Hunters, Gladiators advance to OWL’s Countdown Cup final

The Los Angeles Gladiators and Chengdu Hunters advanced to the Overwatch League’s Countdown Cup finals with series sweeps on Friday.

The Gladiators dominated the upper-bracket final with a 3-0 victory over the Atlanta Reign. That result dropped the Reign into the lower-bracket final, where they fell 3-0 to the Hunters.

Earlier Friday, Chengdu stayed alive with a 3-0 win over the Seoul Dynasty in the first round of the lower bracket.

The championship match in the four-team, double-elimination tournament is scheduled for Saturday.

The stylistic clash between the Reign’s slower defensive compositions and the Gladiators’ aggressive dive was the central focus of the upper-bracket final, which ultimately played to Los Angeles’ favor. The Gladiators had complete control of the tempo, picking their spots and allowing their main carries to shine.

The Gladiators started with a 2-0 win on Oasis, then took full control of the series on Hanamura, where tank Indy “SPACE” Halpern’s led to a strong overtime push and 4-2 win to go up 2-0 in the series.

SPACE was a monster throughout the series, posting 27.2 Eliminations/10 mins and enabling DPS Kevin “kevster” Persson to take over the game as Tracer and Pharah. The Gladiators wrapped up the series with a brutal 3-0 win on King’s Row.

In the first lower-bracket match of the night, the Hunters recovered from their heartbreaking defeat to Los Angeles on Thursday with a clinical rout of Dynasty. The Dynasty needed to perform well at this tournament in order to potentially pass the Hunters in the standings as both teams fought for a playoff bye. Instead, Seoul came up short and left its first tournament appearance empty-handed.

The Hunters stayed true to the strategies that had gotten them to three midseason tournaments this season: give your all-star caliber backline space and let them take over. Chengdu wasn’t perfect against Seoul, but it played to its strengths in a 2-1 win on Ilios, leading to a 2-1 win on Temple of Anubis once the Hunters found their rhythm. By the time Game 3 on Blizzard World rolled around, Chengdu was feeling it, ending the series with a 1-0 full-hold.

In the lower-bracket final, the Hunters earned a spot in the grand final with a sweep of Atlanta. The Reign’s defensive looks played into Chengdu’s strengths as they had in the earlier Los Angeles series, so Atlanta tried to come out with different looks, mainly a bunker-brawl hybrid composition with a Reinhardt in front. In the end, though, the Hunters were still able to assert themselves and control the flow of the series.

Chengdu started with a 2-1 win on Ilios, then took a 2-1 win on Hanamura on the back of DPS and league MVP candidate, Huang “leave” Xin, who dominated as Hanzo and Tracer. Up 2-0, the Hunters were ruthless on Blizzard World, stifling the Reign on defense to take the map 2-1.

For the Reign, this marks the third time they’ve attended a midseason tournament but failed to make the finals.

–Field Level Media

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