Runaway burst onto the Overwatch scene in early 2017, taking the world by storm with their pink jerseys and undeniable charisma. Despite impressive results throughout the year and a rabid fan-base, the team was left on the outside looking in for Season 1 of the Overwatch League. All year long fans and analysts wondered how Runaway would fare if they had been given the opportunity. In Season 2, that answer will finally come when the Vancouver Titans take the OWL stage.
Do they have the talent?
The answer to this question is unequivocally yes. The Titans have players at every position who could be stars. The real hurdle for this team will be getting those elite talents to perform week in and week out.
The DPS duo of Kim “Haksal” Hyo-jong and Lee “Stitch” Choong-hui are two of the streakiest players in all of Overwatch. They were more consistent throughout 2018 than previously, but both are still prone to slumps and crazy highs. Stability will be key for these two if the Titans are to find success during the long OWL season. Still both of these players would almost certainly have been in the league last year had things been different – if Haksal were old enough or Stitch had accepted offers to leave Runaway.
Somehow the tank line for the Titans is equally explosive as its DPS stars. Park “Bumper” Sang-beom turned himself into one of the best main tanks in the world over the course of 2018. His pop off potential is truly elite, but he suffers from some of the same consistency issues that plague the DPS duo. Choi “JJANU” Hyeon-woo is certainly the more stable of the two, and his D.Va play provides everything you want: superb positioning, fantastic defense matrix usage and well placed Self-Destructs.
The one area that shouldn’t worry Vancouver fans is the support line. Lee “Twilight” Ju-seok and Kim “SLIME” Sung-jun were the backbone for Runaway in 2018. Not only are these two extremely mechanically gifted players, but they also perform with a remarkable consistency. The addition of Kim “Rapel” Jung-geun from Element Mystic only serves to bolster an already incredible unit.
Do they have the experience?
Yet another resounding yes. No team outside of the OWL has more collective experience than the Titans. Stitch, Haksal and Bumper have been playing together since Runaway’s coming out party in APEX Season 2. Outside of the Dallas Fuel, no trio has been together longer, and that familiarity begets an almost instinctual type of coordination.
While the rest of the roster may not have the same level of shared history, they are still brimming with top level experience. Nearly every player on the team participated in at least one APEX season.
The lone Overwatch League veteran for the Titans will be Lee “Hooreg” Dong-eun who joined Runaway after leaving the London Spitfire mid season. Even if he never sees the stage, Hooreg can be a valuable resource for Vancouver as they navigate their first year in the league.
The Titans’ coaching staff brings even more experience to the table. Head coach Hwang “paJion” Ji-Sub led Fusion University to back to back Contenders championships in North America, never dropping a single match. Plus he is familiar with SLIME and Seo “SeoMinSoo” Min-soo from their time on Bon’s Spirit Gaming. Kwon “Yang1” Yang-won’s record with Runaway is unassailable. Harsha “harsha” Bandi will serve as an analyst for the team and can give insight into the league from his time with the San Francisco Shock.
Do they still have the Runaway magic?
Runaway as a team was defined by improbable holds, miracle overtime pushes and individual plays at the perfect moments. They had an uncanny ability to perform at their best when the chips were down. No small part of their success was how they won when they had no business doing so. It’s what helped make them so popular to begin with.
Now that the jerseys have changed, the competition is improved and the stakes are higher, can the Titans carry that over? Ultimately this may be what decides Vancouver’s fate in the Overwatch League. They can no longer be considered underdogs. They will not be overlooked. Can they still find the same level of success when it matters most?
If they can, then Runaway will be on track to emulate the London Spitfire and New York Excelsior, teams that secured the best Korean talent and found success immediately. If not, then the Titans could be Seoul Dynasty redux – former champions from Korea who couldn’t keep up as the game moved past them.
To this point the Titans have done everything they can to prove themselves worthy of a chance at the Overwatch League. Ready or not, here they come.
Featured image courtesy of Vancouver Titans.
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