The Overwatch League's first season came to a close over the weekend, with the London Spitfire dominating the Philadelphia Fusion in two rounds of competition in order to earn the first league championship. This concluded an impressive run for the brand new esport that has managed to capture mainstream attention and even aired on ESPN.
If you happened to turn on ESPN over the weekend, you were just as likely to see Overwatch League coverage as the usual assortment of baseball, football, and golf. That's because on top of the usual streaming options, the major television network actually broadcast the first season-ending tournament for the league, which appears to have been a big success.
Over on Polygon, they've run down the final showdown between the freshly-crowned championship London Spitfire and the Philadelphia Fusion. The former managed to muscle past the latter 3-1 in the first series of matches before taking complete control in day two, going 3-0. Three days of competition are scheduled in the event of a second round tie but, obviously, that was not needed. Along with a championship trophy and an MVP award for the Spitfire's Jun-Young "Profit" Park, the team walked away with a cool million dollars in prize money. The players will see a hefty portion of those earnings, giving youngsters the world over plenty of ammunition to use against any parents who think video games will "get you nowhere in life."
While esports have been around for many years at this point, they've never known the kind of mainstream success earned during the first season of Overwatch League. The league was still coming together as late as the fall of 2017, with a dozen teams forming across the globe in time to compete in the inaugural 2018 season. The result was a professional production that included well-paid athletes, high-quality broadcasts, and arenas crammed with screaming fans. Heck, the league even handled its first major controversies well, acting swiftly and fairly to set a precedence and prevent negative behavior from hamstringing all of OWL before it could get fully up and running.
Even cooler is the fact that the season and concluding tournament were just as action-packed as many standard sports, with plenty of twists, turns and unexpected outcomes peppered along the way. While the Shanghai Dragons suffered an impressive 0-40 run through the first season, seven of the league's 12 current teams wrapped things up with a win spread of just five points. In other words, the number two Los Angeles Valiant finished at 27-13 while the number eight Seoul Dynasty ended the season at 22-18. That shows there was some pretty evenly matched competition, with the New York Excelsior proving to be a dominant force with its 34-6 final standing.
As for the Spitfire, they finished the regular season in the fifth position but managed to play strong through the tournament in order to claim their crown.
We expect the competition will only become more interesting next season, as additional teams look to be forming in time for the 2019 run.