The big question on everyone’s mind after this weekend's playoffs: what was behind Philadelphia Fusion's massive run? After a few post-game press conferences, Fragi's stealth mode was a big answer.
NYXL ArK: I think the first two games, we couldn't adapt to the new style of Philadelphia, because they were playing differently than before. I think their front line was hiding a lot more than before, and I think they were playing more defensive than before.
Spitfire NUS: I think overall, individual player skill-wise, they definitely have improved, but the biggest thing today was Fragi hiding well and catching us off guard. That really disrupted our game plan.
This is something that happened to us back in Stage 1 as well, when we were going against Boston. We were caught off guard by the enemy team hiding in certain spots and completely disrupting our teamfight or picking someone off. Fragi was hiding a lot today, and that was really affective against us. I guess next time we go against them, we will check every corner of the map.
What also caught teams off-gaurd was Snillo -- both NYXL and Spitfire didn’t expect him to even play.
NYXL ArK: For Snillo, I haven't expected that a player would come out to the league, not the league, but in the title match, because Carpe was really dominant. I think just Fragi and Snillo's combination was really good I guess, so they really impressed me.
Spitfire NUS: We did not expect Snillo to be playing; I think he played fine. Since he did come in the last map, we were a bit hasty and he caught us off guard by making better plays than Carpe did in regards to sneaking around and flanking us, so I think that was what he did really well.
FEAR THE WIDOW
NYXL specifically remember Philly's Widowmaker, and how it shook Saebyeolbe
Saebyeolbe: So when I play Tracer and the enemy has a Widow and she's damaged boosted, I'm really scared of that, and that kind of makes me play more passive, and so you can't dive as well.
But after half time, Philladelphia stopped using Widowmaker, so I could be more aggressive and that was the difference.
And Philly isn’t too surprised it gave them trouble
Snillo: It's like Carpe's so good at Widowmaker, and Route 66 is such a good map for Widowmaker. So we want Widowmaker all the time, and she pairs well with a Tracer, and I'm pretty good at Tracer, so we just played that.
NYXL responded by trusting Libero to counter Carpe’s Widow:
ArK: For me, I thought Libero might be having a hard time because, with Widowmaker, he almost never played that hero before. But also we have the trust that he will do great with the Widowmaker, because he is really good at other different characters.
Libero: I think Carpe was kind of tired after the first game, since he played two matches today. And plus, I was hitting my shots, I was feeling good today about hitting shots. So a combination of both made me play better, play a good Widow. After the Volskaya game, I got really confident.
Spitfire also had to give props to the Philly DPS lineup:
Profit: They were really landing a lot of critical blows on us in teamfights.
Birdring: I think this game I was underperforming compared to Carpe, and I guess in terms of overcoming that I'll just have to play better.
Meanwhile on Philly, they had a hard time picking their own MVP:
Fragi: Oh, Snillo.
Neptuno: Yeah, he's been helping so much on stage.
Snillo: Probably Carpe to be honest. He's been destroying every match, so probably Carpe I would say.
Neptuno: Yeah, Neptuno.
Fragi: That's what he always says after games. "No one appreciates me!"
But they do have some thoughts on their success
Boombox: I think we just have a really good lineup and a lot of talented players, so even though we didn't have much preparation time before the season, we've managed to catch up and actually perform well, like today.
Neptuno: I think we have a lot of players with good insights on how to play the game, and we argue a lot—not really, just after games, we like to talk what we did wrong, how we can fix this, what is the most efficient way to play the game? Like "nope, just dive or peel. Okay, pressure this guy. Use this angle so I can cover you from this." So we are a really calculated team. I think that's everything.
THE REVERSE SWEEP, AND LOW EXPECTATIONS
Overall, everyone had a word to give about low expectations. NYXL mostly prepped to face London, and that didn’t help them against Philly:
Mano: The first two maps, we prepared mostly for London, thinking that they were going to go to the finals. So we used the strategy we prepared against London against Philadelphia, and it didn't work at all. So on halftime, when we talked about it, it's like let's just do what we've been doing, not the strategy we brought against London. And that worked.
After going down 0-2, NYXL Coach WizardHyeong was focused on resetting the team’s approach in hopes of a reverse sweep.
WizardHyeong: I just mostly focused on watching top down and seeing those angles enemy teams are taking and stuff and just adjust to the next game. And also we try to take care of a player's mentality.
Philly definitely felt the change in NYXL after the halftime:
EQO: I think they starting playing much more aggressive. Like before that, we kind of shut down their Winston, and after the second game, they started getting a lot more kills with their dive, which we were not expecting. We couldn't adapt fast enough, so they managed to win.
Neptuno: I think it was basically Saebyeolbe hidden behind us way too many times. We couldn't handle that. So it was just waiting for Mano to jump, and they were jumping on Boombox and killing him a lot. We couldn't do much about it. I think we could—like we didn't do it right, but we could have done it better, but that was the key point from them. They were being aggressive in our backline, and getting a lot of value from two cooldowns.
NYXL did end up getting that reverse sweep, and coach Wizard isn’t too worried about the competition next Stage:
WizardHyeong: Yeah, I think there's no gaps between Korean teams and Western teams. I think there is only a gap between Excelsior and non-Excelsior teams.
Mano: Unlike other teams we have the best coaches, so we'll just keep doing what we're doing and we'll be fine.
Spitfire, meanwhile, thinks the competition is catching up, and hopes to take things seriously
Gesture: So as we started, the teams that were perceived as relatively weaker were all scrimming against the teams that were perceived to be stronger, too. So that creates an environment where everyone can learn from each other and siphon off of each other's strength. So I think the biggest thing this stage was that the weaker teams, just to call them weaker teams, absorb the strengths and the basics from the stronger teams and were able to become a lot stronger. I think this trend will definitely continue.
I think in Stage 2 there were a couple games that we dropped against teams that we felt like we would be able to win against. I guess come Stage 3, we should focus more of our efforts into analyzing those teams so that we don't overlook them and not drop any maps.
As for Philly, they're feeling confident.
EQO: So we lost -- in this stage -- we lost to all the Korean teams, and people underestimated us, because we obviously lost and no one expected us to come into today's match coming up this big.
Going into Stage 3, I think people are going to start to realize that there's a lot of talent in this team, and we not only can be strong contenders against the Korean teams, but we can also beat them and eventually even become the best team and win Overwatch League.
And NYXL is just happy and ready to head to New York:
Saebyeolbe: So all the original LW members before Overwatch League talked about it, and we said we were going to win Overwatch League, and we truly believed in that, and we think it came true. Thanks to NYXL, who supports us a lot. We're in a better environment to practice.
ArK: For me, I'm first interested in meeting the fans in New York, and for the second I'm really interested in going to a fancy restaurant maybe, because I won the tournament.
Saebyeolbe: Central Park. I want to look at the dogs in Central Park.
Photos: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment