The first tournament of the 2021 Overwatch League is in the books, and the Dallas Fuel have come out on top.
The Fuel defeated the Shanghai Dragons twice during May Melee Tournament Weekend. In the winner’s final, the two teams faced off and the Fuel won out in a tight 3-2 match against the Dragons. In the loser’s bracket, the Dragons won an easy 3-0 against the Florida Mayhem to ascend to the grand final for a rematch with the Fuel, only to lose 4-2.
Despite the loss of star DPS player Ki-hyo “Xzi” Jung, who left the team just two days before the start of the 2021 season due to health issues, the Fuel have proven that they are the team to beat going into the June Joust.
Tournament Weekend involved the two best teams from the East Region, the Shanghai Dragons and Chengdu Hunters, and the top two teams from the West, the Florida Mayhem and Dallas Fuel. Florida and Dallas both played from Hawaii in order to minimize ping when facing the teams based on Asia.
The matches between the Dragons and Fuel were back and forth, and the grand finals came down to a nail-biting Blizzard World map.
With barely any time left on the clock, the Dragons managed to deny the point and force the Fuel to try to take it in overtime. The Fuel responded in kind, and with a self-destruct from Han-been "Hanbin" Choi and a pulse bomb from Yeong-han "SP9RK1E" Kim, they pushed the Dragons off the point just long enough for them to push the payload to the finish line.
Along with the $100,000 prize money, the team now gains an extra three League Points that will help them qualify for the playoffs at the end of the season.
Surprisingly, the San Francisco Shock were missing from tournament play this weekend. They failed to advance to tournament weekend after they were eliminated by the Fuel in the regional knockouts.
The Chengdu Hunters also qualified for tournament weekend, but failed to make any meaningful progress. They played the Fuel first and got knocked into the lower bracket, where they lost again to the Mayhem 3-1.
The Mayhem had a tight first match against the Dragons, but fell to the lower bracket to face the Hunters. When the Mayhem faced the Dragons again in the lower bracket, they failed to learn from their first match and lost 3-0. Whether the Mayhem had an off day for their second match against the Dragons or simply were outplayed, they managed to nab third place and took home $35,000 and one extra League Point.
Fans have been enjoying the season’s tournament structure, which also was popular last season, and the cross-region competition of tournament weekend, which is a new addition this year. Although fans are hoping for the return of LAN play, the OWL is taking a step in that direction by sending the top West region teams to Hawaii to compete against the East.
With offseason roster shakeups changing the compositions of many teams, May Melee was the first glimpse at where teams rank compared to last year. Armed with fresh VODs, teams will be studying what worked and what didn’t during May Melee.
The Overwatch League returns May 21 for June Joust. The first match of June Joust will feature the Toronto Defiant facing the Paris Eternal, who recently lost veteran Alberto “NeptuNo” González Molinillo.
Lead image credit: Overwatch League