The only team to feature in all the Stage Playoffs for Season 1, New York Excelsior will not be in the Season finals. The New York-based team has been at the top of the Overwatch league. While they don’t have a 100% win in their matches, there is not a single match where NYXL are not the favorites to win.
The second semi-final between Philadelphia Fusion and NYXL was no different. The Jeff Wilpon owned team has deep roots in New York’s sporting history. Having their first esports representation play at Barclay’s center would have been an amazing feat. Alas, the team was not able to win one of the most important matches in the League.
The first map of the Semifinal Match 2 was on Junkertown, a map which heavily favors the snipers with their long sightlines. NYXL started on the defense and had Junkrat and Widowmaker as their DPS. This combination of DPS heroes is great, especially to handle multiple types of compositions. With Pine popping heads left and right, it seemed to be the right choice on Point A. But the attackers spawn being close as it is, a single kill by Carpe on Pine resulted in an easy finish for Philadelphia Fusion. New York did have a very messy team fight on Point 2, but Philadelphia was able to regroup and ensure crucial kills on NYXL DPS players. The Excelsiors were able to stabilize and put a full halt to the Fusion payload only at about 50 meters into the third stage of the map.
JJonak and Libero were crucial on the third stage but their positioning left a lot to be desired. There were multiple times when an over-extension would basically result in Fusion able to get few kills. The Philadelphia Fusion were extremely aggressive in their movement and they had some great swaps. They swapped to Genji and Tracer, which resulted in a hard counter to NYXL’s Orisa who is very static in positioning.
On their offense, NYXL had a three-pronged attack mode. They had Hanzo and Widowmaker as the two Hitscan heroes. With three tanks and one mercy on the payload in the middle, the Fusion had to be wary of three different angles. Libero and Pine were able to get most of the kills and have a very easy first point for NYXL. They finished point 2 with nearly five minutes remaining for only the third point. But Junkertown is a very difficult map to finish the third point and NYXL was not able to finish the third point, despite having over 5 minutes remaining. Junkertown is one of the strongest maps for NYXL and one of the weakest maps for Philadelphia Fusion. This was the start of the huge upset in the semifinals.
The second map was the control map, Lijiang tower. This map was crucial to both the teams as Control Maps are not really favorite for any team. The outcome of this match would provide great momentum to either team were they to win this map. We had substitutions across the match and we saw Control Map Specialists brought in.
Control Center saw Jjonak go back to the supporting role on his famous Zenyatta. With Anamo being the other support, NYXL went forth with a 2-2-2 lineup. The Fusion, on the other hand, started with a three tank, three support composition. The Fusion pushed forth very aggressively effectively pushing NYXL almost back to spawn. However, NYXL were patient and took advantage of their aggression to get crucial kills. Pine was really clutch on his Hanzo. It is rare to see a Dragonstrike getting kills consistently, but Pine’s ultimate placement was spot on. NYXL never looked back as their ultimate usage was way more efficient than that of the Fusion.
The second point on Lijiang tower started with a big mismatch in the team compositions for the two teams. While NYXL had Pine on the Widowmaker, Fusion’s Carpe decide to go Doomfist. Pine was left free with no counter and NYXL were easily able to take the first control. They extended their control to 99% due to a better ultimate economy as well as several initial picks.
But in their last attack, Carpe and EQO were able to get five out of the six kills to ensure Fusion is able to flip back the control point. The story repeated itself on the other side, as Philadelphia refused to give control. The better hero lineup ( after Carpe switched to Widowmaker) and the ultimate advantage meant that Fusion was able to win Point 2. Lijiang tower was tied at 1-1 and the outcome of Lijiang tower depended on
Garden saw EQO continue with Pharah despite NYXL having a widowmaker. His ability to avoid Pine’s Line of Sight and still deal effective damage to the opponents was crucial to Fusion winning the first control fight.
