London Spitfire Reaching Their Full Potential in the Overwatch League Playoffs

Back when the Overwatch League regular season began, the London Spitfire was looked at as a potential championship contender. Signing over the rights to the season four Apex champions, GC Busan, and securing a team with scary potential. The ups-and-downs of a full regular season played a toll on a still growing Spitfire roster but sitting one game out of a spot in the finals, that potential if coming into form.

For myself, I had the London Spitfire as the odds-on favorite to take the championship from the pre-season. It was the same GC Busan team that ran through all of South Korea’s best talent entering the Overwatch League season. It seemed obvious that the level of skill would translate over to the OWL.

Now, the thinking that bringing in an established team would automatically translate to cohesiveness throughout the organization up from the players, to the coaches, to the owners, was ideal. But, there came difficult times for the organization, as many players were moved to keep the starting six happy in a tumultuous ending to the season. Losing the entire lower half of the roster was a dramatic shift in thinking for the organization

Early on, the Spitfire management knew that tough decision had to be made in order to keep players happy and leave the team balanced. The decision to move Chan-hyung ‘Fissure’ Baek came off as an odd move at the time, but watching this team now keeping Fissure on the bench wouldn’t have been beneficial for anybody. This team knows that they can only rely on themselves and no number of substitutions will get them a win.

Watching this team overcome the Los Angeles Gladiators in three games showed that same level of attack and confidence as the Spitfire showed in stage one. It was Jae-hui ‘Gesture’ Hong being a monster on Winston, making their snipers uncomfortable, alongside Jun-ho ‘Fury’ Kim who did a nice job following up on callouts. Those two are carving up the front-line of the Valiant, making it a lot easier on Ji-hyeok ‘birdring’ Kim, who’s had his best week since stage one.

The return to prominence and a shot at silencing the doubters for the Spitfire after they looked spooked in game one of the Gladiators series. It looked over and the world was calling them dead, but in one of the more inspiring moments of the season summoned that level of cohesion and dominated six straight maps. A win to make it to the finals as the five seed will be one of the better stories all season.

Do-or-Die Valiant

On the other hand, the Los Angeles Valiant don’t want to see their season end in two short games. No, they are still eyeing the title and despite the game one loss, the Valiant is not a team to shy away from a challenge. It comes down to one magical set of Overwatch. Can they shut down Jun-young ‘Profit’ Park or outduel birdring in the sniper matchup.

The main matchup I’ll be focusing on is Indy ‘SPACE’ Halpern facing off against Fury. Space didn’t have his standard impact on game one as Fury was able to contribute both offensively and defensively. The net-win in damage and objective time for Fury seemed to be a small difference that ended up making a big impact. Fury also finished second in kills, and if the Valiant want to win tonight, slowing him down is the first step.

Valiant also need Terence ‘SoOn’ Tarlier to have a stronger game on the Widowmaker to give them a chance. At the very least, keep the margins of picks within range, as Profit was able to find a staggering amount of final-blows in game one. The difference in that category alone made up for a lot of the Spitfire’s win. Whichever Widowmaker gets more space to tonight will make all the difference.





Red Hot London Spitfire Enter the Overwatch League Semifinals against Streaking Los Angeles Valiant

In one of the more shocking turns of events in the inaugural season filled with one surprise after another, the London Spitfire dug deep despite a lousy game one performance, to bounce back and win six straight maps to move past the Los Angeles Gladiators and into the semifinals.

It was truly shocking considering where both teams stood at the end of the regular season. The Los Angeles Gladiators were trending up, higher than possible any other team in the league while the Spitfire looked like a team still searching for answers. It even looked as if the Spitfire, who built a huge game lead in stage one and two, could fall out of the playoffs. And despite ending with a 4-6 record this team snuck in only to get trampled in game one.

In the extra day-off between games one and two, the Spitfire must have done a ritual of some sort because they summoned the soul of the old GC Busan team and turned on kill mode. If our readers aren’t familiar, GC Busan is the old Apex team that was made up of London Spitfire players, and that team came alive in the postseason as well. GC Busan dismantled every team outside of RunAway (including Fissure, LAG’s main tanks, former team).

It was an impressive display of skill as we saw the rise of Birdring, who disappeared after rounds one and two, but was arguably the MVP of the stage one finals run. With Hanzo and the sniper meta being so prevalent, it makes sense that he would be the one to step up for the London Spitfire considering his ridiculously good aim. Add in Profit being able to flex onto Widow or Hanzo to get a double-sniper pushed this team to this point.

For the Valiant it’s simple, stick to their gameplan. While the Spitfire is late to the party in the current meta, the Valiant has been leading the charge with stellar play over the last two stages. No team has the team targetting teamwork down even close to the Valiant at this time. The followup to callouts and finishing off weak opponents is their specialty, and it will be on NUS to withstand that fiery burst damage of the Valiant.

