If you have been following the exciting action of the Overwatch League, then you know that the playoffs for the inaugural season are coming in just a few weeks. At the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles from July 11 to July 21, six teams will play for the two spots in the Grand Finals and a substantial $1,000,000 prize.
To get ready for the playoffs, let’s take a brief look at what happened this past year and what we could possibly expect in July.
During Stage 1 play, we saw the emergence of the New York Excelsior as the top team with a 9-1 record. Closely behind them were the Houston Outlaws and the London Spitfire, both with a 7-3 record. In the playoffs, the London Spitfire pulled off victories against the Houston Outlaws (3-1) and the New York Excelsior (3-2) to become the Stage 1 champs.
Stage 1 Champion: London Spitfire
In Stage 2, the New York Excelsior (9-1) and the London Spitfire (8-2) found themselves in the playoffs again, but this time the Philadelphia Fusion (7-3) joined them in the number 3 spot. During the playoffs, the Philadelphia Fusion won against the London Spitfire (3-1) but fell to the the New York Excelsior (3-2).
Stage 2 Champion: New York Excelsior
Stage 3 had a bit of a shake-up with the Boston Uprising coming out of stage play with a perfect 10-0 record. Of course, the New York Excelsior were close behind with a 9-1 record. Joining them in the Stage 3 playoffs were the two Los Angeles teams, the Valiant (7-3) and the Gladiators (6-4). The Los Angeles Gladiators lost to the Boston Uprising (3-0), while the Los Angeles Valiant lost to the New York Excelsior (3-0). In the end, the New York Excelsior defeated the Boston Uprising (3-0).
Stage 3 Champion: New York Excelsior
Going into Stage 4, the New York Excelsior was set to continue their dominance in the League, but the Los Angeles Valiant and the Los Angeles Gladiators both posted an impressive 9-1 record in stage play. The New York Excelsior made it to the playoffs with a 7-3 record and the Dallas Fuel rounded out the top 4 teams with a 6-4 record. In the playoffs, the Los Angeles Valiant defeated the Los Angeles Gladiators (3-2) and the New York Excelsior defeated the Dallas Fuel (3-2). In the finals, the Los Angeles Valiant pulled off the win (3-1) against New York.
Stage 4 Champion: Los Angeles Valiant
Before we look at some possible playoff predictions, let’s look at two of the biggest stories coming out the league. One is the shockingly abysmal season of the Shanghai Dragons. They came in with rather high expectations, but unfortunately the team could never find it’s groove. With a 0-40 overall record, the Dragons will have a lot to fix in the off season. Will that mean a complete roster overhaul or just minor adjustments? We’ll have to see, but that does lead us into the second biggest story and that is the addition of the league’s first female player, Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon. As a top-level Zarya player, she was a part of a roster restructuring that the Shanghai Dragons did in February when they added Geguri, He “Sky” Junjian, Lee “Fearless” Euiseok, and Chon “Ado” Gihyeon. Many people were calling for the addition of a female player and with Geguri’s impressive stats, it was only a matter of time before she was added to a roster. While some teams feared certain ramifications for signing on a female player, the Shanghai Dragons took a chance.
Going into the season playoffs next month, we have the Atlantic Division leaders New York Excelsior (34-6 overall, 1st seed) and the Pacific Division leaders Los Angeles Valiant (27-13, 2nd seed). Next are the Boston Uprising (26-14, 3rd seed), Los Angeles Gladiators (25-15, 4th seed), London Spitfire (24-16, 5th seed), and the Philadelphia Fusion (24-16, 6th seed). With the 1st place seed, the New York Excelsior has earned a bye along with the LA Valiant during the first round of the playoffs. In the Quarterfinal Series, it will be Philadelphia versus Boston and London versus the LA Gladiators. The winners of these matches will head to the Semifinal Series where they will go up against either New York or the LA Valiant.
If we’re going to predict who will win those spots in the Grand Finals, it may very well be the 1st and 2nd seeds, but they could face stiff competition from the Boston Uprising and the LA Gladiators. According to SportsBettingDime, NYXL’s championship odds are set at a very favorable 2/3 (60%) while London Spitfire and London Spitfire’s odds are 9/1 (10%). Still, this is the Overwatch League, where almost anything can happen.
As to who could possibly win the Grand Finals on July 27-28 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, if the New York Excelsior make it, good money could be put on them. They will have an interesting home field advantage and with the way they have been playing, could take the Finals easily. Time will tell and it all begins in a couple of weeks.
[Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment]