Rules are sometimes meant to be broken. During the first day of the postseason play-in tournament yesterday, the Overwatch League violated their own rules about map selection during a playoff match. After the map was completed, the league explained that a “game issue” was to blame for the temporary lapse in rules.
At nearly 12:30am CT, the Shanghai Dragons were up 3-1 with one draw against the Philadelphia Fusion in a first-to-four series. As is standard in Overwatch League playoff games, after the four map types have been played, the types are repeated until a winner is decided.
Map selection went to the Fusion, since they’d lost the fifth map. They were to select the second Hybrid map both teams would play. Earlier in the match, King’s Row was selected as the Hybrid map. Numbani and Eichenwalde were supposed to be the Fusion’s only two choices, but a repetition of King’s Row was announced as the next map.
The Overwatch League rule book clearly states that “no map may be played twice in any match.” Casters Mitch “UberShouts” Leslie and Matt “Mr. X” Morello seemed confused themselves, but played off the selection as an exciting change. Dedicated fans within the arena showed the rule book to referees and casters. Fans on social media were quick to look up the rule book and wonder if the map would be disqualified.
The Fusion won King’s Row and pushed the series to 3-2. After a commercial break, UberShouts and Mr. X revealed that the Overwatch League had allowed the temporary lapse in rules. One of the Hybrid map choices, Numbani, could not be selected because of game issues. The loss of Numbani would have forced the Fusion to select Eichenwalde; instead, the Fusion were offered the choice of a King’s Row replay or Eichenwalde.
This isn’t the first time Numbani has experienced issues, but this is the first time the issues have affected professional play. Earlier this year, Numbani disappeared from Overwatch‘s competitive mode map rotation for nearly a month before developers commented on its absence. The league didn’t specify what issues Numbani had but said they were “working hard to address the issue.”
The lapse in rules was unfortunately not enough for the Fusion. They lost to the Shanghai Dragons with a 4-2 score line. The play-in tournament continues today at 2pm CT as the Dragons take on the London Spitfire.