The Vancouver Titans surpassed all expectations this year. Many pundits saw them as an upper middle of the pack team, and while some expected a big splash in their inaugural season. What they managed to do this year is far beyond a big splash. They earned their 1st in the league position with their 25-3 record and now they get a week off and the opportunity to play one of the wild card teams in the first round.
Thanks to playoff reseeding we know the Titans can’t play against the London Spitfire. Let’s go over the other 5 wild card teams that are all on the table as potential opponents.
9. Guangzhou Charge (15-13, +4, plays CDH)
The Guangzhou Charge are a confusing team. They don’t have a ton of individual talent and they had a combined record of 9-12 in the first three stages. This resulted in zero stage playoff appearances. They finished off the year with a improved record in stage 4 (6-1) while only playing against very easy teams. They beat Fusion (3-2), Uprising, (4-0), Spark (3-0), Seoul (3-2), Fuel (4-0), and NYXL (4-0), who I guess are bad now. If the Charge can get past the Hunters, they will go on to rematch the Dynasty. They will also have a good chance at playing NYXL again who they dominated in stage 4. London did beat the Charge this stage, so being able to dodge them has set the Charge up for a long run in the postseason.
10: Philadelphia Fusion (15-13, 57-60-3, plays SHD)
The Fusion are not as good as they were last season. They made the stage 1 playoffs after beating some dumpster fire teams and losing to the Mayhem, but have under performed since then. Philadelphia and Shanghai have one head to head match this year in Atlanta and it was a 3-1 win for the Dragons. The Fusion’s firepower was even lacking in stage 4 with a meta that was to benefit themy. EQO and Carpe are doing okay, but their main tank Sado has looked bad all year. They will need to come out swinging to make it out of the play-ins. They have a good chance against the slumping Dragons, but that’s where easy street ends for them.
11: Shanghai Dragons (13-15, 51-61-3, plays PHI)
The Dragons went 1-6 in stage 4 after winning stage 3 with a DPS heavy lineup with losses to the Eternal and Defiant. Those teams are bad, like 14th and 17th in the league bad. Their only win came over the Seoul Dynasty, then they lost to them 2 weeks later. The Dragons have been uninspiring all stage and they do not look good coming into the playoffs. Their team looks stale and they need to put new strategies into action immediately.
12: Chengdu Hunters (13-15, 55-66-1, plays GZC)
There are two ways to describe the Chengdu Hunters. The first is consistent, the second is clown fiesta. The Hunters made zero stage playoff appearances this year, but somehow made the big show. The Hunters may be the scariest team in the quarterfinals because you don’t know what they’re ever going to do. With consistent stage records (3-4, 3-4, 3-4, 4-3) they were able to sneak their way in. With Jinmu leading the charge on DPS, there is a lot of upset potential here with their outside the box style of play.
8: Seoul Dynasty (15-13, 64-50-3, plays TBD)
Bonus team time! The Seoul Dynasty skip the first round, but they might be the ideal team for the Titans to play in the first round. The Titans have beaten the Dynasty 3 times so far this season and have a combined map score of 10-1. The Dynasty had a 3-4 record in stage 4 but their wins came over the Defiant, Dragons, and Valiant. To add to that, they weren’t particularly dominant in any showing. The Dynasty will dodge the Charge, their hardest matchup, thanks to reseeds but they still have a tough fight ahead of them. They need to be firing on all cylinders to escape the wild card tournament. We’ve seen them do it before in the stage 1 playoffs, they’ll need to recapture some of that early season magic.
The play-ins are all teams who were great early but who died out as the season went on and teams who started slow and surged late. Who comes out of the wild card tournament is going to depend on who gets hot at the right time. The Charge are the favourites to break out alive but are also very likely to be the Titans first round opponent. I would hope to dodge the Charge, but the Titans have a good chance to beat any team in the league. The Titans played hard all year for a good seed in this tournament, they need to practice hard and use this opportunity to scout their opponents.