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Monday, October 25, 2021

The Overwatch League grand finals had been a storybook sendoff forward of Overwatch 2

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The Shanghai Dragons’ very first Overwatch match was an 0-4 shellacking delivered by the Los Angeles Gladiators in 2018. The crew would go on to lose the subsequent 41 straight video games — encompassing all the first season of the league and the primary two video games of the second season — incomes them the doubtful honor of getting the longest shedding streak in esports historical past. The Shanghai Dragons’ final Overwatch match of 2021 — and the final skilled Overwatch match forward of the sequel’s launch subsequent yr — was a 4-0 beatdown they themselves visited upon the Atlanta Reign to win the 2021 Grand Finals.

It’s a long-time fan in-joke to name the Overwatch League “scripted.” Like a TV present, groups are given story arcs, villains and heroes are solid, and any match that ended simply so was pre-determined by a author’s room. That the Shanghai Dragons are the crew that closes the chapter on skilled Overwatch as we all know it’s proof Positive that some sort of cosmic power is at play. Tales that good simply don’t occur by probability, and but, right here we’re.

The Dragons’ grand finals run began off inauspiciously. Within the first spherical, higher-seeded groups got the chance to decide on their opponents. Shanghai, as the best seed, bought first decide and determined to decide on the San Francisco Shock as their opponents. Oh no.

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The San Francisco Shock after profitable the 2020 Overwatch League Grand Finals over the Seoul Dynasty
Blizzard Leisure

The Shock are the winningest crew within the league, interval. They’re the one crew to have accomplished a “golden stage,” which means they received all seven video games in a stage with out shedding a single map — simply straight 4-0s throughout the board. They’re additionally the one crew that’s received back-to-back championships. And they’re the crew that despatched Shanghai into the loser’s bracket through the 2020 playoffs. Within the earlier 9 matches between these two groups, Shanghai has only won one of them, so it’s simple to see why I assumed this was a horrible decide.

My issues had been unfounded as Shanghai made fast work of San Francisco, bouncing them to the decrease bracket with a 3-0 embarrassment. However my reduction didn’t final. The Dallas Gasoline was their subsequent large problem after having misplaced to them within the Could Melee earlier within the season. When the playoffs started, I mentioned that the finals Overwatch League 2021 deserved was Dallas vs. Shanghai. The one different crew even near Shanghai in efficiency has been Dallas. Gasoline vs. Dragons was the rivalry the league’s writers demanded.

And, by the grace of Goddess Victory, Shanghai got here out on prime once more.

By this level, I’m sweating. Sure, my Dragons are within the grand finals, however the Shock are destroying the loser’s bracket, sending Philadelphia and Chengdu house — two groups full of large Darkish Horse Bracket Busting vitality. Greater than something, I are not looking for a 3-peat. I’ve no private animosity towards the Shock, I merely discover dynasties boring, and for a second, it regarded just like the Shock of {old} had been again, able to reclaim their crown.

However then I used to be granted a boon from an unlikely supply: the Atlanta Reign.

The Atlanta Reign
Blizzard Leisure

I’ve at all times loved Atlanta. They’re a neat crew with an unbelievable tank line and wonderful proof that you just don’t want a mono-culture crew to have success. Atlanta’s at all times been the gatekeepers of the higher rankings — ok to maintain everybody else out however by no means ok to interrupt by means of themselves. So think about my shock (heh) once they’re those to grant me my want of eliminating San Francisco.

Then they beat Dallas, after which I bought scared.

As I mentioned, the playoffs are constructed in a different way. Good groups fall quick, and mediocre groups instantly rise from nowhere. Dallas was a satan Shanghai knew. Atlanta wasn’t.

No grand finals match has been terribly aggressive. The Philadelphia Fusion received solely a single map of the eight performed towards London for the inaugural championship. After being tied of their head-to-head data and tying in stage playoff wins, San Francisco despatched Vancouver house in 2019 4 to nothing. Solely Seoul has made a grand finals match fascinating, and even then, they misplaced to the Shock 4-2. I hate when video games are blowouts, particularly finals. However for this last between Atlanta and Shanghai, I needed complete domination. My coronary heart didn’t have the energy to endure an in depth match. And, in line with the custom of one-sided grand finals, Shanghai granted my want. There was no magical second like there was when the Dragons finally won their first match ever towards Boston in 2019. No screaming or crying — simply me observing Shanghai wipe out Atlanta in additional time and going, “that’s it, that’s the sport.” After 4 years, the Shanghai Dragons’ redemption arc is full.

The Shanghai Dragons
Blizzard Leisure

The Dragons are quite a lot of firsts and quite a lot of lasts. They’re the primary crew to lose each recreation in a season. They’re the primary (and solely) crew to field a female player. They had been the final crew to win a stage championship earlier than the league modified its format, and now, they’re the final crew to win a championship in Overwatch 1.

Jon Spector — Overwatch League commissioner — confirmed that the next season will be played on Overwatch 2. The change in recreation brings with it a bunch of different modifications. The beginning lineups for groups will cut back in dimension from six gamers to 5, and the much-maligned assault map kind can be changed with push — a map kind during which groups battle to manage a robotic that pushes a payload. We even bought a glimpse at what aggressive play will appear like in 2022 with an exhibition recreation of league execs demoing Overwatch 2 throughout halftime. The modifications are fascinating, and whereas I’m desperate to see how Overwatch 2 will rework the league, that pleasure is tempered by the abuse, harassment, and discrimination allegations levied at its developer, Blizzard Leisure, and the information that Chacko Sonny, Overwatch 2’s government producer, has left the company.

As I have a good time my Dragons, mourn the tip of Overwatch prime, and proceed to observe Blizzard implode in sluggish movement, I’m reminded of the rationale I got here to this recreation within the first place: its group. A few of my greatest pals and colleagues have come from my time as a fan and a reporter, and my favourite recollections come from matches I noticed dwell.

I’ve by no means really participated in a sports activities fandom earlier than, and but, I latched onto this esport and the Shanghai Dragons with it, with such fanatical devotion {that a} tattoo of their brand is now a foregone conclusion and a promise fulfilled. I do know that the Overwatch League was by no means scripted, however I’m glad the league’s story ended like this.





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