Joining Chris to talk about the Vancouver Titans and the Stage 3 Playoffs is co-host Omni & special guest Jawn Jang from Sportsnet 650AM. They discuss the “Bruh” moments in the Stage 3 playoffs, wonder what the results mean for the remainder of the Overwatch League and also give their thoughts on the news of the 2020 OWL season!
Regardless of what happens in the two Friday quarterfinal matches [Editors Note: this was written before the Shock beat the Dynasty and the Valiant beat the Spark], we get the most hype semifinal possible: the rematch between RunAway and Kongdoo Panthera. These two teams matched head to head in the Korean Condenders season 2 finals and it was some incredible Overwatch.
On Thursday, the Titans pounded the Outlaws. It wasn’t even close, the Titans outmanned and outskilled them at every turn. The Dragons on the other hand had a much more nuanced method of attack. They took advantage of NYXL’s greatest weakness; NYXL can’t play against aggressive teams. Shanghai just got in their faces with a ton of damage, used EMP and rolled the NYXL. All year NYXL has been slow to adapt and again they showed they don’t have what it takes to come out ahead when the games get close.
Stylistically, the Titans should match up far better against the Shanghai Dragons than New York did. This is largely because Stitch has been performing better on Sombra than Saebeolbe and Nenne, the hack should have been the way to fight Wrecking Ball but NYXL is too passive as a team to hack proactively. As well, the Titans are a team with far more options of team building among the starting 6, now 7. They could just run 2-2-2 with Winston/D.va and run at the Dragons, something NYXL refused to do. The Titans can also just put Stitch, SeoMinSoo and Haksal on DPS heroes and match them in damage dealt while using their superior team play to eek out small advantages in every fight.
In the Titans match against the Outlaws, one of the reasons they dominated was because the maps the Outlaws were good at, were also maps that the Titans were exceptional at. This is going to be a factor in the Dragons match as well. In stage 3, Shanghai’s two best map types are tied at 86%, Assault and Escort. Unfortunately for the Dragons, their best Assault map is Volskaya, which is also the Titans best map. This stage, the Dragons are 2-0 on both Watchpoint: Gibraltar and Havana, but the Titans are also 2-0 on Havana and 4-1 on Watchpoint: Gibraltar going back the last 3 months with a tied world record.
The Dragons third best map type this stage, Control, was still only a 50% winrate. Nepal and Oasis were both 1-2, and Ilios was 2-0, but the Titans are 3-0 on Ilios this stage, and 9-1 all year. Remember that this will be a first to four, so there’s a good chance we will see multiple of these Control maps that the Titans should be so heavily favoured on. Speaking of heavily favoured, the Dragons have a whopping 14% winrate on Hybrid this month, with a sole win on Eichenwalde.
Considering the history these two teams have, I’d expect both teams to come out hungry for a big win. While the Dragons Season 2 squad does have history playing long matches, it hasn’t been any time recently. The Titans have kept in shape with two stage finals so if this match goes long, the Titans will have the advantage. The Titans are slightly better than the Dragons on the Dragons best maps, but they are considerably better on basically every other map in the pool minus Paris. Mapwise, this is going to be another match that should, on paper, heavily favour the Titans and if the Dragons expect to win, they have to come at the Titans fast and hard with a 4-0 or 4-1 win, if it goes any longer, the Titans will make it to their third consecutive stage finals.
Joining Chris to talk about the Vancouver Titans inaugural victory are co-hosts Omni & Sam. They break down the Titans win over the Shanghai Dragons, Bumpers confidence, Titans Viewing Parties and so much more! Plus they review the rest of week one to setup what we should expect in week two!
