NYXL: A season to remember

A new year brought about new challenges and new opponents. 2019 had a lot of highs and a lot of lows for the group who represented New York. But what a ride it was. An amazing 2018 ended in heartbreak and upset by the Philadelphia Fusion. NYXL were hard set in proving themselves in the coming year. Each stage brought a lot to this team and it’s fans. And now, we will break down this amazing season by stages leading to the playoffs run!

STAGE 1:

Stage 1 brought about the start of a fresh new season. Every team starts 0-0 and no one really knows who would be the top or bottom teams. NYXL made additions to their team to give them the flexibility they seemed to lack in 2018, alongside some drops. We saw back up tank Janus, assistant coach WizardHyeong, director of player personnel BEARHANDS, and analyst PRE released by the team (a bit time later support player ArK would be traded off as well). With the drops came along the additions of DPS player Nenne, and DPS player Fl0w3r. Both these players would help give NYXL the flexibility at the DPS core that the team needed.

Sadly, stage 1 (and stage 2, and parts of stage 3) saw the complete domination of the GOATS meta. We never got to see the impact of NYXL’s DPS core. Nenne did a wonderful job coming in to fill the Zarya position for the team alongside Libero who filled the role of Brigitte. This DPS duo solidified these positions throughout stage 1 to secure a perfect 7-0 stage going into stage playoffs. Sadly the perfect run would get cut short when the Seoul Dynasty would upset,and beat NYXL 3-1. They did it on the back of amazing Sombra play alongside their GOATs play.

STAGE TWO:

With an upsetting end to stage 1, NYXL looked to refocus in stage 2. Hopefully, they’d continue their stage dominance in the division they continued to lead. GOATs was still very much the meta, but we really started to see the rise in use of Sombra GOATs to shake things up. NYXL went 5-2, bringing about their first two losses from the same team: Atlanta Reign. This will be important to remember come season playoffs, because those back to back losses to Atlanta would not be forgotten by this team.

NYXL made it again to a stage playoffs and found themselves with the fifth seed. They would start the stage playoffs against the LA Gladiators and continue their dominance with a 3-0 victory. This set up the meeting many fans waited for against the Vancouver Titans. Though they fell 1-4 to the Titans it was a very close match each map. This would not be the last time these two giants would clash.

STAGE THREE:

Stage 3 saw major changes around the league. Sombra GOATs was in full swing alongside regular GOATs. Meanwhile, the league announced 2-2-2 would be implemented at the start of stage 4. Many teams began to test out using more DPS comps. NYXL was among the top teams that stuck to their guns of GOATs and Sombra GOATs.

With Sombra becoming a mainstay we saw the return of the OG Overwatch player, SBB, to the regular line up. We were able to see how happy he was to return to the line up and to the stage. NYXL fans loved seeing the team’s most popular play return. The league would share a video of an interview with SBB prior to one of the games. In it, he said that he was feeling depressed he felt he was falling behind his team due to GOATs. That he was almost ready to quit. Glad that he didn’t! SBB is our teams captain, and in stage 3 and beyond he would prove it.

New York went 7-0 again in stage 3. They found themselves going up against the Shanghai Dragons to start the stage playoffs. Sadly this would be the final game of this stage as they would fall 3-1 and were eliminated.

Photo courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.

STAGE FOUR:

Stage 4 was a very weird stage. 2-2-2 was implemented, no stage playoffs loomed on the horizon, and top teams (including NYXL) locked in spots in the season playoffs. Those top teams just testing things out, and trying to get a feel for 2-2-2 going into the playoffs. Fans wanted fun matches, but we didn’t get the best look from NYXL. This was their worst stage ever going 3-4. They really didn’t look like the dominate team they have shown themselves to be since the start of the very first OWL season. Even with this they won their second straight Atlantic Division title.

Even with the positive of winning back to back division titles there was a bit concern going into playoffs. People wanted to bring up how much time NYXL takes to adjust to a new meta. Given a new meta was emerging at the advent of the playoffs with the introduction of Sigma, fans were concerned.

2019 SEASON PLAYOFFS

London Spitfire

This is where our true season began. From the very end of 2018, to the start of 2019, NYXL had one goal: make it to the Grand Finals and win it all. This was what they fought hard to get to. Many people doubted them going into the playoffs, most saying they wouldn’t make it out of the first round. Why? Because of past demons. “Choking” would be the constant story line used – but this year’s postseason deleted that.

