Overwatch League Grand Finals: the four teams vying for the title
The Overwatch League playoffs have ended and now four teams are headed to South Korea for the Overwatch League Grand Finals weekend. The finals are slated to take place October 8 to 10. You can catch all the action on the OWL YouTube channel.
From the North American region, we will see the Philadelphia Fusion and defending champions San Francisco Shock take the proverbial stage (COVID-19 conditions permitting). From the Pacific region, we will see the Shanghai Dragons and the Seoul Dynasty attempt to take the crown.
What has been really interesting so far has been watching the different metas take shape across the two regions, and then watching them converge. This shows that each region is following the other’s progress. Early on it was the APAC region that began realizing how effective an aggressive Sombra could be, where the NA region preferred a slower, more Rein/Zarya–centric composition. After seeing how strong Sombra can be, though, many top-tier North American teams began to run their own version of the Sombra dive composition.
San Francisco Shock
There was never any doubt that the first seed of the North American region would be the defending champions that are the Shock. Throughout the regular season they went 25 and 3 with a map differential of +39. (That means they won 39 more maps than they lost.)
The Shock boast an impressive and extremely deep roster of 12 players. Even the six riding the bench could arguably start on any other team in the league. This depth allows them to make swaps based on the map requirements. If they want to run Tracer, then they have Striker, or they could work with Ans, one of the most surprising rookies who has just exploded onto the scene.
Their road so far
San Francisco actually came in on a double bye round to the playoffs. They then made an impressive run throughout the winner’s bracket, knocking everyone out of their way.
What has been the most surprising to me is how quickly all players on the Shock are able to generate their ultimate abilities. Ans, for example seemed to have an E.M.P. ultimate almost every single fight, winning them fight after fight after fight.
Their only non-dominant performance throughout the winner’s bracket was their first match against the Washington Justice. They went 3-2 winning a reverse sweep. Other than that match, no games really looked too close to me. It will be interesting to see how they deal with the first opponent, the Seoul Dynasty.
If there is one team you can never count out it is the runners-up of the first-season Overwatch League Grand Finals: the Philadelphia Fusion.This team often has a shaky season, but they always manage to pop off during the post season. Funnily enough, they were able to steal the first seed from the Shock at the end of the season and moving into the Playoff bracket.
Let’s be honest, the thing that the Fusion have going for them really is their clutch factor. With guys like Carpe and Sado on one team you can bet at least one of them will pop off. We all remember Carpe’s infamous play on Hanamura where anyone else would have seen a lost fight. With the right set of circumstances the Philly Fusion have a chance to go fanatic.
Their road so far
The Fusion’s road mirrored that of the Shock. They had a double bye before jumping into the winners bracket ahead of most other teams. They won their first two upper bracket matches before getting knocked down into the losers bracket by the Shock themselves in resounding fashion. The Fusion took this loss on the chin, though. They bounced back, beating the Washington Justice 3-0 in the loser bracket’s finals.
It is always interesting when the most prolific player on a team is not chosen for the initial starting six against the Justice. In this case, Carpe is left off of the initial roster in favour of Heesu, though only on the first map. My guess for this is that the Fusion’s superstar is not as competent on the Sombra pick, which fits better in the more chaotic playstyle of the King of the Hill maps. Carpe does end up playing in the other two maps, sticking mainly to hitscan characters like Widowmaker, Ashe, and Mcree. My guess is that they simply want Carpe to focus on his raw aiming mechanics and not have to worry about playing the farming simulator that is Sombra gameplay.
Their first opponents in the Grand Finals Weekend will be the Shanghai Dragons, the number one seed coming out of the APAC region.
It is honestly kind of sad that the Shanghai Dragons will be mostly remembered for their record-breaking loss streak of 40 straight matches, with a -120 map differential. This is still considered the worst single-season loss record in professional sports. Having said that, their Season 3 performance is a proverbial 180, boasting a 93% win rate, and a +44 map differential.
Not only that, they also have the current Overwatch League MVP Kim “Fleta” Byung-sun on their team. He is known for adapting to different metas and different heroes like crazy. There is even a phenomenon named after him called the Fleta Deadlift, where he is able to get more than half of the total kills of the team. He is the carry that any team wants to have, but also the carry no team hopes they need to have.
Their road so far
Like their North American counterparts, the Dragons went into the playoffs with a two-round bye before coming up against their first opponents, the New York Excelsior. The Excelsior are impressive in their own right, but never seem to hit their stride outside of the regular season. Fleta popped off (as expected) while Lip shouldered the role of the Sombra specialist. Interestingly enough, the Dragons ran a form of dive on every map but Lijang Control Center. That map that does prefer the brawl of a Zarya-Rein style composition.
Most likely we will continue to see Shanghai running with a dive composition throughout the Overwatch League Grand Finals weekend. The only reason they wouldn’t is if another team scouts them well enough to force them to adapt. The only NA team I can actually see having the wherewithal to do this would be the Shock. They are the masters of the counterstrat. They are able to make teams follow how they want to play, rather than letting them run their own style.
The Seoul Dynasty are cursed. Let’s just say it… they are. Dynasty should have their pick of players. All superstars would want to represent their own country and its capital city, and yet the team has never had the best record. Even in the 2019 season, they were knocked into the losers bracket and eliminated rather easily.
But not this year. This year they made some changes to their roster. They now have a rock-star duo that has been instrumental in getting them to the finish line. I am talking, of course, about Profit and Gesture. Both of these players previously released by the London Spitfire have become the lynchpin of the Dynasty roster. Profit is just like Fleta, able to put the entire team in a backpack and simply drag them kicking and screaming.
Their road so far
The Dynasty was the only team that that did not receive a double bye. Rather, they only skipped one match before beating the second seed of the region easily in a 3-0. Their match against Shanghai was honestly extremely close, going a full five matches.
What is interesting is that the Dynasty preferred to run a variant of the Sigma-Roadhog composition. Profit mainly played Pharah, with Fits playing the main hitscan and Sombra role. This counter-dive strategy paid dividends for the most part, until they played against a team with the adaptability of the Shanghai Dragons.
Overwatch League Grand Finals 2020: my analysis
Honestly, it is going to be insanely hard for any team to beat the San Francisco Shock this year. They seem poised to take the championship for the second time in a row.
I think the only way that another team is going to be able to beat them is by watching a lot of their gameplay and coming up with a successful counterstrategy. But they are also going to have to come up with whatever the Shock will then counter with, as their strat pool is as deep as the ocean itself.