Libero was optimistic with the Sombra pick at the start of the map, but on seeing the enemy Pharah he decided to change his character. This proved very useful as NYXL was able to wrest back control of the point. The prolonged fight saw NYXL barely come out on top and hold the point. But a beautiful self-destruct by Hotba resulted in two kills which opened up the fight for Philadelphia Fusion. Despite Pine’s heroic attempts, Fusion was able to take control of the point. A great opening pick by JJonak’s Zenyatta on EQO resulted in NYXL taking the win at the very end. JJonak’s Zenyatta is one of the most revered support roles in the game and he just proved his worth in a crucial match yet again.
King’s Row saw one of the biggest upset in the match. This map started with NYXL as the heavy favorites. But what transpired was far from normal as Fusion was able to crush the NYXL on their best map.
The classic Overwatch map is one of the best for New York Excelsior. They had a 10-1 score on this map which towers when compared to Philadelphia’s 5-6. However, Philadelphia came into the map with a plan. They were able to segregate the NYXL roster and had precise target callouts. They ended their attack with a staggering 4:13 minutes remaining. This was one of the most one-sided attacks on King’s Row in the Overwatch League.
Once NYXL moved to the attacking side, they seemed to be running into a brick wall again and again. NYXL was not able to even take the first point and Philadelphia Fusion looked so strong on defense. Despite having Saebyeolbe back on the roster, NYXL was not able to make any inroads into the Fusion defense. The Fusion tanks looked very strong, indeed, Poko had 0 deaths on the map. With this win, Philadelphia Fusion took the lead in the skies 2-1. This was a huge upset, especially considering how strong NYXL is on King’s Row.
The Fusion took a 2-1 lead going into the fourth map. The must-win map for the NYXL would be Hanamura.
Similar to Junkertown, NYXL tried a Widowmaker + Junkrat defense. However, Philadelphia Fusion prioritized Saebyeolbe’s Widowmaker and managed to bring him down. The lack of long sightlines proved to be in their advantage. The Fusion carried the momentum forward and was able to win the team fight. It was a long extended fight which took place over several minutes, but the closer spawns were favorable for the Fusion.
But as is the case with 2CP points, NYXL was able to hold the 2nd point without giving away a single tick. This was crucial as they had to ensure key pickoffs in order to do so. Philadelphia Fusion was unable to win a single team fight convincingly.
NYXL had a blistering pace to their attack and was able to get key kills within the first 20 seconds of their attack. The snowball attack was able to secure point A with a huge timebank remaining. While they did face problems in attacking the 2nd point, their huge timebank proved to be a big advantage. Libero’s nanoblade forced Fusion to reposition themselves which allowed the remainder of the team to get onto the point. After this, it was a case of getting kills and staggering the enemy spawns. New York Excelsior won Hanamura with relative ease.
The second semifinal was already proving to be a very exciting one. With NYXL not ready to let go yet, the series proceeded to the 5th map. However, for New York Excelsior, this match would be crucial as it was an elimination map for them. Their hopes of making it to the finals depended on Dorado.
Dorado started with Philadelphia Fusion getting a key frag onto the NYXL. But Saebyeolbe had three consecutive kills on his Hanzo which stopped the fusion attack on its tracks. The payload breezed through the second point and only took a halt on the third point. But NYXL was able to hold the Fusion in overtime at the very end of the map. Philadelphia Fusion managed to cover 2 points and 84.93 meters of the last point. While the difference might not seem much it is often a very important factor in the final outcome.
On their attack, NYXL took a very ‘dive’ approach as they fielded Tracer and Genji. This was in contrast to the double snipers by the fusion. The first fight and ultimately the point was won by the attacking team simply due to their composition. But similar to Junkertown, despite having over 5 minutes remaining on the third point, NYXL was unable to cover ground. Their inability to finish kills quickly resulted in Philadelphia constantly providing reinforcements. Their closer spawn definitely played a crucial factor. Philadelphia fusion hand NYXL their first loss of the season as well as their last loss.
The Grand finals will take place at the Barclays Center on July 27th. Many fans would have loved to see NYXL play in their hometown. However, as fate would have it, the ‘Kings of the Meta’ Philadelphia Fusion will take on London Spitfire in the finals.