More semifinals preview: New York Excelsior vs. Philadelphia Fusion
Before the beginning of Stage 1, no one would have been shocked to see London Spitfire in the semis. 4 stages later, this was a huge surprise. They have had the worst stage 4 with a record low of 4 – 6. They seemed disjointed and their star DPS, Birdring was invisible throughout the latter part of the season. Sure, he had wrist injuries, but he also looked like he was in a slump. Their quarterfinal opponent, Los Angeles Gladiators, walked all over them throughout the whole season, and few could have foreseen that the London would have stomped them in the last 2 matches.
Nobody could have predicted Fissure would be benched over iRemiix -- a messy controversial event that lasted throughout the quarterfinals. However, it wasn’t the absence of Fissure that defeated Gladiators. London Spitfire was just simply better prepared, changed their compositions faster, and they were “not afraid”.
The next hurdle
However, they are against a more formidable Los Angeles: Los Angeles Valiant. The only non-full Korean team to take the stage championships, Los Angeles Valiant is a serious contender for being the best team in the League.
Historically, Spitfire is favored against Valiant. They were able to the beat them in Map 5 during Stage 1 and Stage 3. Their Stage 4 match was very close, and Spitfire narrowly lost with a score of 2 – 1. It was surprising at the time because Valiant looked so strong and Spitfire has not shown their true potential for a while.
However, the playoff maps favor the Valiant. Despite their 46% win rate with all maps versus Spitfire in Season 1, their win rate with the playoff maps is at a whopping 67%. Lady luck is rooting for Valiant it seems.
However, it won’t be luck that will save either of them. They will have to face their adversity with skills and a keen sense of timing. And nothing will test their skills and timing more than the two best off-tanks of the Overwatch League: SPACE vs. Fury.
They Protect but Also Attack: SPACE vs. Fury
Off-tanks are in a unique position where it requirements to be an effective one is very demanding. You need to be at the right place at the right time all the time. Whether it be aggressively attacking with the front line or peeling for support. While most off-tank lean towards either an aggressive playstyle or a defensive one, off-tanks become most effective when they know how to strike a perfect balance between the two. And there are probably no better examples of this than SPACE and Fury.
Fury is literally everywhere. When a spectator is observing the battle in the frontline, you can see that Fury is aggressively boosting to secure kills, and when the spectator switches back to the London’s back line a few seconds later, Fury is already there faster than the observers. He is probably one of the best, if not, the best off-tank in Overwatch League. And Spitfire’s match against Gladiators has shown why. He may appear to be on the defensive side, but he is currently 5th in damage per 10 minutes for the postseason. The highest of all tanks and beating many of the top DPS in damage.
SPACE isn’t any different. Since, coming on to the stage in Stage 3, the Valiant has looked much stronger than before. He has an incredible synergy with his main tank, Fate, and he is always there to assist Fate making space or secure kills. He accomplishes this with D.Va but he is also an incredible Roadhog player that was able to create opportunities for the team by getting the first pick. He also has a keen sense of when to use his D.Va bombs ensuring that he gets the kills to push his team to victory. While his style might be a bit different from Fury, he is equally as effective and possibly the best western off-tank in the League.
Verdict: While, many people will be focused on the battles between the DPS stars like Birdring vs. SoOn, and Agilities vs. Profit, the real battle will take place between the two off-tanks. The off-tank who will be able to peel for their supports or open up opportunities for getting picks will largely determine who will make it out of the semifinals.