London, Philly on even footing ahead of Overwatch League final

The Philadelphia Fusion snuck into the Overwatch League playoffs with the No. 6 seed but made it to the finals this weekend at Barclays Center thanks to stellar play from its DPS players. Robert Paul/Provided by Blizzard Entertainment

This weekend's Overwatch League final at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, features the Philadelphia Fusion against the London Spitfire. The winner of the series will claim a $1 million prize and be the inaugural champion of the Overwatch League.

The finals will begin at 7 p.m. ET on Friday on ESPN with Match 1 of the series and will continue starting at 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday on WatchESPN, with the event re-airing at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Top things to know

  • The No. 6 seed Fusion and No. 5 seed Spitfire advanced to the finals. To this point in the postseason, the lower-seeded team has won every series, with lower-seeded teams claiming eight of the 10 matches played.

  • The Spitfire are on an incredible run in the playoffs. After dropping their first three maps (and first match) of the quarterfinals against the Los Angeles Gladiators, the Spitfire have gone 12-1-1 in their past 14 maps on the way to a four-match win streak.

  • To reach the finals, the Fusion secured upsets of the No. 3 seed Boston Uprising in the quarterfinals (2-1 series win) and the No. 1 seed New York Excelsior (2-0 series win) in the semifinals. In its semifinal match with New York, Philadelphia became the only team in the Overwatch League to defeat the Excelsior in three separate matches and the only team to sweep them in a match with a 3-0 win in Match 1.

  • These teams feature the two best offensive players in the Overwatch League. Philadelphia's Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok and London's Park "Profit" Joon-yeong were the two highest-rated DPS players across all heroes in OWL Season 1, according to Winston's Lab.

Format

The format for the finals will match the rest of the playoffs: a best-of-three series played in best-of-five matches (each individual game is referred to as a "map"). If a deciding third match is needed, the higher seed picks the map, with the loser of the previous map making the selection for the next map.

What's at stake

The winner of the finals will take home $1 million and become the champion of the Overwatch League's inaugural season. The loser will take home $400,000.

Who has the advantage?

These teams are incredibly close in a lot of areas, so it should be an evenly matched final. Some of the trends between them:

  • The Fusion won the regular-season series 3-2, including a win in the semifinals of the Stage 2 playoffs.

  • Both of these teams struggled against playoff opponents, going 7-11 in regular-season matches against those teams -- not including stage playoffs.

  • Both of these teams were among the quartet of teams, along with the Los Angeles Valiant and Boston Uprising, to record multiple wins against league's No. 1 seed New York Excelsior. The Fusion was the only team to defeat New York in three separate matches.

  • In the current meta, teams need elite DPS players who can play a variety of characters. Profit and Carpe were the two highest-rated DPS players across all heroes in OWL Season 1.

How they got here

Philadelphia Fusion

The Fusion had a tumultuous season that started with the team not participating in the preseason due to visa issues. The most important things to note about its season:

  • Philadelphia finished 24-16, tied with the London Spitfire for the fifth-best record in OWL. However, the Fusion finished 20 maps behind the Spitfire in map differential, so it was the No. 6 playoff seed.

  • The Fusion was one of five teams to appear in a stage final, along with the New York Excelsior, Boston Uprising, Los Angeles Valiant and London Spitfire. The Fusion lost their only stage finals 3-2 to the Excelsior after sprinting out to a 2-0 lead in the match.

  • While Philadelphia was hardly considered a title contender going into the playoffs, the Fusion did not have a losing record in any stage of the season. The only other OWL team that can say that is the Excelsior, who finished 34-6 in the regular season.

  • The backbone of the Fusion's roster was its Carpe, whose 1,141 player rating led all DPS players with a minimum of 30 hours played. Carpe typically plays Widowmaker, a sniper, or Tracer, a highly-mobile attack hero. Carpe's Widowmaker was the second-best in OWL's first season among players to play the hero at least two hours.

  • Carpe has participated in 28 percent of eliminations of enemy team members, the highest rate among playoff players and second-highest overall in OWL.

London Spitfire

London had an up-and-down season that saw it go from top contender in OWL (7-3 in Stage 1 and winner of the Stage 1 Finals) to barely making the playoff field. The most important things to note about the Spitfire's season:

  • In the first half of the season (Stages 1 and 2), London went 15-5, second-best record in OWL. In the second half (Stages 3 and 4), it went 9-11.

