The #Overwatch League has a running joke about how disappointing Grand Finals games are for the past four years. The #ShanghaiDragons crushed the #VancouverTitans in the 2021 finals, and the #SanFranciscoShock thrashed them two years earlier. Even with competitive teams that want to go the distance, the season always ended in a whimper.
This year, in a pleasant change, the primarily senior Dallas Fuel team took on the rookie sensations of the reconstructed San Francisco Shock, and the result was a match that will live in infamy for fans.
The Dallas team defeated the Shock’s hopes of a “threepeat,” winning the series 4-3 after using all of the permitted maps. This ended the Shock’s hopes of winning the league title three times in a row.
The Finals Recap
The Fuel had dominated the West Region for the second half of the season, winning the Summer Showdown event and making qualifying extremely difficult for the other teams. Dallas, led by seasoned tank Lee #Fearless Euiseok, quickly adapted to the Grand Finals meta that focused on Sojourn, and they maintained their domination into the upper rounds of the playoff bracket.
But the San Francisco Shock entered the Grand Finals with newfound vigor and fierce rage. The Houston Outlaws sent the Shock to the lower bracket early in the finals, but the Shock won five games over the next four days to get to the season-ending showdown.
All eyes were on the Sojourn battle between Kim #Edison Taehun of the Fuel and Kim #Proper Dong-hyun of the Shock as they entered the opening map, Lijiang Tower. Many fans might have anticipated Proper, who had just been named the Overwatch League’s Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player, to defeat Dallas’ seasoned damage dealer.
Dallas easily won the opening map thanks to some big shots from Edison and an excruciating trip off the point from the Shock. On King’s Row, Edison continued to terrorize San Francisco’s backline, but Proper’s squad won the second map by delivering railgun blasts to the heads of the Fuel with increasing ferocity and speed.
Dorado, the next map chosen by Fuel, started to seem risky for Dallas almost as soon as it did. That changed when Reaper, the meta’s favorite edgy darling character played by seasoned flex DPS Kim #SP9RK1E Yeonghan, hit multiple enormous multikills. The fights and the series got closer than ever even though the Shock prevented the Fuel from finishing the map.
Map push as SP9RK1E once more did triple duty for his squad, Esperança felt as though the two teams were trading blows throughout the whole of the 10-minute timebank, leveling the series at 2-2.
However, the San Francisco Shock appeared to gain momentum by the fifth map Oasis. While Proper kept doing what he does best—destroying dreams and hopes with each right-click—Michael #mikeyy Konicki, a Winston expert, won over many skeptics online with his prowess in expanding space.
The Dallas Fuel had to mount a comeback on Route 66 with the Shock leading 3-2. As soon as Proper’s sightlines were obstructed, Fearless intensified his efforts to launch Proper into the air as Winston. Dallas managed to win despite the dangerously close map, giving Overwatch League fans a Grand Finals that was truly close to the wire.
The 2022 last stage was placed on the Push map Colosseo, which is renowned for its good sniper sightlines and high-risk, high-reward flank paths. The Fuel and the Shock, who continued to engage in back-and-forth fighting throughout the whole map, were the two teams that baffled the helpful Push bot the most. Even though Proper and his team seemed to be in top playoff shape, the Dallas Fuel ultimately prevailed due to their teamwork and confidence.
The Fuel’s players, many of whom had been teammates for half a decade in some capacity spanning many teams and Overwatch eras, crowded around one another in tight embraces as the final combat came to a close. The Grand Finals MVP, Fearless, a former member of the always-losing original Shanghai Dragons roster, accepted his medal while in tears.
The Dallas Fuel absolutely exemplified what the Overwatch League’s fifth season was all about: coming back together to reach new heights previously unimaginable, from a great season to a heartwarming victory.