Overwatch League Stage 1 Playoff Recap: Fusion and Shock dominate
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The quarterfinals of the Overwatch League stage one playoffs are done. We have our final four teams, with the last two getting in having confident wins. For those who don’t know, day one resulted in a massive upset. Seoul Dynasty beat the second seed New York Excelsior, knocking out what people thought was the best team in the league instantly. The other match was an expected Vancouver Titans win against the eighth seed Boston Uprising. But the final two teams to make it in were decided last night.

The two quarterfinal matches leftover were the Philadelphia Fusion versus the Atlanta Reign and the San Francisco Shock versus the Toronto Defiant. Two experienced teams from last season versus two expansion teams looking to make marks. And while both matches weren’t too close, there were some surprises.

Philadelphia Fusion vs. Atlanta Reign

The fourth seed Philadelphia Fusion faced the fifth seed Atlanta Reign and beat them convincingly 3-1. But let’s cover each map and explain how exactly the Fusion got this good, relatively unexpected victory.

Maps 1 & 2: Ilios and King’s Row

These two maps were easily the closest maps we’ve seen so far in the playoffs. In the games we saw yesterday, only one map was a truly entertaining back-and-forth (Seoul vs. New York on Volskaya). Off the bat, Ilios was a close and entertaining matchup with Reign sneaking away the win. But when King’s Row came by, it seemed like Fusion turned the tides and used it to win. Within these first two maps, the best players on both teams were Gael “Poko” Gouzerch for his D.Va play and Petja “Masaa” Kantanen for his aggressive Lucio. The halftime ended with the series tied 1-1.

Maps 3 & 4: Volskaya and Route 66

This was where Fusion started to outplay the Reign entirely. The first two maps of the series were very close, but there was a hint to come from the Fusion’s good defense on King’s Row. Poko continued to harass Daniel “dafran” Francesca, eating his Graviton Surges like crazy. But it was in the final two maps that someone else on the Fusion stood out: Jae-hyeok “Carpe” Lee on his Zarya. In both maps, he clutched out certain fights to help them win and finish the series off 3-1. It was a valiant effort from the Reign, but the match was deceivingly close.

This means that the Fusion will face off against the winners of our last quarterfinal winners. Unfortunately, this game wasn’t as close as the previous one.

San Francisco Shock vs. Toronto Defiant

The sixth seed San Francisco Shock stomped on the third seed Toronto Defiant, sweeping them 3-0. It was surprising considering how Defiant didn’t play too poorly.

Maps 1 & 2: Busan and King’s Row

These two maps couldn’t have been more different besides the two map wins for the Shock. Busan was close, with each team taking a map and playing well. Toronto decided to mainly run Sombra-focused compositions, but Busan ended with Shock adapting to that and winning. One of the notable players on the Defiant side that map was Se-hyeon “Neko” Park, making a case for one of the most underrated Zenyattas in the league. But King’s Row was another story entirely. The Shock, being led by Matthew “super” DeLisi, captured all three points before full holding the Defiant and winning the map in dominant fashion.

Map 3: Horizon Lunar Colony

This map was close, with Toronto clutching its final attack on first point to get both points captured. But that great clutch move was instantly outplayed by San Francisco capturing both points even faster. From there, it was just a matter of time. After a game of attrition, the Shock won the map and the series, advancing to the semifinals. One of the standouts in this map in particular was Jay “sinatraa” Won, his Zarya plowing through the Defiant in crucial moments.

Toronto seemed to have lost spirits after losing with its prepared strategies, and the Shock capitalized. A good run and appearance for the Defiant, but a tough loss to a tough opponent. This means that the last semifinal will be the Fusion versus the Shock, a very interesting matchup.

That was it for the quarterfinals, and the final four are Seoul, Vancouver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. We’ll be back soon with the results and the final two.

Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming for as long as I can remember, with my first game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played games being Borderlands 2 and Overwatch. I have a degree in Film Studies, but writing about esports just makes my job all the better.