The Florida Mayhem have been topped the 2023 Overwatch League grand champions. Their 4–Zero victory over the Houston Outlaws disappointingly closed out what is probably going the league’s final season because it presently exists.
However whereas the grand finals have been a little bit of a dud, the playoffs total jogged my memory of how a lot I really like this esport, its neighborhood, and its capability to inform superb tales.
Season six of the Overwatch League simply couldn’t maintain me. Perhaps it’s the truth that this season was the second to be performed on Overwatch 2, a recreation that has itself did not seize my consideration due to among the selections made by its builders like canceling the extremely anticipated “hero mode” and placing the equally anticipated story content material behind a paywall. It may have been the season’s considerably complicated construction. Or it may have been due to years of diminishing emotional returns exacerbated by reporting that overwhelmingly hinted that the league was not lengthy for this world. For season six, it appeared like my coronary heart simply accepted what my thoughts wouldn’t acknowledge — the league is dying, it hasn’t been as thrilling since its days as a weekly dwell occasion, and it’s greatest to only let it go.
Goldenboy hosted the primary, and what’s now probably the final, Overwatch League Grand Closing occasion. Photograph: Blizzard
However I’ve been current for each grand finals and, ho-hum season or not, I used to be going to be current for this one. My staff, the Shanghai Dragons, didn’t make the playoffs, however I’m a fan of fine Overwatch regardless of who’s enjoying, so I tuned in in hopes of getting simply that.
And oh boy, for a second, I bought some good-ass Overwatch from two unlikely groups: the London Spitfire and the Hangzhou Spark.
Although the Spitfire received the OWL’s very first grand championship in 2018, they by no means fairly returned to that stage of high quality. For a few seasons, together with this one ending at 7–9, they have been within the decrease tier of groups. However an explosive late-season efficiency earned them a spot within the play-in video games, the place they tore by way of the losers bracket to only make the playoffs. The Spitfire have been a little bit of a meme staff. They performed with unconventional hero compositions that might catch groups off guard however probably wouldn’t maintain up when going through stronger groups.
2018 was the final time the London Spitfire was this good. Picture: Robert Paul for Blizzard Leisure
The Hangzhou Spark had a greater season, coming into the playoffs as the highest staff within the Japanese area. However being greatest within the East didn’t imply a lot. The Overwatch League has been cut up into East and West areas because the covid-19 pandemic. The final two years, and this 12 months specifically, the Japanese area, composed of the OWL’s Asia-based groups, has been considered considerably of a joke. The area is smaller, with half the variety of groups because the Western area. When the 2 areas united for the Midseason Insanity event, the 2 Japanese groups that certified (which included the Spark) have been bounced out within the second spherical. The East was considered much less aggressive than the West, and any time groups from the 2 areas met, Japanese groups would usually underperform. So even supposing the Spark have been the very best staff within the East, just like the Spitfire, they weren’t anticipated to go far.
These two groups, every with unlikely backgrounds, managed to take down the staff that everybody thought would win all of it. This 12 months was all concerning the Atlanta Reign. They went 14–2 within the common season and have been the winners of the Midseason Insanity event. For the primary two months of the common season, they went undefeated, and at season’s finish, they have been the odds-on favourite to win all of it. Even I predicted their eventual triumph within the playoffs. They appeared too dominant to fail.
However they did fail, in spectacular style, getting bounced out by two groups on no one’s, not even my, radar. First, the Hangzhou Spark — a staff that can’t legally play Overwatch of their nation — despatched the Reign all the way down to the decrease bracket in spectacular nail-biting style with a reverse sweep. (You probably have a tough time conceptualizing what a reverse sweep is, it’s the identical as profitable after being down 28–3.) Then, within the losers bracket, the Reign have been as soon as once more defeated, this time by the Spitfire — a staff that, within the common season, had half as many wins and 4 occasions as many losses as their opponent. They usually swept them 3–0. Think about if it have been the Chicago Bears that went 70–20 towards the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, and you’ve got an thought of how huge that win is.
The season’s writers — as the favored neighborhood meme goes — have been out of their minds once they penned the playoff script. Although neither staff made it to the ultimate dance, their triumphs over the Reign have been the very best a part of the playoffs. These two groups gave me an unbelievable present. At a time when my religion within the OWL was at an all-time low, the London Spitfire and the Hangzhou Spark jogged my memory one closing stunning time of the unbelievable storytelling capacity of Overwatch esports.
As for the precise grand closing match itself, there’s not a lot actually to say about it. The Florida Mayhem stomped the Houston Outlaws in a 4–Zero beating that was miserable to look at.
However surprisingly, I don’t thoughts that.
To be clear, I might have liked a extra thrilling closing recreation to look at. It could have been good to finish the season, and what’s shaping as much as be the league total, on a excessive notice. Nonetheless, the 2023 Overwatch League Grand Finals ended the one method it actually ought to have: disappointingly. I don’t say that as a result of I’m not a fan of the groups that participated. I don’t even imply it pejoratively. In six grand finals, all however one among them have been beatings, and 4 of these 5 beatings — together with the primary method again in 2018 — have been shutouts.
However I’ve by no means liked the OWL due to which staff received or misplaced. As I stated earlier than, I’ve solely liked this league due to the tales it informed.
And I like it when a narrative rhymes.