Hot on the heels of a near-victory over the San Francisco Shock, the Atlanta Reign had a second chance at taking down one of the league’s top teams. The Titans, though, proved too strong, winning 3-1 in fairly convincing fashion. The Reign can hold their heads high after this performance, but the gap between them and the top teams is still evidently present.

Map 1: Nepal

The match started out on Shrine, where Seominsoo immediately made his presence felt. He killed Erster and Masaa in quick succession, earning the Titans a first cap, and things somehow only got more aggressive from there. Despite allegedly being on the defense, it was the Titans who continually engaged onto the Reign and sent them back to spawn. Atlanta got the upper hand in one fight, but had to use all of their ultimates to do it, which set the Titans up for an easy return Q-fest that earned the victory.

Village was a continuation of the same. Vancouver’s aggressivity earned them quicker ult charge and repeatedly brought members of the Reign low. Even when that didn’t result in kills, it forced disengages from the Atlanta team, dragging out the time between fights. Finally, the Reign flipped, but the Titans returned and caught everyone off the point with a grav, taking control back. Nearly the whole of Atlanta were on fractions of their total health pools when Dogman came up with a hero trans to turn the fight and re-establish control. But that used up Atlanta’s stockpile of miracles, and the Titans easily won the final two fights to take the round without much fanfare.

Titans 1 : Reign 0

Map 2: Paris

Atlanta’s defense put Erster on the Baptiste instead of Brigitte, to which the Titans reacted by running their quad DPS composition. This time, Haksal wasn’t able to find free environmental kills, and Seominsoo’s EMP was countered perfectly by Atlanta’s intelligent rotation plus Dogman’s trans. As has seemed to be the case more consistently, the multi-DPS suffered from being easy to eliminate but still lacking in killing power. Vancouver did break through eventually, but it was on a knife’s edge, and probably wouldn’t have happened if Jjanu hadn’t used his Hammond to boop Pokpo off the map.

That forced a low-time reset onto 3/3 for Vancouver, which necessitated multiple econ pushes to build the necessary ults. Up against an Atlanta squad that had used very little on the first point, they were wiped quickly in push after push. Only in the final overtime fight did Vancouver finally have enough resources to win the fight, but a completion with no timebank was not encouraging.

The only path to victory for Vancouver was a strong defensive hold. In preparation for a multi-DPS comp, the Titans put Bumper on Winston, which did get Atlanta to make the desired switch, but didn’t work out in terms of actual play. Bumper’s primal rage built too slowly, and then he was killed by a self-destruct dropping directly onto his head, putting the Titans in a deep, deep hole. Another death, once again before he could use primal, nearly spelled disaster on Point B, but Jjanu’s grav eat and 3k self-destruct saved the Titans for the moment. When Seominsoo was taken out in the subsequent fight, it made winning nearly impossible, and Atlanta finished with more than 3 minutes remaining.

Because the Titans had finished in overtime, their best possible result was now a draw. But once more, Bumper’s Winston was stunned and killed for the first pick, and there was no way back into the fight for Vancouver, who quickly gave up the first tick and lost the map.

Titans 1 : Reign 1

Map 3: Hollywood

It’s been a while since we saw Hollywood North, which the Titans clearly missed. On defense first, they put up a dominant performance. They won the first fight so convincingly that Bumper had already built a shatter, which gave him a chance to pull his famous “sneaky shatter” play. Haksal then dropped from the sky with a rally as the Titans engaged for another wipe. Atlanta’s only good look in the round came when Daco ate Seominsoo’s grav, which led into a hugely protracted fight. The Reign managed two ticks, but the Titans thrive in chaos. They found the necessary kills, stabilized into a ball, and dealt with the staggered Atlanta players as they came in one by one to close out the full-hold defense.

Vancouver went for a rotation into café, but got into trouble when Haksal died first. They struggled with getting picked first throughout the attack round, as both Bumper and Slime also fell victim to it, but the pressure of being perfect was too much for Atlanta to bear. Despite taking out Bumper, the rest of the team was so low on health that Seominsoo was able to beam them all to death, the Titans got both ticks, and Canadian dominance over Hollywood was reestablished.