Titans opened their season on Mecha Base and came out with a standard 3/3 comp. Shanghai brought in Gamsu for his first experience with the team, but seemed unwilling to run their own 3/3 against Vancouver’s known skill. Instead they opted for an approach reminiscent of NYXL’s approach, using Dding on Sombra to counter the bunched-up Titans. It didn’t have much effect on Mecha Base, where Vancouver won convincingly, but on Sanctuary the effectiveness of the strategy was multiplied. Though the Titans tried approaching from all directions, every time they came near the point another EMP would come out and wipe them, giving Shanghai a 100-0 win and tying the control maps 1-1. City Center sort of meandered between teams without any convincing fights until Seominsoo hit a major grav to unlock the point. Once in control, Titans cycled ultimates masterfully and held strong for the win, highlighted by a Haksal 3k and Jjanu eating pulse bombs left and right.
Titans 1 : Dragons 0
Map 2: Hollywood
Despite Dding’s quality play on Sombra, Dragons subbed him out for Geguri going onto Hollywood, thus opting into a 3/3 mirror. Vancouver on first defense played super aggressively, giving Seominsoo huge amounts of charge, which he once again parlayed into a fight-winning grav. Jjanu followed that up with a completely unsupported self-destruct that somehow got 3 kills, and Bumper put on a charge and shatter clinic, which is exhibit A in his case to be considered a top-tier main tank. The microcosm of the map was when Gamsu, just walking to approach the point, dropped shield right as Seominsoo’s right click hit him in the face and sent him back to spawn. Titans had only given up 55% on their defense, and that dominance extended to their offensive round. One push was all it took to trade up and seal the cap, giving Vancouver a well-deserved 2-0 lead going into halftime.
Titans 2 : Dragons 0
Map 3: Anubis
Once again first to defend, Vancouver won the first scrappy fight but barely lost out on the second. Fortunately they forced Shanghai to commit ultimates to the point A cap, which meant ult advantage for the Titans. What ensued was more than 5 minutes of Shanghai getting wiped and Geguri trying desperately to die or remech in sync with her team. Shanghai finally took the advantage on a push with about 2 minutes to go, and while Vancouver couldn’t bring it all the way back, they did delay nearly to overtime. Shanghai’s defense put Diem on Widow and Youngjin on Brig, which was an interesting but ineffective strategy, and point A was capped, providing Titans with a 7 minute time-bank. The snowball rolled straight onto point B and easily finished the map.
That set up another round where Shanghai’s 1 minute timebank was pitted against nearly 7 for Vancouver. When the first defensive fight went the way of Titans, Dragons were forced to dive wildly onto point, which was never really going to work. Once again Vancouver had 7 minutes to take the point, and once again they needed almost none of it to take 33% and take a 3-0 lead.
Titans 3 : Dragons 0
Map 4: Dorado
Flush with victory, Titans brought in Stitch to give him some playtime, and Dragons brought Dding on so they could play a Pharah/Widow dive. After losing first point defense, Titans opted in to the dive battle, putting Haksal on Genji and Stitch on Widow. The fights here looked slightly more chaotic, probably reflecting a lack of practice for both teams, but Vancouver always seemed to get one more kill than Dragons. Bumper showcased his signature Winston style, building Primal Rages so he could jump onto the enemy Widow, and generally making Diem’s life hell. Stitch wasn’t very impressive on his own Widow, but Haksal’s Genji looked to be in good form as he cut through the opponents. Shanghai ran into a brick wall halfway through the second point, setting a very attainable target for the Vancouver attack.
Titans decided to try some interesting compositions, first opting for the same Widow/Genji dive as on defense, then a Genji/Tracer dive with Hammond, then when those had both failed finally swapping to modified 3/3 with Stitch on McCree. For the first time in the match, Stitch had a major impact on the match, clutching headshots to cap first point in overtime. Second point was nervy, until Stitch once again came up big, getting 2 kills on a flanking deadeye to seal the victory and propel Vancouver to the 4-0 match win.
Titans 4 : Dragons 0
Man of the Match
It’s hard to choose a single player who was most key to this victory. Bumper’s play on Rein was exemplary and his Winston careened between genius and feeding (as seems to always be the case with him). Jjanu was everywhere at once, eating pulse bombs, diving for kills, securing wipes with massive self-destructs.
