After stomping the Hangzhou Spark, the Titans turn their sights to the next targets of their ire: the league standings. Despite being emphatically the best team in the Overwatch League, weird vagaries of scheduling have largely kept them from holding the #1 seed because they constantly had fewer matches played than opponents. This pattern shows no signs of breaking during this stage.
The biggest culprit is the unbalanced nature of the matchups. We have an idea, now, of who the strongest and weakest teams are, and this week pretty much worked out to pit all the former teams solely against the latter teams. The New York Excelsior, currently squatting on the #1 seed that is rightfully Vancouver’s, have a double feature against the Washington Justice and the Florida Mayhem, each of whom are an abysmal 1-8. The San Francisco Shock will take on the Guangzhou Charge, who have taken a major step back and are 0-2 this stage. And the Gladiators, who are looking relatively strong, get the other match against Guangzhou as well as a free win against the LA Valiant.
Compared to these, the Titans schedule looks quite difficult. In reality, though, it follows the same pattern. A matchup against Seoul Dynasty sounds dangerous, but after shellacking them 4-0 in the Stage 1 Semifinals, and considering Seoul’s performance thus far this stage, it shouldn’t be much of a difficulty. Then come the perennially-mediocre Houston Outlaws, where the most interesting storyline is what happens when the best flex support in OWL faces off against the worst.
Seoul Dynasty are the heirs to Lunatic Hai, and considering how the Titans clearly felt about X6 Gaming last week there might be some leftover grudge. But it’s been quite some time since the Dynasty truly felt like the Lunatic Hai squad–with Miro gone and Zunba and Tobi hardstuck to the bench, Ryujehong is the sole representative from those bygone days (Munchkin, part of LH’s revolving door of Tracers in APEX S4, isn’t intimately associated with the legacy in the same way). However, the character of the team remains the same: a top-tier support line enables an All-Star main tank, and everyone else plays around that.
That’s fairly evident from what seems to be their new main roster. Ryujehong remains brilliant on flex support, and his partner Jecse rose to Lucio stardom on the powerhouse team of Element Mystic. Munchkin is a journeyman, who between Lunatic Hai and Seoul was playing for the less-vaunted Laser Kittenz. Michelle played for Ardeont and Lucky Future Zenith, two teams which existed to demonstrate that random Korean players could stomp the Pacific and Chinese regions. And Fits was plucked straight from an Open Division team that failed to make it out of Contenders Trials. Is it any surprise that these players would devote all their resources to Fissure, the most handsome, the best main tank? Think about it: who is better than Fissure? No one.
Memes aside, that really was Seoul’s strategy for the first match of Stage 2. Though it didn’t deliver the win against the LA Gladiators, there were moments (particularly on Watchpoint Gibraltar) when it looked very effective. Of course, they did lose the match, so take that with a grain of salt.
Against the Titans, Fissure’s Winston is probably superior to Bumper’s, but Bumper has him beat on Reinhardt. Twilight and Slime are on even footing with Ryujehong and Jecse, and if Stitch is playing Zarya against Fits those are also pretty similar. It’s in the Dva and Brigitte play that the Titans have a huge advantage–Haksal does things on the hero that no one else does, and Jjanu is a record-setting graviton eater. Seoul lost a map against the Gladiators when Fits whiffed on a grav, a direct result of fear that Void would eat it. They lost another when Void did get the eat. It’s not known what Jjanu feasts on more, fear or projectile ults, but in either case the Dynasty won’t like the answer.
If Seominsoo were playing, the Zarya margin would set up another easy 4-0 win.
With Stitch instead, it’s still a 4-0.
If Seoul opt into a 3/3 matchup, Jjanu and Haksal can carry the team to victory. If it’s DPS instead, the duo of Stitch/Haksal will style all over Fits and Munchkin.
The Outlaws matchup is far less interesting. We haven’t yet seen them in Stage 2, so it’s anyone’s guess what comps they will run, but there is one thing we know for sure: Rawkus will be playing, and the Titans can take advantage of that like no one’s business. Twilight is, as I said previously, the best flex support in OWL. Rawkus is, I think without question, the worst.
The gameplan for every team that played Houston was the same: find Rawkus, kill Rawkus, win the ensuing 5v6. Considering their 3-4 record thus far, that’s worked out quite well for their opponents. Along with the Titans, the Outlaws are probably the team with the most experience fighting shorthanded. Unfortunately for them, and unlike Vancouver, that experience hasn’t translated to an ability to win those fights.
So the matchup here is much simpler. Muma and Coolmatt are a pretty solid tank pairing, but they’re not at Bumper and Jjanu’s level. There’s a three-headed-monster that matches up against Stitch, where Spree beats him on Zarya, Danteh is a reasonable match on Tracer, and Linkzr can hold his own on hitscans like Widow or McCree, but Stitch being one person gives the Titans more adaptability. And the advantage grows from here. Slime outclasses Boink, and Haksal ranges from being better than Jake on Brigitte to making him look like an amateur on other projectile heroes. And finally, Twilight against Rawkus is just.. not fair.
Houston has historically demonstrated a bizarre ability to beat teams that are better than them, but I can’t see how that will work here. The Titans just have them beat at every position, and even if they don’t devote many resources to preparing for Houston, the simple truth is Vancouver is a lot better.
A second 4-0 is the order of the day.