It’s been a wild ride for the playoff-bound Fusion.
Over the 40-game inaugural season of Overwatch League, the Fusion experienced it all. They missed the preseason, found success and stumbled. They went through lineup changes, meta alterations and suspensions.
But when the dramatic 2018 campaign settled, the Fusion found themselves in the playoffs.
“The goal was always to make it to the playoffs,” Fusion coach Yann “Kirby” Luu said. “If you just make it there and peak at the right time, you have a shot at winning it all.”
Defined by an aggressive, brawl-style dive strategy, the skillful but inconsistent Fusion wrapped up the regular season with a 24-16 record. It was good enough for the sixth and final playoff seed and a best-of-three series against No. 3 Boston Uprising starting Wednesday at Blizzard Arena. The match is streamable on Twitch.tv at 8 p.m.
“The season doesn’t necessarily matter too much,” said the coach, whose club will host a watch party Wednesday, 7 p.m. at NBC Sports Arena at XFINITY Live! “We made it on the final day, but we’re proud of where we’re at and we’re focusing on making sure we take this opportunity all the way.”
Facing the Uprising was a win for the Comcast Spectacor-owned Fusion. They split the season series, 2-2, by a map score of 9-8 in the Fusion’s favor, with both clubs nearly winning a stage title along the way. Each match is a best-of-five series featuring rotating map types, which requires teams to exhibit different strategies and strengths.
“It’s hard to look at the past series and draw any kind of conclusion,” Luu said. “I wouldn’t read too much into the past. We’re not overlooking them but we’re confident in our ability with the roster we have.”
The Uprising, who finished 26-14, are owned by Robert Kraft and feature a similar makeup to the NFL’s New England Patriots — a coachable team that relies more on game plan than superstars. And while the Uprising will ride skilled DPS player Nam-Ju “Striker” Gwon, the Fusion, led by All-Star DPS player Jae-Hyeok “Carpe” Lee, feel they have the edge in skill positions and in depth.
“We’re going in with 12 players, more options at every single role,” said Luu, referring to the Uprising’s lack of depth, which is a Fusion strength. “At the current meta, we should be able to make use out of that. And in terms of raw skill potential, some of our guys edge it out a tiny bit over theirs.”
Aside from top-end skill, the Fusion also have experience. With five Overwatch World Cup veterans under his watch, Luu is pleased with how his club has approached its first-ever playoff series.
“The guys are cool cats, they just want to get in the room and pop some heads,” he said. “They're excited about the opportunity but it’s also about getting in there, playing Overwatch and focusing on the game. That’s the mentality we’ve used to stay in some of those tough games and the mentality we’re trying to keep for the playoff run.”