Overwatch esports in review: The best moment from every year
Overwatch has no shortage of death-defying highlight plays that tease the imagination of esports fans everywhere. With upwards of seven years to pull from, Overwatch esports has had a slew of iconic moments.
With the Overwatch League's general health called into question and the future of the esport being thrown into the air, it is time to recall some of the best moments from every year in competitive Overwatch.
2015 - clamp 5k okay?
No prize money, a hand-tracked format, and one of the biggest betas in modern gaming, the first FishStix Invitational was some of the earliest competitive Overwatch to be played - before the game even launched.
And it would be Quake Guys Redux putting the brakes on eventual winners, Not Enigma, that would cement them as having one of the first highlight plays in competitive Overwatch history.
Not Enigma barreled down the last checkpoint of Watchpoint: Gibraltar with around 7:45 left in their time bank.
In a hail-mary style last stand, Andrew "id_" Trulli catches five of the Team Fortress 2 professionals in Zarya's Graviton Surge, metaphorically passing the ball to one of his two DPS, who just so happen to have their ultimates available.
However, it would be Sabian "clampOK" Hayblum with five kills coming from Cassidy's Deadeye to give Quake guys redux a bit more room to work with.
Sadly, this wouldn't matter in the long run as Not Enigma would quickly rally and advance through the bracket without losing a map, setting them as the de facto Overwatch team to beat.
2016 - Team EnVyUs makes history
No one thought Team EnVyUs would make history.
Yes, they held a 57-0 win record and were featured in a number of large-scale events, but the majority of those victories were online.
To see them hoist a trophy, not only with an emergency substitute but to also be the first to do it on South Korean soil is nothing short of legendary.
Team EnVyUs were a staple team in the Overwatch esports space by 2016, the year the game launched to the public.
But with the legacy and entire South Korean region of Overwatch watching, their European rivals and tournament favourite in Rogue choosing them first in the group draw, and internal discourse that left them without a starting player in the middle of the event, it is safe to say there were some very real hurdles to EnVyUs making even a deep playoffs run.
Was this success granted by the unlikely rise of Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod?
Was it due to the role swaps or the meta favouring them?
Whatever it was, Overwatch's original juggernauts would sweep Afreeca Freecs Blue in the finale of OGN's Overwatch APEX Season 1.
2017 - RunAway 'punching' their ticket
A self-funded dream of two South Korean parents with pink sweaters as esports jerseys, the entire saga of Overwatch's RunAway deserves a Hollywood adaptation.
But it's their upset victory over Lunatic-Hai to make the top four in APEX Season 2 that steals the show.
In one corner was South Korean esports royalty in Lunatic-Hai. Not only were they more experienced but they were one of if not the strongest team in South Korea.
Then there was RunAway. A team that was led by their Genji ace Kim "Haksal" Hyo-jong and was the perennial underdog.
After advancing from their group as the second seed, RunAway's hopes were grim being put into Group A which featured Team EnVyUs, Lunatic-Hai and KongDoo Uncia.
Yoon "Runner" Dae-hoon's energetic celebration as he realises his playoff tickets are booked is not only an iconic moment in Overwatch history, but it should grace the halls of esports legend.
2018 - Enter Profit
Park "Profit" Joon-Yeong will likely go down as modern Overwatch's greatest player of all time.
But it would be his heroics in the grand finals of the inaugural season of the Overwatch League that would shock the world.
2018 would begin with the collision of a lifetime.
Cloud9, the parent organisation of the London Spitfire, would not only sign KongDoo Panthera but they would also sign APEX Season 4 winners GC Busan creating the first, best, and arguably only superteam Overwatch has ever seen.
While they would coast on early success, the latter months of 2018's Overwatch League season would see the Spitfire suffer enough losses to raise serious questions about their playoff implications.
Seen as an outside threat to the likes of New York Excelsior and Philadelphia Fusion, London rallied behind Profit and dispatched all contenders as they reached out for the inaugural crown of the Overwatch League.
2019 - Architect takes the high road
Park "Architect" Min-ho will likely go down as the most unsung stars in Overwatch history, but his creative and heads-up play in the grand finals of the 2019 Overwatch League cements him in the history books.
While Architect's playtime was limited, the former Genji maestro saw newfound life in the rigidity of the GOATS metagame with Bastion.
After Overwatch's role lock was implemented, the prevailing strategy was to abuse the sustain that Orisa and Sigma would give your team.
As for offence pressure, teams would rotate between set plays with Orisa's Halt and picks like Doomfist and Reaper as well as using Mei's Ice Wall to lock enemies into Bastion's sightlines as fight enders.
And as the Shock neared the end of Eichendwalde, Architect would rocket jump to reach a peculiar high ground to provide overwatch for his team as they finished escorting the payload at a breakneck pace.
To execute this kind of creativity in the heat of a grand final with everything on the line?
'Impressive' isn't even the word.
2020 - Philly leans on EQO
The summer months and Overwatch League have always had a contentious relationship.
Somehow, someway, an underdog rises up and makes a grand entrance right before the playoff race begins.
And Josh "Eqo" Corona's flash of brilliance nearly secured the Philadelphia Fusion that allowance and the summer stage title in 2020.
Facing a near Herculean impasse, EQO had to pull off the unthinkable to grant Fusion a few extra minutes on the clock to put away the surging Paris Eternal.
Entering the fight a player down, EQO had to build around 40% more ultimate charge if they even had a chance to swing the skirmish in their favour.
Not only did he manage to build his Dragon Blade in time, but he managed two kills with it then two more after to carry Philadelphia across the checkpoint.
2021 - Shu saves the Gladiators
The Mt. Rushmore of flex supports has to include Kim "Shu" Jin-seo.
Not only for his incredible tenure, his impressive statistics but his jaw-dropping clutch to effectively win the Los Angeles Gladiators their first stage title.
On a Cinderella run of their own, the Chengdu Hunters round out the second point of Havana with a minute to spare.
That along with Yi "JinMu" Hu's Dragon Blade paired with Li "Xerneas" Xianyao's Rally would likely be enough to win the map and the set.
However, a quick flank and a risky Amplification Matrix solely for himself allowed Shu to not only draw out some of those crucial ultimates but stop the Hunters just shy of the second checkpoint.
We've seen supports land clutch abilities to swing fights and even find a few kills to push their team back into form, but no one support has hard carried a fight like this.
2022 - Peli-can at the Kickoff Clash
Oh "Pelican" Se-hyun owns the most electrifying highlights in Overwatch history and it isn't particularly close.
His expertise on Hanzo to not only sustain but to push the Houston Outlaws over the line during the Kickoff Clash in 2022 was legendary.
With just over a minute, the Houston Outlaws had to escort the Push bot across the map and somehow find around 30 more metres to secure a win and keep their lower bracket dreams alive.
A desperate Nano Boost and five kills in a nearly 20-second window and you quickly learn the skill needed to be one of the game's biggest stars.
While Overwatch is often criticised for its lack of FPS elements, Pelican puts on a masterclass on just how much you can exercise your will with just a bow and an arrow.
Those are our picks for the best Overwatch esports moments each year. What are yours?