Tag: Guangzhou Charge

A Game of Throws: Pride, Greed, and Goats

From our first entry into understanding why teams throw, thanks to the Houston Outlaws, we learned that not only can fans and analysts misunderstand the game, but players can too. In the Outlaws case, fans and analysts were trumpeting the talking point of how Houston looked dominant with a DPS heavy lineup, but when the games got tighter and they had to swap to 3/3 they got smushed by the Titans. What fans, and some vocal analysts, didn’t realize was how heavily favored 3/3 is on the Rialto, Paris, and Eichenwalde.

When Outlaws’ Projectile DPS player Jake took to Twitter, it became clear that both spectators and participants had a fundamental flaw in their grasp of the game.

Let’s start by saying, first of all, everybody involved is wrong. The viewers and analysts are wrong to suggest that “just go 3DPS” is a viable strategy, as there is no other way to effectively attack the Titans on Paris, Rialto or Eichenwalde, barring extenuating circumstances. Had we seen the Outlaws try this, the Titans elite defensive style of Winston GOATS featuring Ana would have flattened them. Instead, we saw the Outlaws struggle through Rialto, and Paris, but with a rather good showing on Eichenwalde. In my map analysis of the Titans and Outlaws match, I correctly surmised that Paris and Rialto would be easy wins for the Titans while Busan and Eichenwalde would be the two closest maps in this series and the Titans would need to take one of them at least.

If you’re asking why I bring this up now, aside from bragging rights, it’s because we don’t know the quality of advanced statistics that are used by organizations. Esports are so young that the players and organizations haven’t yet figured out the tricks used by traditional sports teams to hedge bets and give themselves the best odds to win. Judging by the map stats, which I hope the Outlaws coaching staff is looking at, they had a clear pathway to victory against the Vancouver Titans. Jake’s tweet shows a huge problem with the Outlaw players mentality and mental fortitude as well as their coach-ability.

How does this connect to Jake’s tweet? Well he makes it clear that if the Outlaws were to play a 3DPS strategy against the Titans it would be preemptively accepting defeat and a hail-mary strategy. Jake’s tweet also implies that as a competitor, he can’t stand the idea of not playing 3/3, which is by far the best strategy on almost every map in the game. Seeing as how I, someone who has never played professional Overwatch and hasn’t had any coaching experience aside from getting my friend Matthew to Grandmaster solely by telling him what heroes to play, was able to figure out that the Outlaws’ best chances of winning this match were to win game 1 and 3, why didn’t the Outlaws coaching staff catch this?

Eichenwalde is a great map for Houston and their 3/3 lineup did quite well against Vancouver, but Paris and Rialto were so far out of reach for them. Why is “a hail-mary strat” here such a bad idea? Why is Jake too proud to do whatever it takes to win? Why aren’t they prepared to make the sacrifices, like in a game of chess, to win the war? The Outlaws won on Busan and statistically they were very close on Eichenwalde, almost winning there too. If the Outlaws weren’t too proud to play a cheesy Bunker or 3DPS lineup, they could have taken this win rather easily, or at least pushed it to 5 games in a legendary Hunters-esque match with how hard Linkzr and Arhan popped off on Busan. With their one win and an attempt at going 3/3 on Eichenwalde, they just needed to clutch one other map, but the Outlaws weren’t willing to sacrifice their pride for the greater good.

