Chris and co-hosts Sam & Omni get to the Vancouver Titans juice that spilled immediately after the last episode. From Bumper’s departure, to Ryujehong’s arrival, to Winter Wonderland 2019 and a brand new patch, there’s a tonne to discuss in the penultimate episode of 2019.
GG matchmaking. For some reason, the Vancouver Titans of the Overwatch League faced off today against a Contenders team called the Dallas Fuel, who…
Hold on, I’m getting word that the Fuel are, in fact, an equal member of the Overwatch League.
Could have fooled me.
The Titans eviscerated Dallas in one of the more crushing 4-0 matches I’ve ever watched. This is always fun to talk about. Let’s go.
Map 1: Ilios
Right off the bat on Ruins, the Titans made their biggest mistake of the entire match. Jjanu used his boosters to take a side angle, but Zacharee was waiting with the whipshot to knock him off the edge of the map, forcing an immediate Titans disengage.
I say that was their biggest mistake because from here on out, Vancouver was nearly flawless. They quickly regrouped, pulverised a separated OGE, and took point with only 14% capture progress accrued. From there, the Titans won fights in every way possible. Sometimes Twilight found a long range pick and forced a disengage. Sometimes they countered the Fuel’s ults with ones of their own. Sometimes they just ran straight at the Dallas frontline and bowled them over. It didn’t matter—every strategy was perfect. The only deaths the Titans suffered were a pin on Twilight while he used trans, for which OGE had to charge off the map, and one when Bumper charged off the map to eliminate Zacharee.
After that shellacking, the Fuel swapped to a Sombra composition, and considering how badly they’d been beaten, you couldn’t blame them. But not only are such compositions weaker when EMP isn’t available—of which the Titans took full advantage, smashing every neutral fight—but Vancouver was even able to counteract Note’s EMP with a huge trans from Twilight. This time, the Fuel only managed a single kill across the entire map.
Titans 1 : Fuel 0
Map 2: Volskaya
Attacking first into a 3/3 mirror, Bumper and Seominsoo didn’t rotate together, which let AKM beam down his Zarya counterpart. The opening fight was lost, but Bumper did his best to turn the fight and, when it became clear that wouldn’t happen, to at least build up ult charge. He actually beat OGE to shatter, which was critical for the next push.
First blocking OGE’s shatter, Bumper and the rest of the Titans were caught in a grav. Twilight used trans, so OGE charged Haksal and secured the kill, which for a brief moment seemed like a win for his team. But with the opposing shield no longer in front of him, Bumper saw his opportunity, hitting a massive shatter that allowed his team to take out AKM. The cleanup got him nearly to another shatter, and as soon as he finished it during the first push onto B, he hit an equally-impressive shatter. Dallas immediately were forced into stall mode, and delayed valiantly but completely in vain, leaving the Titans with a hefty 4:21 timebank.
For their attack, the Fuel opted for a Sombra comp, but again ran into trouble when faced with the aggression of the Titans. Every time, Vancouver would find ways to split apart the five-member core of the Fuel, while denying out Note’s EMP for nearly 3 minutes. When it finally came out, EMP did break their first-point defense, putting the remaining members in a tricky spot. For a moment, it seemed they might try to contest short-handed: then they thought better of it and scrambled to return. Seominsoo barely made it into the safe haven of Point B before the Fuel came around the corner. Sensing an opportunity, AKM caught him with a grav, but the rest of the Titans were ready. Slime used barrier while Bumper used his shield, preventing the kill that might have started a snowball. Instead it was Haksal who found the opener on OGE, stopping a great chance for the Fuel.
Another great chance for the Fuel were equally squandered. Note hacked a lot of members with EMP, but Seominsoo was able to laser down Closer and Unkoe despite being locked in grav. Finally in a third fight, Bumper tried to follow up a grav but was shattered to the ground and instantly deleted, opening the door for Dallas to complete. But by the time stalls were done, their timebank was nearly 3 minutes worse than Vancouver’s, and far shorter than the time it had taken for them to capture Point A the first time around.
It was less time than they needed to take A the second time around as well. Twilight played Ana to counter the Sombra comp, which Dallas then countered by swapping to Dva. But despite the defense matrix being present, every single bionade Twilight threw hit home. The first push was a wipe due to a well-placed nade, then a nano Bumper found the entire Fuel team inside a small room, which is basically every team’s nightmare. Not a single tick was gained, and Bumper was feeling really good.
