In another playoff rematch, the Vancouver Titans continued their run of dominance against the Boston Uprising. The clean 4-0 win happened differently from the 3-0 in the Stage 1 Playoffs, as Boston tried to counter compositions instead of running mirror matchups, but it made no difference as Vancouver adapted their way to victory.

Map 1: Lijiang

From the very start of the match, a battle on Lijiang Night Market, Boston was trying to use new compositions to counter the Vancouver 3/3. Here, it was a triple DPS with Pharah/Sombra/Widow and a Hammond as main tank, which got the necessary kills and wrested the point from the Titans first. RCK followed with an EMP to win the next fight, but then the Titans demonstrated just what makes 3/3 so strong. When they ran directly onto the point, Boston were totally unable to dislodge them, giving them a capture they ran all the way to 99% before Blasé found the key kills with a Barrage. But once again, the Titans ran onto point, Haksal stunned an incoming Fusions to lock down the kill, and Boston had no ability to exist on the point.

In Control Center, the dynamic was much the same. Boston had a huge amount of damage, but struggled to evict the Titans from the point even when they got some kills. The incredible Titans peel for supports was on display: at one point, Twilight committed a nanoboost to save Slime’s life; at another, Twilight was set upon in the back but saved by Jjanu’s heroic intervention. The Titans healers never died, so the rest of the team never died, so they won the map.

Titans 1 : Uprising 0

Map 2: Paris

The Uprising tried for the same triple DPS as they’d used in the first map, providing a natural experiment for what might have happened if the Houston Outlaws had run such a composition on Paris A. The answer, apparently, was that that the Titans would have engaged their magical clutching powers. Boston absolutely, utterly, without question won a fight at around 2:00 remaining, with only Seominsoo and Jjanu remaining alive. Fighting back was hopeless, even the casters questioned why the two weren’t resetting, and then they managed to kill all the nearby opponents while reinforcements streamed in, thereby stabilizing the point. Sure, the Uprising hit a big EMP in the final fight (which, even then, they barely won), but that impossible turnaround victory made it hard to imagine Boston ever winning anything against Vancouver. Point B went the same way, with the Titans crushing fight after fight for four minutes. In the final push, rCK’s EMP made Bumper killable and the Uprising got the completion in overtime, but Titans fans could feel optimistic.

Against the Uprising’s Bastion bunker composition, we got to watch the Titans adapt in real time. First, they attempted the Symmetra flank we’ve seen previously, then when that failed tried a 3/3 with Ana. That too struggled against the massive DPS Boston could bring to bear, so it was time for a divier Winston/Zen version of 3/3. Even that wasn’t sufficient, and the clock was now nearly depleted. The final idea was to run a Hammond/Sombra to touch point and force Boston to move. The fight was utter chaos, in which the Titans were saved once more by incredible peel when Jjanu arrived to save Twilight from certain doom. Having clutched their way to a Point A take, the Titans now had a huge advantage with Boston caught between compositions. They leveraged the snowball to its full effect, getting the completion with about 3:00 left on the clock.

The adaption continued, as Vancouver knew the Uprising would likely try the bunker again. This time, the strategy was the Hammond/Sombra with Haksal on Genji. Vancouver also took a new approach, staying low to avoid deadly sightlines while Bumper started contesting the point. They managed to sneak nearly directly underneath Colourhex’s Bastion, forcing him to exit turret mode and make his way across a bridge. At that moment, the dive was on, he was cut to pieces, and the bunker was dismantled on the first try.

Titans 2 : Uprising 0

Map 3: King’s Row

On the ultimate 3/3 map, Boston were finally forced to try a mirror, albeit with a Sombra in the mix. Uncharacteristically, the Titans were pushed off the point, and then lost the first fight on the streets phase, forcing them to defend Point B with more than 3 minutes still on the clock. Despite stabilizing briefly, Vancouver were unable to counter EMP because they had Ana instead of Zen,  which gave Boston the second point and nearly took them to the third. Finally, Twilight built to trans, giving the Titans the necessary sustain to counter rCK’s ultimate, and they stabilized for real. Boston had a respectable attack, but were unable to push the cart all the way to the end, giving the Titans a chance to immediately win the series.

Recognizing that the Sombra wasn’t going away, Twilight started out on the Zen. Despite him getting the first pick onto Fusions, Boston surprisingly brought the fight back, then won the next as well. Finally, the Titans took the point via a perfect bomb-and-pin combo which killed Kellex. Twilight hid from EMP so he could bring out the transcendence healing, winning another fight for the Titans and bringing them to the precipice of Point B.

After being stopped for a bit, Vancouver gave a perfect demonstration of what makes them so good. Seominsoo’s grav locked up the Uprising, who countered with a trans. Twilight brought his trans out later, giving them the sustain to kill Fusions. Boston stormed back with Sound Barrier and a 5-man EMP together–but Slime was positioned outside and had his own Sound Barrier ready. Colourhex locked up the Titans with a grav and Slime went low, but Bumper angled his shield and Jjanu covered everyone with matrix to avoid the damage. Finally, they chased down Colourhex, killed him, and the fight was won. As Uber said, “Vancouver are prepared for every single eventuality.”

From there, it was an easy roll to the finish. Seominsoo caught the Uprising out with a grav, they wiped, and the payload approached to within centimeters of its destination. When Fusions was brought low, he was forced to retreat, giving the Titans a win without even requiring a final fight.

Titans 3 : Uprising 0

Map 4: Gibraltar

The Titans, starting on defense, made their now-standard substitution of Rapel for Twilight. The Uprising tried something a little less standard, setting up a pirate ship supported by a Roadhog. It was astonishingly effective, the strongest performance they had in the series by far. And that’s not just in the context of this matchup: their time was the third-fastest ever recorded on this map.

The Titans weren’t going to let that stand–they’re the ones who do speedruns, not their opponents. Once again faced with a bunker composition (this time including a Torbjorn), Vancouver went straight to the Genji/Sombra, though this time using a Winston instead of Hammond. Haksal’s nanoblade got the necessary kills to break the hard point, and Boston had to swap to their Sombra 3/3 at an ult disadvantage. There was barely even a fight during the second point, and on third Seominsoo had an EMP ready. He hit five, Vancouver got the team wipe without spending ults, and Boston’s final contest was snuffed out when the Titans cashed in all those saved ultimates.

The Titans had been slightly slower than Boston, but they still had plenty of time for their second run. The Uprising tried the same bunker comp, and this time it was dismantled with clinical efficiency as the entire team dove in at the same instant, eliminating Kellex before he knew there was danger afoot. On B, Haksal’s nanoblade would have wiped everyone if Blasé hadn’t hit a critical shield bash to force the Titans to turn tail. Bumper, however, stayed in, and looked for all the world as if he were going to be staggered. Instead, he used primal, got two kills, the rest of Vancouver streamed in and somehow a lost situation had been converted into a win. With only 30 seconds on the clock, an rCK EMP spelled the end of the attack run, but even with 4 minutes the Uprising couldn’t have been feeling optimistic.

And they shouldn’t have. Vancouver had been burned by the pirate ship once–it wouldn’t happen again. The Titans zoned the Bastion off the payload, forcing a wholesale swap to the same Sombra 3/3, now with only 2 minutes remaining. Even worse, the Titans had a major ult advantage, which they could slowly ration out. A grav, an earthshatter, and another grav won three fights in a row, while support ults just ensured everyone’s survival in general. Boston didn’t even make it past the carwash, an ignominious end for a map that had started so well.


Titans 4 : Uprising 0

Player of the Match

One of Vancouver’s biggest strengths is their flexibility, both in composition and approach. Fans who have only seen them in Overwatch League, or Contenders Korea, could be forgiven for thinking that the team is just a 3/3 machine–after all, they are the undisputed best team in the world at this meta. But there’s another trick hidden up their sleeve, one that provides the necessary counter-to-a-counter.

Haksal’s Genji made the victory possible.

We’ve seen Haksal bust out his world-famous Genji on a few occasions before this, mostly in map 4 scenarios where the Titans let themselves have some fun. This time around, Boston’s insistence on bunker compositions pretty much obviated his top-tier Brigitte: what good can she do when there’s a Bastion set up on the high ground? No, the Titans needed Genji, with his sneaky wall-climbing, his dash resets, and his super-damage dragonblade. All that practice in unnecessary scenarios paid off as Haksal, well, massacred the clumped-up members of the Uprising. I’ve been saying it all along, and I’ll repeat it here: the Titans are a force on 3/3, but if the meta returns to a more DPS-focused one, they have all the tools to succeed in that too.