Atlanta Reign defeated the two-time champions the SF Shock in a lower bracket match on Friday, preventing Shocks attempt at the 3peat. ATL Reign successfully made their run through the losers bracket to reach the losers bracket final against Dallas Fuel, advancing past Washinton Justice, Los Angeles Gladiators, and San Francisco after dropping to Chengdu Hunters in the first round of the playoffs.
ATL has been dominating other teams these playoffs using their Reinhardt-centric Rush comps that rely on aggression and high-level teamwork to contain and overwhelm their enemies. While many teams they have overcome have attempted to counter this with the Zombie comp (Winston, Moira, Lucio) and other options, both Justice and Shock took ATL up on their challenge to mirror this Brawl composition, and it did not work out either time.
Shock even caught some criticism online for taking Atlanta to Kings Row, a map Atlanta is very good on, and attempting to mirror their rush style. While Shock were certainly impressive, their gamble did not pay off, as they ended up losing their Rush v. Rush match with Reign in a 3-1 fashion.
The player of the match was Black "Gator" Scott, who plays main tank for ATL. His performances have been key not just to their playoff success, but their broader success throughout the 2021 season.
ATL overcame a lot to make their darkhorse run through the bracket. Leading up to the playoffs it was unclear if they would even get to play with their Rookie of the Year winner Pelican, due to Pelican's travel limitations related to a health condition. Pelican ended up being able to play from the west coast via a road trip, and his performances have been vital to the success of his team through the playoffs.
Despite the challenges of traveling to Hawaii, and dealing with the stress of Pelican's arrangements, Gator told Inven Global in an interview that he and the team were very confident in their ability to win the championship. And that confidence seems well-founded, as they have put on a spectacular performance.
As of writing this article, ATL is about to face off against Dallas Fuel, with the winner advancing to the Grand Championship match against Shanghai Dragons. Regardless of what happens, both Fuel and Reign will end the playoffs with their best OWL placements ever.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.