And when he feels good, it’s time for him to go DPS. Today, it was Widowmaker, and he was legitimately the most impactful member of the team. Besides his presence forcing the Fuel into a side room off the point, he was connecting with key shots, including a beautiful headshot onto Unkoe. He was so hot, in fact, that after that kill he grappled directly to the left into the icy water of Volskaya Bay, just hoping to cool off. Lucky for him, the rest of the team made sure to secure the point, putting the Titans well ahead in the series.
Titans 2 : Fuel 0
Map 3: Eichenwalde
During halftime, I was having a conversation about what the most iconic maps are for the Titans and for Runaway. I submit that it’s Rialto for the Titans, but if you include Runaway I think it’s got to be Eichenwalde. This led to me saying that I wanted to see a map record on Eichenwalde, which I suppose is greedy but seemed eminently possible based on how the series was going.
Spoiler: the Titans didn’t get a map record. But they came darn close. The Fuel were more akin to speedbumps than an actual opposition force. Their worst fights were immediate wipes, while their best fights were wipes that the Titans had to work slightly harder for. Apart from a single victorious fight for Dallas on a Point C defense, the cart never rolled backwards the entire map. The final time was 2:19, with a 30-3 elimination advantage.
Twilight opened the defense on Ana, clearly anticipating a Sombra, and was surprised to find himself staring down a standard 3/3. He stayed on it just to use nano, but ended up getting to build and use two before Dallas got moving and he had to swap to Zen. That didn’t come online in time to counter AKM’s grav at the end of B, but once the Fuel entered the castle the value became apparent. The extra damage provided by discord orbs was tremendous, providing enough power to stop Dallas in their tracks for 3 minutes. Finally, Note ate a grav and the Titans were unintentionally out of position, giving Dallas one final chance to complete the map.
But Twilight had something to say about that, too. He hid in a side room behind the Fuel and let them sail nearly all the way to the end before emerging to snipe Unkoe for an opening pick. Then he used trans to save his teammates caught in a grav, which combined with Slime’s sound barrier gave everyone time to return to the fight. With Bumper and Seominsoo returned to the fray, and Unkoe still across the map, the Fuel melted right before the end point, giving the Titans a win on the map and in the match.
Titans 3 : Fuel 0
Map 4: Dorado
The only question for this map was if the Titans would actually try to win, because it was clear that the Fuel were irrelevant to that conversation. If Vancouver wanted to get a 4-0, there wasn’t anything anyone on Dallas could do about it. As it turned out, this looked like an opportunity to give Rapel some playtime and once again try the Sombra comp that has looked so hit or miss thus far.
What’s interesting is that, far from feeling like an EMP-based strategy, it’s tended to feel like a Bumper-based one. Despite having less support than normal, Bumper seems to play at a higher level when his team tries this strategy. He unlocked Point A by shattering and killing most of the enemy team even after Jjanu died, then won the first fight of B when he managed to stay alive with almost no health while the rest of his squad cleaned up kills. Seominsoo finally had another ult at the end of B, which made it easy, then it was Bumper time again when he hid and flanked with shatter. Unfortunately Jjanu was countercharged, resulting in his death, and from here the Titans got kind of sloppy in their attacks.
Twice they got into majorly advantageous position, but each time they failed to focus targets effectively and ended up succumbing to the closer respawn at the end of Dorado. In the end, a Jjanu grav secured a team wipe, and despite losing their supports for the third push in a row, there was just enough HP left on the Titans to finish the map.
On defense, the Titans returned to a normal 3/3 (except, of course, that Rapel was the Zen instead of Twilight). They held aggressively forward, so that it took Dallas 2 minutes to reach the fountain, but once there they found an opening kill on Bumper. When AKM followed up with a grav, Dallas made short work of the Titans, working out to a reasonable pace considering Vancouver had only completed in overtime. On B it was the same story, as the Titans spent 2 minutes spawncamping before losing a fight, then failing to stabilize at the final gate. It was bizarre to watch Vancouver dominate the “junk” fights at the early part of a point, then put up no resistance at the end, but it ended up working out fine. As had happened on A and B, the Fuel were thrown back from C right at the entry, with precious little time remaining. When Seominsoo’s grav and Bumper’s shatter won a fight with only 30 seconds remaining, the Fuel had to enter scramble mode to even touch the cart—but Closer on Lucio had been the last to die, which meant they were just a bit slower than might have been expected. No one reached in time, delivering the Titans an easy fourth win of the match.
