The top four seeds all earned victories Tuesday as the Overwatch League playoffs began with explosive action in Honolulu.
The No. 1-seeded Shanghai Dragons swept the sixth-seeded San Francisco Shock 3-0. The second-seeded Dallas Fuel downed the eighth-seeded Washington Justice 3-1, the same scoreby which the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Gladiators beat the seventh-seeded Philadelphia Fusion. The third-seeded Chengdu Hunters edged the fifth-seeded Atlanta Reign 3-1.
The double-elimination playoffs feature the Overwatch League's top eight teams. The championship squad will pocket $1.5 million from the $3.2 million prize pool.
The 18-weeks Overwatch League regular season determined qualification for the playoff brackets, with three teams from the Eastern Region and five teams from the Western Region advancing to the event.
The winners-bracket second round on Wednesday will feature the Dragons facing the Gladiators as well as the Fuel opposing the Hunters.
In elimination matches Wednesday, the Shock will meet the Fusion and the Justice will oppose the Reign.
The Shock played well at points Tuesday, but the Dragons' clutch factor and synergy won out in the end against the two-time champions.
Both teams played a competitive Game 1 on Ilios, but a crucial mistake from San Francisco in the third round gave Shanghai a 2-1 map win. After that, the Shock brought the series to Hanamura, where they looked out of sorts and got dominated by the Dragons in a 1-0 full-hold.
By the time the Shock had figured out how to force the Dragons off of their preferred Pharah composition by swapping to a more bunker-styled brawl composition, Shanghai had full control of the series' momentum. The Dragons scrapped out a 3-2 win on King's Row to complete the sweep.
The most competitive series of the day saw the Hunters get past the Reign. The match saw the 2021 Rookie of the Year, Atlanta DPS Se-hyun "Pelican" Oh, and the 2021 MVP, Chengdu DPS Huang "leave" Xin, face off in a clash of styles. The Reign are known for their bunker composition usage, whereas the Hunters are historically famous for their aggressive Wrecking Ball-themed looks.
The Reign looked strong early on in their 2-0 win on Nepal, but the Hunters responded with a 4-3 overtime win on Temple of Anubis. Atlanta responded with a 4-3 OT win on King's Row but couldn't close out the series in Game 4 on Dorado, allowing Chengdu to take a 3-2 win to force Game 5.
The Hunters were aggressive throughout Game 5 on Oasis, with leave out-dueling Pelican and carrying his team to a 2-0 win to secure the series victory.
The Gladiators looked good in their win over the Fusion. Los Angeles started with a 2-0 win on Ilios, but Philadelphia responded with a 2-1 win on Temple of Anubis. From that point on, though, this series was all Los Angeles. The Gladiators outclassed the Fusion on King's Row, taking a 3-2 win before shutting the door on the series with a 3-1 win on Havana.
Finally, the Fuel took down the Justice. Washington has been leaning heavily into brawl compositions in the later half of the year, which played just fine into Dallas' strengths. The Fuel opted into mirror matchups for the most part, beating the Justice at their own game.
Washington started the series with a 2-1 win on Lijiang Tower, but then Dallas resolved to not let the Justice slow the tempo down.
Dallas, led by DPS Yeong-han "SP9RK1E" Kim's Doomfist and Symmetra, blitzed the Justice on Volskaya Industries for a fast 2-1 win, then continued to roll over Washington with a 3-2 win on King's Row. The Fuel continued the momentum onto Havana in Game 4, where they took a 4-3 overtime win to secure the series.
--By Noah Waltzer, Field Level Media