Against likely their strongest competition this stage, the Titans emphatically demonstrated their dominance over the Gladiators in a 3-1 smash. Los Angeles snatched a win with their cheesy Paris bunker comp, but everywhere else it was all Titans, all the time.

Map 1: Ilios

The match kicked off on Ruins, where the Titans immediately made a statement by gluing down their W keys. The frontline battle was over in a heartbeat as Roar was focused down, then the chase was on for Vancouver, who easily grabbed the first cap. Over successive fights the Gladiators managed to pick off Twilight and then Bumper, but the Titans were able to slow down play to such a degree that control only flipped at 99%. It was actually surprising how long it took for Vancouver to retake, as they botched what should have been an easy wipe with grav and no countering trans. Instead, they flipped, weren’t able to consolidate, lost control again, and finally won the last fight at 99-99 to take the first round.

Lighthouse seemed to start the same way, but the Gladiators actually caught the Titans tanks too far forward and got first cap. Undeterred, the Titans came back and solidly won the next fight, building to 59% before losing control. Once again, a lost fight in no way affected Vancouver’s confidence, as they fought so aggressively that Shaz was forced to use trans early, saving his team for a few more seconds but leaving them helpless in the face of Seominsoo’s grav. As Vancouver built to 99, the Gladiators came in for one final fight and seemed to gain the upper hand. Seominsoo tossed in what seemed to be a poor choice of grav, and Jjanu committed self-destruct to it, but with Roar still alive that play seemed destined to fizzle. To the rescue came Haksal, who found the shield bash at the exact right time to remove the Gladiators’ protective barrier. The self destruct killed 2, Haksal and Slime cleaned up, and the Titans got a quick 2-0 on control.

Titans 1 : Gladiators 0

Map 2: Paris

In their last game against the Dallas Fuel, the Gladiators had showcased the best version of the Paris bunker composition yet seen, which managed a full-hold against the Texan team. It was pretty clear they would run it again, so Vancouver’s attack made a couple interesting modifications.

Twilight played Ana for heal denies, and Slime flexed to Baptiste to provide more burst healing and the invulnerability field. But the unique wrinkle was placing Haksal on Symmetra and sticking with it: he was on the hero for the entire attack phase, which I’m pretty sure is the most Symmetra we have ever seen on the big stage.

Things got off to a bad start when it took Haksal 30 seconds to set up a teleporter, only for it to be instantly destroyed, and then Slime was killed while the team rotated through the parking area into the hotel on the right-hand side of point. Despite that, the primary objective was still achieved—when the Titans moved onto the point, Los Angeles wasn’t able to redeploy their bunker in time, and Vancouver picked them apart to take first point.

But from there, things actually went bad. Roar managed to kill Haksal on the first approach, then Hydration (playing Orisa) was able to damage boost the bastion right after Symmetra’s ultimate was used, burning it away within seconds. Despite Sym wall, Nano, Earthshatter, Grav, and Self-Destruct being invested, the Titans came away with no progress whatsoever, prompting a swap to more standard 3/3. Recognizing that composition’s weakness at closing distances, the Gladiators played constant ring-around-the-point with Vancouver, ensuring that Surefour could dish out serious damage before being eliminated. With only a minute left, the Titans had finally built another grav and used it to force the Gladiators to stand, fight, and die, but the good timebank was dramatically whittled down.

On the defense, the Titans put Bumper on Winston to counter multi-DPS compositions, but it felt like the inverse of most Titans games—this time they were the ones struggling as hard as they could just to barely break even. The first push was rebuffed, but Bumper’s jump was punished by a Hydration barrage which Twilight wasn’t able to sleep in time. That slight window was all Los Angeles needed to take the first point with a similar time to what Vancouver had managed, but they rolled on to second with a critical advantage: Surefour hadn’t had to use EMP to take first.

In the end, the threat of EMP was more valuable than the actual ult. Seominsoo forced an engage with a grav, but Shaz’s bionade kept his team alive and led to quick eliminations of all 3 tanks, even through sound barrier. The Gladiators easily took the point with about 4:30 remaining, and the writing was on the wall.