Titans 4 : Fuel 0
Player of the Match
In the other match this week, the Titans were largely outplayed by the Hangzhou Spark, and though they managed the win in the end, it was a sloppy affair in which no one played particularly well. This match was the exact inverse: everyone on Vancouver was solid in an entirely justified 4-0. But I have set myself the task of picking out someone in particular to highlight, and I think there was one player who rose above the rest.
It’s been a while since Bumper had a really good game, but today he showed what top-tier main tanking looks like.
The thing about Bumper is that he seems to excel at all facets of main tanking in this meta, especially when he gets to play Reinhardt. He does little things right, like angling his shield while stuck in grav to protect someone who’s been shattered (watch Eichenwalde C defense for an example). He puts himself in front of teammates to make sure they don’t die—his contribution to Volskaya B defense prevented a Fuel snowball when Seominsoo was caught retreating. And his firestrike accuracy is phenomenal, especially on Dorado C defense.
But really, the biggest play a Reinhardt can make is an earthshatter. And today, Bumper was hitting them left and right. Bumper has always been good at charging his ultimate quickly, but sometimes—like in the previous match against the Spark—they haven’t amounted to much because he’s hit nothing but shields. I don’t know if today’s improvement was specific to OGE or if the coaches noticed something he could change to improve, but the results were clear as day.
For three of the four maps in this series, the result was exactly what you would have expected, with the Vancouver Titans mercilessly (and Mercy-less-ly) steamrolling the Houston Outlaws. The Titans’ greatness at running 3/3, paired with Houston’s general ineptness at that style, led to an utterly predictable result.
But one of those maps did not go as planned. Houston’s multi-DPS setup stymied the Titans, and whether that was up to Vancouver not taking the matchup seriously or a deeper flaw in their playstyle is the first thing the coaches should dig into. Every player on the Titans is capable of being a star in a divier meta, but in today’s match they certainly didn’t show it.
Map 1: Busan
Vancouver came into Busan with Stitch at the keyboard instead of Seominsoo, but the thunder was stolen by the Houston Outlaws, who with no prior indication put in Arhan for his first action in roughly forever. He was joined by Linkzr and Danteh to create a triple DPS look, which was certainly a refreshing use of the players at Houston’s disposal.
We started on Mecha Base, where Linkzr, on Widowmaker, used the high ground surrounding the point to land shot after shot. But Twilight kept his team alive, Muma was picked first, and the Titans took first control. Next, Bumper dove deep for Linkzr, got him, then popped Primal Rage seemingly for no reason. Maybe he was more perceptive than we suspected: Danteh’s Sombra uncloaked right as he used the ability, and despite being hacked he was able to get the kill there as well. Houston took the point back at 84%, which left the Titans needing only a single fight to retake, but they wasted time fighting with half the team present, allowing Houston to build to 99%. For the final fight, Linkzr played ring-around-the-point with Bumper, constantly rotating away from the pressure being applied and hitting one key headshot onto Twilight. Denied critical healing, the Titans melted in the face of the other two Houston DPS, and it was the Outlaws who came away with the first point win.
Sanctuary was similarly dangerous, due to its long sightlines. Houston went for a Torbjorn Orisa bunker but with a Soldier 76 and Sombra alongside, which is an unusual style to put it mildly. The fact that it worked is down to two things: the Titans playing like a soloqueue team, and Linkzr’s astonishing abilities on hitscan heroes. Just as his Widowmaker carried the Outlaws to victory on Mecha Base, so did his uncanny aim on Soldier deliver them the win on Sanctuary. He was helped in this by a stream of Titans feeding themselves one by one into his clutches. Throughout the entire map, including both stages, there was precious little of the precision target selection that usually characterizes the Titans’ play. Instead, they were picked apart, and Houston took a shocking win on the Control map.
Titans 0 : Outlaws 1
Map 2: Paris
After a forgettable showing on Sombra over the course of a lost map, Stitch was taken out and replaced by Seominsoo. Aftera dominant showing on Widowmaker and Soldier over the course of a won map, Linkzr was taken out and replaced by Coolmatt. Performance, clearly, is not the driving factor in these decisions.
The Titans were on defense first, and instead of running a bunker composition as has been common on Paris, went for a Winston 3/3.Houston opted into the matchup, pitting their Zen against Vancouver’s Ana, and meeting with little success. A Reinhardt swap didn’t fix the primary issue, which was that Twilight hit a biotic grenade or a sleep dart in every fight, and oftentimes both. This wasn’t the only issue with Coolmatt’s play on Dva, but it might have been the most consequential. Houston only touched the point once, in the final fight, and didn’t manage a single tick of progress.
