What a series. The final tournament of the Overwatch League's 2021 season, the Countdown Cup, did not disappoint. New champions, the Los Angeles Gladiators, were crowned ahead of the OWL playoffs—and they had to go the distance to make it happen.
After consecutive tournament championships by the Shanghai Dragons, Los Angeles and the Chengdu Hunters made sure to humble Shanghai and shake up the postseason rankings.
In a series that went all seven maps, the Glads surpassed expectations and won the $225,000 event. And, to do so, they had to push through a menacing bracket and the overwhelming threat of a reverse sweep.
Thursday, Aug. 19
Seoul Dynasty 1 - 3 Atlanta Reign
Los Angeles Gladiators 3 - 2 Chengdu Hunters
Friday, Aug. 20
Winners Bracket Finals
Los Angeles Gladiators 3 - 0 Atlanta Reign
Seoul Dynasty 0 - 3 Chengdu Hunters
Saturday, Aug. 21
Losers Bracket Finals
Atlanta Reign 0 - 3 Chengdu Hunters
Chengdu Hunters 3 - 4 Los Angeles Gladiators
Frankly unbelievable. The Gladiators came in with high expectations thanks to a revamped support and tank line, acquiring Shu, moth and MuZe in the offseason. Then, they disappointed—notching fourth in the West.
But in their first OWL 2021 tournament, Los Angeles finally showed up.
And the undefeated run through the Countdown Cup's bracket can be attributed in major part to DPS Kevster, who was an absolute menace, particularly on Pharah.
Two of the more-established Gladiators must get serious respect, as well. SPACE and Birdring made an impact early and often. The latter's ability to go from saboteur Sombra to sniping Hanzo was key to L.A.'s adaptability.
That adaptability was needed during the Grand Finals against the upsurging Hunters. Despite L.A. holding match point, Chengdu brought it to a Game 7, and the Glads dug deep to secure the W.
Now, Birdring has his first Overwatch tournament win since his championship with the Spitfire in the OWL's inaugural season. More importantly, the Gladiators leave $100,000 richer and with serious momentum on their side ahead of the $3.2 million OWL 2021 Playoffs.