Thursday’s Overwatch League match between the Houston Outlaws and Philadelphia Fusion was expected to be a good one.
Both teams came in on winning streaks, with Houston rocking a five-map streak and Philadelphia on a league-leading eight-map streak. With two of the hottest teams in the league set to collide, host Chris Puckett hyped up the meeting as potentially the best match of the second stage.
Despite that, the first two games did not give any indication that these two teams would put on the kind of match that would keep fans talking about it for weeks as Houston did whatever they wanted to open up the series.
On Volskaya Industries Assault, Outlaws quickly ravaged their opponents’ defenses en route to a 2-0 lead. Their defense, however, was not as strong as Fusion pushed through in similar but slower fashion to tie the game up.
To break the tie, Houston was tasked with defending again. This time went much better, though, as Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin’s play on Widowmaker shut down any momentum that the Fusion tried to build. The snipes from LiNkzr and solid defensive holds were enough for the Outlaws to secure the defensive side and Houston once again dominated on offense to take the opening game of the series.
In the second game, Nepal Control, Houston jumped out to a lead and hit 99 percent early. Philadelphia was able to fight back and hold off the round loss for a few minutes, but Outlaws overwhelmed Fusion one final time to keep them off the point just long enough to finish off the control point.
Fusion tried to flip the script when attacking the next point as they got to 79 percent before Houston was able to gain control. Unfortunately, Outlaws were not willing to give control back as they kept it for the remaining of the game to move to a 2-0 series lead.
Following halftime, two very different teams seemed to return to the server. Fusion, with renewed vigor, came out strong against Outlaws on Hollywood Hybrid. Only allowing Houston to get to one checkpoint, Philadelphia gave themselves an easier road to victory as they slowly but surely moved the payload through the map for a game three victory.
Route 66 Escort was up next, and it was ugly. Outlaws fans had to witness their team get stonewalled every time they tried to move the payload. Houston’s offensive failure led to the Fusion only needing to advance 79.48 meters to send the series to a deciding game five. With that single goal in mind, the Fusion waited patiently before diving to take out the Outlaws and finish the game.
Game five was Ilios Control, a highly-contested map. Philadelphia gained command of the game early and hit 99 percent before Houston was able to claim it. The Outlaws then got to 99 percent before handing the point back over to Fusion. With control of the point and a huge wave of momentum, Philadelphia finished off the round to go up 1-0 in the final game.
Houston was first to get point advantage in the next round as they held a 72 percent lead when Philadelphia took control, which they would keep until 99 percent. Once triggering overtime, Fusion lost their hold and allowed Houston to re-gain power. Outlaws would keep it for the rest of the round thanks to their great defensive stance against the surging Fusion attackers.
The final point began with a Houston lead—an 88 percent lead to be exact. Although down by a lot, the Fusion never gave up and mounted an incredible comeback to get to just one percent higher than the Outlaws before Houston got the point back. The Outlaws looked poised to win the map and therefore the series after re-taking the lead, but Philadelphia’s perserverence shone through once again as George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha’s Dragonblade on Genji took out two opponents as his teammates took the point back and won the game to complete the reverse sweep.
With the win, Fusion jumped to the top of stage two standings, narrowly edging out the Seoul Dynasty in the tiebreaker with their nine-map advantage. The Outlaws dropped to fourth in stage standings after the loss, but they remain in third in the total season table with a 9-4 record.
Each team has one more match remaining this week, and neither are easy. Philadelphia will take on London Spitfire to kick off Saturday’s action while the Outlaws have a tough bounce-back showdown with the New York Excelsior.