Around the OWL: Vancouver Titans victorious in Stage One Playoffs
In a hectic weekend of Overwatch League action, established favorites failed to meet their mark as other less hyped playoff contenders found their groove en route to the Finals on Sunday. San Francisco Shock and Vancouver Titans dominated their way into the finals, and their series against each other was easily the best series of Overwatch League to date.
In the end, Vancouver Titans came away the victor after a hellacious back and forth on the final map Rialto. SF Shock’s Jay “sinatraa” Won was undoubtedly the heartbeat of this Shock team during the series. He was operating at peak levels with his Zarya pick, which hasn’t been the smoothest of heroes for him to play at the start of this meta.
At the start of the weekend, everyone believed the most hype matchup to round out Stage One would end up being NYXL vs. Vancouver Titans. On Day One, Seoul Dynasty foiled those plans immediately as they were able to oust the consensus #1 seed and shakeup the playoff picture for good. In their first game, Joon-hyuk “zunba” Kim showed impressive D.Va ults as his play often times became the difference maker while prominent teammates like Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek sat on the bench.
The rest of the series was an excellent display of controlled aggression on the side of Seoul Dynasty as they really analyzed their opponent and found the perfect style to counter the methodical gameplay of NYXL. In the other Quarterfinal games, no surprises were up on the board as Philadelphia Fusion, SF Shock, and Vancouver Titans walked away with predictable stomps of their opponent.
In the semifinals, Seoul Dynasty finally met their rude awakening at the hands of Vancouver Titans as they were swept 4-0. Dynasty tried to continue their playstyle that worked so well against New York, but Vancouver were privy to this change in gameplay and they endured the offense of Seoul rather adequately. Although Seoul weren’t outclassed by any means, it was clear that Vancouver were able to do what Seoul was doing at a much higher level. Sang-beom “Bumper” Park was the heartbeat of Vancouver this entire playoffs as his Reinhardt was often the inception point for any positive Vancouver play.
SF Shock were held in high regard throughout the preseason and Stage One playoffs by every coach or player that interacted with them behind the scenes. Although they had a rocky start to the stage, SF Shock really started to pull together in the closing weeks of Stage One to provide solid competition to their opponents. While Philadelphia were by no means the strongest team in this Stage Playoffs, to get trounced 4-0 by their opponents at this level was not acceptable by any means, which is a testament to the level Shock were at this weekend.
All eyes on Finals
With the final match of the Stage on the way, Vancouver Titans were poised to walk away from this match unscathed, but surprisingly San Francisco Shock put in the effort necessary to make this one of the most back-and-forth Stage Playoffs in OWL history. Not only that, but the amazing plays seen from both sides of the aisle chalks this match up with one of the greatest sets of games in Overwatch League period.
The tense series saw both teams go tit for tat on each stage. No map was clearly decided by any team and the wins and losses became predicated off small minute mistakes from either team that gave their side the result. Vancouver Titans were clearly superior on Escort maps and Hybrid maps, but SF Shock were answering back and dominating on Control maps and 2CP maps of the like. With each game, the pendulum of momentum swung back and forth in what ultimately culminated into one of the most hectic single games in OWL history.
THIS WAS ONLY THE BEGINNING… We are INCREDIBLY proud of the SF Shock Players and Coaches! We are proud to have pushed the @VancouverTitans to the limit.
— San Francisco Shock⚡ (@SFShock) March 24, 2019
The last map of the weekend saw the action take place on Rialto. Although SF Shock failed to secure an escort map up to this point, their starting attack on Rialto was a promising one as they had plenty of time left on the clock heading into the final checkpoint. Shock ran through this first attack similar to their push on King’s Row, but the never say die attitude of Vancouver was in full effect and the party had to stop somewhere for sinatraa and his impressive Zarya play thus far.
In their triumphant response on attack, Vancouver Titans broke the record on cap time for the third point and ended up finishing their push with a whopping 4:26 still left on the clock. Throughout the series, Matthew “super” DeLisi showed up on Reinhardt and gave Vancouver’s Bumper a serious run for his money on more than a few maps this set. Ultimately, the tides began to turn in Vancouver’s favor after being down 3-2. The killer instinct kicked in for a host of their players and they were eventually able to seek out the desired result after an awe inspiring series.