proved to be unsuccessful, as the Dynasty were disposed of easily by the Hangzhou Spark. Going into the playoffs as the lowest seed, the Dynasty were in for a tough road and they couldn't push through unfortunately.
The defending champions - London Spitfire - were rumored to be one of if not the best teams in the new Sigma meta coming out of scrimms. That didn't prove to be true as they were quickly sent to the loser bracket off a dominant performance by the New York Excelsior. The Spitfire didn't fare any better against the San Francisco Shock, losing 4-0 and saying goodbye to a chance to continue to defend their title. London didn't look that great all season and will have to look at their roster and decide what to fix going into the 2020 season.
Emotions Were On Display
Seoul Dynasty support players Ryu "Ryujehong" Je-hong and Jin-mo "Tobi" Yang stunned Blizzard Arena and Overwatch League fans around the world with their emotional post-game interview after being sent home early. When Danny asked if Ryujehong had anything he wanted to say to Dynasty fans, Ryujehong broke down on camera - unable to control his emotions. I started planning to write a piece about him retiring because, as I honestly thought it was coming. He apologized to the Dynasty fans and felt like he let everyone down. Tobi also let his emotions out when he addressed the fans.
Tobi and Ryujehong are legends in the Overwatch pro-scene, and when the Dynasty were announced for the Overwatch League, expectations were at an all-time high. The squad formerly known as Lunatic-Hai were going to be the sole-representative of Korea in the Overwatch League and were the early favorites to win it all. Unfortunately, the Dynasty were have never been able to live up to those lofty expectations and the players felt the pressure as everything culminated into that emotional moment.
The league was criticized by many fans on Twitter for having an interview and showing the emotionally distraught players so quickly after a loss. To others (and the Overwatch League team,) it was an important moment to show the dedication and emotion that runs in the Overwatch League.
The Atlanta Reign and the San Francisco Shock were the two hottest teams going into the playoff. Their opening match proved to be the most exciting Overwatch of the entire weekend and maybe of the entire year. San Francisco was picked by many to win the whole thing, but the Reign got off to a good start winning the first map before the Shock bounced back on the second. The two traded wins back and forth before going down to the wire on the seventh and final map - Rialto.
The Reign had a little over four minutes to move the cart a little over halfway through the last point of Rialto. The San Francisco Shock would have to dig deep and give everything they had if they wanted to hold off the attack for so long. The Shock were able to hold as they forced the map into overtime and Atlanta had one final chance to push.
It looked like San Francisco were going to come out victorious in the team fight but a possible C-9 allowed Atlanta to push the cart to just barely enough to get the win. Both the Shock and Reign players looked stunned as the match drew to a close. It's hard to tell if it was just a miscommunication by San Francisco or just great crowd-control play by Erster (Doomfist) and Gator (Sigma) to force the Shock off the point. Either way, the final moments of the game rocked the stadium and sent the Shock at a loss for words into the loser bracket.
Top Seeds Dominate
The Vancouver Titans and the New York Excelsior were the number one and two seeds respectively going into the playoffs. They proved their positions as they dominated their competition and set the stage for an epic match to reach the Grand Finals.
The Titans looked strong beating both the Seoul Dynasty and LA Gladiators 4-2 each. The scores seem a little bit closer than the matches actually were as the Titans flexed their muscles as the top seed. Rookie of the year Haksal looked strong on Doomfist, and will be a big factor in their match against the NYXL.
The New York Excelsior silenced all the critics who had written them off going into the playoffs. They'd finished stage four with a losing record for the first time in the team's history and some of the analysts predicted a quick exit for New York. Despite all their woes, they still finished as the second seed by winning the relatively easier Atlantic Division. Still, the Excelsior are one of the best teams (if not the best) in the league when they decide to play to their potential, and they showed it through the first weekend. They made quick work of the Spitfire and beat-down the white-hot Atlanta Reign utilizing the hero Bastion to great effect in both matches.
The first weekend of the epic 2019 Overwatch League playoffs lived up to the hype. Teams were sent home emotional, and others showed their dominance as they found themselves one win away from a ticket to Philadelphia and the Grand Finals. The Gladiators, Reign, Shock, and Spark (along with the Vancouver / New York loser) will have to run the loser bracket gauntlet for a chance at glory next weekend as everything comes to a conclusion. If the momentum from this past weekend carries on into next weekend, we might be in for some of the very best matches the league has ever seen.
It all starts Thursday, September 12th at 4:00pm PST.