And then there were three. Saturday saw the top four teams remaining in the APAC playoff bracket compete for a chance to qualify for the overall league top four. By the end of the day, one team soared to historic heights in a dramatic series while another bid adieu to the playoffs, leaving two to fight over the last coveted spot. Here’s how Saturday’s action went down:
The top-ranked Shanghai Dragons (27-2) became the first team to qualify for the final four with a dramatic 3-2 win over the fifth-ranked Seoul Dynasty (12-12). Coming into this series, questions remained as to whether or not Seoul’s unique team compositions and playstyles would hold up to the Dragons’ lethal execution of compositions like Sombra-Reaper dive and Double Snipers with a Hanzo-Widowmaker core.
While those compositions came out from both sides, the Dragons secured the win by understanding and even replicating the Dynasty’s signature composition from this tournament. The series was back-and-forth, showing that both teams understood the meta and could compete in it at a high level.
The Dynasty started with a 2-0 win on Busan powered by DPS Joon-yeong “Profit” Park, who put in a phenomenal performance as Pharah as he would throughout the series when the maps called for it. The Dragons bounced back with a 4-3 win on King’s Row, running the same Reaper-Sombra brawl style but with more emphasis on ignoring Profit in the sky.
After the halftime break, Seoul started to flex their compositions, putting tank Min-seo “Marve1” Hwang on Sigma in their signature Sigma-Roadhog frontline setup. This led to Seoul taking Hanamura 2-1, threatening match point, but Shanghai bounced back with a dominant display on double-snipers on Havana, taking that map 3-2.
In the tiebreaker on Lijiang Tower, Shanghai tank Eui-Seok “Fearless” Lee led the Dragons to a 2-0 win through solid tank play on Reinhardt, Winston and Roadhog. Fearless’ flexibility and consistent excellence earned him player of the match honors as Shanghai won the series 3-2.
From going 0-40 in the inaugural season of the Overwatch League to being the first team to lock up a final four spot, the Dragons’ rise has been nothing short of spectacular to watch. Shanghai should now enjoy time to practice and prepare for whichever team emerges from the American region. Seoul, meanwhile, showed promise before their do-or-die matchup against the third-ranked New York Excelsior (16-8) on Sunday, which should be an explosive finale to the APAC loser’s bracket.
In Saturday’s other APAC matchup, the New York Excelsior dominated the second-ranked Guangzhou Charge (18-7) in a 3-0 series sweep. The Excelsior showed a couple of looks throughout the series but mostly stuck to the Reaper-Sombra dive.
New York’s adjustments to the starting roster, taking out Tracer and Sombra specialist Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park for hitscan DPS Yeon-kwan “Nenne” Jeong’s more flexible hero pool, showed immediate payoff as the Excelsior stifled the Charge’s preferred compositions revolving around DPS Charlie “nero” Zwarg’s Pharah.
The Excelsior consistently caught the Charge out of position and punished them with impunity, taking Lijiang Tower 2-0 and Numbani 3-2 to go up 2-0 at the half. On Temple of Anubis, it looked like the tides might turn in Guangzhou’s favor, but New York caught them off guard with a couple of composition changes, resulting in a 2-2 tie. Finally, Guangzhou tried their best on Havana but looked like a team out of practice and out of sync, falling to New York in a 5-4 Havana win for the Excelsior.
–Field Level Media