Peter Wellman looks back on last weekend’s mini-tournament and tells us why he’s hopeful for the London Spitfire’s 2021 Overwatch League Season
The SteelSeries Invitational was a treat for any Overwatch League fans clamouring for content during the off-season.
With the new season not getting underway until April 16th 2021, this tournament showcased four teams we haven’t seen play yet.
In this double elimination competition, we saw the revitalised Boston Uprising go up against Paris Eternal, followed by a first showing of the new London Spitfire roster versus the tournament favourites, the Los Angeles Gladiators.
The new London Spitfire managed to win two maps in a first-to-three, but ultimately fell 3-2. However, it wasn’t a complete stomp like some were predicting. Here are a few things we learnt from the close series.
1. EU plays brawl, and only really plays brawl
EU produces top tier Reinhardt players like no other region. The other EU team, Paris Eternal, ran a predominantly death ball/rush composition. This relied on Reinhardt’s high close range damage and Lucio’s speed boost to walk directly through their enemies.
Hadi and Kellex were the frontline, dictating the tempo of the fights alongside Blasé playing either Sombra or Mei, using their abilities to isolate players, speeding in and eliminating them to win team fights.
The composition also worked quite well against dive; London were able to retreat against an aggressive dive from the Gladiators by speeding backwards.
However where we saw this fall apart is that if you are able to track speed boost you can predict their pushes; Birdrings Sombra or Mirrors/Kevsters Echo were counter diving and eliminating Kellex or Ripa.
They did show a dive comp, but Hadi seemed the most comfortable on Reinhardt rather than the Winston. However…
2. Their tank line is as good as expected
In my initial look at the 2021 London Spitfire team, I said that the tank line was the best thing about it – and whilst the DPS line has received a major upgrade, the tank line is solid.
Hadi especially showed himself to be another star Reinhardt from EU. Whatever it is about the EU teams, the German tank player with the rocket hammer was putting up the numbers.
On Blizzard World second point, after his team were stuck in a graviton surge, he walked around a corner and shattered three players, at which point Kellex on the Lucio and Shax’s Tracer eliminated them and pushed the objective in what was looking like a lost fight.
Molf1g had some moments on DVA, but he wasn’t pressuring the Echo as much as he could have, and he had real difficulty playing against Birdring’s Sombra, who was shutting down Molf1g’s dives and preventing him from protecting his team with Defence Matrix.
3. Shax is the star player on the team
London Spitfire’s recent addition, Shax, was the star player of this team. He was a menace in the backline and his Tracer (which we already knew was good) seemed to rise to new levels.
He was regularly hitting pulse bombs on supports and getting the opening picks, which meant the rest of the team could push with the player advantage.
Considering he was picked up less than a month ago, he seems to synergise extremely well with the team, roaming around in the backline and even playing Mcree to counter Gladiator’s Echo comps. He really gave us a star performance on the Tracer and Mcree.
Shax had an outstanding weekend, however the question must be asked: Is the team’s game plan going to be ‘wait for Shax to do something’? And to that, I divert your attention to his DPS partner.
4. Blasé’s Mei is a lot better than anything else he showed us
Considering the general reaction to Blasé’s original signing was a collective ‘Huh?’, Blasé’s Mei this weekend was really good.
A lot of the team fight wins were off of his ice walls cutting off major players for his team to run over.
He was also building Mei ultimates quickly and this locked out multiple Gladiator contests, with the slowing field preventing opponents from pushing objectives and taking space.
Blasé’s Mei was his only really standout hero. His Sombra is serviceable, however he will be compared against Lip from Shanghai Dynasty and he’s not on that level.
Blasé appears to be a member of the starting six. This means the team might struggle in terms of where his hero pool (or his team’s hero pool) cannot fill the roles that become meta.
5. They really could use an Echo player
The contenders meta at the moment is a really high tempo Echo and Wrecking Ball composition. London Spitfire academy British Hurricane were playing this kind of composition in contenders.
However, they elected to play this brawl rush comp which might be a decision on ping or the recent Wrecking Ball nerfs. This could be why they played a slower more brawly comp, rather than the faster comp, which had brought them a lot of success in contenders.
The refusal to play Echo could have been a decision due to ping differential. Their lack of flexibility meant that Mirror was often uncontested on the role.
Echo is one of the most powerful heroes in the game. Without a player that can play her confidently, London Spitfire might struggle in the future. Maybe this is what Sparkr is playing and we’ll see him play it when he comes of age, however this could be just wild speculation.
To conclude, London Spitfire look like a very competent team going into the 2021 season. With just over a month to practice before facing the L.A Gladiators again, we’ll have to see how they improve.
Their teamwork is the strongest thing about them and if they can patch up those issues in hero pools, then it looks like they could have some real upset potential against the top teams in the NA region.