Overwatch League

Experiencing the Overwatch League for the first time and why you should too

Experiencing the Overwatch League for the first time and why you should too

The Philadelphia Fusion finally played in front of a home crowd for the first time Saturday at the Met. It’s been a long time coming but with a near sold out venue, it was clear that the city was ready for the league to make it’s way there during their regular season. 

And after the 2019 Overwatch League sold out Wells Fargo Center in September, I finally realized it may be time to pay attention to something that was taking over the nation … I just wasn’t sure how. 

Fast forward to this weekend of events. Still knowing nothing about the league, Overwatch in general or really what to expect at something like this … I decided to go. I wanted to see what it was like, essentially as an outsider, to see how things go. Here’s what I took away from the day:

First impressions

I arrived about a half hour before the initial start time and it was packed. Between the lobby, merchandise tables and gaming stations, the atmosphere was electric. It almost seemed like a mini ComicCon, or in this case BlizzCon — with fans in jerseys representing their favorite players, cos-plays of characters in the game and even a fake Gritty (the real Gritty was there too, but we’ll get to that later).

How does it differ?

One of the biggest questions I had heading into things was how different would this be from a regular sporting event? Turns out — it’s not. Two teams of six compete on three separate maps, with three games within them. It’s highly competitive and very intense. 

The crowd was also as Philly as it gets. The entire event went on for nearly four hours and the energy never died down. The first match of the Mayhem and the Outlaws had an interesting dynamic, where fans cheered for both teams. Everyone was just there appreciating the game and the atmosphere, but boy did it take a shift as soon as the Fusion and Justice took the stage. 

It was loud. I mean loud. From booing the Justice from the moment they stepped on the stage, to cheering on the home team for the very first time. It was the same energy you’d see from Flyers, Sixers, Phillies and Eagles fans. 

Not to mention, there was even an E-A-G-L-E-S chant that broke out, so it’s safe to say the Fusion were officially initiated into the Philly sports world. 

What I took away

I’m familiar with Blizzard Entertainment, having played World of Warcraft since my middle school days, but before this weekend I had held off to being open-minded to any other games they put out. If I had a better understanding to Overwatch overall, the way I do with WoW, chances are I’d probably become pretty invested into this. To be a player and to be able to watch some of the best in the game is a pretty cool concept. 

Not to mention, an appearance from Gritty is an automatic win in my book. 



Is it worth attending?

 If you’re open to trying new things, I’d suggest giving it a shot. Since this was the first time I was there and was still pretty much unaware of everything going on for the first few hours, two matches seemed lengthy. Luckily, if you wanted, you could’ve gone for just the Fusion that was set to start two hours into the event. 

The gaming community continues to evolve. If you’re a fan of Twitch — an online streaming site for players, this may be something to look into. It’s basically the live version of it but with the addition of a live sporting event atmosphere. 

I rather enjoyed my time there and look forward to the next time the Fusion are home (May 23-24). Now that I know what I’m going into, it’ll be exciting to be back with a new perspective. 

Overwatch League 2019 Grand Finals in Philadelphia end with a shocking San Francisco victory

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Robert Paul/Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch League 2019 Grand Finals in Philadelphia end with a shocking San Francisco victory

In a hyped-up Grand Finals, the two best teams throughout all of Season 2 faced off in the Vancouver Titans and the San Francisco Shock. With the team's previous matchups split evenly, this match would decide the victor once and for all. Despite all the hype that went into the match, the victor was decided fairly quickly as the Shock dominated the Titans on their way to a 4-0 victory and the title. What does this victory mean for the two teams heading into the next season? Let’s take a look and start off with the champions themselves. 


The San Francisco Shock: Golden run completed


(Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment)

The Shock entered the Grand Finals after an amazing run through the loser’s bracket, going undefeated against the likes of the Hangzhou Spark and the New York Excelsior. With all the momentum in the world, the Shock completed their run with their 4-0 victory over the Titans, cementing their spot as the best team in the Overwatch League. 

Through the entire match, the shock showed a lot of versatility as they were able to continuously adapt to whatever the situation needed. A great example of the Shock’s ability to adjust and adapt on the fly was when DPS player Dong-jun "Rascal" Kim’s switched to Pharah on Eichenwalde, which turned around the map for the Shock, leading to their win. Considering the importance of that map in terms of momentum, this could have been one of the key moments that decided the series as had the Shock not won Eichenwalde, the Grand Finals could’ve gone another way with momentum shifting back to the Titans.

