Overwatch League grand finals preview: Looking at the map pool for the Spitfire and Fusion

London and Philly face off during Stage 4 of the Overwatch League. Jonathan Tayag for Blizzard Entertainment

When the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, was chosen as the venue for the Overwatch League Season 1 finals, the New York Excelsior were a shoo-in to contend for the title on their home turf. Pre-playoffs buzz favored the Los Angeles Valiant, who had just beaten the NYXL in the Stage 4 finals.

Two weeks later, in the finals are the London Spitfire and Philadelphia Fusion, two teams that always had the raw talent to make it but suffered inconsistent play during the regular season.

Analysis is somewhat hampered by the fact that it can be based only on existing information. This isn't a criticism of the analysts themselves; it's a reminder that they can base their analysis only on what has already happened. In Overwatch, this may not reflect the current competitive climate if there has been a patch change, as analysts, fans and the Overwatch League community learned in the inaugural season semifinals.

Following his team's upset victory over the NYXL, Philadelphia Fusion coach Yann "Kirby" Luu addressed discrepancies between map win rates and results in the post-match news conference.

"A lot of the statistics on maps are based on different stages, different metas," Kirby said. "Of course, the analysts were looking at that, but I don't think it's too relevant when it comes to a different meta."

Junkertown was, and still statistically is, the Fusion's worst map with a dismal .231 win percentage. Flexing support and league MVP Bang "JJoNak" Seong-hyeon onto the likes of Roadhog with a double sniper DPS setup, the NYXL set the standard on this map and was expected to mount a semifinals comeback on Junkertown in Day 2 against the Fusion. Instead, the Fusion stymied the NYXL on the third point. New York's hopes died with a hook from Fusion flex support Isaac "Boombox" Charles onto JJoNak. Caster Christopher "Montecristo" Mykles exclaimed that the Junkertown loss was a disaster for the NYXL, as the Fusion had managed to overcome the map discrepancy. This was the first of a few map upsets the Fusion pulled off that day to punch the team's ticket to the Barclays Center on July 27-28.

The Fusion weren't the only team that flipped the script regarding map win rates. Against eventual finalist London Spitfire, the Los Angeles Gladiators chose Lijiang Tower over Oasis in the third match of their quarterfinals series. Despite a victory over the Valiant earlier that day, the Spitfire had struggled on Oasis historically. It's still one of the team's worst maps with a .368 win rate -- going into the finals, only their King's Row record is worse at .357. In the Gladiators' post-match news conference, coach David "dpei" Pei said that his team chose maps more based on their own performance rather than London's, and that Lijiang was a better map for them, underlining the difficult balance between focusing on team strengths and opponents' strengths or weaknesses in what he called an attacker-favored meta.

In looking at the Spitfire and the Fusion, many of their map win rates across the season are fairly even. The two are tied on the tiebreaker map Nepal (.538), and they have similar win rates on Dorado (.600 for the Spitfire and .692 for the Fusion) and Eichenwalde (.750 for the Spitfire and .714 for the Fusion). Larger discrepancies are found on Volskaya, Hanamura and the aforementioned Junkertown, all of which are heavily Spitfire-favored if statistics are to be believed. Meanwhile, the Fusion should have the upper hand on both control maps -- Oasis is still one of London's worst maps statistically overall.

All that being said, it's best to narrow the scope to the two teams' playoff map win rates only, which unfortunately offers a small sample size. For example, London's 100 percent win rate on Oasis in the playoffs defies the overall season, but it's only a sample size of two maps. The Fusion are undefeated on Volskaya with a playoff sample size of one, whereas London didn't play on it at all during its own playoff run. Both teams are undefeated on Dorado and Eichenwalde in the playoffs, a fact that supports general statistics throughout the season and the teams' respective DPS line prowess.

The Spitfire and the Fusion thrive in the current DPS-centric metagame, and while map win rates are still relevant, they lose their applicability the further you go back into the season given the recent patch changes prior to playoffs.