In a matchup between two top 3/3 teams, Vancouver asserted their
dominance and easily came away with the victory. The Titans’ small but clear
superiorities in all facets of the game became more and more apparent as the
series went on, clearly demonstrating that they are a tier above any other team
(except maybe NYXL).
Map 1: Ilios
Starting out on Ilios Well, both teams came out with the Orisa/McCree composition that is something of a meta on this point specifically. As the teams traded fight wins, first the Orisas and then the McCrees were swapped out for Winstons and Zaryas, respectively, finally landing back in a Winston 3/3 mirror. The entire map was characterized by a back-and-forth dynamic, with no team winning more than two fights in a row. In the final fight, Bumper died first, but somehow that was exactly where Vancouver wanted their opponents, and the fight slipped further and further from Paris’ grasp until it was the Titans who took the first point. On Ruins, Paris came out strong and pushed directly into the Titans, repeatedly backfooting them as they ran the control meter all the way to 97%. While Titans did get the capture, Paris calmly built ultimates and snowballed a fight to tie up the map. Lighthouse would decide, and once more Paris played with no fear and built to 99%. They should have won right there, but Jjanu clutched an eat and multiple key kills to give Titans a new lease on life. Unlike on Ruins, however, Paris tried half-committing to two or three separate fights, and lost each one, turning a favorable position into a lost one over the course of just two minutes.
Titans 1 : Eternal 0
Map 2: Numbani
Paris were unhappy with Soon’s play on Zarya, and replaced him with the heretofore rarely seen Shadowburn. However, going up against best-Zarya-in-the-league Seominsoo he was shown to be lacking, as frankly was the rest of Paris. Each of the three points was the same story. First, Vancouver would win a fight, either in dominant fashion or by somehow outskilling the Eternal in a 5v6 even after losing the first player. In the next fight, Paris would get a pick and feel forced to commit more ultimates to ensure victory, knowing how dangerous Vancouver could be even when down a player. That usage left them susceptible to another dominant Titans roll, which unfailingly came through once the Eternal’s ultimate bank had been depleted.
On the attack, Paris won the first fight to unlock Point A,
but faced a stubborn Titans on Point B. 3 minutes were drained from the
timebank before they finally broke through. I was nervous as the cart rolled
nearly to the end, but Vancouver never flinched. Their last-second contest
displayed not the tiniest bit of fear, and having rebuffed Eternal the first
time, they never gave an inch of ground subsequently. Each fight Vancouver
would displace the enemy a bit more, use support ultimates slightly later,
block the shatter and hit one of their own. Paris flailed vainly against the
brick wall, and for the first time in the match looked truly outclassed.
Titans 2 : Eternal 0
Map 3: Horizon Lunar Colony
When Paris looked poor in this match, it was because they were disconnected. Vancouver, on the other hand, seemingly suffered no ill effects from playing in broken-down fights. On Horizon Point B in particular, their eventual capture came via gaining a tick in three separate fights where the teams traded players and Vancouver had enough advantage to gain 33% at a time. It was weird to see, for example, Slime throwing in a sound barrier when Bumper had already died, and then to see Titans commit to a fight when Bumper returned but Haksal and Seominsoo were now dead. But I’m not going to argue with success.
On defense, the Titans adopted a “prolongation of life” philosophy. This philosophy consists of two creeds. First, “thou shalt not allow a teammate to die.” It is through this mechanism that we can explain why, when Twilight was caught in a solo grav, Slime immediately threw in sound barrier to keep him alive (which, it is important to note, worked). Second, “thou shalt maximize the lifetime of a baby Dva.” Finnsi, as Uber said, spent more time out of mech than in it, a state of affairs best illustrated by Bumper charging him to the very back of Point B without hitting a wall, forcing him to once more traverse the entire point before he was killed for a split spawn. The one thing Titans did not prolong was Paris’ life in the series. Not a single tick was given up on Point B, which meant Vancouver took the victory in an increasingly one-sided match.
Titans 3: Eternal 0
Map 4: Rialto
Once again, we saw Vancouver bring in Rapel for the 4th map, and it was encouraging to see his performance improve as compared to some previous appearances. He remains clearly behind Twilight on the depth chart, and I would say deservedly so, but he played well. The attack phase for Titans was mostly composed of good technical play using their CC ultimates. Bumper hit key shatters to complete Points A and C, and Seominsoo’s grav did the trick for Point B. Completing the map was a strong result from Vancouver, as Rialto is a very defensive-oriented map, and it seemed unlikely that Paris could finish with a better timebank than the 54 seconds Titans had managed.
Paris got off to a very strong start, winning three fights in a row and pushing the cart nearly to Point B before the Titans finally got the stop. This was where the map should have ended, as Vancouver once again turned into an unbreakable wall and won fight after fight. The only way Paris could complete the point was an admittedly clever play by Kruise. When Paris lost yet another fight and Vancouver started chasing down kills, he snuck behind and backcapped just ahead of the onrushing Titans, who realized a fraction of a second too late what was going on. The time drained, however, put Paris in a tremendously difficult situation, and Vancouver imposed themselves in the chaotic breakdown of the final fight to snuff out Paris’ life force.
Titans 4: Eternal 0
Player of the Match
By the end of the match, I was left with the clear
impression that the Titans were simply superior in every position to the Eternal,
which makes it hard to point out one player who had the most impact. However,
one of the things that was interesting was how often the Titans recognized a
winnable fight despite being down a player, or pressed the advantage in a 4v4 situation
and came out on top. Paris, meanwhile, made some puzzling errors of
commitment–I’m thinking particularly of the win they tossed away on Ilios
Lighthouse by never collecting ults.
Good shotcalling was decisive, which is why Slime is my player of the match.
Slime seems to understand the ebb and flow of the game on a higher level than most other players. Somehow he recognizes the fights that can be won, and goes all-in on them, like committing a sound barrier despite being down a main tank. Other times, he calls a retreat even when it might seem his team has an advantage. Two fights on Numbani B illustrate the point: in the first, Vancouver tilted the fight in their favor and surged forward to clean up kills (including Shadowburn on Zarya). The very next fight, Vancouver again came out ahead, but having lost Twilight they backed around a corner, knowing that Paris’ spawn advantage would get them in trouble if they got bogged down in a fight.
From the outside, Slime’s calls looked perfect, he managed to survive and make a difference in key fights, and his sound barriers almost completely nullified Paris’ attempts at a grav/bomb combo: they only hit it once the entire match. That’s the kind of impact that earns you Player of the Match glory.