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Overwatch League: Stage Two Finals Recap

Overwatch League: Stage Two Finals Recap
The final touches for who would make an appearance at the Overwatch League stage two finals took form after the very first match of week five. With their playoff lives on the line, the Los Angeles Gladiators (6-4) were unable to keep their shields up against the Philadelphia Fusion (7-3), who eventually took over their third place spot. As predicted, both the London Spitfire (8-2) and New York Excelsior (9-1) had a relatively easy week, keeping their respective second and first place spots in the standings. There was one major upset in week five that helped keep one of the best teams in the league out of the stage two playoffs. The Houston Outlaws (5-5) defeated the Seoul Dynasty (7-3) three maps to one, creating an unrecoverable deficit in map differential.

Philadelphia Fusion vs. London Spitfire

Things kicked off on an ominous note for Philadelphia who had to start on Watchpoint: Gibraltar. London, who is undefeated on Gibraltar, embarrassed the boys in orange with a full-hold and subsequent steamroll for a quick map one. In the early going, Philadelphia looked to be in a lot of trouble. Nepal showed us a much different Philadelphia Fusion. They played an uncharacteristically cerebral game on their worst map, often staying ahead in ultimate economy and taking advantage of London's positional errors. Joona "Fragi" Laine's Reinhardt on Village was very impressive. There was a crucial point in the middle of the match where he was down to almost no health, but he managed to keep himself alive in a building until his support could bail him out. This move was pivotal in keeping Philadelphia's push alive, and they would go on to take the map to even the score at one a piece. [caption id="attachment_103114" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Philly Celebrates Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment[/caption] Coming back from the half, Hanamura got off to a dramatic start. Philadelphia rolled point A, forcing London to consider their options for a long stall on point B. They came up with what they were looking for up until overtime, where Josue "Eqo" Corona's Genji led the final fight with two important kills, opening the door for a Philadelphia capture of point B. London appeared to take an easy point A on their assault, but in a mind boggling move, Philadelphia decided to contest with a fraction of a pixel left on the capture bar - and it paid off. In an unbelievable, collaborative effort, Philadelphia pulled off the impossible and handed London their first loss on Hanamura. London came back strong to even up the set once more on King's Row off the back of some excellent Zarya and Junkrat plays. After subbing in Simon "Snillo" Eckström for Eqo on Route 66, however, the Philadelphia Fusion seemed to be out for blood. With the young Tracer phenom on the prowl, Philadelphia was able to snowball many engagements for a quick three points. London responded just as hard, but they encountered some difficulties on the final approach to point C. After some back and forth, Philadelphia held on to to beat the stage one champs and secure their spot in the finals.

Philadelphia Fusion vs. New York Excelsior

Coming out strong once more on Route 66, Philadelphia captured two difficult points thanks to heads-up support play and clutch DPS. It looked like NYXL was up to meet the challenge, but Jae-Hyeok "Carpe" Lee had other thoughts, managing to keep his Widowmaker in top form, never having to switch to a riskier DPS hero. Philadelphia held NYXL to just one point, starting the set off strong with an unexpected victory. Lijiang Tower went much the same. NYXL won the dive game on Night Market, but Philadelphia got the best of the tank game on Control Center. Gardens had an interesting look out of the gate, with NYXL being caught off guard by Philadelphia's Pharah pick. Eqo was left unmolested in the sky for quite some time, getting plenty of high value damage and ultimates. NYXL would ultimately be unable to deal with the Pharah threat, handing Philadelphia a 100%-0% win on the map, and a 2-0 lead in the set. NYXL bounced back after the half, putting up a full hold against Philadelphia's first assault on Volskaya Industries. Hae-Seong "Libero" Kim's Widowmaker shot placement was flawless as he led his team to a win after an easy take of point A. An interesting thing to consider is that neither team went for a Sombra pick on Volskaya. Philadelphia began to crack worse on Hollywood. They fought hard for their first point, but NYXL was just better. Libero was the star once again in the Widowmaker duel against Carpe, often taking advantage of his aggressive positioning. Watchpoint: Gibraltar was the tiebreaker, but it would be the end of Philadelphia's underdog story. NYXL completed the reverse sweep and were crowned stage two champions, winning $100,000 in the process. In a postgame conference, NYXL main tank player Dong-Gyu "Mano" Kim said that they practiced hard for the London matchup and applied those strategies to Philadelphia, but it wasn't working. After dropping the first two maps, they loosened up and "just did what they were good at," leading to the reverse sweep.