On Saturday, March 10, The London Spitfire played against the Los Angeles Gladiators in an important Overwatch League match. It was the first time Chan-Hyung "Fissure" Baek went up against his former squad after the main tank player transferred from the Spitfire to the Gladiators during the break between stage one and two. With pride on the line and a chance at catching up to London in the stage two standings, Fissure and the rest of the Gladiators had to play close to perfect.
Map one - Volskaya Industries
The disrespect coming from the London Spitfire could be seen early on Volskaya Industries, the first map of the afternoon. Three of London's best players were on the bench—DPS star Ji-Hyeok "Birdring" Kim, deadly support main Seung-Tae "Bdosin" Choi, and the versatile flex tank Jun-Ho "Fury" Kim. Los Angeles took advantage of that questionable decision by playing more aggressively than usual, even opting for a triple DPS defense on point B:
Jonas "Shaz" Suovaara isn't new to Genji. The Gladiators have put him on the cyborg ninja in the past with pretty good results, leaving Benjamin "BigGoose" Isohanni to take care of the bulk of the healing on Lúcio. This time around it was a little different, though it's mostly due to how difficult it is to defend Volskaya point B at the professional level. Fissure's Winston play really opened up London and allowed the Gladiators to go nuts—something they were lacking in a main tank in stage one. By leaping onto the opposition, Fissure and the Gladiators went on to take the first map of the set.
Map two - Lijiang Tower
The Gladiators stuck with what worked heading into Lijiang Tower. Instead of going with a popular tank-heavy push on Control Center, they climbed on Fissure's back once more and dove into action. Jun-Sung "Asher" Choi and Joao Pedro "Hydration" Veloso de Goes Telles went to work as Tracer and Genji, respectively:
There's the fadeaway Pulse Bomb we know and love. After getting two quick kills, Asher immediately wraps around the Spitfire, netting another support kill as soon as Fissure gets everyone's attention. That's about as textbook as a dive can get.
After taking the first map with relative ease, the fight progressed to Gardens, where both teams went for a Mercy-less Pharah composition. Once again, you have to consider the fact that with Birdring on the bench, the Spitfire didn't have a knockout McCree or Widowmaker to keep the skies clear. Hydration can be an otherworldly Pharah at times, and leaving him unmolested is a huge mistake:
That's the power of Pharah on Gardens if you can't keep her under control. A Barrage kill, a rocket kill, and an environmental kill send the Spitfire back to spawn to think things over. The Gladiators would eventually take Lijiang, to leave them sitting at 2-0 heading into halftime.
Map three - King's Row
The Spitfire changed things up in the second half by finally subbing in Birdring, Bdosin, and Fury on King's Row. They looked okay on the first push, but the Gladiators proved just a bit better. As the payload approached the final point, the Spitfire lost their positioning and were unable to recover. Even getting back to the reversing payload was too big of a task:
Lane "Surefour" Roberts can do anything on DPS. He's been one of the best North American players since the game's release, and not much has changed. There aren't too many people who can drop Birdring in a Widow duel before he's able to get a shot off, but Surefour is one of them. Fissure follows that up with an excellent dive onto the Spitfire's back line, killing Bdosin and forcing Jong-Seok "Nus" Kim out of position for Surefour to deal with. Unable to advance any further, the Spitfire had to settle for just two points.
The Gladiators then went for a ton of burst damage with Junkrat and Pharah for their own final push. It was a risky move since the Spitfire built a ton of Zarya charge and still had Birdring on Widowmaker, but time was on their side. In the end, Fissure and Surefour continued their domination and made sure the Gladiators won then and there:
As usual, Fissure's positioning is excellent out in front of his team. Since Jae-Hui "Gesture" Hong is forced to overextend as Reinhardt in order to keep a body on the point, Fissure applies the pressure that Surefour needs to connect with a RIP-Tire. The Spitfire's move to field their A team made no difference in the end, as the Gladiators took the third map and the series win.
Even though the Spitfire did take the fourth map, this victory was an important one for Fissure and the Gladiators. His new starting role seems to have unlocked both his and his team's full potential. If they can keep this up, we very well might see the Los Angeles Gladiators make a legitimate playoff push down the stretch.