The London Spitfire made history on Saturday by winning the inaugural Overwatch League Grand Finals. Even with an extremely talented roster, the Spitfire's path to a championship featured plenty of turbulence.
Coming into the playoffs, London was not playing its best Overwatch. The team entered the playoffs as the fifth seed, primarily off strong performances in Stages 1 and 2 (15-5), and was the only team to make the playoffs with a losing record across Stages 3 and 4 (9-11).
Then, to start the playoffs, London got swept 3-0 in Match 1 of the quarterfinals by the Los Angeles Gladiators -- a team that had just benched its star main tank. This crushing defeat did not leave a lot of room for hope that the Spitfire would advance to the next round, let alone eventually being crowned grand finals champions. So what changed?
One of the most obvious differences for London between those first three maps and the rest of the playoffs was its lineup. In all three maps of Match 1 of the quarterfinals against the Gladiators, the Spitfire played Won-sik "Closer" Jung on Mercy. However, after the sweep, London decided to make the only substitution available to them: Jong-seok "NUS" Kim for Closer.
NUS would go on to play every remaining playoff map and help lead the Spitfire to a remarkable 18-2-1 map record and a season-high six straight match wins to close out the playoffs. NUS led all players with 12,092 healing per 10 minutes during the playoffs (over 1,000 more than the next closest player) and averaged the fewest deaths among all support players (3.3 deaths per 10 minutes), third fewest overall.
The grand finals MVP -- Profit
While the NUS substitution clearly had an impact on the Spitfire, Joon-yeong "Profit" Park was perhaps the biggest reason for the team's overall success. In Match 1 of the quarterfinals against the Gladiators, Profit put up an 820 player rating, his fourth worst player rating in any match this season, according to Winston's Lab. After that, he had at least a 1,000 player rating in each of the final six playoff matches. He recorded at least 25 percent of his team's kills in five of those six matches.
In Match 2 of the grand finals, Profit gained an average of 6.6 ultimates per 10 minutes. That is over a full ultimate more than any other player in any playoff match this season (min. 10 minutes played in that match).
Profit also showed off his flexibility by playing four different heroes for at least 20 minutes in the playoffs (Hanzo, Brigitte, Pharah, Junkrat), more than any other player. According to Winston's Lab, he had a 1,000 player rating on each of those heroes and was the highest-rated player on each of those heroes among all players in the playoffs (min. 10 minutes played).
If the Fusion was to have won this series, it was no secret that they would have needed a heroic performance from star DPS Jae-hyeok "Carpe" Lee. London was aware of this and seemed to key on Carpe early and often. According to Winston's Lab, Carpe's two worst player ratings and two worst kill/death ratios in the playoffs came against London in the Grand Finals. His 689 player rating in Match 1 of the Grand Finals was his worst in any match this season.