The Overwatch League Season 3 Grand Finals began in earnest on Thursday with four teams competing for a chance to sail into the finals from the winners bracket.
The two series played were vastly different, one an epic struggle that went the distance, the other a quick and decisive stomp.
Here’s how Thursday’s Overwatch League action went down:
In the undisputed match of the night, the defending champions and American region top seed San Francisco Shock (25-3) thwarted a reverse-sweep from the APAC second seed, the Seoul Dynasty (12-12), and secured a 3-2 series win. This series was a display of two masters of the Roadhog-meta, with both teams deviating and countering each other’s different iterations of the Roadhog main tank compositions.
The Shock started strong running tank Matthew “super” DeLisi on Roadhog on Oasis, taking the map 2-0. Seoul tried to utilize DPS star Joon-yeong “Profit” Park’s signature Pharah throughout the map, but it was shut down by Shock rookie DPS Seonchang “ANS” Lee’s Ashe.
Then, on Hollywood, the Dynasty looked decent on defense after letting the Shock roll through the first two points thanks to more magic from ANS, this time on Widowmaker. Both teams displayed mastery of the double-sniper iterations of the Roadhog comps, but Shock claimed the advantage deep in overtime to complete the map. Seoul, despite their resurgence on defense, couldn’t get anything clicking on offense, leading to a 3-0 map win for San Francisco and a 2-0 lead at the half.
With their backs to the wall down 0-2, the Dynasty came alive on Volskaya Industries, where they made some key adaptations to what the Shock were doing. Seoul always made sure to send bulky bodies at ANS on off-angles, since he is famous for taking out low-health flankers trying to assassinate him. Dynasty tank Jae-hee “Gesture” Hong was dominant all series long as Roadhog, beating out both of San Francisco’s Roadhog players as they were subbed in and out of the series.
With Gesture taking ANS’ eyes out of the sky, Profit was free to play Pharah once again, which he used to great effect along with other heroes like Tracer and Hanzo. The Dynasty took Volskaya Industries 2-1, and then continued the momentum onto Havana, where Gesture and Dynasty DPS Dong-eon “FITS” Kim’s electric Hanzo play secured a 3-0 win for Seoul.
With the series tied at two all, and Seoul surging in momentum, the Shock, needed a spark to get them up and running on Busan. Fortunately, that spark came for San Francisco in the clutch from ANS and support role star Minki “Viol2t” Park.
Viol2t’s Zenyatta had been a high point for San Francisco all series long, and Busan was no exception, finding several opening picks with cross-map volleys. Viol2t went from high point to highlight, though, when he played Baptiste on Busan: Downtown, where his aggressive play and immaculate aim shined, knocking Profit out of the air.
Meanwhile, ANS had returned to form after going unnaturally quiet in games three and four. It’s possible Seoul was overwhelmed by San Francisco’s fragging power, and so they didn’t have the manpower to stick someone on ANS, but ANS was electric in the closing rounds of the series. The Shock picked up the 2-0 win and closed out the series to move onto the Winners’ Bracket Finals.
In the other matchup, the APAC first seed Shanghai Dragons (27-2) easily took care of the American region second seed, the Philadelphia Fusion (24-2) in a 3-0 sweep. The Dragons are considered by many to be the tournament favorites, with stars like MVP DPS Byung-sun “Fleta” Kim leading the way.
If any team could hypothetically match Shanghai in raw firepower, it would be Philadelphia’s all-star caliber lineup. So, why the lopsided series? The Fusion seemed unprepared for Shanghai’s plethora of looks revolving around tank Ji-won “Stand1” Seo, who has not been featured recently in the starting lineup. The Fusion’s strategy seemed to be one-dimensional, in that they hoped their best players could outfrag the Dragon’s best players.
This would turn out to be easier said than done. Shanghai started off scrappy, narrowly squeaking out a 2-1 win on Busan. After that first map, though, the Dragons had figured out the Fusion, leading to a 1-0 win on King’s Row and then a 1-0 win on Volskaya Industries to wrap up the sweep.
The Dragons have earned a spot across from the San Francisco in the Winners Bracket finals, which will take place on Friday. Also on that day is the elimination match between the Dynasty and Fusion, with the loser finishing their 2020 Overwatch League season in fourth place.
–Field Level Media