Map 1: Nepal
Representing the final undefeated squad, Vancouver came out with Stitch instead of Seominsoo, tantalizing us with visions of a widow battle against Happy. Unfortunately, that never materialized, and Stitch mostly was stuck in Zarya jail. Guangzhou took advantage of their DPS depth and ran a triple DPS composition, which in reality was a “let Happy play widow and carry us” composition. His ability to find unusual angles was highlighted by a kill on Slime, which he fired from the main entrance to Vancouver’s side of the map. Stitch tried swapping to McCree as a close-range counter, but when Guangzhou returned to a standard 3/3 there was no way to pierce the shielding, and Titans went down. On shrine, things were looking much better, as Twilight kept Bumper healthy with plentiful doses of Ana darts and nano boosts, but once again Vancouver lost a fight at the absolute worst time and wasn’t able to come back to the point. Guangzhou took the series lead on a map that was far closer than the 0-2 scoreline appeared.
Titans 0: Charge 1
Map 2: Hollywood
Seominsoo subbed in for Stitch, an acknowledgment by the coaching staff that this meta simply requires a superior Zarya player. The difference was immediately apparent, as the Titans defense was forged of steel and admitted no entry by Guangzhou, who opted into a 3/3 mirror in which they were desperately outmatched. 4 minutes later, the Charge had not gained even a single tick. The side change actually took longer than Vancouver’s attack, as they rolled onto the point and capped with their very first push, tying the series going into halftime.
Titans 1: Charge 1
Map 3: Volskaya
Titans were first on the attack this time, and things started poorly when Happy (playing Widow again) took out Twilight and trapped the other 5 in the upstairs of garage. Then some absolute nonsense happened where Titans engaged anyway, got ticks on the point for free, and Bumper occupied Happy for 30 seconds despite having only a sliver of HP. With 6 minutes to get the second point cap, Guangzhou were in for a rough time, but they did have Eileen on Sombra charging quick EMPs.
It was on this map that Titans demonstrated their EMP-countering strategy: as soon as Sombra uncloaked, Bumper would jump or move forward as Winston and Twilight would give him Nano, buying space and time for the rest of the team. When the EMP didn’t get results, both sides dumped ultimates into the fight while Vancouver forced Guangzhou into a bad position, and when the Charge were forced to step back as a unit, the cap came through with 4:40 as a timebank.
Swapping to defense, Titans held strong for 3 minutes before finally succumbing to a well-executed bomb-shatter combo. The second point was much the same: eventually Guangzhou put together a strong fight, but it didn’t happen until the last minute of the match. It should have happened earlier, but for an amusing moment when Slime was hit with a solo grav, but somehow didn’t die when Hotba inexplicably went for bodyshots instead of headshots.
With their time advantage of 4:55 against only a minute for the Charge, Vancouver was heavily favored. When Titans held without giving up a single tick, the attack phase became more or less a formality. Titans stood on the point, got kills, and won without much fanfare to regain the lead.
Titans 2: Charge 1
Map 4: Route 66
This is the one that the Titans will want back. First the Point A attack was a real struggle, and was only possible when Jjanu heroically ate Happy’s graviton surge. Point B went the same way, as it took until the final 15 seconds to capture it. Nonetheless, Titans did manage to push to the end of the map, which meant their defense could simply play for time so long as it stopped Guangzhou somewhere.
Sadly, that didn’t happen. It SHOULD have happened in multiple places. First, Titans won a fight with 1 minute left, but then Bumper aggressively pushed all the way to Guangzhou’s spawn, which naturally resulted in his death and opened up the next fight for the Charge. Then even more so, Vancouver stabilized at the entrance to Point C, draining the clock all the way to the final fight. At this point, two critical missteps occurred. First, Seominsoo tried lock all of Guangzhou into a graviton, but missed Chara who was able to start overtime. Second, Bumper fell low, and as per usual, Twilight went to give him Nano–but as has happened to the best of us, his friendly Lucio got in the way. Charge were able to push all the way in overtime, forcing another round of a map that should have already been won.
With essentially equivalent timebanks, Guangzhou came out on a quad DPS a la Stormquake. Titans’ composition wasn’t suited to fighting back, and the Charge were able to unlock Point B. On attack, Seominsoo tried for a hero grav that didn’t work out, and that was all she wrote. Titans now faced another control map, which has seemed like their weakest type thus far in the season.
Titans 2: Charge 2
Map 5: Ilios
Starting on Ruins was scary for Vancouver, as the sightlines favor Happy’s skill on Widow. It was indeed an impressive showing, but the rest of his team crumbled and were forced onto the same Sombra 3/3 that Vancouver has shown capability to counter. It was almost a 100-0, and ended in a clear victory for Titans. Next up was Lighthouse, where Titans lost a mindgame when Guangzhou opted into a 3/3 mirror. Seominsoo, who had come out on McCree ready for something else, had to go back to spawn, and then Titans lost the first fight after Guangzhou had taken control. This map was the inverse of Ruins, as Guangzhou nearly won 100-0, and their grav/bomb combo came through in the final fight to secure a tie and force us to Well.
Well was absolutely nuts. The mindgames continued, with Bumper coming out on Orisa and Seominsoo on McCree against Guangzhou’s Winston-based 3/3. But Seominsoo found a big headshot to gain first cap, and Vancouver played ring-around-the-well with Orisa shields all the way up to 99%. Titans then went to a mirror, needing only a single fight to win, but twice they became disconnected and lost players first. Things were getting nervier and nervier, and Seominsoo tossed in a graviton surge right as Bumper died. Where could the followup damage come from? Jjanu, the master of clutch self-destructs, tossed one in… and came up with a tremendous 4k! It had been rough, but Vancouver emerged the winners.
Titans 3: Charge 2
Man of the Match
Could there be another choice?
This game was all about Jjanu.
He ate gravs, won key duels by the slimmest of margins, and made without doubt the most important play of the game. If you didn’t watch, and also if you didn’t watch Runaway losses, the importance of that bomb might not be apparent. Titans still had another chance to take a fight, after all. And while it was overtime, that wasn’t a danger, since we were in control of the point!
But that bomb was the biggest play of this season. This was a match that should have already been over as a 3-1, but first Vancouver choked away Route 66 Point C, then their initial defense, then they failed to succeed on the attack, and then on Ilios their victory on Ruins was countered by a soul-crushing Dva bomb on Lighthouse that put them on the brink. As the percentage for Guangzhou ticked up, and the indicator flipped to overtime, the feeling was unmistakable–once again, a victory was going to slip out of the team’s grasp by the thinnest of margins. Jjanu took that narrative, placed it next to a nuclear bomb, and blew it to smithereens. That bomb was catharsis incarnate.