After five weeks of play, the first stage of the inaugural season of Overwatch League has come to a close. On Saturday, February 10, the London Spitfire suffered an early loss to the New York Excelsior, giving them much to think about as the evening title matches approached. A little rest went a long way, as they returned later that night to defeat the Houston Outlaws in the semis, and then complete a reverse sweep over the top-seeded Excelsior in the stage one title match, winning $100,000.
The stage one finals were one of Overwatch League's most exciting matches to date, and a huge determining factor in the outcome was each team's Widowmaker play. Whether it was high-flying headshots, quick flicks, or early-game picks, Overwatch's resident sniper made a significant impact on the night's proceedings. Let's take a look at some of the best Widow plays from the title match between the London Spitfire and the New York Excelsior.
Map one: Junkertown
Known for overwhelming cheese strats and interesting compositions, Junkertown has become somewhat of a proving ground for pro Widowmakers. At or near the top of that list is New York's Kim "Pine" Do-hyeon, who made a name for himself as one of the best snipers from South Korea's Apex series. After advancing past point A, London was about to find out why.
New York went for a typical high ground defense as the payload rounded the corner. With Orisa shields and Junkrat spam, that setup can often buy a lot of time, if not stop a push altogether. If you have a decent Widowmaker thrown into the mix to take advantage of the open areas, that particular defense can be even trickier to break. Here's Pine showing us what that can look like:
It's easy to get caught up trying to abuse the line of sight you have once that payload rounds the corner, but Pine took a more proactive approach. Instead of waiting of his targets, he forced London's hand with aggressive positioning that crushed their flanking capabilities. Once he got rid of the enemy Genji, you could tell London was scrambling in their comms. Not only did they have to deal with what was in front of them, they also had to contend with one of the world's best Widowmakers encroaching from behind. With no answers and dead supports, London was forced to reset after losing four players to the "Big Boss".
Map three: Horizon Lunar Colony
Widowmaker didn't get much play during map two's Control match on Oasis, which New York took to move to 2-0 over London, but the sniper was back with a vengeance on map three. London struck first, securing both points of Horizon Lunar Colony, but the NYXL quickly fired back, taking both points as well. London had the time bank advantage going into round three, putting New York on the attack.
London's defense held strong for a while, but with a minute left in the round, New York seemed to have found a few cracks. Playing Tracer, New York's Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong-yeol landed a Pulse Bomb on London's Mercy, with Bdosin's Zenyatta falling soon after. With both supports dead, London's defensive hopes were slim, had Kim "Birdring" Ji-hyuk's Widowmaker not found New York's Libero and JJoNak in his sights.
Birdring landed his shots, removing the enemy Genji and Zenyatta from the fight and preserving London's defense. The team held on, then took the point on attack, winning their first map of the series.
Map four: Numbani
London's attack in round one took the first point of the hybrid map Numbani, but New York managed to hold the Spitfire from pushing the payload to its first checkpoint. Down 2-1 in the series, London's chances for the stage one crown looked slim. If New York took point A, they wouldn't need to push the payload very far to secure the win.
Birdring again played a key role in London's defense, this time taking out several New York attackers throughout a triumphant full hold on Numbani point A. Here he is landing his shots during a hectic team fight with about three minutes left in the round.
A few minutes later, with less than 60 seconds remaining in New York's attack, Birdring found JJoNak alone in a hallway, shaving precious seconds off the clock before New York could make their final push.
London held on, taking Numbani and equalizing the series. The Overwatch League stage one finals were going to a fifth map.
Map five: Dorado
The final map of the set took us to Dorado, yet another map that has gained notoriety for gimmicky compositions and Widowmaker play. Early on, New York's Saebyeolbe rained Widowmaker shots from above, stalling London on the first point. With everything on the line, London swapped Birdring back to Widowmaker once again.
Birdring soon got the best of Saebyeolbe's Widowmaker with a grapple-jump headshot, allowing London to advance freely through the streets phase and into the ziggurat.
Unable to maintain any sort of pressure on Birdring, New York struggled to find strong positioning as the payload made its approach to the final point:
Birdring's first pick was fitting. Kim "Libero" Hye-sung had been unable to get much going with Genji all night, once again going down to a hero he should have been able to counter with more efficiency. As textbook as it can get, Birdring then slings himself over the back wall to harass New York's backline. He eats a Zenyatta right-click, but manages to come up with a huge Mercy kill that paved the way to a London victory.
In a postgame press conference, Birdring said that he practices a lot of Mercy in competitive queue to get a better sense of how she moves both in and out of Valkyrie. "I really enjoy killing Mercy," he said, noting that Widow will be stronger with the Mercy nerfs coming to Overwatch League in the next stage.