This same theme of sacrifice came up again in April 20th’s matchup between the London Spitfire and the Boston Uprising. Coming into this match, the Uprising were having a somewhat successful stage. With a record of 2-1, and a +1 map differential, they were right in the middle of the discussion of potential stage 2 playoff participants. Their week 3 matches included a back-to-back against two strong teams, the Spitfire and the Titans. The required record to make the stage playoffs is 4-3 with a good map differential so this was an important win for the Uprising. Their remaining 3 matches are against the Titans, the Gladiators, and the Justice. With a likely win over Justice, they will have to steal a dominant win from one of the Titans, or Gladiators. If I were the coach of the Uprising, I would have advised the team to not prepare at all for the Titans match and instead cram doubly as hard for the far more winnable tilt with the Spitfire. Instead, they got 4-0’d by London and they refused to lose the battle for a chance at winning the war. Then, when they played the Titans the next day, they put up a good fight but once again lost by a score of 4-0. Interestingly enough, they weren’t too proud to use a team composition of 3DPS like the Outlaws and they showed that 3DPS is capable of putting up a good fight on Paris after all. The Uprising proved that 3DPS on Paris isn’t a hail-mary strategy and they were really close to full holding the Titans on point A. Boston played well, which is exactly the problem, they were still completely outclassed, even after competing Gibraltar with over 4 minutes in the time bank, they got held on point A on the second push and lost 4-0.

On April 20th, the Florida Mayhem, just like the Outlaws and Uprising, showed the Overwatch world that they, as a team, are also not infallible. The Outlaws were exposed as a team too proud to do whatever it takes to make the playoffs, the Uprising were exposed as a team who lacked the critical thinking to prioritize the Spitfire game over the Titans game, thinking they had a chance to win both and the Mayhem were exposed as a team who does not understand the finer details of a GOATS mirror. They are guilty of the highest of crimes. They pretended to know why Ana is good.

That did not go how the Mayhem wanted it to. Before we can go into depth here, we need to understand what Rock Paper Scissors can teach us about GOATS. Sombra is one of the ideal counters to GOATS and usually the Zarya player is the one who is able to flex onto Sombra, this works out nicely as Sombra destroys Zenyatta, so the flex-support will swap to Ana. The Mayhem understand that Ana is better than Zenyatta against Sombra, but they don’t seem to know why. In the above clip, Hagopeun uses his Nano-Boost ultimate and selects Swon as the recipient. When Swon jumps into the Dragons to initiate the fight, Gamsu immediately Earthshatters the entire team and ends the fight.

Wait a sec, Ana was supposed to be good against teams that run Sombra, so how did the Dragons just clap the Mayhem when they had Nano-Boost? The answer here, is a lot simpler than it appears, the Mayhem are really bad and they don’t know why Ana is actually good. When a team attacks a protected area, like on a Hybrid or Assault map, the goal of the team is to stick together as close as possible, this makes Graviton Surge a devastating ultimate as it’s easy to catch the entire team, so having a Zenyatta with Transcendence is a must. Like we said earlier in Overwatch RPS, since the Zarya player usually is the one who plays Sombra, this is a handy trade. Sombra is quite good against Zenyatta and with no Graviton Surge, means no need for Transcendence. Enter: attack Ana.

At 3:59, during the Titan’s attack on point B, Eileen jumps into the middle of the objective while Bumper is in a corner fighting Happy and Hotba, then Eileen becomes visible to use his EMP. Bumper, hearing Sombra take off her invisibility cloak, immediately uses his Primal Rage and Twilight, who was so far back he was out of EMP sightlines, responds by using his Nano Boost onto Bumper. Bumper is a giant angry monkey filled with nanobots and he uses his arm swipes to swat the Charge away from his team, protecting them from Guangzhou being able to collapse onto them. When Bumper eventually gets low health, Slime immediately uses his Beat to give Vancouver the endurance to survive the fight. Bumper splits the Charge in half with his body and at 4:14 he forces Chara to use his beat so that the team doesn’t die, the Titans know that since Guangzhou isn’t running Zenyatta they have no other healing ultimate so they fake a retreat and Rio pushes, 4 seconds later Seominsoo throws down a Graviton Surge and Jjanu combos with his bomb which forces the rest of Charge back so they can’t support Rio or they will all die. They kill Hotba forcing the retreat and they wait until Rio respawns for the Charge to all jump on the objective but it’s too late and the Titans take the objective. Beautiful, when the Mayhem did everything wrong, the Titans did everything right.

