Dallas Fuel Outlast Shock in 2022 OWL Grand Finals
Triumph, jubilation, relief. The Dallas Fuel had them all and more written across their faces as they lifted the 2022 Overwatch League trophy. On the heels of the greatest Grand Finals the league has seen, the emotion threatened to overwhelm the Fuel. Their epic seven-map slugfest with the San Francisco Shock delivered all the highs and lows that esports aspires to achieve. In one of the closest matches you’ll ever see, the Shock and Fuel traded haymakers all night before Dallas claimed the 4-3 win.
The match was tight all the way, with neither team taking more than a one-map lead. San Francisco held that lead for much of the match, but couldn’t close it out in either of their match points. The Shock finish second once again after falling to the Gladiators and Fuel in the Finals of Midseason Madness and Summer Showdown respectively.
For the first time since 2019, fans were in attendance to witness the apex of Overwatch esports. Their energy was a constant force throughout the match, repeatedly peaking as the teams claimed map victories. Ultimately, the crowd in Anaheim bore witness to one of the league’s greatest moments as Dallas claimed its first season title, putting to rest the misery Fuel fans feared.
Fearless Finishes His Redemption Arc
0-40. That’s how Lee “Fearless” Eui-Seok began his Overwatch League career. 40 straight losses for him and his team, the Shanghai Dragons. Few players in any competitive endeavor will ever know that kind of utter failure. To lose like that is demoralizing in a way that seems truly impossible to recover from.
Now, Fearless has done far more than recover. He has clawed himself out of the depths and up to the mountaintop. Now, he breathes in a different kind of rarified air. His team is the best in the world, and Fearless is the Grand Finals MVP. Anyone predicting this back in 2018 would have been labeled a troll, but even weeks ago it was supremely improbable.
Fearless spent most of the 2022 season riding the bench. Overwatch 2 took away a tank, and his team was performing better with Choi “Hanbin” Han-been in the lineup. That’s not even a knock against Fearless. Hanbin was an MVP candidate and a huge part of Fuel’s regular season success, Summer Showdown title included.
When the playoffs came around, however, the meta favored Fearless’s signature Winston pick. Dallas once again rallied around the main tank who led them to so much success last year. In the highest-pressure moment of his career, Fearless stepped up in a big way. His play was the foundation of Fuel’s hyper-coordinated style and he was crucial for keeping the Shock in check all night.
Proper and Edison Deliver a Duel for the Ages
While everyone in the Grand Finals had their moments, the match as a whole really belonged to the two players on Sojourn. The game’s newest damage hero has been a staple of the OWL meta for much of the season, and the playoff meta took it to another level.
Every team in the league seemingly had an elite performer on the pick, but Kim “Proper” Dong-hyun and Kim “Edison” Tae-hoon were in a class of their own. So much of this meta revolved around finding picks with Sojourn’s Railgun, and these two were doing just that. Over and over again, they took turns taking over teamfights often at the other’s expense.
On one side was Proper, the golden child. Before the match, he was crowned the league’s MVP in his first OWL season. All year long, he has been the driving force for the Shock. Whether it was Tracer, Genji, or Sojourn, Proper never failed to deliver. For most of the Grand Finals, he was the best player in the server hands down. Even though his team came up short, Proper showed up on the game’s biggest stage as a rookie and showed why he’s the best player on the planet right now.
On the other side was Edison, a player who was once that promising young prospect. Time has turned him into a veteran, still a solid piece, but not someone who could singlehandedly will a team to victory. In Dallas, he was meant to fill a hole in an already great lineup.
Instead, he turned into a truly elite performer in the playoffs. His Sojourn consistently shut down other top-tier DPS talents en route to the Grand Finals, but Proper would be his greatest test. For most of the series, Edison was holding his own, making big plays, but not quite taking over the match.
On the final two maps, with Dallas facing elimination, he refused to let his team go down. Edison dominated Route 66 and Colosseo as Dallas snatched the title away from the Shock. Even the head-to-head with Proper went his way down the stretch as Edison took his opposite number out of a number of crucial fights. In the end, his performance pushed Dallas across the line and secured a monumental victory.
The Greatest Match Ever?
There’s no doubt that this was the best Grand Finals OWL has ever seen. The first two were complete blowouts. The most recent two were played without any fans in attendance. This one had it all. The two teams were evenly matched the whole way through, and the fans brought the hype to make this an unforgettable finish.
It was a glorious end to a long, difficult season for the Overwatch League. Playing most of the season on a beta version of an unreleased game was never easy. Players and fans alike were frustrated with the situation, and many felt the league had run its course.
These playoffs put on display just how good Overwatch can be as an esport. With more than 300k people watching on YouTube, these two teams delivered the greatest match the league has ever seen. The narratives and gameplay came together in a phenomenal way, and the crowd took things to a level we haven’t seen in years.
For much of the Grand Finals, it really felt like we were watching the ascendance of Proper to esports god status. After getting his MVP award to start the night, it seemed like fate for him to finish it holding the trophy. Sometimes, everything doesn’t go according to plan or expectation. This time, destiny burned blue.