Zero to hero: Shanghai Dragons stun the Overwatch League to secure Stage Three Playoff win
At the beginning of the weekend, Vancouver vs. San Francisco was the virtual lock for a Stage Finals series. But the volatile meta taking place recently in the Overwatch League has thrown everything for a loop, and capitalizing on those changes were the versatile Shanghai Dragons as they stomped their way into a Stage Championship, and becoming the first 8th seed to do so. To recap a crazy weekend of action, we’ll breakdown just how integral each and every member of Shanghai was in order for this team to have the breakout performance they worked so tirelessly for, and preview their chances in a newly role locked meta for Stage Four.
The Shanghai Dragons were undoubtedly the talk of the weekend with their massive performances in successive series this weekend, humbling the likes of NYXL, Vancouver Titans and San Francisco Shock in the process. Although the Final series went to Game 7, there was relatively little resistance for the Dragons as they handled their opponents with relative ease behind their versatile playmakers. From DPS, to the tank unit and healing core, there was little lacking on the side of Shanghai as they routinely made big plays behind Pharah ultimates that utterly decimated their rivals.
Jin-hyeok “DDing” Yang was the flashiest of the bunch when it came to game defining highlights for the Dragons. The 19-year-old DPS prodigy has been lighting up the offense for his team with dominant Pharah play, and there is quite literally no one on his level right now when it comes to that hero’s gameplay. While DDing and his counterpart Min-seong “diem” Bae have drawn MVP level praise for their Sombra and Pharah ability, the real carry of the quarter final and semi finals for Shanghai came from the healers.
Seong-hyeon “Luffy” Yang had absolutely clutch moments on Ana this weekend and his massive healing output on that hero puts his name under the microscope for all healers to marvel at going forward. While we have had potent Ana’s display their skill in the OWL before, Luffy’s uncanny ability to deny healing at crucial moments against his opponents was the x-factor in another wise even series against Vancouver Titans. Once their confidence was shaken, the Titans fell as hard as they arrived even replacing their in-form players in a feeble attempt to win back some maps.
In this respect, Shanghai Dragons have already shown they are well ahead of the meta as they are dominantly putting away their opponents in different double DPS compositions, and doing it with little blowback. DDing has already established himself as a unique threat in the league, and his synergy with the rest of the Korean stalwarts on the roster have really given them that veteran edge that was utterly lacking in seasons prior. Going forward, this Stage Playoff win doesn’t automatically put them in the ‘best team in the league’ conversation, but they are inching ever closer with the turning of results. It’s just a matter of keeping that form alive in the final weeks of Stage Four.
Minor setback, major comeback?
For the rest of the league, its back to the drawing boards for top teams like Vancouver, New York, San Francisco and the like as they attempt to figure out how they were bested by an 8th seed team with a stellar gameplan. Shanghai’s read on the meta, combined with their better than average performance on the weekend did a lot to humble some of the most dominant players in the league, and the coaching staff for each organization will be looking at these series closely to put together their counter offense.
In San Francisco Shock’s case, they can rest assured with the playmaking ability of their Main Tank Matthew “super” DeLisi as he remained the best looking Shock player in a shambolic first three games for their team in the Stage Finals. His Reinhardt is truly in a league of its own as he constantly finds himself in advantageous positions even when his team gives him no real opportunity to do so. SF Shock were simply frustrated strategically as they had to resolve to different hero strategies to win maps against Shanghai with little success. With a proper break and more time to iron out strategies they will come into Stage Four revitalized and ready to roll.
Vancouver Titans also found their ace in the hole towards the tale end of Stage Three, but the playmaking ability from Chung-hee “Stitch” Lee was not there during playoffs and the confidence started to wane terribly in their losing series to Shanghai Dragons. This sort of reactive substitution could spell danger for Vancouver going forward, as they displayed a lack of trust amongst players after losing on maps they were picking to win. If the Titans want to solidify their dominance in Stage Four, Hyo-jong “Haksal” Kim will have to reprise his role as the most fearsome Genji in the world as Overwatch League returns to the 2-2-2 format.
Perhaps the most questionable of all the teams not expected to lose this weekend is none other than New York Excelsior after they have crashed out of yet another Stage Playoff prematurely. In order for this team to truly earn their respect back, they will have to beat the top teams in regular succession in this last stage to prove their worth in playoffs. Let’s face it, NYXL have not had the most competitive regular season schedule as of late, and their position in the standings never reflects how out of sorts they look once a team of similar standing gets a chance to square off with them. NYXL have an uphill battle in this final stage as they attempt to piece together a winning formula that can finally get them over this playoff hurdle.