If you didn’t watch, you might see the 3-1 scoreline and think the Titans were their usual dominant selves against Hanzhou. You would be mistaken.

Of all the games Vancouver has won, this was easily the closest to disaster. The Titans spent the entire match playing on a knife’s edge, and the Catholic church is currently looking into canonizing all six members of the team after they demonstrated an ability to work miracles. To be perfectly honest, I think the Titans deserved to lose this match 3-1 instead of winning it.

Map 1: Oasis

This was the one map the Titans easily deserved to win. On Gardens, their superior pressure earned them easy fight victories up to 97% control. The Spark dug deep and invested every single ultimate they had in order to retake, which was successful, but the Titans lost the battle to win the war. They returned with a stockpile of ultimates, Bumper’s shatter pin onto Adora was the opening pick, and the final fight was easily won.

On University, Bumper’s attempts to put on pressure was punished by Bebe, who got a discord onto him and then found a brief window of dropped shield to take him out with a right click. Hangzhou took the point first, but in the next fight Guxue’s shield was blasted down by the Titans, who seized the advantage to secure the wipe and flip the point. Once again, easy fight victories built to a final overtime fight, in which Slime twice removed Guxue by dropping him into the center point. When Seominsoo locked the Spark in a grav, Ria tried to defensively self-destruct, but accidentally dropped that in the hole as well—and since this isn’t golf, that was an awful thing for his team. Totally unthreatened by the misplaced bomb, Vancouver wiped everyone in the grav, then everyone outside, taking the first map handily.

Titans 1 : Spark 0

Map 2: Horizon Lunar Colony

Vancouver were first to attack, and went for their Sombra look, with Seominsoo on the hacker and Jjanu flexing onto Zarya. It… didn’t go well. EMP took more than 2 minutes to build, and didn’t even ge to to be used because Adora bashed Seominsoo out of it. Bumper hit a heroic shatter to save the day, but that wasn’t encouraging for the efficacy of the plan. On point B, Seominsoo took too long to find an opening, then when it was finally used only a single enemy was hacked. It was Bumper, again, who came up clutch for his team, securing the second point on the back of another tremendous shatter. Seominsoo had spent about 6 minutes playing Sombra, and only hit a single target across 2 uses of EMP—not good stats.

Vancouver tried for the same composition on defense, of which I am not a fan because of how easily the enemy can snowball you. The first fight was effective, but the second was a clown fiesta. Bumper died on a charge, then Seominsoo’s EMP was used but got not value without a swinging Rein, then Jjanu’s grav got no value for the same reason. Hangzhou took A easily and ran onto B for the snowball. Ria tried to zone Vancouver off the point with a self-destruct, which worked out even better for him when it took out Jjanu. Then Seominsoo’s EMP at least hit most of the enemy, but two Titans were already down and IDK was waiting around the corner with a sound barrier, so in the end it accomplished nothing.

That put the Titans at a disadvantage in the timebank round, which they exacerbated by having Haksal die first. Then, despite entrenching themselves on point, both Slime and Haksal were taken out during a trans, and Seominsoo’s no good very bad day continued when his grav was eaten. In the final fight, Ria’s bomb took out two to seal the nail in the coffin. Even with Jjanu getting a 2k bomb of his own, it was a bridge too far, and they were stopped at about 47%. Against a 5 minute timebank, that was nigh impossible, and at least they didn’t play with our heartstrings by drawing it out overly long. Bumper died first, Seominsoo was next, the match was tied.

Titans 1 : Spark 1

Map 3: Numbani

Captain Planet (the OWL stats guy) apparently doesn’t believe in jinxing things, because before the map even started he flashed a stat on the screen. The Titans roster has not lost on Numbani since October 2, 2017, which in Overwatch terms is actually forever ago. After the first two minutes, it looked like that string of victories would easily continue: multiple won fights had given the titans a bank of 6 ultimates, putting them in position to potentially extend the hold for the full time. Instead, Guxue was able to charge Slime to death out of a graviton, and then swing away on Bumper. The Titans quickly stabilized, and once again with 2 minutes on the clock had a superior ult bank. But a clever rotation from Godsb and Adora took Haksal by surprise, stunning and deleting him to give Hangzhou the upper hand.

The Spark leveraged that advantage very, very, very slowly. Despite being a player up, they basically didn’t commit to a fight, instead wiggling around the payload in a bizarre game of musical chairs. Vancouver was never quite able to evict them, as they might well (in retrospect) have been able to, but the clock had been sent nearly to 0. When Vancouver won a fight in the tunnel with only 18 seconds remaining, Bumper pushed forward to find exit kills with his team. However, the Spark retreated brilliantly, and they had a secret weapon: Ria was hiding in the upstairs, ready to fly onto the cart and trigger overtime. Surprised that they had to go back, the Titans didn’t capitalize on Seominsoo’s grav and failed to kill a weakened Adora when they had a chance. Instead, he used rally, Guxue killed Bumper, and the Spark came within 2 meters of completing the map.

