San Francisco Shock (3-3) 0-4 New York Excelsior (7-0)
The San Francisco Shock hit the stage on Friday looking to shake up the New York Excelsior’s perfect record. The first team to secure a Stage 1 playoffs spot, New York has looked untouchable through the entire stage. For their part, the Shock haven’t looked too shabby, and some observers thought that they could be the team to take the Excelsior down.
The New York Excelsior ultimately showed why they’re at the top, however. Though the Shock put up a good fight, pushing their opponents to the limits, New York regrouped every time and held them just away from victory. The New York Excelsior took the series with a 4-0 victory and secured a flawless stage.
Busan: New York 2-1 San Francisco
San Francisco started off strong on Sanctuary, taking early control of the point. Their 3-3 play looked solid throughout, and they picked apart attack after attack from New York. Min-ki “Viol2t” Park stood out in particular, managing some crucial picks that turned team fights in the Shock’s favor. Despite New York’s best efforts, San Francisco took the first round.
Unwilling to be shown up, the Excelsior returned to form on MEKA Base. They quickly took control of the point and held firm, bolstered by typically strong performances from Sung-hyeon “JJoNak” Bang and Hae-seong “Libero” Kim. Although the Shock nearly won a vital team-fight near the end of the round, New York shut them out entirely, winning round two.
Things looked a bit more evenly matched on Downtown. Though New York took the initial cap, San Francisco regrouped after their lost team fight, storming the point and grabbing it back. They held it nearly to completion before New York managed to break through. The two teams went back and forth, pushing each other hard, but the Excelsior finally won overall, and took Busan 2-1.
Numbani: New York 5-4 San Francisco
Hoping to capitalize on that strong start, New York began Numbani with a seemingly unbreakable defense. The time bank had dwindled significantly by the time San Francisco’s aggressive play pushed through, but the Shock built off of that momentum. They headed through to point B with barely any problems to speak of, and were well towards point C before the Excelsior stopped them in full. Once they had regained control, they managed to hold the Shock back from a clean push, but San Francisco rallied for another fight, and finished the map with a little over a minute to spare.
The Excelsior’s first push went much smoother than that of their counterparts. They shoved through San Francisco’s defense with ease before heading off to point B. Their pace slowed significantly as the Shock solidified their defense, and they had to work hard for each point. In the end, they did break through, completing the map in about the same time as the Shock.
With little time to spare, New York made quick work of point A on their second attack. As overtime began, they put on an impressive push, wiping out the Shock once more on their way to point B. The Shock returned and fought back in full force, however, and the payload stopped shortly before the point.
Knowing that they would need to move quickly to match the Excelsior’s pace, San Francisco played aggressively on their first push. That worked out for them, as they also cleared point A with ease. However, the payload didn’t move very far past that. Led by Dong-gyu “Mano” Kim, the Excelsior returned to hold them off, clearing the payload and letting overtime tick away. The Excelsior won the map with a 5-4 score.
Volskaya Industries: New York 6-5 San Francisco
San Francisco got off to a strong start on defense, repelling New York’s first attacks. Eventually, the Excelsior broke through with help from Tae-Hong “MekO” Kim on D.Va. Keeping up the momentum from point A, they shoved their way through to point B, finishing it out with a little over three minutes to spare.
The Shock, however, moved just as decisively on their attack. Clearing Mano out early, they broke through the Excelsior’s defense, easily claiming point A. With no time to lose, they snowballed towards point B and cleared their opponents out just as easily, completing the map with an impressive 5 and a half minutes left in the time bank.
Entering the second round, New York appeared ready and able to defend their reputation at the top of the standings. Clearing out the Shock in one team fight, they hurried on to the second point. Although San Francisco regrouped for one last defense, the Excelsior made it through, finishing out the map a second time.
The Shock initially struggled to break through New York’s second defense, and the two teams held each other in a stalemate for quite some time. They made it through with little time to spare and rushed for the second point, hoping to keep the fight alive. Sure enough, they picked apart the Excelsior’s defense a second time, sending the map to a grueling third round.
With little time to act, New York moved quickly and decisively on their third attack. Despite capturing the first point in overtime, the team made the most of their extra time, and managed to clutch out the map yet again.
In their final attack, the Shock weren’t quite as lucky. Though they pushed through the Excelsior’s first-point defense with haste, capturing point A yet again, New York regrouped for one last defense on point B. After a long, challenging fight, the Excelsior pushed back, and ultimately took the map with a 6-5 lead.
Dorado: New York 2-1 San Francisco
Despite losing the series, San Francisco still rallied for one last good fight on Dorado. Hyo-bin “ChoiHyoBin” Choi led the way on attack, with several solid Self Destructs that allowed the Shock to clear point A with ease. Their push slowed on the second leg of the map, where the Excelsior reconvened and pushed them back. Having regained control of the payload, New York held fast, and though San Francisco managed to chip away at their defense, the Excelsior ultimately held strong. The Shock’s payload stopped shortly before point B.
Despite that, San Francisco’s initial defense looked solid. Time had ticked down significantly before New York managed to break through point A, and it seemed as though the Shock could hold them off. However, the Excelsior’s methodical and patient style worked as well as ever, and they managed to clear through with ease. New York reached the Shock’s limit on the map, taking Dorado 2-1 and finishing the series with a clean sweep.
One More Try
Despite fairly consistent strong showings from the Shock, they often tend to fall just short of the win. However, they pushed back hard against the Excelsior, showing that they can compete among the top teams in the league. Their loss drops them just below the cutoff for Stage 1 playoffs, making their upcoming match against the Paris Eternal that much more important. At this point in the stage, several teams’ playoff chances come down to the map. If San Francisco shows up in full on Sunday, they can grab back that chance after all.
Follow Darby on Twitter @soundchecck! She is happy to talk about anything she’s written! You can also get in touch with her on Discord (soundchecck#7242).
Featured image courtesy of Ben Pursell for Blizzard Entertainment.
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