The stage is set for the inaugural Overwatch League finals Friday and Saturday at the Barclays Center in New York. The No. 6 seed Philadelphia Fusion will take on the No. 5 London Spitfire. Thus far, the playoffs have been an upset-filled experience, as higher-seeded teams have lost every series and lower-seeded teams are 8-2 in matches played.
The kings of New York get dethroned
While the New York Excelsior certainly slowed down in Stage 4 after clinching the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs, it was safe to say NYXL was the favorite coming into the postseason. New York featured the league MVP, Bang "JJoNak" Sung-hyeon, whose dominance on Zenyatta across all four metas pushed New York to a 34-6 record, seven matches better than any other team.
Then came the playoff meta, where Zenyatta play simply didn't matter. Entering Saturday's match against the Fusion, New York played Zenyatta 82 percent of the time in the playoffs, compared to the league's 49 percent average on the character. With Zenyatta less impactful, JJoNak was limited.
The other aspect of the playoffs that New York couldn't catch up to was Hanzo use. Entering Saturday, the Excelsior had selected Hanzo 7 percent of the time, compared to 50 percent for the rest of the league. This was perplexing because Excelsior's Kim "Libero" Hae-seong played 2 hours and 2 minutes on Hanzo entering the match, second only to the Fusion's Josh "Eqo" Corona.
Ultimately, the Fusion's ability, especially through Eqo, to adapt to this meta led them to a victory over the Excelsior.
The Spitfire keep rolling
After the Spitfire went 9-11 in their last 20 matches of the regular season and started the playoffs with a 3-0 loss in the first match of the quarterfinals against the Gladiators, it seemed like London was set for an early exit.
Since that moment, the Spitfire are a near-unthinkable 12-1-1 in their last 14 maps played, with their only loss a 1-0 setback on King's Row against the Los Angeles Valiant.
The main reason London has gotten to the finals is the play of lead DPS Park "Profit" Joon-yeong. In the postseason, Profit is dealing 8,790 damage per 10 minutes, second only to Fusion's Eqo. None of this should come as a surprise. Profit's 1,110 Winston's Lab player rating across all characters was second highest in OWL Season 1 among DPS players, trailing only the Fusion's Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok.
The two most important trends in the new meta
There have been two primary takeaways from this playoff meta. First, having an elite, flexible lead DPS is the most important thing to be able to flex into all necessary compositions. As mentioned previously, the two highest-rated players in that role (Carpe and Profit) will be meeting each other in the finals.
The other key takeaway is that elite Brigitte play is still very important to winning in the meta. Doubling up on his flexible DPS play, Profit has the highest-rated Brigitte in OWL, and Eqo won 62 percent of the teamfights he participated in with the character, best in OWL. Whoever wins that battle will likely lead his team to the inaugural OWL championship.