The inaugural Overwatch League playoffs was met with much anticipation. The first day of the playoffs featured two teams playing with a purpose. The hometown team, Los Angeles Gladiators have a motive — they do not want to be known as the secondary Los Angeles team behind the Valiant, they want to be the best. After being crowned the Stage 1 champions, the London Spitfire have not matched success since then. Winning the Overwatch League Season 1 championship would solidify their place for not only one stage, but as the best in the world.
In preparation for this match, Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni commented that the schedule did not change. He added, “Maybe there were more scrim blocks, but it was pretty much more or less the same as the regular season.” When asked if the Spitfire had any exploits they could take advantage of, BigGoose stated that it was difficult to review VODs and find anything 3 weeks out. However, he noted that the Spitfire likes to use the dive composition a lot and they were able to counter their comp.
In the playoffs, teams will be on a newer patch featuring the newly reworked Hanzo. “Hanzo is a hard hero right now. I think in the playoffs, you might be seeing a lot less monkey/D.Va tank comps and more Reinhardt/Orisa. Hanzo nowadays can just melt tanks and there’s not much you can do,” BigGoose commented if the new Hanzo changed the way teams approached him on offense and defense.
Stage 4 saw the Gladiators finished in first place prior to the stage playoffs. However, they came up short against the eventual Stage 4 champions, Los Angeles Valiant. BigGoose commented that the biggest thing they learned throughout Stage 4 is the ability to adapt on the spot. He also added that teams have an identity so there is room to learn from it.
Prior to the playoff match against the Spitfire, the Gladiators had a major announcement that they will bench Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek in favor of Luis “iRemiix” Galarza Figueroa. Controversy surrounded the decision that people began to speculate whether benching Fissure was performance-based or attitude issues. In all, people were put off by the decision and considered the Spitfire to be the favorites instead. When asked if the team needed significant time to adjust with iRemiix in the starting roster, BigGoose pointed out that they have a similar playstyle so not much time was needed to adjust. After playing through adversity without Fissure and the situation surrounding him, BigGoose stated, “I think we’ve always been playing well and had it from the beginning. When the stakes are high like today, we tend to show up and play our best.”
The Gladiators manhandled the Spitfire after map 1 in this match. This match also saw a creative play by the Gladiators on King’s Row, where the team wrapped around hotel, isolating Lane “Surefour” Roberts back at spawn. By doing this, Surefour had his sights on the backline of the Spitfire, eliminating the Spitfire supports from the equation. It led to an eventual sweep, giving the Gladiators a 1-0 lead in the series. On how the Gladiators able to dominate this match, BigGoose stated he didn’t think it was that one-sided. Rather, they were able to adapt really well. He mentioned on Junkertown, in particular, they were able to snowball and take command in that map. He pointed out they were able to outstrat them in this series and it showed. As for London, BigGoose thought Jae-hee “Gesture” Hong’s Winston stood out and will need to think of a plan to stop him. He added that they [London] will be more prepared for Saturday’s games.
Match 2 between the Los Angeles Gladiators and London Spitfire takes place this Saturday. Before BigGoose left, he stated that there are more strats that the team wants to show off and the fans will have to wait and see what happens.