Breaking Down the Matchup

DPS Advantage: London Spitfire

The Valiant DPS-line of SoOn on sniper and hitscan and Agilities, Bunny and Kariv filling is an underrated group of players without a doubt. Each one can play a number of different heroes effectively, and it makes it hard to try and counter their compositions and setups. However, if Birdring and Profit come alive tomorrow, it’s hard to imagine the Valiant being able to slow them down. They are the Spitfire trump card and need huge performances from both for a chance to beat a much deeper Valiant team.

Tank advantage: Los Angeles Valiant

This is an easy one considering the Fate and Space tank-line is seemingly miles ahead of the rest of the league. Both players do so much for their team and are the main reason why this team wins fights decisively with excellent space clearing dive timings and perfect follow-up on weak players. Space specifically has risen the level of play from this Valiant team by himself and is a will be a huge factor against the Spitfire. But once again, the Spitfire support a sleeping giant on the tank-line with arguably the best Winston in Gesture and is still growing Fury on flex.

Support Advantage: Los Angeles Valiant

The London Spitfire is the most technically proficient supports in this matchup, BDosin being similar to a JJoNak styled flex-support, while NUS and Closer can manage on the Mercy, but the Spitfire simply lacks the cohesion and leadership that Custa provides on the backline. It’s simply incredible the impact Custa has made on this Valiant team. Add that to Kariv putting up ridiculous good damage and healing numbers on Zenyatta and we see why this Valiant team has made such a huge jump in stages three and four. Custa and Kariv rank close to the top in overall rating, according to Winston’s Lab, since the start of stage three.

Bench Advantage: Push

Considering that the Spitfire doesn’t have a bench and the Valiant rarely ever stray from their starting six, this advantage is moot. Obviously, the Valiant has a distinct advantage with Bunny on the bench, but it’s unlikely based on past results that we’ll see Bunny get some action over Agilities or Soon.

Series Prediction: Los Angeles Valiant in three games

The Spitfire might have come back from the dead to make it this far, but it’s hard to deny a Valiant team that has an entire roster coming together at the perfect time. I see the Spitfire being able to push this to a game three, but good luck beating this well-coached, practiced, and cohesive Valiant team in a series.

Featured image courtesy of Overwatch League Twitter

Los Angeles Gladiators Win Game One over the London Spitfire with Fissure on the bench

Shortly before the start of the second Overwatch League playoff match, the Los Angeles Gladiators sent out a press release relaying to fans that Fissure would be sitting out the first map against the London Spitfire. A move born out of some inner turmoil and a strong week of practice from iRemix, but nevertheless, the Gladiators didn’t miss a beat with their best player on the bench.

Now, the Fissure benching will take all the headlines, but the biggest story is not only how good the Gladiators looked in the win, but how badly the Spitfire looked in the loss. It was a combination of a cohesive, fundamentally sound Gladiators approach to this match against a discombobulated, miscalculated attempt at slowing down the Gladiators backline. Similarly to a Philadelphia Fusion team that came out firing, the LA Gladiators also made a statement by sweeping the Spitfire.

Starting with Surefour, the MVP of the match, who gave the supports of the Spitfire trouble all game long. On either McCree or Widowmaker, Surefour wasn’t being contested enough to throw him off his positioning or force him into tougher sightlines. It was a struggle in both the Widow-duel and trying to dive onto his spot. It was a huge game for Surefour and helped make up for a real space creator in Fissure on the bench.

Luckily for the Gladiators, the decision to bench Fissure ended up working out. The move from Bischu to Void gave that frontline a bit more firepower, but the Gladiators dominated at every position. It wasn’t just Surefour on hitscan, but Hydration tearing it up on Hanzo or Silkthread in more of an aggressive dive role. It feels as if no team is improving at the rate of the LA Gladiators, and tonight was more proof of that.

London Spitfire Meta Woes

Trying to come to terms with the Spitfire’s recent struggles that have now bled on over into the postseason, in my eyes, boils down to one thing. The drastic gameplay changes with the popularization of sniper compositions, forcing Profit onto a role he’s not entirely comfortable with or necessarily excels in like he does with every other damage role. Bridring can certainly play an effective Widowmaker, but the most aggressive-minded team in the OWL having to play more passive-aggressive sniper strategies is messing with their gameplay.

This run also comes in the midst of a number of roster changes this team has made, as they assemble a core structure to the organization.  All these subtle and big changes hit at once and at the most inopportune time right before the playoffs. This is no excuse for getting badly outplayed and generally outcoached, but it’s a factor into the recent struggles. However, more of this will lead them out of the playoffs.