Titans 2 : Reign 1

Map 4: Gibraltar

Vancouver got to attack first this time, and put up a less-than-stirring performance. It was only a mistake sound barrier from Masaa that that gave them an opportunity to take A–he used it to counter a self-destruct even though his team was able to hide, and its absence was sorely felt when Atlanta were forced back due to their low health bars. Point B was another struggle, which was won in more solid fashion, but not before a lot of time had been burned. Finally on C the Titans made the necessary plays: Haksal pounced on Babybay, who dropped a grav as he died, and Bumper charged Dogman out of the fight, opening a chance for the Titans to remove Pokpo. Atlanta tried for a desperation reset, but couldn’t fight as 6, and a series of Vancouver ultimates cut them down, securing the cap just before overtime.

Atlanta solidly won the first three fights of the map, securing A and getting nearly to B before a last-ditch contest by the Titans stabilized, in a way only they can. Jjanu came out first to contest with his mech health and a self-destruct. As soon as it was used, the rest of the team jumped around the corner, with Slime’s sound barrier covering their approach and Jjanu’s remech. Haksal rallied, Twilight used trans, and Seominsoo locked up the Reign in a grav that they never saw coming, securing an easy kill onto Erster. Bumper’s shatter closed it out, and Vancouver had stabilized.

The Titans did a good job building ults for the next fight, but Atlanta had enough to counter, which meant the Reign took Point B with about 3 minutes remaining. A won fight for the Titans cut that in half, a won fight for Atlanta brought them over the finish line with about 1:30 remaining, and we went to another timebank round.

 This time around, the Titans attack was nothing short of stirring. After trading supports 2 for 2, Bumper charged Daco into the remnants of his squad, the Titans got the kill, and Atlanta’s defense was scrambled. Their contest at the end of A suffered heavily from the poor positioning brought on by that late kill. Bumper was taken out in the next fight, but Twilight wasn’t done, using a trans to save his team before scoring a quad kill onto the Reign. The absolute last fight of the round finally went Atlanta’s way, but the Titans had parlayed a minimum timebank into nearly a full completion of the map.

The Reign had a heavy task ahead of them, and the Titans knew it. Armed with a brilliant push, they put Seominsoo onto Sombra with a very simple gameplan: build EMP, use it to win a fight on point, win the round. In essence, the Titans were changing the name of the game. Winning fights didn’t matter, so much as delaying them did. Of course, a fight win was still worthwhile–the Titans won the first two, bringing Atlanta into overtime before they had even managed A, but Babybay’s grav went down before Seominsoo could counter it with an EMP and suddenly things looked less rosy. The Titans had used nearly all their ults without winning, and now Seominsoo had to get another EMP. By the time he had it on third point, Dogman had his trans ready, which nearly countered the game plan. But Pokpo was taken down anyway, Jjanu (on Zarya) burned Daco out of mech to hit a free grav, and Atlanta’s push was ended along with their hopes of winning the round.


Titans 3 : Reign 1

Player of the Match

This was an odd match to select a specific player from. The Titans won mostly convincingly, but struggled enough that it seemed no one had an exemplary game. I feel like every player had precisely one highlight moment and otherwise was good-not-great. But since I do have to choose, there was one player who was a little above the curve.

Seominsoo’s Zarya has somehow gotten even better than it was previously, and his Sombra flex worked out just fine.

The Titans are very, very good at winning shield battles. In fight after fight, they were able to take superior positioning from the Reign as a result of stronger pressure, and a lot of that comes down to Seominsoo’s Zarya. It’s hard to say without statistics, but my feeling today was that he was holding energy and doing damage at even a higher clip than before, which put the Titans in advantageous positions every time there was a neutral fight.

His flexibility was also a big plus. On the last map, Vancouver knew they only needed to win a single fight, so it made all the sense in the world to put him on Sombra. All three times, he hit big EMPs onto nearly the whole of the Reign, which twice gave his team the win.