It’s been an impressive few weeks for the Overwatch League side London Spitfire, writes UK caster Joshua ‘Jace’ Sharp.
To say the Spitfire has been a surprise this year is an understatement.
Before we begin, here’s a quick look at the Spitfire’s contract statuses across the board:
Hadi’s redemption arc of high latency unco-ordinated main tank to role star Reinhardt phenom is a fitting description overall for London this season. Any supporter of this team deserves a moment to revel in the surpassed expectations and glorious moments the last remaining bastion of European overwatch at the highest level provided us.
This article is absolutely not about the Eternal but I’m incredibly disheartened to see the treasure trove of EU talent be overlooked as the org fades to Las Vegas next season.
Goodbye Paris, you will be missed.
Back to the London Spitfire and their success this season cannot be mentioned without Coach of the Year ChristFer’s impact on this team.
After a historic victory against the Gladiators support Landon spoke about the head coach’s impact in the winners interview.
“The one thing we are leagues better at, than the other teams. Is these kinda rush or hive mind style comps where all of us are five people tunnelled on one thing,” he said.
Landon further went to credit head coach Christopher “ChrisTFer” Graham, calling him an “amazing coach”, citing the former Philadelphia Fusion assistant’s “focus on communication” as the reason for their success.
When talking about his first few days with the team after joining, Landon recalled the “really realistic expectations set for us” and how ChrisTfer placed focus on the team’s communication rather than individual play.
ChrisTfer isn’t the only won that picked up an award this year. Hadi also received the Dennis Hawelka Award 2022, the award that honours former Overwatch player and coach, Dennis “Internethulk” Hawelka, who passed away back in 2017.
Hadi received this for his behaviour and impact, with several teams putting Hadi’s name forward.
Evident all year is the Spitfire’s willingness to play for each other and commitment to a ‘hive mind’ composition that Landon himself referenced. Over the course of the entire regular season, London ranked highest in playtime for Mei and Reinhardt, two core heroes that require a very coordinated style to be played in order to achieve maximum value.
When the playoffs came around, this was the optimal way to play the game so the Spitfire had a head start against more talented individual teams. Whilst each player had some amazing individual plays, the Spitfire’s level of patience, understanding and synchronisation allowed them to swarm all over the Gladiators.
So many times all season MVP runner up Kevster was able to entirely wipe teams on his own given enough time and space on the Sojourn or Genji. This did not happen against the Spitfire.
What made this team unique was the frequency in which the Spitfire defaulted to those two heroes in a season where other characters in the roster have been hugely buffed and incredibly impactful.
The Spitfire’s transition from Reinhardt Mei compositions to Winston and Reaper was the most natural of almost any team’s going into playoffs.
Alongside the aforementioned Hadi, Jamie “BackBone” O’Neill was maybe the surprise of the team. Coming from Contenders team, Sheer Cold, many regarded the young British dps as a great Mei player but were questioning how he would fare on other heroes and in this new environment. One where Mei just isn’t as strong thanks to the loss of a tank.
Fortunately for the Spitfire, Backbone was still hugely impactful on Mei and offered a good Sombra/Genji that really allowed Sparkr on the Sojourn to demolish lobbies.
With the evolution of Overwatch 2 one of your dps now offers a more offtank-y Anchor role to help play adjacent and alongside your only tank. It’s not quite the role of the old offtank but having someone to take space for and WITH your only tank is super important now. Backbone was great at this on the Mei. Spitfire’s Reinhardt Mei composition really centred around Hadi and the British DPS to operate as a duo similar to a classic tank partnership.
Despite losing 3-1 to the Hangzhou Spark in the lower bracket penultimate round, London’s 5th/6th placed finish is an incredible achievement. As the org celebrated its fifth birthday just after playoffs ended, this current squad went the furthest in any major tournament since the inaugural Spitfire win back in 2018.
Now is a good time to be a Spitfire fan. It’s been quite a while since anyone has reasonably been able to say that. Not only for UK overwatch fans but also Europe, I hope the Spitfire can continue to stamp their mark on the league and prove that Europe contains some of the most talented players in the world today.
Oh, and happy fifth birthday Spitfire.