Florida Mayhem Are The 2023 (and Possibly Final) Overwatch League Champions

After just over five months of competition, the 2023 Overwatch League champions have been crowned. Florida Mayhem won the championship for the first time, beating Houston Outlaws in the Grand Finals match in Toronto. Along with the trophy, the winning side will take away $1 million. Houston are leaving with $400,000, so maybe don’t feel too upset for them.

Rather than a first-to-three format, Grand Finals required a team to take four maps to win the title. Florida didn’t need a fifth.

Houston won the first point on Antarctic Peninsula and took a 94-0 lead on the second before Mayhem turned things around and capped the point. Florida held on to take the second round with the help of a nice Blizzard from Checkmate.

Mayhem then had a flawless victory on the third point to take the first map. A solo Earthshatter on Happy’s Bastion helped seal the deal.

For their Hybrid map pick, Houston dragged Florida to Blizzard World. The Outlaws captured the point quickly, and swiftly made progress (a Gravitic Flux-Configuration: Artillery combo helped), but the Mayhem were able to press Q a few times and halt them — MER1T did a lot of work with Sojourn’s Overclock.

The Mayhem cornered Outlaws tank Bernar at one point, but his returning teammates helped the Sigma turn things around. The Mayhem ultimately stopped the Outlaws halfway through C thanks to a sneaky Mei Blizzard play from Checkmate.

MER1T (who was named Grand Finals MVP) was the story of the Mayhem’s push. Several Sojourn Ults helped Florida stay on top and a switch to Bastion helped his team to take a 2-0 lead.

For Flashpoint, Houston chose Suravasa. Flashpoint maps have been a highlight of these Playoffs and that held true for Grand Finals.

After losing the first point, the Outlaws got back into the swing of things thanks to some terrific work from Bernar on Orisa. Just as the third point opened up, though, Someone caught four enemy players in a Gravitic Flux. Great back and forth stuff between the two teams here, with a thrilling last fight on the final point. But the Mayhem prevailed.

After going down 3-0, the Outlaws needed the mother of all reverse sweeps to turn things around and win the title. Esperança was up next as our Push map with Fearless, the protagonist of the Overwatch League, subbing in as the Outlaws’ tank.

For a spell, that looked like an inspired move. But Florida had an answer for Fearless too. They won the map to complete the sweep and become the 2023 Overwatch League champions.

The Grand Finals match followed an excellent weekend of Overwatch 2 action as teams battled their way through the Playoffs. The Outlaws didn’t struggle too much against Hangzhou Spark in their semi-final match, securing victory with a 3-0 sweep. The Mayhem had to work a little harder in their semi-final, as a spirited Boston Uprising put up a heck of a fight in a 3-1 loss.

The third-place match saw the reverse sweep kings, Hangzhou Spark, beat the Uprising 3-0 in what was still an entertaining contest. The teams weren’t just fighting for pride, but for an extra $95,000. Boston will leave with $130,000, while Hangzhou are taking away $225,000.

While fans in the arena stayed excited all weekend long, there was just a hint of sadness in the air. There’s a good chance that the Overwatch League as we know it could soon cease to exist. Team owners are set to vote on whether to continue with the current format, and it seems likely that they’ll opt out.

“Overwatch remains committed to a competitive ecosystem in 2024 and beyond,” according to OWL commissioner Sean Miller. The Overwatch League could look vastly different next year — if it even still exists at that point.

Even so, that didn’t dampen fans’ enthusiasm in the arena. The vast majority of those I spoke with in the venue were grateful for the community they’ve found through OWL and they were still hopeful for the future of Overwatch esports. Given the optimistic ethos of the Overwatch universe, that seems plenty fitting.

One sign in the crowd summed it all up though. It read, “thanks for the memories.”

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