GGRecon’s team hand-picked their favourite finals matches of Overwatch history.
There are days in life that will define you, and by which your legacy will be measured and remembered. You could’ve done everything right in the run-up to this fateful day and yet when you lose here, the best you can hope for is history remembering you as a great antagonist in someone else’s story that will be relayed to the world.
Competition and especially playoff series are designed to emulate these moments in life and in Overwatch, we’ve been blessed with some incredible finals that inspire us to this day. Unfortunately, these moments haven’t happened yet for the Overwatch League (OWL) Grand Finals, but we’ve had plenty of incredible stage finals and tournaments in between with games that will be talked about as cornerstone moments of Overwatch history. The Overwatch League finals in their setup in 2020 look promising to finally deliver one of these moments.
In order to give you an appetite for what kind of a match it could be, GGRecon’s team hand-picked their favourite finals matches of Overwatch history.
Season 2 Stage 2 Finals - SASCHA "YISKA" HEINISCH
There's one final that most Overwatch League fans will inevitably get handed to them by their subconscious when asked to recall great Overwatch finals. From narrative and character progression of the involved actors to the historic foreshadowing of dominance, the Overwatch League Season 2 Stage 2 finals between the San Francisco Shock and the Vancouver Titans became the axis that the Overwatch world spun on. Many coaches I've talked to in the last year agreed that a higher level of sophistication for a composition has never been reached in the game's history, and that it likely never will again be touched if Hero Pools are to continue. If OWL season 2 was the golden age of Overwatch esports, then this final was the pinnacle of its time period.
The core of the Titans coming from RunAway had lived long enough to see themselves become the villain after a closely fought stage 1 final in which they narrowly beat bay area team. On stage, the Shock looked shattered, broken, and deeply hurt, determined never to let that moment happen to them again. Completing the golden stage, they demolished everything and everyone that was put in front of them with an unquenchable thirst for excellence and glory.
In the finals, the Shock and the Titans performed a dance of unseen beauty, inducing Stendhal syndrome in the Overwatch community. This time, it was the Titans who sat devastated on stage in a moment they didn't seem to be able to recover from for the rest of the season.
Despite not going the full seven-game distance, it has to be remembered as one of the best finals in Overwatch history, announcing the arrival of the greatest OWL team in the League's history.
RUNAWAY's FIRST WIN Finals - SEBASTIAN "SEB" ROMERO
RunAway's story before they became the Vancouver Titans is one of the defining legacies of Overwatch as an esport. A scrappy underdog team with the charm and personality to capture the attention and hearts of fans around the world, but who were never good enough to topple that final hurdle to claim a trophy, a championship. They were one of the best, and they could win for sure, but were cursed from ever being able to capture that ultimate legacy of being the best team in South Korea.
Four different finals appearances before this season of Contenders, four different second-place finishes for RunAway. Yet, in the summer of 2018, the pink sweater-clad squad, a group of players more akin to a family more than any other team in the world, found themselves once again in the finals of a tournament looking for this to be the match where their effort and dedication had finally been rewarded. However, the same question loomed over every map, is this time going to be different, or are we watching another failure, another choke for RunAway?
At the time, it certainly looked like the latter would be true. After only taking the first map, RunAway would lose the subsequent three maps to KongDoo Panthera and a tie to leave them down 1-3, on match point and soon to be falling once again to the famed second place curse. But history would have it another way, as the reinvigoration, the comeback, was too real from RunAway, who then proceeded to absolutely pound their way to the eighth map, to claw back from the brink and win the match.
RunAway's first win marks one of the best series of all time in Overwatch. In an era where the meta composition was undefined, the double sniper of the Overwatch League 2018 playoffs was fading out, GOATS was still in its infancy, and anything else in between was fielded to suit the comfort zones of the players in the game. If Overwatch at its peak is different teams adjusting to adapt to the different compositions their opponents are running, then this is one of the best examples in the game. The multiple compositional identities keep this match fresh even to this day and is a remarkable series that captures the beauty of the best of Overwatch and the best of esports.
Season One Grand Finals - MATT GERRITY
The Season One Grand Finals between the London Spitfire and Philadelphia Fusion will always be one of the most memorable finals to me for any esport. The excitement of the very first Overwatch League finals, the chance to be remembered as the first champions. The London Spitfire won my heart early in the season, and I was so excited to see them play against the team representing my home state. I’m a big fan of all the players on that Spitfire roster, but seeing Junyoung “Profit” Park face off against JaeHyeok “Carpe” Lee was high on my to-do list.
