The Vancouver Titans announced themselves on the OWL stage last week with a dominant victory over Shanghai. Based on the first week of matches, the Titans look to be a playoff-caliber team, if not even more. This second week is their chance to prove it. On Saturday at 3:00 Pacific, Vancouver faces off against the Guangzhou Charge. But that’s just a warmup for one of the key matches of Week 2, the 4:30 Sunday Finale that pits our Titans against the San Francisco Shock.
Any questions about the dominant meta in OWL were answered by the first week: if you’re not running some 3/3 variation, you’re not going to go far. Flexibility exists within that framework–Sombra, in particular, was used to great effect in lieu of Dva–but no DPS-heavy compositions found general success against the massive AOE healing that 3/3 brings.
Fortunately for Titans, this is a style they play extremely well. Gone are the days when Runaway was considered a dive-only team vulnerable to meta shifts. Titans demonstrated emphatically last week what Korean Contenders watchers already knew: this is a world-class 3/3 team.
Against Guangzhou, that should lead to something of a skill gap. The Charge are an odd roster, composed of a core of Meta Bellum players along with an assortment from other rosters. The starting roster includes Widowmaker prodigy Happy, main tank Rio, and main support Chara as the Meta Bellum contingent: they’re joined by Dva-turned-Tracer-flex-god Hotba from Philly Fusion, Chinese DPS star Eileen, and Ex-Toronto Esports flex support Shu. If I had to sum this all up, I’d call it a roster that really wishes the meta would shift. In a DPS world, this team could, as an example, put Happy on Widow, Hotba on Tracer, and Eileen on Genji to create a fearsome beast. Instead Eileen is in Brig jail, Happy is struggling to adjust to Zarya, and Hotba spends all day in a Dva mech.
It’s not that any of the pieces of Guangzhou are bad–Chara in particular is one of my favorite Lucio players. But comparing them position by position, they just don’t stack up to Vancouver, and as a unit, the squad is extremely young. The synergy just isn’t there for me to feel worried about the Titans’ chances.
Against Guangzhou, something like a 3-1 victory feels about right, with 4-0 a distinct possibility.
San Francisco is another story. After a pretty disappointing inaugural campaign, the team retooled pretty dramatically and showed up quite high on many power rankings–often, in fact, higher than Vancouver. This is our first match against what I’d call a true peer.
San Francisco’s team divides neatly into two pieces: last year’s American core, and this year’s Korean contingent. If you’re a fan of Sinatraa, Super, Sleepy, Babybay, and Moth, they’re all still around and, Babybay excepted, are starters. Filling out the lineup are midseason pickups Architect and Choihyobin. The new Korean contingent includes main tank Smurf, flex support Viol2t, and DPS stars Rascal and Striker.
In my opinion, the biggest strength of this team is its depth. The backup roster could easily start for many teams, and that competition I think guarantees a strong performer in every role. Smurf, for example, was the presumptive favorite to start at main tank, but after seeing Super playing in Week 1, I understand why he was in. Whichever players line up against Vancouver, it’s safe to say they will be up to the challenge.
The Shock are 1-1 on the season, but that’s a touch misleading: their loss was a close-fought battle with Gladiators in which they inexplicably brought in a ton of DPS players for map 5 and discovered that the meta doesn’t really support that. Were it not for that baffling coaching decision, they might well be 2-0, and in any case the Gladiators are also seen as a strong team.
My honest opinion is that, thus far, the Titans have looked better than any other team who have played. That is of course based on limited information, and Week 2 will give us a much better sense of the truth.
Facing Shock, the sensible prediction is a 3-2 win for Vancouver.
But I will say this: if Vancouver beats San Francisco convincingly (and dispatch Guangzhou as they should), conversations about “best team in the league” should begin with the Titans.