After easily beating the Boston Uprising 3-0, the Vancouver Titans were in line to play the lowest advancing seed in the semifinals. Surprisingly, that team ended up being the Seoul Dynasty, who shockingly upset the New York Excelsior. The match was first OWL meeting between Vancouver, heirs to the legacy of Runaway, and the Dynasty, heirs to the mighty Lunatic Hai. But this time, the roles were reversed, and it was the Titans who cruised to a win and punched their ticket to the finals.

Map 1: Busan

Busan started on Mecha Base, and as they had against New York, Seoul came out with a control point special roster. It’s one which fittingly contains the three iconic Lunatic Hai members (Zunba, Tobi, and Ryujehong) along with new additions Fleta, Fits, and Marve1, and is designed to run 3/3. The Titans ran their normal six and looked clearly better. They could well have taken the map 100-0, highlighted by a Haksal stun onto Marve1 to prevent an earthshatter, but in the final fight the Titans messed up the followup to a grav. Ever-so-briefly stymied, but utterly unworried, Vancouver returned for the next fight and crushed it, taking the 1-0 lead in the series.

On Sanctuary, it was the same story. The Titans won every single fight handily, and Seoul’s only capture progress came when a desperation grav trapped the whole team off the point. With most of the Dynasty already in the spawn room, it did nothing but delay the inevitable by a few seconds, and Vancouver simply stepped back onto the point while cleaning up the final remaining enemies. Just like that, the Titans had taken the lead in the series.

Titans 1: Dynasty 0

Map 2: Hollywood

Seoul made wholesale replacements, bringing in Fissure, Michelle, Munchkin, and Jecse to run the Sombra-variant 3/3 that had found so much success against New York. Taking the attack first, Seoul was unwilling to commit until Michelle found a relevant hack. The Titans, fully aware of the playstyle, countered well by rotating and keeping Jjanu and Haksal on sentry duty. The Dynasty finally won the “first” fight, but it took a full 2 minutes to get there. Titans continued drain time on streets, setting up a strong defense in the last meters. A few failed attacks and an attempted backcap later, Seoul won an overtime fight by the skin of their teeth and got the cap. On Point C, the Titans squandered an ultimate advantage in the final fight and gave the Dynasty an opening which they used to complete the whole map, albeit in overtime.

The Titans knew they needed a full completion, and went about it in methodical fashion. The first fight incurred heavy losses on both sides, but Haksal, Seominsoo, and Twilight were able to stay alive and tip the balance in their favor. From that small tip, things snowballed. Seemingly with every fight, Vancouver took a greater and greater advantage, as they ran all the way to the final parking space before “losing a teamfight.” In reality, what happened was Seominsoo died, and the Titans calmly disengaged, regrouped, and easily won the next fight, giving them a 3 minute time bank. Since Seoul’s completion was in overtime, the Titans were the sole attackers and needed only a single tick to secure the map victory, which they gained without much difficulty.

This map was a microcosm of the entire match to come. Seoul would struggle on attack, finally breaking through the nearly-implacable Titans defense with nearly no time remaining. Vancouver would switch sides and sail through maps as if their opponents didn’t even exist.

Titans 2 : Dynasty 0

Map 3: Temple of Anubis

Anubis A has become one of the points where multi-DPS compositions reign, and the Dynasty took advantage of the opportunity. Bumper, on Winston, was swatted down first, and the Titans did well to delay the capture for about 2 minutes before succumbing. Seoul had built ults and tried their best to get a cap with their DPS lineup, but weren’t able to snowball and had to swap back to 3/3. That meant the Dynasty would need at least two fights to gain any ultimates, which they did, but by the end of that second fight the Titans had committed many ults with nothing to show for it and Seoul started gaining percentage. Absolutely brilliant stall work by the Titans kept things alive for an incredible amount of time, and that alone seemed like a victory, but then Haksal’s reemergence on the Doomfist actually got kills and brought them back from the literal brink of 99.5% captured. Yes, Seoul won the next fight and finished the map, but with only 48 seconds remaining instead of the 2+ minutes they otherwise might have had.

On the attack, the Titans stuck with 3/3 and ran over the Dynasty like a bulldozer. They postured to get a good position on A, smashed Seoul back to their spawn, then came forward onto B and did nearly the same thing. A long series of back-and-forth ultimates kept both teams alive for a while, preventing the Titans from setting a speedrun record, but once those were all used up Vancouver used superior individual skill to emerge victorious “in the neutral” and get the cap with more than 5 minutes remaining.

For second defense, Seoul again tried the DPS composition, and players were traded back and forth until the fight came down to an appropriate metaphor. Fleta, Seoul’s star player, was on Pharah and needed only to kill Seominsoo on Zarya. Instead, Seominsoo beamed down the flying rocketeer, and the Dynasty were toast. With 5:43 to play with, Vancouver decided to  win with style, running a quad DPS. How, you ask? Haksal and Slime of course were Pharah and Mercy, Seominsoo played Sombra, Twilight flexed to Widow, and… Bumper tried his hand at dealing damage. We finally learned that his flex-god status has its limits, so don’t expect to see him run Hanzo or Tracer again anytime soon, but it was great fun to see Haksal excel on the Pharah he plays so well.

Titans 3 : Dynasty 0

Map 4: Rialto

At this point, it was pretty clear which way the series was going. The Dynasty attacked first and once again struggled mightily to gain progress. Point A required more than 3 minutes to complete; Point B was another 2 minutes; and Point C ate the last 2:30 in Seoul’s timebank. They made it to the end, but as we’d seen on Hollywood, that was no proof against the Titans.

Vancouver’s attack phase was lightning speed. Even better than Hollywood, the Titans won every single fight and set an OWL record for speedrunning the map. The Dynasty had one minute to make something happen, and utterly failed, meaning Vancouver had 4:32 to push the cart around the very first corner of Rialto. Seoul tried a Bastion hardpoint, but Slime booped the Orisa into the canal and the enterprise fell apart, delivering an easy victory in the map and the match.


Titans 4 : Dynasty 0

Player of the Match

The Titans won this match quite handily, but there were a few tricky fights whose outcomes balanced on an edge. The player of the match for this game goes to the player who somehow was always alive in those key moments, and turned the tide every time in favor of his team.

Haksal made star plays on Brigitte, as well as Doomfist and Pharah, that set up the team for victory.

Brigitte isn’t the flashiest role, but it does seem to me that Haksal finds ways to be in the right spot for stuns onto ulting enemies. In this game, the most notable was when he stunned Marve1 on Mecha Base, saving his team from a well-angled ult that otherwise probably would have resulted in a wipe. Less flashy, but also critical, is how he stays alive as fights devolve, providing a mix of AOE healing and damage that’s very hard to defeat at the end of a fight. And when given a chance to shine on Doomfist or Pharah, as he was on Temple of Anubis, Haksal reminds us how good he is on characters not named Brigitte. Think of these as appetizers for the time when the meta shifts and we get to see the return of his famed Genji or more of his masterful Pharah.