Beyond the in-game excitement, it will always be a special finals for me because it was the very first major esports championship I watched with my best friend. We would play Overwatch all the time together, and we followed the league all season. For the Grand Finals, I went to his house, and we watched together with all the excitement I would expect from watching the Super Bowl or Champions League Final. Every elimination, every ultimate used felt so significant, and like every choice the players made would change the outcome of the whole series. Sitting on the edge of the couch, cheering for the first-ever OWL Championship with my best friend will always be my favourite Finals moment.
APEX Season 3 Finals - JOSEPH "VOLAMEL" FRANCO
The applause from the devil's favourite demons and the plucky faith of champions. The absence of a sun for the ideal of the sky. The uphill battle against the oddities of life. The formation of a legend. Like every timeless story, OGN's Overwatch APEX Season 3 was a masterpiece. One that goes to show that life is the reflection of art and that reality is often stranger than fiction.
The KongDoo faction were staples in early South Korean Overwatch. They had a particular eye for talent but never managed to coalesce that into a trophy manufacturing juggernaut we all knew it could - not until APEX Season 3. Panthera and Uncia were the sister teams that were painted in potential, however, but like textured canvas, Kim "Rascal" Dong-jun and Kim "birdring" Ji-hyeok stuck out. Operating on differing sides of the same coin, Rascal and bridring was a dynamic DPS lineup that just felt right. The former seemingly could do it all, while the latter was more specialised in his approach. They were the left and right hands of KongDoo; all the team did was bring them together. This thunderous applause went nearly unmatched through the regular season, culminating with the nod as the favourite to win the grand final. However, one of history's favourite teams stood in their way.
The defending champions, Lunatic-Hai were backed into a corner. Not only had they lost their last showing against KongDoo Panthera, but they seemingly sidelined their star player Lee "WhoRU" Seung-jun. Down what looked to be a generational talent, the team called upon consummate workhorse Moon "Gido" Gi-do to assist esports veteran Kim "EscA" In-jae as the teams DPS lineup. On paper, their foils towered over them, but together--as a team, alongside all the memorable pillars of Lunatic-Hai--they defied death.
To say that APEX Season 3 was strange doesn't do it justice. That fact that KongDoo Panthera almost won an APEX title just off of Control maps is strange enough. However, the oddities don't stop there. The fact that not one, but two map draws needed to happen and the rules to be the antiquated "best of one Control map" only fuel the fires of chaos. Gido's performance in the final was a spectacular evolution after having an above-average rookie performance alongside a top team. EscA finally was given the time to settle into his role after being thrust into it in seasons prior. All seven maps, down to the wire, all of this just to see Lunatic-Hai cemented into legend as the only team to earn repeat APEX titles--and walk the road of legends, barefoot.
The May Melee Finals - André González Rodríguez
The May Melee, the Florida Mayhem versus the San Francisco Shock, that’s all you need to know. The Florida Mayhem’s crescendo of blowing up their mixed roster of western and Korean players finally came to fruition. After deciding to go full Korean and slowly build from the ground up, they finally made it. All those terrible seasons and the terrible colour scheme were a thing of the past for the Mayhem, as they were able to demolish the Atlanta Reign and upset the Philadelphia Fusion leading up to the eventual Grand Finals. Coupled with the fact that this was around 1-2 months into COVID-19, teams were sore and raw from having to switch from homestands to pure online play.
Although objectively it was a one-sided final with the Shock defeating the Mayhem 4-2, seeing how well Florida turned their ship around made it a bittersweet loss to the Mayhem and OWL fans alike. The Shock already had a decisive game plan coming into the Grand Finals, and it was to shut down that Jun-ki “Yaki” Kim Tracer — he had been dominating all of the May Melee up to that point with that hero. San Francisco made it a point to not allow it any further by picking Nepal Control as the first map. Nepal’s lack of angles was crucial to the Shock as it allowed them to just rest on the point and force the Mayhem to come to them — the Mayhem didn’t know how to react.
The Mayhem swung back hard come game two, picking Blizzard World Hybrid — rectifying their loss versus the Philly Fusion earlier that day. Florida fully held San Francisco, preventing them from not getting a single tick of the point. By the time the Mayhem were on their offensive side, the Shock didn’t stand a chance. A quick pick onto Seonchang “ANS” Lee and flashy plays from Beom-jun “Gargoyle” Lee on the Sigma, it was over.
Later in the series, both teams traded games making it 2-2 in the series, but the Shock’s championship experience and mentality came through. The Mayhem’s impressive run culminated with them dropping two games in a row leading to them losing the series. The fact that the Florida Mayhem, the team that were in comparison and compared to the historically bad Shanghai Dragons were finally able to turn it around is a feat in itself.
The 2020 Overwatch League Grand Finals weekend begins October 8, where we could yet again watch history being made on our screens.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment