The 2021 Overwatch League Summer Showdown began with Eastern Region dominance as the Chengdu Hunters and the Shanghai Dragons picked up wins on Thursday.
In what was considered a big upset, the Chengdu Hunters took a 3-1 win over the Western Region’s top seed, the Dallas Fuel. The Fuel had run roughshod over the rest of the West to qualify for the Summer Showdown, but even a team as highly ranked as Dallas wasn’t ready to enter the “Chengdu Zone.”
The Hunters leaned on a pair of compositions that have not seen play in the West: a poke composition featuring Wrecking Ball along with a Brigitte-Zenyatta backline, and compositions around Pharah. Chengdu (7-5, 7 points) executed these compositions to perfection, crushing Dallas (9-3, 14 points), which struggled to find an answer to this curveball.
Dallas started the series with a 2-1 win on a back-and-forth Lijiang Tower match, but the Hunters pulled ahead on Volskaya Industries, 4-3, handing the Fuel their first loss on Volskaya Industries this season. Chengdu was led by DPS Huang “leave” Xin’s Tracer as he annihilated the Fuel to the tune of 26 Final Blows for him on Volskaya Industries, over half of his team’s 50 Eliminations.
The Hunters went from strength to strength, taking King’s Row 3-2 as the Fuel scrambled to find an answer to Pharah. In the end, the Hunters had found the perfect combinations to stun the Fuel, taking Watchpoint: Gibraltar 3-1 to secure the 3-1 series win and guarantee themselves a spot in the Upper Bracket Finals.
On the other side of the bracket, the defending June Joust champions kicked off their Summer Showdown campaign with a bang as the Shanghai Dragons swept the Atlanta Reign 3-0. Just like the series before it, the Eastern representatives dominated their Western counterparts with Pharah and Wrecking Ball compositions.
In particular, Shanghai DPS and 2020 Overwatch League MVP Byung-sun “Fleta” Kim were shining lights as Pharah won this series, averaging 16.2 Final Blows per 10 minutes. The Dragons (10-2, 15 points) kicked off the series with a 2-0 win on Nepal, then took Hanamura 2-1. Atlanta (7-5, 8 points) tried to mount a comeback on King’s Row, but Fleta and the rest of Shanghai were too strong, full-holding Atlanta for a 3-0 win to secure the series sweep.
The OWL teams have been competing in three weeks of matches to determine qualification for the Summer Showdown’s double-elimination playoff brackets, with two teams from each region advancing.
The Summer Showdown continues Friday with three matches:
Match 3–Chengdu Hunters vs Shanghai Dragons
Match 4–Atlanta Reign vs Dallas Fuel
Match 3 Loser vs. Match 4 Winner
Overwatch League standings by region, with win-loss record, map differential and league points:
1. Dallas Fuel, 9-3, 14, 14
2. San Francisco Shock, 9-3, 13, 9
3. Houston Outlaws, 9-3, 11, 9
4. Los Angeles Gladiators, 8-4, 13, 8
5. Washington Justice, 8-4, 9, 8
6. Atlanta Reign, 7-5, 13, 8
7. Boston Uprising, 6-6, 1, 6
8. Paris Eternal, 6-6, -1, 6
9. Toronto Defiant, 6-6, -4, 6
10. Florida Mayhem, 4-8, -9, 5
11. London Spitfire, 0-12, -29, 0
12. Vancouver Titans, 0-12, -31, 0
1. Shanghai Dragons, 10-2, 20, 15
2. Seoul Dynasty, 9-3, 14, 9
T3. Philadelphia Fusion, 7-5, 7, 7
T3. Hangzhou Spark, 7-5, 7, 7
T3. Chengdu Hunters, 7-5, 7, 7
6. New York Excelsior, 5-7, -3, 5
7. Guangzhou Charge, 3-9, -18, 3
8. Los Angeles Valiant, 0-12, -34, 0
–By Noah Waltzer, Field Level Media