By Matthew Gozzip
Illustration by Nolawi S. Wolde Yohannes Illustrator
Enough cliches about a phoenix rising from the ashes. The London Spitfire soared all season, culminating in a miraculous reverse sweep of the New York Excelsior, 3-2, to win the first stage of the Overwatch League and $100,000 in prize money.
Spitfire’s top damage per second (DPS) player Birdring ethered the opposition on the last day of match play, culminating in a 54 elimination effort as the femme fatale sniper Widowmaker against the Excelsior.
The would-be champions dominated the first four weeks of the season, heading into the last leg tied for the best record at 7-1. However, nothing came easy in the inaugural season, even for the most talented teams. To better fit this narrative, the Spitfire performed their absolute worst, promptly lost their final two games to the Houston Outlaws early in the week and the New York Excelsior on the last match day.
London nearly fell out of the playoffs and, to make matters worse, had to play two more games if they wanted to win the stage. Players appeared to be exhausted from the grueling schedule and had six more hours of competitive play waiting for them. The Spitfire’s wings appeared to be clipped, the biplanes running on fumes akin to Tom Hardy’s pilot character in Dunkirk.
Just like Christopher Nolan’s latest film too, hope still remained amidst fatigue and despair. In the first round of the playoffs, London snuffed out Houston’s formidable tank duo of Coolmatt and Muma. The Outlaws looked unstoppable for the past four weeks but the Spitfire were able to make the necessary adjustments after analyzing their match against them earlier in the week.
In the final match, the Excelsior jumped out to an 0-2 lead, pushing the Spitfire to the brink of elimination for the final time.
“We were all very exhausted and tired, and that’s why we weren’t able to perform that well, and dropped the first two maps,” said London tank Jae-Hui “Gesture” Hong. “After losing the first two maps, we thought, ‘Hey, we can’t let it end like this.’ So we rallied back and won a game. After that, we were like, ‘Hey, it’s 2-1, might as well.’”
Even on the edge defeat, the Spitfire’s resilience was never in question. In Overwatch, momentum is a powerful force, especially when a team’s offense is on fire...and there is no force that gets as hot as quickly as the Spitfire.
Birdring’s incredible aiming display of critical hits and spacing as Widowmaker provided an formidable presence that could not be contained. He did not miss a shot while alternating between vantage points, a spider stretching its limbs far and wide.
From there, the rest of the team were able to operate in their roles. Support player Bdosin decimated as Zenyatta, dealing as much damage as he healed. On top of that, the versatility from flex paly Profit, using multiple heroes, allowed tank player Gesture and fellow tank Fury to wreak havoc. All these forces working together powered London to win three straight maps and take home the stage one title.
The Spitfire are the top team once again, displaying persistence and grit fitting for any champion. That being said, this is only the first stage of the Overwatch League with three stages remaining. Can the Spitfire repeat or will another team rise?