NBC Sports Philadelphia

NBC Sports Philadelphia

As we thunder toward the start of Season 2 of the Overwatch League nary two weeks away, the Philadephia Fusion have been preparing themselves for a hot new season of professional Overwatch. Catch up on the latest roster moves, new players, and mark your calendars for the first Fusion matches.

Here’s everything a Fusion fan needs to know!


Image credit: Philadelphia Fusion

Brief team history
The Philadelphia Fusion are one of the most diverse teams in the OWL, sporting a nine-member team with two co-head coaches, hailing from eight different countries. 

Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment

The Fusion ended Stage 1 in the middle of the pack at a 6-4 record. They surged into playoffs in Stage 2 at 7-3, knocking the previous stage champions, the London Spitfire, out of contention. However, they would fall to the New York Excelsior in a hotly contested Stage Finals. In Stages 3 and 4, they missed playoffs both times but did secure themselves a postseason playoffs slot off the strength of their earlier performance. In quarterfinals, a newly invigorated Fusion beat the Boston Uprising, 3-1, and in a major upset, took down the New York Excelsior in a close 3-2 semifinals. Despite their momentum, the Fusion had no answers for Spitfire’s superior team play and individual mechanics in the Grand Final, and their run was halted with a 3-1 and 3-0 Spitfire. 

 

New Roster moves and player signings

Image credit: PrettyDamnSweet/Philadelphia Fusion

In the offseason, the Fusion released four players, Joe “Joemeister” Gramano, Jeong-Hwan “Dayfly” Park, Georgii “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha and Hong-Jun “HOTBA” Choi. Joemeister now coaches the Harrisburg University varsity Overwatch team (see story). ShaDowBurn has been picked up by the Paris Eternal while Hotba has joined the Guangzhou Charge. 

The Fusion has also introduced two-way players, a player who splits time between two teams. Simon "snillo" Ekström, of the PHL Fusion, and Elijah Hudson "Elk" Gallagher, of Fusion University, now spends their time playing for both the OWL and Contenders teams. Their performance in Season 3 of Contenders NA helped secure Fusion University its third straight championship title. Snillo and Elk were able to focus their attention on Contenders during the OWL offseason, but now as the tournaments overlap, it will be interesting to see how the two teams share their play time. 

With the roster moves, the newly trim Fusion will be able to focus all resources on their core players. Sado and Poko are a front line bulwark alongside the formidable DPS combo of Carpe and Eqo, who were top of the league at their height. The backline has also been greatly strengthened with Elk. A standout Lucio player, his boops and displacements were often the linchpin of team fights in his time on Fusion University. 


Image credit: Nick D'Orazio

A major obstacle for the Fusion is consistency. Last season, they bounced between hot win streaks and strings of tough losses, and they struggled at times even against the Shanghai Dragons, the league’s bottom team. After a season working, playing and living together, signs are good that the Fusion’s teamwork is strengthened. If they can weaponize their aggressive and often emotional play, the Fusion will cement themselves as a top team to beat in the Atlantic region. 
 

Overwatch League Season 2 format changes


Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment

This season of OWL sees a couple changes to the league format. With 20 teams, each team will play up to two matches per week over the course of four five-week stages for a total of 28 matches per team. The postseason playoff slots will be decided according to a team’s division. The Atlantic Division welcomes the new addition of Paris, Toronto, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta while the Pacific Division comprises of the other four new franchises that have joined the Overwatch League this season, Vancouver, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Hangzhou.

As with the first season, the winner of each division and the next four runner-up teams will qualify for the postseason playoffs. The last two of the eight slots will be decided by a play-in tournament that will be held immediately after the end of the regular season. Leaving the final two playoff spots to a single elimination tournament will look to give teams with a rough start in the regular season a chance to make up the difference. 

The regular season breaks will be extended. This hopes to help prevent player burnout and give teams time to visit their home locations during the season. In addition, there will be an extended midseason resting period between Stages 2 and 3, when the All-Star weekend will be played. 

Longer breaks along with the decreased playing schedule should help alleviate both player and viewer fatigue. Another added benefit of this pacing is teams will also have more preparation time for each of their games. Each match holds more weight and teams can strategize plans, especially for each opponent. This will hopefully lead to a higher level of play and a more competitive viewing experience as well. 

PHL Fusion match schedule — When to watch
The match schedule for the first two weeks of the Overwatch League is packed with action. You can find the full 2019 OWL schedule here.

 


Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment

The PHL Fusion will take the stage for game one of the OWL 2019 season on Feb. 14 at 4 p.m. PST. Watch it live at twitch.tv/playoverwatch!