Map 1: Nepal
What’s that? You missed the part where I described the map? Well, I’m just trying to fully convey the experience of watching the games via text, and that double take–“wait, how is it done already?”–is exactly how this map went.
Titans came out with their current best roster, while Valiant led with Kuki on Lucio again. That decision continues to be baffling, as Kuki still cannot wallride and doesn’t seem to be a strong shotcaller based on what can be seen of the team’s coordination. Vancouver lost half of one fight, never relinquishing control of the point on either Shrine or Sanctum and thus completing two 100-0s in a row. There, now we’ve analyzed the map, now the score makes sense.
Titans 1: Valiant 0
Map 2: King’s Row
It was a low bar to clear, but Valiant did do better on this map than they had on Nepal. Vancouver defended first point with vigor, and managed a frankly incredible comeback at around 90% captured to reestablish control and force Valiant to fight again, but eventually Los Angeles did break through for their first objective capture of the series. By the time Valiant reached the end of Point B, they were nearly out of time, and frankly it was surprising they even got into Point C. Vancouver held near the last corner, and the timing worked out that Los Angeles slowly lost a fight starting at about 30 seconds to go, which meant they couldn’t even make it back to the point to being overtime.
The best you could say for Valiant was that they had moved the payload a lot of the way on the map, but they couldn’t have been filled with confidence. However, the rest of their play was at least a bit encouraging. On both A and B, they forced Titans to take difficult fights and drained the timebank enough to make me a bit nervous. The Titans, stronger-willed than myself, didn’t show any ill effects, and won the fights when they needed to. Capturing Point B was the real end of the map, as Point C was a straight run to the box of victory and a quick map victory.
Titans 2 : Valiant 0
Map 3: Horizon
Remember the first map? Nepal felt exactly like that. Valiant tried putting Kariv on Reaper to counter Bumper’s Winston defense, but it worked exactly as well as everything else Los Angeles tried, which is to say not at all. 4 minutes of failed attempts later, Valiant had failed to gain any ticks on the point.
That was never going to stop Vancouver, who at this point and established themselves as the clearly superior team. The casters even noted that their approach, rushing directly up the stairs to brawl in the second floor room, was not the usual: but when you’re imposing your will on the game, more or less anything will work. Bumper ran forward in a way that should have resulted in his death, but instead resulted in two kills and a quick capture of Point A. The Valiant players looked so dead that a cemetery would have taken them in with no questions asked.
Titans 3: Valiant 0
Map 4: Rialto
This is an important map to understand, because if you didn’t watch and only read the map scores you will have a hugely inaccurate impression of this map. The fundamental principle to understand is that the Titans, and in particular Bumper, decided to have fun even at the expense of good play.
Vancouver’s offense started out looking more or less normal, albeit with Rapel coming in to replace Twilight. This was sensible, considering the victory was assured and Valiant looked to be a pretty weak opponent. Kuki used sound barrier too early on a grav/bomb combo, as per usual, meaning everyone on his team died and Vancouver capped Point A. It was at this point that Bumper gave his first indication of how he intended to play the map, charging forward into the first Rialto defender’s spawn and dying to the entire enemy team. After Titans won the next fight, he used the kneel emote on cart for more than half the pushing distance of B. Next, he bounced around to behind Valiant looking for a shatter, didn’t find it, and rotated back to his team only to charge Fate directly into the water, ending his own life in the process. At this point, Rapel clearly wanted to fit in with his new teammates, and literally walked straight off the dock into the water, bringing an end to the final fight before it even began.
This was a map push roughly equivalent to what Valiant had managed on King’s Row, but at the same time the Titans had looked so superior that it wasn’t unreasonable. It became unreasonable when Vancouver decided to only go for the flashiest of plays, starting with Slime trying to reddit Lucio from the literal skybox to the bridge. Having won the next fight, Titans pushed to the enemy spawn and Bumper refused to leave, forcing Rapel to use trans solely to keep the main tank alive. I can only explain this as the Titans hazing Rapel and forcing him to demonstrate his commitment to team support. Bumper charged Fate into the water again, which had the effect of reminding Valiant that they needed to actually push the cart, which finally approached Point B. Here, Vancouver took the one serious-looking fight of the map, which sadly they did lose, and with the victory box so close to the entrance the defense would be fraught. That tiny margin ended up biting the Titans when they C9ed and let Valiant push through to take the final map of the series.
Titans 3: Valiant 1
Player of the Match
When matches are this one-sided, it becomes quite hard to identify a Player of the Match. Who most contributed to the victory when there was little chance of the opponent actually winning? Who came up clutch in a match whose result was evident from the very first point of control? There aren’t any real answers to these questions. Instead, because this is my recap and I can do what I want, I’m going to give Player of the Match to the person with the largest total influence on the game.
Bumper, come on down and receive your trophy.
This award is given for two separate reasons. On maps 1-3, Bumper was a terror. He’s got a compelling case for best main tank in the league, based on his ability to exert pressure onto opposing tanklines and to instantly flick the switch onto “pursuing and hunting down the opponents” once a teamfight is won. When your opponents provide little resistance, a good main tank like this Bumper will seem to be everywhere at once, and that’s exactly what happened.
On map 4, Bumper was without doubt the largest factor. His refusal to end the spawn contain forced a trans, which thus wasn’t available when Titans were caught in a grav. His constant charging into the water meant that 500 hp, 2000 points of shielding, and a giant hammer’s worth of damage weren’t present for the remainder of fights. These are not good things, but they were at least funny things, and I’m going to choose to believe that the squad is preventing burnout by not pushing themselves too hard.