There’s more to the story though, as the Titans regularly use Ana when defending.

For the Titans aggressive style of GOATS, Twilight’s elite Ana skills are a boon. Back to the Outlaws, we see above how insane Ana’s biotic grenades are, when used in conjunction with Bumper’s dive into the back line. Twilight’s pick of Ana is also placing a bet that the other team could try and play Sombra and the Titans will still have all the answers. This type of hero selection is similar to how pre-Bunker, Pharah was a suboptimal defense hero solely because a good Widowmaker, McCree, or Soldier 76 would make for an easy counter and once the surprise is out of the bag, it’s very easy for an attacking player to switch onto those heroes. Just like with Ana, it would be very easy for the Outlaws to switch to a more dive focused Sombra team composition which could sneak around the Titans and have their way with a lonely Zenyatta player in the backline who’s only way to heal players is through special abilities.

In the words of English poet Alexander Pope, “to err is human” and it proves true in all forms for Overwatch players. The Houston Outlaws were too proud to try and sacrifice pride and some map wins to possibly take down the Titans, the Uprising were too greedy to sacrifice a likely loss to try and guarantee a playoff berth, and the Mayhem walked into their match with the Shanghai Dragons lacking the knowledge of how 3/3 Overwatch works at it’s core. Do I really blame either team for this? No, they’re mostly kids and they’re allowed to make mistakes. What this does speak to is how much work is still ahead for Overwatch, not necessarily for players skill levels, but for their strategic thinking.

Episode 16 – Seven and Oh

Joining Chris to talk about the Vancouver Titans undefeated Stage 1 are co-hosts Omni & Sam. They talk about the Titans 4-0 stage playoff first seed clinching victory over the Guangzhou Charge and discuss the Titans next match-up against the Boston Uprising! They then review the week that was and setup the Stage 1 Playoffs right down to their Stage 1 Playoff champion prediction! Add in discussion about the new patch, new hero and changes for Stage 2 and this is one jam-packed episode of goodness!

Titans vs. Charge Postgame (Again)

Facing off against one of the only teams to make them sweat, Vancouver calmly dispatched Guangzhou with a 4-0 victory. How much was due to having a real counter to multi-DPS compositions versus just being better is debatable, but hey: at least we’re officially #1!

Map 1: Ilios

I was excited for this match because I thought it would present an opportunity for Vancouver to practice against the multi-DPS style that Chengdu had use to such good effect. Immediately on Ruins, I was not disappointed. Guangzhou ran Tracer/Sombra/Widow with a Hammond as main tank, and it seemed the counter comp was once again swapping Seominsoo onto McCree instead of Zarya. Sadly, outside of one flashbang onto Hotba’s Tracer that allowed a brief capture, the composition was an abject failure. Vancouver essentially couldn’t even approach the point and were easily thwarted. For Well, the Titans tried an Orisa/McCree setup and got first cap against a Winston 3/3, and they built all the way to 99% before ceding the point. The Titans built ults and took control of a fight around 75%, and while the Charge stalled to 96% the Titans won in reasonably comfortable fashion. That brought it all down to Lighthouse, where Twilight came out on a Moira for some reason. Swapping him to Zen meant Guangzhou got better starting position and capped first, but the swap was clearly the right move. Twilight, along with Bumper and Seominsoo, proceeded to tear the Charge apart and wrest control after only 20%, and from there it was the Twilight show. All in one fight he killed Happy, used trans to save Bumper, melee killed Chara, solo killed Rio, and long-range dinked Shu. Vancouver won 100%-20%, giving them a series lead.