The multi-DPS style on the first point had made Vancouver look mortal, but now they were in their comfort zone. With the well-earned confidence that this map was essentially already won, they went for a weird bunker-buster strategy to remove Houston’s Orisa/Bastion setup. Haksal came out on Symmetra, used teleporter from a hidden position to bypass the firing zone. A brief pause to reset cooldowns later, they stormed up the ramp, Bumper charged Arhan away, and the Titans had tied up the series.
Titans 1 : Outlaws 1
Map 3: Eichenwalde
Vancouver opened on the attack, and recognized that Arhan’s Pharah needed countering. Seominsoo went for a Soldier, but instead of waiting for him to take out the flying menace, they rotated through the castle walls into the high ground of the tavern. This let them take the fight from a superior position, so that Arhan was unable to use his barrage. It came out in the first fight of the streets phase, paired with an EMP, but Seominsoo’s tactical visor and the proximity of spawns meant that Vancouver won the fight despite losing more players. That set up a last-ditch defense at the castle doors, where the Outlaws were able to split the Titans and hold firm. Vancouver took their foot off the gas at this point, which was emphatically demonstrated by Bumper’s insistence on doing his best Winz impression (I sit on ze payload) instead of, you know, joining the fights. The fights weren’t unwinnable, far from it in fact, but Houston rallied at key moments on the back of Rawkus‘ biotic grenades, which were every bit as impactful here as Twilights‘ had been on Paris.
On their attack, Houston opted into a 3/3 mirror against Vancouver. Attacking A, they should have won in the first fight when they picked Seominsoo to start, but the Titans magically battled back. Though Houston took the point in the next fight, the lost time would prove critical. Twice more on the streets phase the Outlaws took early advantages, only to watch Vancouver turn it around and repel them. Bumper was the key to victory, charging and shattering his way across the map with impunity. With little time left, the last fight arrived quite quickly, and Bumper first hit a gigantic 5-man shatter to give his squad the advantage, then built another shatter within 20 seconds to lock down the remaining enemies.
Titans 2 : Outlaws 1
Map 4: Rialto
Houston was first to attack the map on which the Titans own the 2 fastest times in OWL history. That must have been a frightening prospect for the Outlaws, who once again felt it best to try a 3/3 mirror. One successful fight, in which they killed Seominsoo and then Bumper, would have delivered them Point A against any other squad. But the Titans kited back to spawn expertly, avoiding any further stagger kills, then returned across the bridge for a last-second contest. Coolmatt, trying to break their formation, launched a self-destruct into the backline. That wasn’t a bad idea, but it ended up being a bad play since it gave Seominsoo a chance to throw out his graviton without fear of it being eaten. The Titans collapsed on the locked-up opponents, sending them back to spawn and firmly staking their claim to the cart. Two more minutes of ineffectual attack later, Houston had been full held, setting up an easy win.
The Titans were able to deliver that win without much trouble. They methodically built ults, Seominsoo’s graviton took out Danteh and Coolmatt, and when the Outlaws tried for a last-second contest Bumper was able to drop everyone with a shatter. Jjanu’s bomb, perfectly timed as always, exploded directly above the stunned members of Houston, netting him a 4k and his team the victory in the map and the series.
Titans 3 : Outlaws 1
Player of the Match
Sometimes I award Player of the Match to whoever was most instrumental in bringing the Titans to victory. At some point, I may have to award it to the player who did best in a losing effort, but since this is a Vancouver blog that hasn’t happened yet. And then there are times like today. The match quickly went from nerve-inducing after the loss on control to a lighthearted stomp, and I want to reward the player who most exemplified that feeling.
Bumper defined this match, for good and for bad.
The enduring of this match for analysis purposes should be the final fight of Mecha Base, as Bumper fruitlessly chases Linkzr around the entire perimeter of the control point. His inability to close the distance on the enemy Widow was partially why the Titans weren’t able to win this map.
But the enduring image of the match, to me, are the times when Bumper would be charged offscreen in one direction, only to return moments later countercharging Muma back into the waiting arms of the Titans. It happened on Eichenwalde and on Rialto, and was hilarious both times. Bumper’s play was goofy, going for low-percentage charges because they would be amazing if they worked, and against a Houston squad that didn’t even force Vancouver to try all that hard to win, that was the best playstyle to keep me interested in the unfolding match.