An easy 4-0 was never in doubt for the Titans. Take a look at the highlight reel for Haksal on Genji, Bumper emoting during a fight, and Hooreg making his first appearance of the season.

Map 1: Lijiang

As the stage meta begins to devolve back to 3/3 mirrors with more Winston and Ana mixed in, Stitch has again found himself largely on the outside looking in. It was Seominsoo who started the first three matches, and even when he was subbed out in the fourth, you’ll never believe who came in to replace him!

Ok no I’m not doing a clickbaity thing, it was Hooreg, head to Map 4 to see what went on.

Back to Lijiang, we started on Garden, where an early primal rage from OGE knocked Seominsoo and Twilight off the map, delivering first cap to the Fuel. Vancouver returned with a fight-winning grav, but Dallas traded straight back when Bumper somehow died to a telegraphed self-destruct. Continuing the back-and-forth, the Titans executed a brilliant solo grav to lock down OGE while Bumper jumped around him to shatter his shield-less team. Finally, Vancouver put an end to the trades, holding strong on the point to win the first sub-map.

Into Night Market, the quality of the Titans was apparent in the neutral fight, where the Fuel took roughly twice as much poke damage. Vancouver dominated the fights until a 99-0 Q-fest which went the way of Dallas. In the next fight, the Titans lost Bumper and tried to retreat when aKm hit a grav that, by all rights, should have been a fight-winner. Instead, Twilight built trans within the grav, and not only did the Titans not die, they surged forward to secure the kills on OGE, aKm, and Closer. It’s fair to say Dallas weren’t expecting the fight to be turned like that, and they were picked apart with no opportunity to regroup and contest the point in an organized fashion.

Titans 1 : Fuel 0

Map 2: Hanamura

Hanamura A was the Twilight show. In short order, he sniped Zacharee, OGE, and Note, and he would have gotten Closer too had there not been a convenient wall. That ripped apart the Point A defense, and provided the Titans with a plentiful ult bank for B. If there’s one thing Vancouver knows how to do, it’s snowball, and snowball they did, burning down two opponents through transcendence healing before moving onto the point to eliminate the scattered remnants of the Fuel’s defense.

Moving to defense, the Titans managed rotations almost perfectly until Seominsoo was caught out in the open. The quite sensible call was made to retreat, but things got a bit dangerous in the first defense of B. A grav locked up three and health pools were low across the board–but Twilight brilliantly sustained his teammates, buying enough time for Seominsoo to build energy that he used to secure a kill onto OGE, who took one hammer swing too many. Haksal returned on Doomfist for the cleanup, which was actually almost entirely handled by the other members of his team. Nonetheless, he enjoyed it so much that he died early in the next fight so that he could justify more Doomfist time, which at least was a highlight the second go-round. Fuel’s pushes got progressively worse, as they threw in more and more ults for no benefit at all. Twilight was immortal, occupying  the high ledge from which he could snipe in healing, damage, and huge anti-heal nades. It didn’t matter where the Fuel tried to rotate, they were snuffed out from every point of entry. Bumper didn’t even need to participate in the final fight: recognizing the inevitable, he spent it emoting on the point.

Titans 2 : Fuel 0

Map 3: Blizzard World

Once again, the Titans demonstrated an astonishing ability to apply frontal pressure. They basically walked directly at OGE, burned his shield, and killed him to take the first point. After being stopped once on the streets, Seominsoo again ran forward, this time to drop a graviton directly onto Note’s mech. That won Point B in such convincing fashion that Dallas felt it appropriate to lock up Seominsoo in a blatant solo grav. It may have been slightly cathartic, but it didn’t slow Vancouver down for long, as they brushed away first the Fuel’s organized defense and then their last-minute staggers as if there were no difference between the two.

It was Vancouver’s defense on this map that was the only imperfect component of the series. A strong hold on first wiped away more than 2 minutes, but thereafter things started to come apart. The Titans repeatedly failed to stabilize against the Fuel attack, in large part due to some spectacular play by Note. Every time Dallas needed that extra push, he was there to eat gravs, get self-destruct kills, or both. Of course, even when the Titans are losing they’re winning, as they delayed Dallas to a smaller timebank before giving up Point C, giving themselves the advantage for the second attack round.