When the Titans failed their attack run, thanks to yet another excellent nade from Shaz (who was without a doubt the carry for the Gladiators on this map), a tie was the best Vancouver could hope for. But defending Paris for more than 4 minutes is a daunting task, and despite their best efforts the Titans couldn’t keep it up forever. Shaz killed Bumper, Hydration denied the rez with a concussive blast, and the Gladiators had tied up the series.

Titans 1 : Gladiators 1

Map 3: Hollywood

Back on a map where bunker composition hasn’t been shown to work, the Titans returned the match to a 3/3 mirror. Their defense on first was nearly ironclad, repelling every push with ease until Void was forced to self-destruct and accidentally got a double kill. That meant the Gladiators at least got to see the next part of the map, but they only had time for two pushes, and the Titans found pickoffs that reduced the opportunity to a solitary final attempt. Later support ults from the Titans, and a big shatter from Bumper, stopped the Gladiators dead halfway through the West World portion of the map.

That was an easy attack run to defeat for Vancouver, who always look strong on this first point. After being thrown back once, Vancouver rotated through the cafe, taking such a superior position that many of their ults didn’t even have to be used. That meant a big bank for the streets phase, where Bumper and Seominsoo immediately cashed in shatter and grav to net a clean fight win. LA had to scramble a defense far more forward than is really comfortable, which was a set up for failure. Forced to contest, they took massive damage, and were unable to cycle contesting the payload, which rolled into the victory box even before any kills had been recorded.

Titans 2 : Gladiators 1

Map 4: Gibraltar

Sometimes, teams set records for fastest completion, and we call that a dominant performance. That is, of course, warranted—being the very fastest to finish a map indicates a strong run—but it’s not the only way of showcasing dominance. One of the others is in kill/death ratio. This, of course, doesn’t correlate 1:1 with Overwatch success (any solo queuer could tell you that) but there is a pretty strong relationship.

I say all this because, on this map, the Titans decided to put the series to bed. Recounting fight wins here is pointless, because on their offensive run Vancouver not only tied the fastest attack run on Gibraltar (a 4:18 time), but did it in flawless fashion, recording 24 kills and 0 deaths.

Forced to somehow respond to that, the Gladiators basically didn’t. First fight: wipe 6-0. Second fight: wipe 6-0. Third fight: wipe 5-0 (Void fled back to spawn). Finally, in the last fight of the map, Los Angeles managed kills on Twilight and Bumper, and for a second it looked like they would at least take Point B. Instead, the Titans returned in force, wiped their opponents, and brought to a close one of the most one-sided affairs we’ve ever seen, with Vancouver recording 47 kills to Los Angeles’ 2.


Titans 3 : Gladiators 1

Player of the Match

Make no mistake, Vancouver crushed this matchup. Everyone on the Titans played well, with Gibraltar standing out in particular as a map where everyone deserves credit for the victory. But I’ve set up this means of highlighting one player’s contribution, and when I thought about it, the choice ended up being pretty clear-cut.

Jjanu was his usual outstanding self on Dva, and also showed he plays a pretty mean Zarya.

In terms of Dva play, you know what to look for. Clutch self-destruct to turn around a fight? How about the one on Ilios Lighthouse, or the one on Hollywood attack that didn’t net kills itself, but forced split positioning from the Gladiators which made them easy pickings for the rest of his team? Eating gravs, as per usual he munched a couple that might otherwise have been big plays for the opponents. Absorbing damage was clear throughout, as the Titans won poke battle after poke battle due to his superior use of defense matrix.

But what I loved was his Zarya play. On two different maps, the Titans put Seominsoo on Sombra, in what looked like a continued test run of changing up their look in the event it would be helpful. That left Jjanu to flex onto Zarya, big shoes to fill when the Titans are used to having the best in the business occupying that role. I’m obviously not ready to anoint him superior to SMS, but from what we saw he would be an immediate upgrade for a lot of teams, and not just garbage tier squads like Mayhem—even London would be improved if he were to join. With good bubble usage, good energy preservation, and good gravs, the team remains strong when he flexes onto that role.