Oh, how giants can bleed. Ahead of the Summer Showdown, San Francisco seemed analogous to the Superman of the Overwatch League. Team after team had tried and failed to take down the reigning champs, and outside of one bad weekend none had been able to. Their domination has lasted so long they appeared bulletproof with no kryptonite to defeat them. But it turns out kryptonite is not always needed to kill Superman.
In the “Death of Superman” comic arc, the genetically engineered monster Doomsday was the only thing able of toppling the Man of Steel. In the case of the Shock, this came in the form of the cybernetically-enhanced ninja Genji played by none other than Yeong-han “SP9RK1E” Kim.
The Story So Far
Coming into the 2020 season, the Shock had everything to lose. Fresh off the Grand Finals victory as well as a Golden Stage, plus League MVP in Jay “Sinatraa” Won and Finals MVP in Hyo-bin “Choihyobin” Choi, the Shock seemed to have nothing else to conquer. With all the offseason trades and signings, one would not be remiss in thinking they would not repeat their performance this year.
Yet heading into the Summer Showdown, the Shock were the still the team to beat. They had one weekend of struggle, losing to the LA Valiant and Gladiators, but have not dropped a match since then. In the meantime, they rolled their way to victory in the May Melee. The weekend before the tournament, they dominated the Philadelphia Fusion in a 3-0 victory. The Fusion had looked to give them a run for their money yet could not find any answers to the Shock’s onslaught.
San Fran had played in every tournament Finals since Stage 1 of 2019 before the Summer Showdown. Their roster is meta-proof, and Coach Dae-hee “Crusty” Park has enough tools at his disposal to weather the toughest storms. Or so it seemed.
As the number one seed of the Summer Showdown, the Shock were gifted a bye for the first round. In the Quarterfinals they squared off against the surging Washington Justice. Despite coming in as the thirteenth seed, the Justice look revitalized thanks to the Genji play of Ho-Sung “Ttuba” Lee. The Justice were on a two-game win streak and fresh off a grudge match victory over the LA Gladiators. But the Shock shrugged off their Dragon Blades and decimated with Nam-Joo “Striker” Kwon’s Tracer and Seon-Chang “ANS” Lee’s Widowmaker. Despite Genji’s prevalence in this meta, San Fran did not even need it on their way to a 3-0 stomp.
In the Semifinals, the test was to take on Paris and their superstar DPS duo of SP9RK1E and Ki-Hyo “Xzi” Jung. The strategy Paris employed was to go all-in with an aggressive Genji, putting all their resources into supporting him. The Shock stayed with their Tracer-Widow/Ashe combo, leading to a rout on Ilios. But SP9RK1E kicked things into X-Games mode on King’s Row, accruing 25 final blows and only five deaths. From this point on, the match was neck-and-neck with various strategies used on the side of the Shock. Tied 3-3 on the third map of Oasis, the score was 99-99. As Overtime ticked onwards, another massive Dragon Blade from SP9RK1E cleaved San Francisco and took the victory.
Every defeat stings, and it only increases the higher the expectations are. With the success of the Shock over the past year, their bandwagon has kept growing in size. Many fans may not have seen them lose in a tournament, the last of which was the Stage 3 Finals in 2019. The Summer Showdown has brought the team and the fanbase back down to earth.
This Genji meta may not be one they are as dominant in. Or perhaps they struggled with the comp since Rascal allegedly did not practice Genji much before the match. San Fran will play four more times before the Countdown Cup. Their opponents will be the Boston Uprising, Florida Mayhem, Vancouver Titans, and Houston Outlaws. Knowing how the Shock have rallied post-defeat before, one can expect some explosive play.
As for the DPS rotation, time will tell if they can stick with Striker’s Tracer after the Brigitte nerfs or if they need to go in a different direction. Genji may not be as strong without the extra armor, which may open the doors for other damage dealers to see playtime. Whatever it shakes out to be, they have the talent to succeed. This loss was more a reminder that the standings are closer than they may seem. Even Superman has lost at times, but the real test is how they rally back.
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