Gladiators dominant in opening playoff match vs. Spitfire

The Los Angeles Gladiators were off and running against the London Spitfire in a 3-0 sweep. Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

The Los Angeles Gladiators defeated the London Spitfire in a 3-0 victory on Wednesday night, going 1-0 in the series and closing out the first day of the postseason at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.

With almost a whole month off since the end of Stage 4, fans hoped that the Spitfire could used the time to pull itself together for the postseason. Having fallen into a huge slump in the latter half of the inaugural season of the Overwatch League, this was London's best chance to finish the year strong, especially with the Gladiators benching main tank Baek "Fissure" Chan-hyung for Luis "iRemiix" Galarza Figueroa. In fact, having never won a series against the Gladiators in the regular season and stage playoffs, London hoped to finally chalk up its first win against L.A. These hopes were immediately dashed, though, as the Gladiators decimated the Spitfire with good preparation and solid strategy. Los Angeles swapped players in and out for a lineup that was best suited for each respective map, whereas London continued to stumble with the same lineup and no real strategy other than merely trying to scrap out a win through raw mechanics. Without a clear strategy in place, London will have to find something fast, or else end the season in disgrace.

The only redeeming factor of London's play was the performance of main tank Hong "Gesture" Jae-hee. The rest of his team was at a total loss, even more surprising at the poor performance of DPS star Kim "birdring" Ji-hyeok, who didn't make an impact on the series. For L.A., iRemiix inserted into the starting lineup paid off, as his overall stats weren't far off from what Fissure provided for the Gladiators. While iRemiix averaged 11.9 eliminations per 10 minutes compared to Fissure's 16.4 per 10 minutes, he also died less at 3.4 deaths per 10 compared to Fissure's 5.4 deaths per 10, providing a sturdier overall frontline presence for the team. The series ended in a clean 3-0 for L.A., with the Gladiators pulling off a stunning strategy that served as proof of how well prepared Los Angeles can be. DPS Lane "Surefour" Roberts o feinted an appearance on Brigitte only to wait in the spawn room to switch to Widowmaker in Game 3 on King's Row, and wiping out the Spitfire lineup with an ingenious flank and end the series there and then.

The Gladiators only needs one more Best-of-Five series win against the Spitfire to advance to the semifinals, while Spitfire needs two to stay alive in the playoff hunt. Both teams will have a few days to prepare for the second set of this series at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday. If the Spitfire win the next series, then a third set will be played the same night at 6 p.m. ET.