Overall, the Grand Finals showed the world how strong of a team the Shock truly are, but one aspect of the team that hasn’t received enough praise for their dominant run is their coaching staff. Head coach Dae-hee "Crusty" Park through the entire season was able to help the Shock remain one of the best teams in the league with two different starting rosters depending on the meta. It’s hard to imagine any other coach being able to do the same thing and as such, Crusty deserves a huge payday for his next contract.

The Vancouver Titans: Forever the underdogs and forever runner-ups

Apex Season 2, Apex Season 4, and now The Season 2 Grand Finals of the Overwatch League. While the Runaway core that forms the Vancouver Titans is used to being the underdogs in big matches, they’re unfortunately also used to being the runner-ups. 

Despite a strong run into the Grand Finals through the Winner Finals, the Titans were simply outmatched by a stronger team in the Shock. Key players that needed to have great performances simply couldn’t keep up as tank player Hyeon-Woo "JJANU" Choi was outclassed on Sigma, and DPS player Min-soo "SeoMinSoo" Seo was simply unable to make a big enough impact to affect the team’s chances to win. Overall, the Titans struggled against the Shock and were unable to show the same level of versatility. This was most evident as the team was mowed down by the Shock’s Bastion composition on multiple occasions without an answer. 

Despite all the negatives, the Titans will still head into the next season as one of the best teams in the Overwatch League. Along with that, if history has shown fans of the Runaway core anything, it’s that after a heartbreak, victory will follow. 

The road to Philly: Overwatch League Grand Finals preview

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Image courtesy of the Overwatch League

The road to Philly: Overwatch League Grand Finals preview

After a month of intense action, two teams remain in the fight to claim the throne. On one end, there is the Vancouver Titans, a roster built out of the core of underdogs turned juggernauts in Runaway. Facing off against them after an insane run through the loser bracket is their long-time rival, the San Francisco Shock,  a team that developed slowly, allowing their young players to thrive and have become one of the best teams in the league. 

Despite how unpredictable the playoffs have been, this grand finals matchup felt inevitable. Both teams have met each other at every step of the way, trading blows and victories. Now they’re set to face off once again. However, both teams took very different paths than what fans expected to get here. So, how did these teams reach the finals in Philadelphia? And what will this next chapter in their rivalry look like?

The Overwatch League Finals will take place on Sunday, September 29th. 

Image courtesy of the Overwatch League

Vancouver Titans: The Team To Beat

Coming into the playoffs, different expectations were placed on both teams. For the Titans, after struggling at times in Stage 4, many expected the team to drop out before the finals and even fall into the loser’s bracket in the first round. However with tank player Jang-hyeon "TiZi" Hwang in the lineup, the Titans showed that it’s going to take more than a meta shift to take them down. With the best record in Season 2 along with a great run through the winner’s bracket, the Titans will still come into the Finals as the underdogs, a position that they’re not only familiar with, but probably the most comfortable in as well. Will the Titans be able to prove the world wrong once again? Or will their run truly end with a second-place finish once again?

San Francisco Shock: Youthful Dominance

Trying to stop the Titans from the loser’s bracket is their Overwatch League rival in the Shock. After an upset loss at the hands of the Atlanta Reigns in quarterfinals, the Shock dominated the loser’s bracket, never dropping a single map. Despite entering as the third seed, the expectations are high for the Shock as they were expected to win it all convincingly. With four players that were named Role stars and the only perfect stage in Overwatch League history, the Shock have continued to meet and exceed all expectations for the team this season. Once again they face off against the Titans in the finals. Will the Shock beat their rivals once again and ascend to the throne? Or will their amazing run through the loser’s bracket fall short?

MVP versus Rookie of the Season: A battle of fists.

One of the most exciting individual matchups to keep an eye on will be in the DPS role. This matchup will feature the rookie of the season in the Titan’s Hyojong "Haksal" Kim going up against the MVP in the Shock’s Jay "sinatraa" Won. With the current meta, this matchup will likely be a battle of the Doomfists. While Haksal has shown that he is one of, if not the best Doomfist players in the league at the moment, sinatraa has shown that he’s no pushover either. While both teams are filled to the brim with talent, this matchup could decide which team will have the edge to win it all.