The regular season of Overwatch League came to an end last Saturday, bringing about the last stage finals of the year. After a dramatic final day of the season, it would be the Los Angeles Valiant, Los Angeles Gladiators, New York Excelsior, and the Dallas Fuel fighting it out for the Stage Four crown. The grand finals came down to NYXL and the Valiant, with Los Angeles playing spoiler and walking away as stage champions. In front of a packed Blizzard Arena and over 170,000 Twitch viewers, we had one last Battle for LA scheduled to start the day.
Los Angeles Valiant vs. Los Angeles Gladiators (3-2 Valiant)
It's only fitting that both teams from LA would face off one last time to help bring the season to a close. Coming into this one, the Gladiators looked a little bit better on paper thanks to a slight edge in map differential. The Valiant, however, shared the same 9-1 stage record and were arguably better in close matches for the second half of the season. Either way, this was a big treat for the home crowd in Burbank, California. The match was predictably close, though tanking was one clear area where the Valiant were in front most of the time. Pan-Seung "Fate" Koo played a much more patient game for the Valiant than Chan-Hyung "Fissure" Baek did for the Gladiators. Fissure has been known for calculated aggression most of his career, but it was clearly off in this match. He died early in far too many fights, even chasing kills as Winston when the odds were clearly against him. Joao Pedro "Hydration" Veloso de Goes Tells played an amazing DPS game for the Gladiators. He had clutch plays on Roadhog and Pharah that kept his team afloat and led them to victory on two maps. The Gladiators are going to need Hydration and everyone else to step up once they take the stage in the playoffs on July 11.
Dallas Fuel vs. New York Excelsior (3-2 NYXL)
If you're a true fan of Overwatch League, you have to respect the fact that this stage finals match even happened. Yes, it came down to the Philadelphia Fusion dropping a map to the London Spitfire and helping them in the standings, but Dallas fought hard all stage long with new coach Aaron "Aero" Atkins behind them. They mastered the Brigitte meta and, for the first time all season, they played with confidence and clear minds. [caption id="attachment_104596" align="alignnone" width="600"] Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod[/caption] Sure, they lost this one, but it was a huge win for Dallas Fuel fans around the world. Ponphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod had an impressive Brigitte as usual, and Jonathan "HarryHook" Tejedor Rua was as brilliant as ever on support and as the team's in-game leader. With more practice with each other and their new coach, Dallas could be the team their fans wanted to see in season two.
New York Excelsior vs. Los Angeles Valiant (3-1 Valiant)
This was the match everyone was waiting for. A preview of what is surely the most anticipated and crucial meeting of the playoffs - New York versus Los Angeles. Coming off a very difficult match against the Dallas Fuel, NYXL had to get right back on the stage and defend their throne as the champs of stages two and three. Sandbagging or not, they didn't have enough in the tank to outlast the Valiant. [caption id="attachment_104595" align="alignnone" width="600"] New York Excelsior enter the arena[/caption] A common trend for the set was stuffed flanks and sub-optimal tanknig from NYXL. Once again, it seemed as though it was their raw skill carrying them to victory when they succeeded as opposed to any sort of cohesion. They're all scary on an individual level, no doubt, but that is not enough to defeat a team as well-oiled as the Valiant. The MVP of this match was easily Valiant off-tank Indy "SPACE" Halpern. This guy has easily lived up to his reputation as the best off-tank in the league, and this match is just another example. SPACE's early reads, timely Roadhog hooks, and expert D.Va bombs played a massive part in the Valiant's win over NYXL.