The second-to-last day of the Overwatch League North American playoffs before Grand Finals Weekend saw two fairly one-sided series Saturday.
One series saw a team reclaiming its spot on top of the region while the other saw an improbable Cinderella story of a team run through another quality team with little resistance.
In the winners-bracket final, the No. 2 seed San Francisco Shock took a 3-1 series win over the top-seeded Philadelphia Fusion, qualifying for the interregional final four in the process. After the Fusion’s regular-season win over the Shock a couple of weeks ago, banter between the two teams got the world prepared for an epic clash. What we got Saturday, however, was nothing short of a clinical dismantling.
Both teams showed a variety of compositions throughout the series, with the Fusion favoring Sombra-Reaper dive while the Shock played a lot of poke compositions that put hitscan DPS ace and ROTY candidate Seonchang “ANS” Lee on Ashe. ANS repeatedly tore through the Fusion’s frontline with a damage boost from support Grant “moth” Espe’s Mercy and assistance from Min-ki “Viol2t” Park’s Zenyatta. Try as they might, Philadelphia simply couldn’t approach San Francisco without losing significant health if not a couple of members.
The Shock started with a 2-1 win on Lijiang Tower, but then the series showed signs of promise when the Fusion took the series to Hollywood where they full-held the Shock for a 1-0 win. After the break, though, San Francisco locked in on how it was going to win, enabling ANS on Volskaya Industries so he could carry them to a 2-1 win. Even after the Fusion subbed in DPS ace and captain Jae-hyeok “Carpe” Lee to match ANS on the Ashe, they couldn’t break the Shock’s formation, falling 4-3 on Watchpoint: Gibraltar.
With the win, the Shock have secured themselves a chance to defend their title of world champions.
Meanwhile, the Fusion have to prepare for a difficult match against a team that only won four games in the regular season. Somehow, the Washington Justice only recently put everything together, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a terrifying force coming from the losers bracket.
The 12th-seeded Justice were dominant today in their 3-0 sweep over the No. 4 Florida Mayhem, who simply looked lost in what to do. Throughout the tournament, fans and analysts assumed that a composition without a traditional main tank wasn’t something to take seriously, and that you could easily beat it by a variety of means. The predominant composition in both regions has been Sombra-Reaper dive, which the Justice showed to be an insufficient counter if the Roadhog-Zarya team is good at their individual roles.
It seems like, despite everyone watching Washington star Gui-un “Decay” Jang’s transcendent Zarya play, each series has had a different member of the Justice step up. In this series, tank Hyeon-Woo “JJANU” Choi’s Roadhog was that difference maker, shredding the Mayhem’s frontline and rolling around the map as an unstoppable menace. JJANU landed 58 percent of his Chain Hooks this series, with over 20 percent of those leading directly to an elimination, leading to a player of the series nod and a losers bracket finals berth.
The Justice were well in control of this series, taking Ilios 2-1, dominating Numbani 3-0 and finishing the series with a 3-2 win on Hanamura. Washington will now play top-seeded Philadelphia on Sunday, which should be licking its wounds, and will have a chance to bring the shocking story all the way to the final four.
Meanwhile, this loss for Florida is crushing but, considering how dire the Mayhem looked at the end of last season, this year has been nothing short of a wild success with room still to grow for the team going forward.
–Field Level Media