  • After Stage 1, London transferred main tank player Baek "Fissure" Chan-hyung to the Los Angeles Gladiators. After the transfer, the Spitfire went 17-13, while the Gladiators went 21-9 and had Fissure finish as the runner-up in Overwatch League MVP voting.

  • London features an incredibly talented roster. The Spitfire has four members of its starting lineup in the top-10 highest-rated players in OWL, according to Winston's Lab: Hong "Gesture" Jae-hee, Kim "Fury" Jun-ho, Park "Profit" Joon-yeong and Choi "Bdosin" Seung-tae.

  • Kim "Birdring" Ji-hyeok, one of London's star DPS players along with Profit, missed nearly all of Stage 3 due to an injury.

How they got here: playoff edition

Philadelphia Fusion

  • As the No. 6 seed, the Fusion opened with the Uprising, who were the only team in OWL to complete a stage a perfect 10-0 (Boston did so in Stage 3). The Fusion secured a 2-1 series win against Boston to advance to the semifinals.

  • The semifinals saw the Fusion go up against heavy favorite New York Excelsior. In that series, the Fusion became the first team this season to sweep New York in a match (3-0 in Match 1 of the series). With its win in Match 2, Philadelphia became the only team to defeat New York in three separate matches during the season.

  • The Fusion's DPS duo of Josh "Eqo" Corona and Carpe has been dealing heavy damage during the playoffs. Eqo leads the OWL with 9,261 damage per 10 minutes in the playoffs, while Carpe is dealing 6,706 per 10 minutes, ranking 13th.

London Spitfire

  • After dropping their first match of the quarterfinals to the Gladiators 3-0, the Spitfire rattled off a 12-1-1 record in their past 14 maps, leading to a four-match win streak. The only map London has lost in that time was King's Row to the Los Angeles Valiant in the semifinals.

  • Profit is averaging 8,790 damage per 10 minutes in the playoffs, second only to Eqo.

  • London has excelled this postseason at avoiding having its players eliminated. Fury, Bdosin, birdring and Profit are all averaging fewer than five deaths per 10 minutes. All rank in the top seven among players to play at least two hours in the playoffs.

Key matchup: Eqo vs. Profit

Philadelphia's Eqo and London's Profit will meet up in a matchup of flex DPS players. The flex DPS will rotate between offense, tank and support roles based on the team composition their team is playing.

Eqo

Eqo wasn't initially a big part of the Fusion's plans this season, as he didn't play at all in Stage 1. However, since he debuted, he has been one of the most adaptable players in OWL. Eqo has at least a 1,000 player rating on six different heroes (minimum one hour played), including multiple tank characters (D.Va and Roadhog), according to Winston's Lab. Perhaps even more importantly, of the nine characters on which he has played at least an hour, his team wins team fights more often that it loses them on eight of those heroes.

Profit

Profit's arsenal does not run quite as deep as Eqo's, but he actually becomes a better option for his team when he flexes out of the DPS role. In the current meta, teams stand a better chance if they can get an elite performance on support hero Brigitte. Profit is the highest-rated Brigitte player in OWL, while Eqo's Brigitte was the second-lowest rated among players to play the character at least an hour. Perhaps most surprising of all, between Profit and Eqo, Profit's Brigitte is the highest-rated character (1,276 player rating, per Winston's Lab).

Brigitte is important to the current meta because she works as a counter to highly mobile offensive characters. Introduced prior to Stage 4, she has the ability to stun flankers like Tracer and Genji, which leaves them vulnerable in team fights. Brigitte's presence makes it difficult for opposing teams to run a dive strategy, which is when a team uses mobile characters to try to quickly move in and secure the first kill in a team fight.

The maps

Overall, Philadelphia has a slight advantage in the map pool simply because of the order of play. Of the six scheduled maps that the teams have to play, the Fusion have a better record than the Spitfire on four of them. However, if London can overcome that disadvantage, it has a better record on three of the four "if necessary" maps.

If the teams are required to go to a tie-breaking sixth map on Nepal (should one of the maps end in a draw), the Fusion and Spitfire have identical .538 win percentages on that map this season.

If a deciding third match is needed, the higher seed picks the map, with the loser of the previous map making the selection for the next map.