Titans 1 : Charge 0

Map 2: Numbani

The Charge brought in Kyb as a replacement for Eileen, I believe to use his greater skill as a Brigitte player (while Eileen’s superior Sombra is more relevant on control maps). Guangzhou were first to defend and managed to pop Jjanu out of mech, but Vancouver rotated brilliantly so that he could bunny blaster his way back to a suit. Following their usual M.O. the Titans immediately had another player die first when Bumper found himself trapped in the hotel room with Rio and Happy, but Seominsoo’s high charge and a key trans from Twilight gave them the strength to fight back and take the point. Stopped despite using lots of ults at the gate to Point B, the Titans played good positional Overwatch to force Guangzhou out of position, quickly built a new set of ults, and won another resounding victory. On Point C, Charge held too far forward, were caught in a grav, and Bumper pinned Rio on the very last defense to guarantee the map completion with about 13 seconds left.

On defense, the Titans were confronted with another triple DPS, this team featuring a Pharmercy from Kyb and Chara. With no long-range damage at all, the Titans were forced to just play in alcoves. They delayed quite well, but eventually Happy (on Sombra) built an EMP and with no resources, Vancouver was wiped. The Pharah continued her reign of terror until the gate of Point B, where the Titans countered an EMP and forced Guangzhou into a series of increasingly-more-standard 3/3s, while the Seominsoo stayed on Sombra and played quite well. His coordination with Bumper on an EMP-into-Shatter was sublime, and the Titans managed the unusual Point B hold to extend the lead going into halftime.

Titans 2 : Charge 0

Map 3: Volskaya

With their stage playoff berth hanging in the balance, the Charge brought Eileen back in to play Brigitte. Their dreams of a reverse sweep died a quick and painful death when he was picked first and the Charge failed to clear out with sufficient haste. That let the Titans chase down staggered enemies while running onto Point B, and they just barely missed out on setting a new competitive Volskaya record with a 6:26 timebank.

Considering what we’d seen in the series thus far, that pretty much guaranteed the win. Guangzhou again tried lots of DPS and Happy even picked Slime first, but the Titans traded back for Rio and in the end it took 2 minutes for the Charge to cap Point A. Forced into a 3/3 mirror on B, they were rebuffed time and time again, and their 5 minutes dwindled to overtime before they finally seemed to gain purchase on the point. It wouldn’t have mattered, since an OT capture meant a draw and thus had already delivered the victory to Vancouver, but in any case the Titans used ults and closer respawns to cut down the members of Charge on the point and seal the victory then and there.

Titans 3 : Charge 0

Map 4: Dorado

With a 7-0 record guaranteed, the only thing left to play for was the bragging rights of a #1 ranking, which Vancouver could take with a victory in this final map. Kyb returned to the lineup because apparently the Guangzhou Brigitte seat is a merry-go-round with two seats, but the Titans did not bring in Stitch or Rapel. This, I suspect, was because they wanted their current starting roster present for the great Haksal-back-on-DPS experiment. This was another response to the Charge’s ubiquitous triple DPS composition, and I think paid the most dividends.

Haksal started on Pharah, immediately saw Happy on widow, and switched to Genji for the rarely-seen 2/2/2 with Seominsoo on Sombra and Haksal on Genji. Were it not for a clutch nano-Tracer from Shu, Titans would have gained the first checkpoint on their first push; instead, it took one extra.

Then came time for the Haksal nanoblade. How many kills could he get? The answer was 0, but in the best way possible. On drawing his blade, Chara booped him away, but Haksal was ready with the dash. Next, Chara used a solo sound barrier to prevent his own death, but even that was worn through quickly with two robotic slashes. What remained? Well, a life-saving nanoboost from Shu! Chara barely escaped with his life, but the use of two key support ults spoke to the respect that a Haksal blade commands.

The next nanoblade didn’t go as well, since Haksal had been caught in an EMP and couldn’t use it even though Twilight gave him nano, but he just used it vanilla and got two kills, bringing the cart to the edge of Point C. One final blade, this time successfully with nano, and the full completion was achieved.

On defense, the Titans went for the exact same composition, and got to spend some time spawncamping before a big EMP forced them to give up Point A. On Point B, the Titans finally acknowledged the current meta and swapped to 3/3. From that point it was more of what we’d seen all match: the Titans are just better at this than Guangzhou, and as a result it didn’t particularly matter how the Charge took fights.


