For four years, a running joke in the Overwatch League has been that Grand Finals matches are always a disappointment. Even with competitive teams that want to go the distance, the season always ended in a whimper; the 2021 finals was a stomp from the Shanghai Dragons and two years prior, the San Francisco Shock demolished the Vancouver Titans.
This year, in a welcome change, the mostly-veteran Dallas Fuel roster faced the rookie phenoms of the rebuilt San Francisco Shock and finally brought fans a match for the ages.
With a 4-3 victory—taking the series to the absolute maximum amount of maps allowed—the Dallas roster earned the franchise’s first Overwatch League championship and crushed the dreams of a “threepeat” win for the Shock.
For the latter half of the season, the Fuel had been dominant in the West Region, taking the Summer Showdown tournament title and making life miserable for the rest of the teams during qualifiers. Led by veteran tank Lee “Fearless” Eui-seok, Dallas settled neatly into the Sojourn-centric Grand Finals meta and continued that dominance through the upper level of the playoff bracket.
The San Francisco Shock came into the Grand Finals with righteous anger and renewed confidence, however. After being sent to the lower bracket early in the finals by the Houston Outlaws, the Shock proceeded to win five matches over four days to earn a spot in the season’s ultimate match.
Heading into first map Lijiang Tower, all eyes were on the Sojourn battle between the Fuel’s ace shot, Kim “Edison” Taehun, and Kim “Proper” Dong-hyun of the Shock. Considering Proper had just been crowned the Overwatch League’s Rookie of the Year and its Most Valuable Player, many fans may have expected the young phenom to topple Dallas’ veteran damage dealer.
Thanks to clutch shots from Edison and a truly painful trip off the point from the Shock, Dallas cleanly took the first map. Edison continued his reign of terror against San Francisco’s backline on King’s Row, but with increasing fury and speed, Proper delivered Railgun shots to the heads of the Fuel and secured the second map for his team.
Fuel’s next map pick, Dorado, began looking dicey for Dallas almost as soon as it began. That changed when veteran flex DPS Kim “SP9RK1E” Yeonghan hit several massive multikills as the meta’s favorite edgy darling, Reaper. Though the Shock held the Fuel from completing the map, the fights and the series became closer than ever.
Push map Esperança felt as if the two teams were trading blows for the entirety of the 10-minute timebank as SP9RK1E once again pulled triple duty for his team, bringing the series to an even 2-2.
By fifth map Oasis, though, the San Francisco Shock seemed to get a second wind. Proper continued doing what he does best—destroying hopes and dreams with every right-click—while Winston expert Michael “mikeyy” Konicki impressed many internet doubters with his space-creating ability.
With the Shock up 3-2, the Dallas Fuel had to rally on Route 66. Fearless kicked things into high gear and began focusing his energy on disrupting Proper’s sightlines and throwing him into the air as Winston. Though it was a perilously close map, Dallas managed to squeak out a win and bring Overwatch League fans a Grand Finals that was truly down to the wire.
The 2022 finals ended on Push map Colosseo, known for its ample sniper sightlines and flank routes that are high risk, high reward. If any two teams have ever confused the friendly Push bot more, it was the Fuel and the Shock, trading blows back and forth once again for the entirety of the map. Though Proper and his team appeared in full playoffs form, the coordination and confidence of the Dallas Fuel won out in the end.
As the final fight ended, the Fuel’s players—many of whom have played together for half a decade one way or another across multiple teams and eras of Overwatch—gathered each other in big hugs. Fearless, who was once a part of the ever-losing inaugural Shanghai Dragons roster, was named the Grand Finals MVP and accepted his award in tears.
From a successful season to a gratifying and sentimental victory, the Dallas Fuel truly embodied what the fifth year of the Overwatch League was all about: climbing back up, together, to achieve new heights previously thought impossible.