Hey yinzers, sorry for the time away! Vacation really gets to you, y’know? A real struggle to get back into the swing of things, but alas here we are. This past weekend was the Stage 3 Playoffs for the Overwatch League (OWL) and boy oh boy was it a fiesta of a playoffs.
Just to preface this with some background information, the way the OWL playoffs work for each stage is different from how the season playoffs work. For each stage, the top 8 teams make it out of the regular “season” for that stage and make it to playoffs. This stage, it happened to be the following 8 teams (their numbering is their seed placement as well):
- New York Excelsior
- Vancouver Titans
- Hangzhou Spark
- San Francisco Shock
- Seoul Dynasty
- Los Angeles Valiant
- Houston Outlaws (HELL YEAH BABY ANTE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!)
- Shanghai Dragons
This stage saw upset after upset, with Houston taking out the Shock early on in the stage when the Shock were (and honestly still are) considered to be the best team in the world. Following up after that was the Valiant being the first team to ever beat the Titans in regular series, bringing their undefeated record to its knees. Regardless, they are still 20-1 overall…which is unreal. I don’t foresee that being the case for long, as they’ve finally showed they aren’t as immortal as they may have seemed.
The image above shows the seeding and matches for the quarterfinals, as well as the time and reseeding for the semis and finals. The series honestly seemed pretty straightforward with who would win, with the Spark v Valiant series really being the only toss up, followed up by Shock v Dynasty. Unfortunately for me, being an Outlaws super fan, there was no way they were going to top the Titans at the moment…and the NYXL v Dragons seemed pretty over as well.
Boy oh boy were we wrong…
Yeah…you’re reading that right. The Shanghai Dragons not only upset the #1 seed, but did it in arguably easy fashion. Following up to them but suuuuuuuuper far behind in upset caliber in my opinion, the Valiant upset the Spark 3-2, with the rest of the bracket going as expected. Shock over the Dynasty 3-1 and the Titans over the Outlaws 3-0 (this was a depressing series, put a real damper on my vacation Thursday night lemme tell you…). The semis were set, with the Titans v Dragons and the Shock v Valiant. Another pretty straight forward pair of series. Titans should easily handle the Dragons and Shock should beat the Valiant easily too. Keyword in that last statement was SHOULD.
Ha…hahaha…that didn’t actually happen right? That’s a joke right? [insert nervous laughing face here]
NOPE. The Shanghai Dragons beat the Vancouver Titans, honestly in dominating fashion too. 4-1 was the series scoreline for that one, with the Shock manhandling the Valiant 4-0. The finals were setup to be a good set, with the reigning Stage 2 Champions in the Shock versus the rising underdogs in the Dragons.
This is the part where everyone laughs at my article title cause it’s a play on the finals :), get it? SHOCKing the world? HA I really know how to make me laugh.
Oh yeah, they did it. From the #8 seed to the Stage 3 Champions. After Season 1, it seemed like the Dragons were a hopeless cause, and that’s no exaggeration…they went 0-40 last season. They didn’t win a SINGLE series, and they didn’t win their first 2 this season either, bringing their losing streak to 0-42. Honestly, when they won their first series ever as an organization, it was such a joyous and insanely epic moment that it was a LEGITIMATE contender to win the ESPY eSports Moment of the Year.
Sidebar here, this was the first year the ESPY’s had an eSports award! We made it boys. oLARRY won it this year, as he made a comeback to eSports via the 2K League after he was shot during a Madden tournament in Florida last year.
Back to the point of the article, the Dragons have made a HUGE turnaround. Honestly, I’m happy as hell for them, even being an Outlaws fan it’s GREAT to see a team turn around like that and defy the odds. Everyone loves an underdog, and the Dragons have quickly became a fan favorite. With everything they are doing, from signing the first woman in the OWL last year in Geguri to defying the odds after going 0-40 to win their first stage championship to being legitimate season contenders, you can’t help but smile and love being a part of it.
eSports are just a wild ride all together, and it’s such a welcoming environment too, you can go on twitter and see professional players from other teams just being incredibly excited for the Dragons, cheering them on, showing how eSports is one big family, where we may have rivalries and differences, but we band together. I love to be a part of it, to be a part of the fans of the OWL and writing about it too! I hope these articles recently have brought in some of you to be new eSports fans as well, give the OWL a watch, doesn’t hurt to try it out! Who knows, maybe you’ll become as engrossed in it as I am.
Congratulations again to the Shanghai Dragons for winning the Stage 3 Championship! Thanks for reading all, hope to see you back again soon!
See you soon, Martimas Prime rolling out.