Going into the playoffs we saw a new meta. The double shield meta with the addition of Sigma, a new tank, helped change the look of the playoffs from the ground up. People thought NYXL would struggle with this meta, but they sure came out swinging hard. Their first matchup was against long time division rival London Spitfire. People believed this team would go on a strong playoff run like last year towards the Grand Finals. Why doubt that?

London fought their way in from the play ins and faced off with a NYXL team that struggled going into the playoffs. NYXL saw themselves being a heavy underdog going into this match and man did they come out strong. Spitfire did not look prepared while NYXL had strategies set up for any map that was pulled out. What NYXL brought to the playoffs was the first big look of Bastion being used within the shield meta to counter all the shields.

Atlanta Reign

This became a mainstay for all teams in the playoffs. It was unreal to see Bastion would be the biggest part alongside Doomfist and Reaper. London would fall 4-1 and this would set up a rematch with the only team to beat NYXL back to back in the Atlanta Reign. NYXL did not forget those loses.

Atlanta’s players were getting cocky and trash talking because of what they did to NYXL in stage 2. Meanwhile, NYXL kept quiet and prepared for their revenge. NYXL and Atlanta would have a hell of a dog fight, but NYXL would do something many say they couldn’t in the big spot: clutch up. Every moment Atlanta looked to start to steamroll NYXL would dig their feet into the ground and hold them off to win close maps. They then began to roll over Atlanta towards a 4-2 victory that would not only give them the biggest revenge win of the season for them, but also punch their ticket to the winners bracket finals with the Titans.

Vancouver Titans

What a winners bracket finals it would be. It was worthy of being a Grand Finals match. This matchup finally delivered for the fans that we wanted all season long. The division winners going head to head, giant vs giant, god vs god. It was a match that will never be forgotten. Titans would take a map, NYXL would rebound to take the next. Titans went up 3-2 and NYXL would dominate them on a map they have been dominate on for two straight years to force a map 7 that would sadly go the Titans way in a 4-3 loss for NYXL. Someone had to lose, and, sadly, this was not NYXL’s day.

Fans had plenty to appreciate. When their back was against the wall they did not crumble. They fought back to force one of the best teams in the league to feel like they were about to lose. Every NYXL fan was proud of them. We were hurt that we lost, but we wanted to hug every single player and tell them we were proud of them.

San Francisco Shock

It wasn’t over yet, however, when barely a day later they had a matchup with the eventual Grand Finals winners, SF Shock. This was clearly a team that just gave their all to try to beat the Titans and they tried their hardest against SF. Even though the 4-0 score line would look like a run over, it was a much closer 4-0 then the score suggests. The first three maps were a fight away from being NYXL wins. They weren’t going down without a fight, but the biggest take away from that loss was the leadership shown by SBB. He solidified himself forever as this team’s captain. In map 4 they subbed Fl0w3r in for Libero and the kid was already under a lot of pressure to produce. They would get run over on defense and you could see the pressure was starting to get to him.

On the verge of tears SBB would take Fl0w3rs hand and tell him that it wasn’t his fault for that run over. SBB would tell him he messed up, that it was on him. That Fl0w3r was just put in and they were already down 0-3. He helped Fl0w3r refocus, they fought back hard, but in the end it wasn’t enough. This was the last match for NYXL and the end to their 2019 season.                                

Photo courtesy of 5 Deadly Venoms(Twitter: @ NYXL_Venoms )

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Every great ride has to come to an end. Sometimes they aren’t the endings we wish to have, but it’s not always about the ending. We have to look at the adventure that got us to the end and embrace all the good from that. Even with the season ending with NYXL just missing out the Grand Finals by one map this was not a failed season. Our boys have grown so much, have been through the mud together, and rose high together. They should be very proud with how much they’ve improved.

Going into the 2020 season the league needs to look out for them as a top contender for a third year in a row. With the 2020 season bringing about home stands the team will finally get to experience playing in front of a crowd that is mostly there for them. The New York energy they will feel will be nothing like they have felt over in California. As the New York fan base continues to grow larger, they will see just how much love we have for them. New York’s fans are known to be very passionate and to be very loyal. We will lose our voices yelling, and cheering them on.

Final Thoughts

As I close out this amazing run that I’ve experienced as a huge fan of NYXL I have to say this team and league has helped me grow as a person. I’ve met so many new friends, grown with old friends, and have many opportunities open for me because of this team. As a season ticket floor seat owner for the home stands next year I will be there in the trenches with everyone. I will be cheering super hard and losing my mind trying to push our boys to victory. We are in for an amazing 2020 season and I will be there reporting many things for you guys day in and day out. Here’s to the future of the league and to the growth of NYXL. New York Fighting!

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