The Fusion is hours away from kicking off their first game playing in Philadelphia as they have a weekend set up to host other teams from the Overwatch League at The Met. But first, what is the esports scene in Philadelphia even before the Fusion started to play? Well, not much but this can help the history of the team and the local esports scene.
Before OWL launched its new home series format, there has never been a true esports league specified for a home team (like traditional sports teams) in North America. There have always been leagues like M.L.G. (major league gaming) and others that would have a team form online and you compete through the internet until a semi-final or even the finals where it would be hosted through LAN. Gamers from all over the world would either battle solo or team up with others so thus there has never been a true “home team” in the world of esports. Philadelphia has enjoyed some tournaments being hosted throughout the years like Fragadelphia which is a huge Counter-Strike tournament hosted at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center. Other local LAN sites like Nerd St Gamers (formerly N3rd St Gamers) and Local Host Philly have helped spread esports locally for some time now too.
On September 20th, 2017, Activision Blizzard (the developer of Overwatch) announced that Comcast Spector (owner of the Flyers) would acquire the rights to a Philadelphia based Overwatch team, the first esports team ever in Philadelphia. Eventually, on November 1st, the name was decided on Fusion and colors were similarly adapted to the Flyers colors too.
The first season of the Fusion proved to be quite successful. They would finish as the 6th seed and qualify for the playoffs. In the playoffs, the Fusion would upset the Boston Uprising and the New York Excelsior to make it to the grand finals. At the Grand Finals, the London Spitfire would defeat the Fusion 2 games to 0. Thus the Fusion would fall short.
The 2019 season proved to be quite disappointing as the Fusion would finish with a record of 15-13 and failing to qualify for the playoffs. But later on, Philadelphia was announced to host the 2019 OWL finals. The finals featured the San Fransicso Shock against the Vancouver Titans. The Shock won 4-0 to take the championship.
For the 2020 season and beyond, OWL announced that teams will start playing homestands to create a more of a home vs away format rather than playing in one central location all year. The team will play two homestand weekends at The Met in Philadelphia and one homestand at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The next year, 2021, will be when the new esports stadium to be completed and the Fusion will play in there. It was estimated at 50 million dollars and to seat around 3,500 people.
Eric Williamson is the host of the Union podcast Full Time Philly and also contrinutes to many of the Union coverage. He is a huge fan of all the 4 major Philly teams on top of music too.