The London Spitfire survived a tough series against the Houston Outlaws and got revenge against the New York Excelsior en route to the Overwatch League Stage 1 playoff title on Saturday at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
A nearly 12-hour day of Overwatch ended with the Spitfire-themed confetti and big games from London DPS duo Kim "birdring" Ji-hyuk and Park "Profit" Joon-yeong. The marathon of matches Saturday was noticed by Overwatch League commissioner Nate Nanzer, who tweeted during the finals that his team will look at moving the playoff portion to Sundays moving forward into Stage 2.
"Let me save you some time from tweeting @ me about the schedule: we are looking into playing Stage Finals games on Sunday starting Stage 2," Nanzer said in a tweet. "That and other schedule news soon."
Nanzer added in a follow-up tweet that if the change is made, people who purchased Stage 2 playoff tickets for Saturday will get free tickets for the Sunday rescheduling should it be finalized.
Here's a rundown of how London, the first stage champions in Overwatch League claimed the inaugural playoff title and the $100,000 that came with it.
London Spitfire 3 - New York Excelsior 2
The London Spitfire completed a miraculous comeback on Saturday against the New York Excelsior, taking home the Stage 1 championship with a 3-2 reverse sweep to close out Stage 1 of the Overwatch League at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
After a grueling five weeks of play, we have our first-ever Stage 1 champions. The London Spitfire came into Saturday's action needing to dodge a 4-0 sweep from the New York Excelsior before taking down the Houston Outlaws to reach the finals. The deck was stacked against London from the start, with New York taking a win on Junkertown on the back of phenomenal play from DPS and hitscan star Kim "Pine" Do-hyeon and flex support extraordinaire Bang "JJoNak" Sung-hyeon. Things went from bad to worse for London in Game 2, as JJoNak and Co. dominated Oasis. Even without Pine, NYXL Tracer expert Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong-yeol still made his mark on the map, stopping London from taking City Center in overtime to give New York a 2-0 lead.
Needing a big win to stay alive in the series, London entered Horizon Lunar Colony with its back against the wall. The Spitfire needed to pull off the third reverse-sweep since the Overwatch League season began in order to take the title.
"Losing the first two maps, we thought, 'Hey, we couldn't let it end like this,'" Spitfire tank Hong "Gesture" Jae-Hee said. "We rallied back and won a game. After that, we were like, 'Hey, it's 2-1. Might as well.'"
That miracle run started courtesy of London DPS Kim "birdring" Ji-hyuk. Sure, birdring's partner, DPS Park "Profit" Joon-yeong, had flashier multikills as Junkrat, but birdring came up clutch every time London needed him to step up, regardless of what hero he played. After taking Horizon and full-holding New York on Point A at Numbani, it all came down to Dorado, where birdring popped off once again, earning a Player of the Series nod after annihilating New York as Widowmaker.
Throughout the series, NYXL had no answer to birdring, despite the entire team playing well and teamfighting as a unit. Once London kicked into high gear, there was nothing the Excelsior could do to stop it, closing out Dorado to complete the 3-2 reverse sweep and take the title of Stage 1 champions and making a statement to the entire Overwatch League that it is the new team to beat.
"I'm beyond proud of our team," Spitfire CEO Jack Etienne said in a tweet. "They headed to the studio at 8AM played 14 maps over the next 14 hours against extremely skilled opponents and walked away with the W."
The team will now look toward the two-week break and its preparation for Stage 2 starting Feb. 21.
-- Noah Waltzer
London Spitfire 3 - Houston Outlaws 1
The London Spitfire made quick work of the Houston Outlaws, taking a 3-1 series win on Saturday to move on to the Overwatch World League Stage 1 finals in Burbank, California.
The Outlaws entered this matchup with a full head of steam after taking a 3-2 win earlier in the day over the Boston Uprising to qualify for playoffs, but the Spitfire's 3-2 loss to New York on Saturday seemed to give London some motivation, too.
The first game saw the Outlaws continue its rampage on Dorado, using an anti-pick composition featuring DPS Jacob "JAKE" Lyon on his signature Junkrat. London was flustered, repeatedly trying to dive and getting stuffed, leading to a Game 1 Houston win. After that, though, London seemed to shift into a new gear, tearing Houston apart with lethal precision. London DPS Park "Profit" Joon-yeong annihilated the Outlaws whether he was on Genji, Junkrat or Tracer, despite the best efforts of Houston's tanks.
Houston crumbled later in the series, unable to do much in the face of London's superior anti-dive. London seemed to adapt immediately after its Game 1 loss, shutting down the Outlaws most potent threat, DPS Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin, with repeated dives from a strong London tank core. The rest of Houston, key players in the Outlaws' previous wins, couldn't keep up with their Korean counterparts, struggling to stay relevant while London proved that it was a cut above Houston. The Outlaws certainly performed well in Stage 1, making it to the playoffs as the second seed, but it couldn't withstand London's assault.
Houston now waits for Stage 2 to start for its next game, while London faces NYXL at 11 p.m. ET on Saturday for the Stage 1 Championship.
-- Noah Waltzer