But my choice today is Seominsoo.
Every single grav was on point, his bubbles were literal lifesavers, and he seemed to sit at a constant 100 energy. His presence on the side of Titans tilted the scales heavily in their favor whenever 3/3 compositions clashed. An example from Anubis is illustrative: with Shanghai on the attack, Diem’s Zarya sat at about 85% charge, while Seominsoo was only at 60%. Somehow, he closed the gap, and as soon as Diem’s grav came out, Seominsoo locked up the enemies with a grav of his own, which eventually resulted in a won fight for Vancouver.
After an interminable offseason,
the day has finally arrived: the Overwatch League is back! Today is opening
day, but we Titans fans must wait until Saturday (at 4:30 Pacific) to watch the
debut of our new squad. Fortunately, the wait should be worthwhile, because our
opening match pits our mighty Titans against the Shanghai Dragons in a rivalry
grudge match. Also, due to recent events which I’ll get to, Vancouver should be
favored to come away from this match with their first victory.
You probably have a lot of
questions, like “how do we have a rivalry if we’re new to the league”
and “why would it be a question that we beat the Dragons, aren’t they
terrible” and “even if we do have rivals, what is the link between
Shanghai and Vancouver?”
The key to everything here is that these Dragons are not the same team that went 0-40, the worst season ever in a professional sports league. After bringing in Korean replacements for most of the original Chinese squad, the process of replacement continued during the offseason. Shanghai let go of nearly all of its roster, only retaining Diya and the tank duo of Fearless/Geguri. To fill out the squad, the Dragons acquired the lion’s share of the Kongdoo Panthera Contenders roster in DDing, Youngjin, Coma, and Luffy, as well as Diem (Lucky Future Zenith) and Guardian (Toronto eSports).
Then, in late-breaking news, it appears Fearless may be replaced as well.
On Tuesday, Shanghai announced the acquisition of Boston Uprising main tank Gamsu. Fearless was reported to be back in Korea for health reasons, but rumors insisted that his performance in scrims was underwhelming and Youngjin was projected to start at main tank before Gamsu’s arrival.
Vancouver, of course, is made up of the entirety of the Runaway roster, plus Element Mystic’s Rapel. Runaway and Kongdoo Panthera dominated the entirety of Contenders Season 2, setting up a clash of the titans in the Grand Finals. Kongdoo jumped out to a 3-1 lead–but then Runaway won one map, then another, and then the all-important third to complete a reverse sweep and break the hearts of Kongdoo fans everywhere.
So what should we be looking for in the first match? Here are two big questions that might be answered:
What will Rapel’s role be? As the only Vancouver player who never played with the Runaway squad, his integration with the rest of the squad is uncertain. During his time on Element Mystic, he was widely viewed as one of the best Lucios in the world–but he isn’t necessarily an upgrade over Slime, whose clutch play during the Season 2 Finals was instrumental in securing the victory. And even if he is better mechanically, last years’ Seoul Dynasty team proved that an unfamiliar shotcaller can prove fatal to a team’s chances.
How well-constructed is this year’s iteration of Dragons? Much like Vancouver, Shanghai mostly acquired an already-extant team, but with the major difference that they were attempting to weld a new DPS/Support roster onto an extant tankline. Now it appears that tankline will be a partnership between Geguri and Gamsu, who have never played together before. In the present tank-based meta split-second coordination is key. It’s hard to imagine how this welded-together tankline could get enough practice to work effectively together, and even if they somehow manage that, they still have to integrate with the Kongdoo squad.
While Shanghai struggles to form its tankline, Vancouver’s players have worked together for
years, and the team as a whole is among the best in the world at this meta. With
Fearless’ departure, considering the Titans favorites is an understatement.
I’ll be happy with any win, but this should be a 4-0 for the Titans.