Screenshot: Overwatch League (Twitch)
After dancing around each other as the two top teams of stage 3, the New York Excelsior and Boston Uprising finally settled the score in the grand finals of the stage's playoffs. New York emerged victorious in a 3-0 win, securing back-to-back stage titles in the Overwatch League.
The two teams had played before in week 2 of the stage, where Boston narrowly edged out New York 3-2. Both went on to undefeated streaks for the rest of the stage, one with a league-first perfect stage and the other with only a single smudge to its record.
By the time playoffs were in view, it became obvious that these two would clash again to determine who was the most dominant team in the league: the upstarts of Boston, or the continued reign of New York.
Each team swept their respective semifinal match-up with relative ease to set up the grudge match finals. Both looked at the top of their game, warmed up and ready to rumble, and before long it was time for each to take the stage for one last best-of-five series to cap off the stage.
One of the big questions going into the series was how the DPS duos of each team would stack up. New York's Kim "Pine" Do-hyeon and Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong-ryeol are fearsome, arguably the best pair in the league.
Boston has Kwon "Striker" Nam-joo and his terrifying Tracer, but mid-stage replacement Stanislav "Mistakes" Danilov was a question mark. Would he show up hot and ready, or would he freeze up against Pine's constant stream of highlight-reel Widowmaker plays?
Map 1 went New York's way in a close skirmish between the two, but the takeaway was Mistakes showing up ready to play. In the first half it was the Pine show, but Mistakes started challenging him when the teams switch sides.
A dead silence would be broken by a Widowmaker shot and a kill showing up in the tab: Mistakes picking off Pine, one-on-one. New York eventually rallied with a big team wipe of Boston, and cruised on to take the first of the win of the series.
A control map on Nepal cemented New York's strength, though. Despite the Boston DPS duo still showing up and Lucas "Note" Meissner playing a reliably effective D.va, New York's play was overwhelming through two rounds.
New York subbed in Kim "Libero" Hae-song, and he shone on picks like Genji and Junkrat, alongside a devastating Widowmaker from Saebyeolbe on the second round. The Excelsior went up 2-0, just one map from its second stage title and a bit of revenge against the Uprising.
New York was up 2-0, which would normally be great, but the Overwatch League's stage playoffs have a strange history. In the two playoffs leading up to tonight, both ended in reverse sweeps; the team that went up 2-0 dropped three games straight. It happened to New York against London, and it worked to the Excelsior's advantage in last stage's playoffs against the Philadelphia Fusion.
Maybe it was because of their experience with the curse, the stage playoffs, or because New York just wanted it more, but New York came out of the break determined to not let that happen. In a third map on Volskaya, Saebyeolbe was popping off, sneaking behind enemy lines and dismantling Boston's defence.
The Uprising were determined on offence as well, and struck back even faster than New York. Evening the score to two and two on the map, the potentially deciding game went into extra rounds. New York was on offence first and managed to take the first point, but couldn't oust Boston from the second.
Turning back around, Boston needed to get at least one point to keep the series alive, and two to get on the board. While the Uprising got the point they needed, New York's Libero closed out a stellar performance on map 3 with a beautiful dive as Genji, tearing apart the Boston assault before it could get even a tick on the second point, ending map 3 in a draw.
Despite the score being 2-0, it still felt like New York was in the driver's seat headed into the fourth map, Numbani. The Excelsior subbed Pine back in, and for most of New York's turn on offence, it was all about Pine.
Both of New York's healers sat just behind him and kept him healthy while Pine landed final blow after blow. But once the payload reached the last point, Boston started to hold when Mistakes picked up a Widowmaker of his own to challenge Pine. It was a surprise attack on Boston's back line from Saebyeolbe, coordinated with a frontal assault, that pushed the payload in for the third point in overtime.
Boston's response was an overwhelming blitz on offence, securing the first two points in rapid succession. Pine even had a moment of doubt, and switched to a Genji with mixed results before returning to his Widowmaker. But where Boston couldn't hold, New York did, and the Excelsior held the Uprising off the last point long enough to run the clock out and win the whole thing.
New York took home the lion's share of the $US125,000 ($165,805) prize pool, a second stage title to put on the shelf, and retaining their position as the top team in the Overwatch League.