Titans 4 : Charge 0

Player of the Match

Last week I mentioned that, despite a rough game against Chengdu, one player had kept up the same high level of performance. This week he was much the same, except with a strong-performing team around him the plays were of even higher caliber.

Twilight defines a game-changing flex support.

We were lucky enough to see lots of both Ana and Zen play from Twilight in this match, and one of the things that stands out is how he manages to play both at a supremely high level. His Zen shows up constantly in the killfeed, either getting the first pick or bulldozing through the middle of a chaotic fight and firmly entrenching the dominance of the Titans. His Ana keeps everyone alive, builds nano crazy quickly, and finds the right targets for sleep darts and bio nades. I think the ultimate tribute is what he enables, because the casters aren’t wrong: if Bumper were on another team, he’d be feeding his brains out. But with the Titans, he doesn’t, and that’s a credit to Twilight, the only support nutty enough to keep him alive no matter what nonsense he decides to pull.

Week 5 Preview: Charge (Again)

With a playoff position now ensured, the Titans will have their first rematch of the season against the Guangzhou charge, one of only two teams to take them to a map 5. Victory is of course the goal, as it is every week, but the most important thing is for Vancouver to try out counters for the compositions that they so struggled against in the match against Chengdu.

Fortunately, Guangzhou is a squad with a similar makeup to Chengdu, in that their greatest strength lies in an ability to play multi-DPS compositions. Hotba, no longer hardstuck on Dva, can pull out a surprisingly strong Tracer, opens up a lot of options. Eileen is highly flexible, and Happy’s crazy-good widow can form the centerpiece of a strategy even in a meta where widow is rarely seen.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Guangzhou are the perfect scrim partners for the Titans this week. This is one of a very few teams in the league that’s willing to run the same sorts of nonsense as Chengdu did, and after our mediocre performance against that style I have to imagine other teams around the league think they’ve found the key to beating Vancouver. In particular, I would expect the Fusion, the Reign, the Shock, and the Spitfire would love to flex off of a 3/3 composition and unleash their amazing DPS power. All of those teams remain in contention for stage playoffs, as do Guangzhou themselves. Fortunately, Chengdu have been eliminated, so at least we won’t have to see them again for a while.

You’ve already had the chance to see the Titans face off against the Charge once, so I won’t tell you anything you don’t already know. Happy and Shu are the two stars of the team, Happy as the only man capable of running widow in a tank meta, and Shu as the only flex support we’ve seen to out-do Twilight on Ana in a head-to-head matchup. Around them, Rio and Hotba are a solid if slightly uninspiring tankline, Chara’s main support Lucio works fine but isn’t particularly noteworthy, and the DPS slot can be filled with stable Brig Kyb, rarely-seen Nero, and Eileen, who can run nearly anything and must desperately wish there were more options in this meta than just Sombra. If Guangzhou find themselves behind in the match and eliminated from playoffs, we might see two-way backup supports OnlyWish and Rise, but my bet is that Guangzhou would just try juggling their DPS pairings to see what combos might find success in a new meta.

With only one team to prepare for this week, and presumably fire in their bellies from nearly losing to Chengdu, I don’t expect Titans to take this match lightly at all. Last time, Guangzhou were the afterthoughts in a week focused on Shock, but this week the only goal is to smash the Charge.

A 4-0 feels more likely than the first time against Guangzhou, as a motivated Vancouver with an entire week to prepare might well hit another gear and use their superior individual skill to dominate the Charge.

Episode 15 – Hunted to the Brink

Joining Chris to talk about the Vancouver Titans are co-hosts Omni & Sam. They discuss the 4-0 win against the Paris Eternal and the fact the Chengdu Hunters took the Vancouver Titans to the brink in a 3-2 Titans victory! As always, they review the week that was and the week that will be in OWL and a few other Overwatch-related tidbits!

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