The Overwatch League’s second season has been a tumultuous journey of drama and skill, culminating in a beautiful stage two finale. The stakes were higher than just one stage — the Titans had a nearly year-long winning streak, and the Shock were looking to keep the value of a golden stage. Within six maps, it finally came to a climactic close with the rematch between the San Francisco Shock and the Vancouver Titans. The two teams had battled in stage one, but the Titans took the prize. This time, it was the Shock who claimed victory.
After coming short in the stage one finals, the Shock ran a tight and disciplined ship across the choppy seas which ended up with a history-making “golden stage.” A “golden stage” is when a team manages to not just win every single match, but every single map. The Shock are the first team to claim this honor.
The San Francisco Shock went into the finals with a 7-0 match win streak and 28-0 map win streak, and they had faced tough competitors like the Hangzhou Spark, the Shanghai Dragons, and the Philadelphia Fusion. This victory is so exemplary that many experts and pundits doubt this may ever happen again.
The San Francisco Shock not only managed to make history having a spotless stage, but they overcame their demons with a convincing 4-2 victory over the seemingly unbeatable Vancouver Titans.
At the helm of the Shock’s success lie keen eyes to detail and strategic masterwork. Much the last meeting with the Titans, main tank Matthew “super” DeLisi played a large role in pressuring Titans aggressive tendencies. Rallied beside him is easily the most criminally underrated flex tank’s in the league; Hyo-bin “ChoiHyoBin” Choi. Directing all this traffic is Park “Viol2t” Minki.
Viol2t is a pillar of discipline and he absolutely leading the pack when it comes to the title of rookie of the year. His positioning, accuracy, and timing are all impeccable. The pressure he and his team applied on the Titans’ front line was pivotal in cracking the grip they held on the league.
The tank line not only broke the Titans’ advances, highlighted on Oasis and Blizzard World, but they punished Vancouver’s over-eager spearheads, Park “Bumper” Sang-beom and Kim “Haksal” Hyojong, who found themselves dying early in team-fights. While both parties were on rare display, the Titans aggression betrayed them in the long run.
The Titans are known for being a powerhouse of teamwork and coordination, but throughout the series, we saw their foundation start to shake. We saw uncharacteristic mistiming from players like Seo “SeoMinSoo” Min-soo and Kim “SLIME” Sung-jun. Whether it was greedy aggression, strange bubble timings, or support ultimates overlapping, the Titans were just not up to snuff that day.
Strangely enough, the Vancouver Titans’ former team, RunAway, were upset on the same day.
The promising Overwatch Contenders team had a near-perfect regular season, but fell at the hands of O2 Blast in the quarterfinals, 0-3. This would upset their title defense and their chances of going to the Pacific Showdown set to take place on May 25th. Unfortunately, it seems that the Vancouver Titans and RunAway are still tethered together by some cruel string of fate.
There is an argument to be made that the San Francisco Shock are currently the best team in the world. Compared to their classmates, they stand above the crowd in terms of style and, most importantly, discipline.
When you look at a team like the New York Excelsior, you see a great team that is currently climbing their way out of a slump. Many people point towards the recent patch changes as to why the NYXL’s more defensive style has not been as effective.
On the other hand, you’ve got the Vancouver Titans, a team that has so much potential but lack the near laser focus and discipline that the Shock have shown this stage. The Titans constantly play too loose once they’ve secured a win during the regular season, and they drop maps. Was this the sole reason why they lost to the Shock? No, but this playful attitude is quietly becoming a double-edged sword for the team.
With a month break between the end of stage two and the beginning of stage three, many things will be drawn into question. Drastic roster moves will be made, many teams’ identities will shift, and the game will undoubtedly undergo some form of change. However, we can hold onto one saving grace: the brewing rivalry between the Titans and the Shock will continue well into stage three of Overwatch League season two.