London has “easy” time sweeping Philly for Overwatch title
NEW YORK (AP) — How does it feel to be an esports champion?
“I didn’t think it would be this easy,” London Spitfire support player Seung-Tae “Bdosin” Choi said through a translator. “Next year, I hope we play against a stronger team.”
The Spitfire rolled to the inaugural Overwatch League championship Saturday night, dominating the Philadelphia Fusion over the two-day final at Barclays Center to claim the $1 million top prize. London swept the best-of-three showdown, becoming the first club in the 12-team, international esports league to hoist the trophy.
They celebrated with a little smack-talk.
“I also want to face a stronger team in the finals” next year, London’s Ji-Hyeok “Birdring” Kim said through a translator.
The Overwatch League is the first global, city-based esports league, and it capped its barrier-breaking inaugural season by bringing 22,434 fans over two nights to the Barclays Center and airing the opening match of its Grand Finals on ESPN, the first prime-time appearance for esports on the traditional sports network. The league is planning to add six franchises this offseason and eventually wants to boast 28 teams spanning the globe.
Overwatch’s lone European club lost the first of five scheduled maps Friday night, then swept the rest of the competition. It cemented the trophy by taking King’s Row — fittingly, a London-based map — in overtime.
The crowning moment was pulled straight from the traditional sports world — a confetti shower, a surprisingly heavy trophy, and championship hats and bomber jackets for the players. Even players who had previously won championships in esports-mad South Korea were struck by the scene.
“This was a much larger stage,” Spitfire tank Jae-Hui “Gesture” Hong said through a translator. “And therefore, the happiness, the joy of winning everything is a lot greater here.”
It was a celebratory end to a seven-month grind for London’s entirely Korean roster, which like all the league’s franchises, was based in Los Angeles for the first season until team owners can find home arenas in their host cities. The league hopes to begin playing home-and-away matches in its third season.
“It does feel like we’ve been rewarded with being the grand champions of the league for staying abroad so long,” Grand Finals MVP Joon-Yeong “Profit” Park said through a translator.
London and Philadelphia were the lowest-seeded teams entering the Overwatch League playoffs. The Spitfire were a force early in the season but slumped midway through the year amid internal strife, leading to the release of four players.
The Fusion reached the final by upsetting the top-seeded New York Excelsior. Philadelphia peaked late in the season as its roster featuring players from nine countries gelled and hit its stride in the teamwork-intensive 6-on-6 first-person shooter.
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