That was less good than one might have hoped, but the Titans have always excelled at attacking on this map. Their first push showed why: Guxue dropped in to swing and was melted before he knew what was going on, the rest of Hangzhou fell in quick succession, and the cart was on the move.

Not for long, though. Seominsoo pushed forward to try to get charge and/or kills, but was unceremoniously killed for overextending, which seemed innocuous but ended up being huge. A tremendous 5 minute timebank was whittled down to nearly nothing as, fight after fight, members of the Titans were dropped first.

It wasn’t anyone in particular: in order, they lost Seominsoo, Haksal, Seominsoo, Jjanu, and Bumper. It was just that Hangzhou focused their targets perfectly, while Vancouver seemed utterly disjointed. I particularly look at Seominsoo’s grav, used after Bumper had died and multiple other members of his team had been killed off the resultant shatter. Finally Vancouver took out Guxue, and to their credit they seized the opportunity with gusto, charging forward to eliminate the Spark. A lost fight on C brought the time down to 15 seconds, ensuring that any completion would be in overtime. But Seominsoo’s big grav was followed up on, and intelligent ult usage meant there was enough in the tank to emerge victorious from the scrap at the very end of the fight. That said, right until the end of the map, it absolutely felt like an incoming loss for the Titans, who were outplayed aside from the 3 fights they somehow managed to win the map with.

Titans 2 : Spark 1

Map 4: Havana

Attacking first, the Titans again tried out a Sombra composition, and again struggled to accomplish anything with it. Seominsoo at least built EMP faster, but didn’t catch Bebe with it, and Bumper was stunned out of shatter when he tried to extend the fight as trans ran out. After two minutes of abject failure, swaps came through to return to a 3/3, which did bring them to the end of A with about 30 seconds remaining. Matching self destructs devolved the fight into chaos, but the key was Seominsoo dying when Godsb did not. Without a Zarya, the Titans were far behind in damage output, and they succumbed with a meter remaining on the push for A.

From that position, winning seemed impossible. Hangzhou had only managed to hold because their forward defense had held for more than two minutes: the Titans couldn’t count on the Spark to be anywhere near as ineffectual as they themselves had been.

This time, it was 3/3 from the beginning. As usually happens, Vancouver held in an aggressive forward position, but only brought the clock down to 3:00 before the payload moved. Plus, the Spark WERE playing a Sombra composition. Even if the Titans hadn’t been able to find value, EMP is supposed to be a fight win button, and Hangzhou could probably get two of them, which would be two opportunities for a map win. The first one was used to wipe the whole team, but Twilight stayed out of range and contested the payload while everyone else was dying. He was staggered, but had bought crucial time for his team to get one last touch. Everyone streamed out of the doors, Seominsoo hit a big grav… and Bumper died. But Twilight, returning late, sniped Godsb, reversing the positions from the previous round. Seominsoo, still alive, put out so much damage that the Spark couldn’t engage well, and this close to the end of A, traded kills favored the Titans. Hangzhou had to retreat, but there was still a minute left and the second EMP was charged.

That’s when the biggest mistake of the map was made. Ria flanked around the side, ready to fly in with an EMP and seal the map. His teammates pressed forward, engaging the Titans in a 5v6 that would be inescapable when their movement abilities were rendered useless by the EMP.

But the EMP never came. Ria had, instead, accidentally translocated to a safe location far from the fight, leaving Adora to be killed and the rest of Hangzhou pushed back. When they returned, Seominsoo locked everyone up with a grav, and the EMP was used defensively. There is a reason that is not a normal sentence. The map-winning ult was wasted in that situation, and instead it was Vancouver who were able to secure opening kills onto Adora and IDK, winning the fight, map, and match in the process.


Titans 3 : Spark 1

Player of the Match

I started awarding Player of the Match because I wanted to highlight exemplary performances during the match. Sometimes, it’s for the player whose moment of heroism turned around a lost fight; sometimes it’s the player who was consistently good across the match; sometimes it’s the player whose ability to flex opened up a new and interesting composition.

Today, I’m adding a new rationale: the winner by default.

Twilight didn’t have a superstar game today, but he’s basically the only one who actually played well.

I don’t want to be mean here, but explaining this decision requires a bit of it. Seominsoo’s Sombra was just plain bad today, to the point that I seriously think the Titans deserved to lose this match because of it. Without a dva player, Bumper failed to moderate his playstyle, and aside from his earthshatters on Horizon that kept the map from being a complete humiliation, his impact on the game was mostly visible on the wrong side of the kill feed. Haksal has developed a bad case of “getting-picked-first-itis.” Jjanu and Slime were mostly silent. Twilight, today, felt a bit like the Jjonak of his team: the only good fights Vancouver ever had came when he managed to discord and kill a key target.