Alex Moore looks back on this season’s Overwatch League final between the San Francisco Shock and the Seoul Dynasty

 

The setup

The Overwatch League final this year was a match-up that few predicted and was all the better for it. The expected fixture was the San Francisco Shock versus the Shanghai Dragons: The clash of the almost undisputed champions of the North American and Asian regions.

While we did get to see this fixture in the final round of the Winner’s Bracket (a victory for San Francisco), the rematch in the final never came. Instead, Seoul defeated the Shanghai Dragons in the semi-finals. This was only the second time that Seoul had beaten them this year.

It’s hard to imagine a match with more significance for both teams. The San Francisco Shock were looking to pull off the first back-to-back season wins in Overwatch League history. Their opponents were the Seoul Dynasty, representing the country that has pretty much dominated the world of esports so far. 

Throughout the Overwatch League, Seoul had always failed to deliver on the high expectations placed upon them. This year looked like their best chance to break that curse.

For some of Seoul’s players, the match was also a chance to prove they were still champions. Profit and Gesture were both a part of the London Spitfire roster that took home the first Overwatch League trophy back in 2018. 

After a disappointing year last year, their move to Seoul looked to be a redemption arc for the former London Spitfire players.

 

The match

Previous Overwatch League Grand Finals had promised much but had always turned out fairly one-sided. The 2018 and 2019 finals were both sweeps (the winners being the London Spitfire and then the San Francisco Shock).

While the result was what most would have predicted, few could have guessed how exciting and down to the wire the match would be.

San Francisco started strong, their dominance on Control maps continuing with a clear win on Oasis. They followed this with a harder-fought victory on Kings Row, heading into the first break with a 2-0 lead.

After that though, the Seoul Dynasty came out fighting in the second half. They surprised all of us by handing San Francisco their first loss on Hanamura of the entire season. San Francisco over-committed to an unusual team composition for the map. This strategy ended up costing them too much time on their first point attack, and then the map itself. 

Seoul then looked on fire, pulling off a full hold on Watchpoint: Gibraltar to tie up the series 2-2. The San Francisco Shock were able to turn it around on Busan, again looking unstoppable on Control type maps. They finished off the series with a convincing win on Hollywood, beating Seoul 4-2. 

All in all, both teams can be proud of their performance in the finals:. The Seoul Dynasty for exceeding expectations and showing us the best of Korean Overwatch and San Francisco for proving for the second time that they are the best Overwatch team in the world. 

 

The aftermath

One burning question I had after the match: Was there anything more Seoul could have done to even the odds? I believe there were two key hero and player choices that San Francisco made which gave them an edge in this closely-fought match. 

For both these roles, Seoul had players they could have used to mirror San Francisco – and take away some of their advantage.

Firstly, the San Francisco Shock took advantage of having perhaps the best Tracer player in the world in Striker. Playing Tracer against a Seoul team running Sombra or Hanzo instead gave them an edge in close-range burst damage. 

One of the few players in the game that could go toe-to-toe with Striker on the Tracer is Seoul’s own Profit.

The other hero pick that gave the San Francisco Shock an advantage was Viol2t’s Zenyatta. Seoul relied heavily on Gesture’s Roadhog, making risky plays. Multiple times Zenyatta’s increased damage effect knocked out the Seoul tank, giving San Francisco the edge in key teamfights. Seoul have a star Zenyatta player on their team – Bdosin – the final member of that original London Spitfire roster.

Seoul decided to play the style that is popular in the Asian region, using the Ana over the Zenyatta. 

If we can fault the Seoul Dynasty for anything, then switching away from this when it wasn’t working could’ve improved their chances in this match.

 

British pride

British OWL fans have something else to cheer about this year. The 2020 playoffs featured one British player, Funnyastro, the main support for the Philadelphia Fusion. 

British Overwatch talent has not been seen in the OWL playoffs since Boombox during the inaugural Grand Finals. Not only did both players achieve this playing for the Fusion, but they also played together on the UK Overwatch team at the last Overwatch World Cup.

The recent announcement that the London Spitfire are changing to a western roster gives British fans more to get excited about. 

The last time a new EU team was launched – the Paris Eternal before the 2019 season, three of their nine players were French. Those were SoOn, NiCOgdh, and BenBest. SoOn even left an established OWL team, the LA Valiant, for the chance to represent his home country. 

Is it too much to hope that British players already in the Overwatch League will do the same and play for a team that represents the UK? Only time will tell. 

This news gives me hope that when we do see the new London roster, it will show us some of the best of European – and even British – Overwatch.