Los Angeles Valiant locks in season-ending playoff spot with win over London Spitfire

The Los Angeles Valiant solidified a season-ending Overwatch League playoff spot with a 2-1 win over the London Spitfire on Thursday, and can still win the stage, which will give the team a bye in the playoffs. Robert Paul/Blizzard Entertainment

Los Angeles Valiant 2 - London Spitfire 1

The Los Angeles Valiant overcame a slow first half to secure a season playoff spot with a 2-1 win over the London Spitfire on Thursday at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.

With the inaugural season of the Overwatch League winding down and the Valiant looking to lock up a playoff bye, every game counts for Los Angeles. Given this, it was surprising to see the Valiant come out the gate flat. After capturing all three points in Game 1 on Blizzard World on its attacking round, the Valiant let the Spitfire dictate the pace, leading to a draw on Blizzard World and a dominating London win on Horizon Lunar Colony. All credit goes to London in that first half, as it made crucial adjustments to stymie the Valiant. Running an increasingly popular triple-tank plus triple-support composition, the Spitfire surged on the back of DPS Park "Profit" Jun-young who made solid plays, while main tank Hong "Gesture" Jae-hui held his own against the Valiant's Koo "Fate" Pan-seung. Despite London's strength in the first half, however, the Valiant that had the last word.

This series was all about adjustments, and it was the Valiant that made the biggest ones in this second half, returning to its decisively lethal form that we've become accustomed to here in Stage 4. At the forefront of this was DPS Brady "Agilities" Girardi, who lit up the Spitfire with relative ease on both of the final maps. Agilities' Pharah is a known threat, but it was his Doomfist that ended up making the difference on Lijiang Tower. It wasn't just Agilities, however, as Indy "SPACE" Halpern continued to show that he's one of the best off-tanks in the league with his deep hero pool, playing D.Va, Roadhog and Zarya at different points in the series. Sitting at an undefeated 7-0 in Stage 4, the Valiant is well on its well to the Stage 4 playoffs and is just one win away from clinching the Pacific Division and that all-important bye in the season playoffs.

The Valiant will be back in action at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday against the Houston Outlaws, while the Spitfire will have a tall task against the Los Angeles Gladiators at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.

--Wyatt Donigan

Los Angeles Gladiators 3 - New York Excelsior 2

The Los Angeles Gladiators dug deep to complete a 3-2 reverse-sweep against the New York Excelsior in the second game of the night.

The Gladiators had trouble in the first half, losing both maps in close contests that ended with the the team forgetting to stay on the objective. The second half was a different story, though. Los Angeles made some adjustments to help deal with the New York's strategy of flanking with its main tank, waiting for the Excelsior to make positioning errors and then attacking and disrupting New York's plays. DPS player Joao Pedro "Hydration" Goes Telles was crucial to the Gladiators' ability to adapt and change, flexing between varying DPS heroes such as Pharah, Doomfist, and Brigitte. With this win, the Gladiators remain in a strong position headed towards both the Stage 4 playoffs and the season playoffs, though still trail Pacific division leader Los Angeles Valiant.

The Excelsior's top position in the Overwatch League finals locked in and a loss to the Valiant last week, some thought the team wasn't giving its best. There didn't seem to be any goofing around against the Gladiators, but the Excelsior certainly didn't seem to be in top form. Despite the first half success, the New York's tank line was lackluster throughout the latter half of the series, constantly being outmuscled by the Gladiator's front line. The Excelsior also failed to make any changes in response to the adaptations made by the Gladiators, specifically running both Junkrat and Pharah on Nepal against L.A.'s 4-tank composition. Though New York had the right idea in trying to burst down the Gladiators' meaty lineup, the DPS only fed energy to the opposing Zarya, making matters worse for New York. Only time will tell whether or not the Excelsior is in a genuine slump or only saving its strategies for the season playoffs, but its current form might be cause for some concern coming from the top team in the league.

Los Angeles continues to push for a better playoff position against the London Spitfire at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, followed by the Excelsior facing its third California-based team in as many matches, facing off against the San Francisco Shock at 6 p.m. ET later that day.

--Travis Elliott

Philadelphia Fusion 2 - San Francisco Shock 1

Deep in the thick of the season playoff hunt, the Philadelphia Fusion snatched a 2-1 victory from the jaws of defeat against the San Francisco Shock.

With Josh "Eqo" Corona out of the lineup during the last couple weeks, the Fusion looked worse for wear as Georgii "ShaDowBurn" Gushcha was unable to fill the massive shoes of the electric DPS star. Eqo's return couldn't have come at a better time, since the season is coming down to the wire and the Fusion need all the wins it can get to hold onto one of the four playoff spots up for grabs. While things didn't start out the best for Philly, the Fusion proved that it's not about how you start, but how you finish.

From the onset, the Shock continued to look like the rejuvenated squad that fans have grown to love. Making a surprise return to the lineup was Andrej "Babybay" Francisty, giving the team yet another wrinkle that caught the Fusion off guard. Moreover, the Shock's other pair of DPS players, Park "Architect" Min-ho and Jay "sinatraa" Won, were playing as well as ever, forming a potent offensive attack. Despite its relative success on King's Row and on the attack side of Horizon Lunar Colony, the Shock crumbled on defense and gave the Fusion a window through which to crawl back into the series.

The surge of the Fusion started with Philadelphia forcing a tie on Horizon Lunar Colony and continued into Lijiang Tower and Watchpoint: Gibraltar in the second half, as it finally found its groove. It seemed as though anytime things came down to the wire, it was the Fusion winning that key teamfight to turn the tide. Each map ended up being a game of inches, but the Fusion had far too many weapons, especially DPS star Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok, who put the team on his back during Lijiang Tower as Widowmaker and Doomfist, and the Shock simply crumbled when push came to shove.

The Shock will hope to bounce back and continuing pushing for a Stage 4 playoff spot at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday against the New York Excelsior, while the Fusion will face a struggling Seoul Dynasty at 11 p.m. ET on Friday.

--Wyatt Donigan