The final Overwatch League team heading to the Overwatch League Inaugural Season Grand Finals in New York City was decided Saturday. Although the New York Excelsior played better than it did in the first best-of-three series, it ultimately fell to the Philadelphia Fusion. 


For an Overwatch League team that dominated most of the meta, seeing it fall to the sixth seed team is shocking. But, the meta can dictate which teams show up and which teams fall behind. Unfortunately, this meant the NYXL's near season-long reign was over.

​​New York had a smooth ride for a majority of the stages until Stage 4 came around with a new meta. The meta in Overwatch can potentially change with every patch. Heroes get buffed, others get nerfed, and new heroes are introduced. Stage 4, for example, added Brigitte into the mix. She is a hero that stops dive comps in its tracks, and weakened dive compositions meant trouble for New York.


The Excelsior relies heavily on dive. Even when it doesn't have the traditional dive composition, the majority of heroes it will run are choices that specialize in dive. Once dive was no longer the best option for almost any situation, New York showed how badly it struggled.

New York didn't dominate Stage 4. It took the wins it needed for the inaugural season playoffs, but its performance was noticeably worse than before. Fans were confused, some were convinced the team was just taking it easy and would show up at the playoffs. 


Teams that found considerable success in the new meta, specifically the Dallas Fuel, gave the Excelsior trouble. The Dallas Fuel, a team in the bottom three of the league rankings, nearly beat New York -- it was clear something wasn't right. The meta shift hurt New York more than fans could understand. 


During the semifinals Saturday, the Philadelphia Fusion took care of NYXL with ease. Although the series went to a deciding fifth map, it was clear New York was crumbling. The team tried to stick with its roots, and when it switched, the changes were either too late or ineffective. Flashy plays from some of New York's best DPS players and perfectly timed Sleep Darts from Bang "JjoNak" Seung-hyun weren't enough. A few players made risky, sloppy plays with little to no payoff, and the team couldn't stand a chance against Philadelphia's DPS duo of Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyuk and Josue "Eqo" Corona. 

Everything was on the line during the semifinals, which no doubt contributed to the performance of NYXL. The team didn't have the same confidence it usually did in games. It failed to adapt to the meta the same way Fusion or the London Spitfire did, resulting in an overall poor performance. When it mattered the most, NYXL could not rival the same strength Philadelphia had.


The Fusion's win was more than well deserved. Their DPS duo is one of the strongest in the league thanks to the new meta. But the match showed just how much a meta shift could affect a team most people viewed as nearly untouchable.  


Cover photo courtesy of Robert Paul/Blizzard