The London Spitfire took an early lead in the inaugural Overwatch League grand finals, going up 1-0 with a 3-1 series win over the Philadelphia Fusion on Friday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
An historic inaugural season for the Overwatch League promised the highest level of competition in the grand finals, and both Philly and London delivered. After blowing through the regular season-leading New York Excelsior in the semifinals, the Fusion was riding a wave of momentum into the finals, led by prolific DPS Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok. On the other side of the bracket, the Spitfire took out a Los Angeles Valiant team that surged into the second half of the season after some key roster swaps, but was no match for the all-star talent London has stacked in its starting lineup. While all the stars showed up on Friday, London's overwhelming firepower reigned supreme, pushing its record in the last 18 maps to 15-2-1 and giving the Spitfire a commanding 3-1 victory.
After dropping Game 1 on Dorado, London looked like a team possessed, recovering nicely with a 2-0 win on Oasis in Game 2. Different players took turns doing a majority of the heavy lifting for this squad; from main tank Hong "Gesture" Jae-hee's sublime Orisa and Winston play suffocating Philly's DPS to flex support Choi "Bdosin" Seung-tae's near perfect play across several heroes as he shined under heavy pressure.
At the end of the day, though, it was the Spitfire's explosive DPS duo of Kim "birdring" Ji-hyeok and Park "Profit" Joon-yeong that led the Spitfire above the Fusion. Tasked with keeping Carpe's Widowmaker at bay, birdring shined across several heroes, dominating Oasis with a 15/2 E/D (eliminations/deaths) and working with the frontline to keep Carpe from running wild. Profit, though, was a rock the entire night, swapping heroes from his Brigitte, who has a near 70 percent win rate when he's the only shield maiden on the map, to Hanzo and Tracer while playing them all at a high level. Whenever London needed him, Profit stepped up and delivered, such as in closing out Game 4 on Volskaya Industries on attack after he swapped Tracer and picked up five final blows in 93 seconds to close out the series for London. With all the momentum on its side, the Spitfire will be flying high into the second leg of the finals and look to be favorites to take the title.
On the other side of things sits the Fusion, which did not look at all like the team that stuffed the NYXL just a week ago. Sure, Carpe did what he could to carry the team, but he couldn't do much with London's frontline dominating Philly's front. Main tank Kim "SADO" Su-min got outclassed, while the Fusion's flex tanks Choi "HOTBA" Hong-joon and Gael "Poko" Gouzerch couldn't make as big an impact as the Spitfire's Kim "Fury" Jun-ho. The Fusion did look strong in Game 1 on Dorado, where DPS Josh "Eqo" Corona had a huge performance on Hanzo but stalled out before long. The Fusion simply couldn't rely on its solid defense to overcome some lackluster attacks, looking simply shell-shocked in the bright lights. Losing its first-ever Match 1 in the playoffs, the Fusion will need to adapt quickly, or else fizzle out in the wake of the Spitfire's starpower.
The Spitfire looks to take the series home when things resumes at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, while the Fusion needs to win Match 2 to force a potential Match 3 directly after.
ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report