The Countdown Cup Knockout Round wrapped up in the Western Region on Sunday with the Atlanta Reign and the Los Angeles Gladiators securing a spot in the Countdown Cup.
The first match of the day saw the Toronto Defiant (9-7, 9 points) take down the Paris Eternal (8-8, 8 points) in a hard-fought 3-2 victory. Both teams came into this series with a variety of looks at their disposal, with the Defiant favoring dive while the Eternal favored a blend of Wrecking Ball dive and bunker. In the end, though, the Defiant’s experience and star power would carry them to a win.
Paris started with a 2-1 win on Lijiang Tower, then Toronto responded with a dominant 1-0 full-hold on Volskaya Industries, largely powered by DPS Hee-su “Heesu” Jeong, who was phenomenal all day long on picks like Hanzo and Sombra. The Defiant took Blizzard World 2-1 to force match point, but the Eternal responded in kind with a 3-2 win on Rialto. It all came down to Oasis, where Toronto’s last-second swap to a Mei-Symmetra brawl composition gave them a 2-1 win.
Next, the West’s most consistent representatives at midseason tournaments, the Dallas Fuel (11-5, 17 points), suffered their first Knockout stage defeat when the San Francisco Shock (12-4, 12 points) swept them 3-0. The Shock ran different permutations of brawl throughout the series, leading to a 2-0 win on Oasis, a 4-3 win on Temple of Anubis, and finishing with a 3-1 win on Blizzard World to close the series.
In the first decider match, the Atlanta Reign (11-5, 12 points) qualified for their third consecutive midseason tournament with a 3-1 win over the Toronto Defiant. For as well as Defiant DPS Heesu and company played, they couldn’t overcome the Reign’s rock-solid frontline and sublime backline. Atlanta played this series without MVP and ROTY candidate, DPS Se-hyun “Pelican” Oh, who was recovering from lung surgery.
The Reign started with a 2-1 win on Busan, then both teams drew Volskaya Industries with a 3-3 draw despite Atlanta’s substantial timebank advantage. After that, though, the Reign buckled down, taking King’s Row 5-3 to get back on track. Toronto would respond with a dominant 1-0 full-hold on Route 66, but the Reign would go on to take Oasis 2-1 and secure their spot in the Countdown Cup.
The final match of the day saw the Los Angeles Gladiators (11-5, 11 points) finally qualify for a midseason tournament with a hard-fought 3-2 win against the San Francisco Shock. The Shock played mostly brawl while the Gladiators showcased many different looks, using their versatility to keep the Shock on their toes.
The Gladiators started hot with a 2-0 win on Ilios, but the Shock took a foothold in the series with a 2-1 win on Hanamura. Next, the Shock took Blizzard World 3-2, putting the series at 2-1 and on the verge of qualifying for their first tournament of the year. The Gladiators would come alive with their backs to the wall, though, taking Havana 3-2 and then Oasis 2-1 to secure the 3-2 series win and punch their ticket to the Countdown Cup.
The OWL teams have competed in three weeks of matches to determine qualification for the Countdown Cup’s double-elimination playoff brackets, which will be contested August 19-21.
The top six teams from the West and the top four teams from the East will make the initial playoff rounds. Two teams from each region will advance to the double-elimination final playoff round.
The Countdown Cup begins on Thursday with two matches:
Chengdu Hunters vs Los Angeles Gladiators
Seoul Dynasty vs Atlanta Reign
Overwatch League standings by region, with win-loss record, map differential and league points
1. Dallas Fuel, 11-5, +14 17
2. San Francisco Shock, 12-4, +19, 12
3. Atlanta Reign, 11-5, +20, 12
4. Los Angeles Gladiators, 11-5, +20, 11
5. Houston Outlaws, 11-5, +10, 11
6. Washington Justice, 9-7, +3, 9
7. Toronto Defiant, 9-7, 0, 9
8. Paris Eternal, 8-8, 0, 8
9. Boston Uprising, 7-9, -4, 7
10. Florida Mayhem, 5-11, -12, 6
11. Vancouver Titans, 1-15, -35, 1
12. London Spitfire, 1-15, -35, 1
1. Shanghai Dragons, 12-4, +19, 20
2. Chengdu Hunters, 11-5, +16, 13
3. Seoul Dynasty, 12-4, +18, 12
4. Philadelphia Fusion, 10-6, +13, 10
5. Hangzhou Spark, 7-9, +1, 7
6. New York Excelsior, 7-9, -3, 7
7. Guangzhou Charge, 5-11, -18, 5
8. Los Angeles Valiant, 0-16, -46, 0
–By Noah Waltzer, Field Level Media