Dallas tried a risky strategy, running a aKm on Sombra to attempt a quick EMP take. But Sombra into the Titans isn’t the amazing strategy it was all the way back in the first weeks of the season–first Haksal zoned him out, then Seominsoo lasered him down right as the final fight was beginning. By the time the EMP did finally come through, it was just aKm and Closer against nearly a full Titans team, which was never going to work.

The Titans needed only a single tick within two minutes to win, so even when Haksal was picked by uNKOE in the first fight, they had a margin for error. The second fight went much more smoothly, as they rolled in, built a grav, and smashed pretty much everyone. Bumper went down, but Haksal on Brigitte is a replacement shield tank with astonishing across-the-point mobility: it feels like the distance on his stun-bash is twice as long as anyone else’s when you see how fluidly he moves with it. The Fuel were wiped, the Titans won the series, and it was time to have some fun.

Titans 3 : Fuel 0

Map 4: Junkertown

Hooreg starts here. Hello everyone who skipped the first three maps and came directly to see Vancouver’s MVP make his season debut! Indeed, Hooreg was in for Seominsoo on this final map, where the compositions got real weird. Dallas went for a semi-standard bunker comp of Bastion/Orisa/Hog/Baptiste, against which Vancouver trotted out a double Shimada with Haksal on Genji and Hooreg on Hanzo. The bastion proved quite difficult to dislodge, but Vancouver had a not-so-secret strat to deal with it–give Haksal nanoblade and dash forward to close the distance. Watching him use uNKOE’s Baptiste literally as a stepping stone to reach the faraway bastion was a real treat, as well as a reminder that if Genji ever returns to prominence the Titans are well-positioned. Vancouver was clearly committed to the EMP-and-blade strategy, as they seemingly never even considered making a swap. They didn’t quite get the completion, but they came reasonably close considering how off-meta they were playing, and in any case they’d already won the match.

Defensively, things went back to normal for Vancouver, with Hooreg on Zarya to fill out the standard 3/3.  Dallas did the opposite of normal, leveraging symmetra teleporters to create a mobile bunker that was constantly switching flanks. The Fuel nearly took A with this strat, and they would have if only uNKOE and Zacharee coordinated better–instead, the bastion was unaccountably outside of Baptiste’s immortality field, making him easy pickings and forcing the Fuel onto a 3/3 that was automatically behind on ultimates. They did, however, a great job of building those abilities, so by the time of the final fight they had 5 to draw on. They needed all five out outlast Vancouver, but outlast they did, giving them a second lease on life. The streets phase was a rapid affair, with Dallas winning two fights convincingly to set up a 2 minute hold near Point C.

That, however, was not happening. Perhaps inspired by their opponents, the Fuel tried committing ults to a fight despite losing a teammate first, but that’s a trick that only works for the Titans. The Fuel did nothing other than toss away an earthshatter and a sound barrier, which they desperately needed in the next and final fight. Without those resources, the Fuel were snuffed out.


Titans 4 : Fuel 0

Player of the Match

On any normal day, I would be giving this award to Haksal. His performance as Brigitte was, as usual, impeccable, his “die-so-I-can-Doomfist” was hilarious, and getting to see him play Genji for half a map was an absolute treat. But in light of circumstances, the award must go to another today.

Hooreg showed up in an exciting way.

After being picked up by Runaway nearly a year ago, Hooreg has rarely made appearances for the team. They tried during the Contenders season, but his performances simply weren’t up to snuff, so for many months now he’s been riding the bench which (presumably) scrimming. Finally, it was time to unleash the beast. And while he didn’t set the world on fire, he was actually quite impressive, the most impressive I’ve ever seen him for this team. On Zarya, he found good openings for gravs, seemed charged when he should have been (it would be a lot to expect that everyone perfectly counterplays the teleporting bastion strat), and he got maybe the most critical kill of Map 4 when he took out a slightly-mispositioned aKm. On Sombra, he understood his role and what he needed to do. We could directly see his quick builds of EMP and his effective uses of that ult. Indirectly, we can see through Haksal’s seemingly perfect knowledge of where to go after every dash that Hooreg was feeding effective scouting information to the rest of his team.

I’m not clamoring to put him into the starting roster, but this performance makes me want to see more of Hooreg, who might just be rounding back into form.