This thursday the Shanghai Dragons and the Philadelphia Fusion battled for the second spot in the Winner´s Final that will be played on Friday. Many Western fans had high hopes for Philadelphia, but Shanghai crushed their dreams with a swift 3-0. Despite a strong opening from the Philadelphia Fusion, Shanghai surprised their opponent and the fans with some key decisions that helped them succeed.
The Redemption of Stand1 and Diem
Shanghai´s roster is stacked with talent. However, throughout the season certain players ended up with a better record than others. APAC fans still remember the May Melee final between Shanghai and Seoul Dynasty. During the 7 match series, Shanghai originally fielded Ji-won “Stand1” Seo and Minseong “Diem” Bae and fell behind. Then Coach Byung-chul “Moon” Moon, who won Coach of the season this year, subbed in Eui-seok “Fearless” Lee and Jae-won “LIP” Lee and reverse swept Seoul.
Today, Diem and Stand1 were part of Shanghai´s starting lineup again. However, this time the decision paid off. Diem fit perfectly into the sniper meta that is currently favored by the teams. The last time Widow was a permanent staple in Overwatch, Shanghai lost the Summer Showdown to Guangzhou. Surprisingly, the Fusion decided to put Hee-su “Heesu” Jeong on Widow while the legendary Jae-hyeok “Carpe” Lee played Tracer and Hanzo. Diem, who had always performed well but ended up loosing during the tournaments in the past, was finally able to celebrate a big victory with his team. Stand1 also filled in for Fearless to round out Shanghai´s tank hero pool. His Wrecking Ball play and was able to synergize well with MVP Byung-sun “Fleta” Kim. Both players remained in the game for all three maps.
The Calm in the Storm
It was not just pure mechanical talent that separated the two teams in the match. It was Shanghai´s ability to adapt to untraditional situations that put them ahead. On King’s Row, Philadelphia´s Su-min “Sado” Kim pressured Shanghai with a rather untraditional strategy. Sado walked past point A to walk up to the high ground to pressure Shanghai´s snipers. Shanghai reacted perfectly. They kited back to keep the Hog out of hook range and then rotated their Sigma to deal with the flanker. While they gave up a tick on the point, they successfully zoned out the Roadhog and won the fight overall.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia continued to run their heads into a wall. With the exception of the King´s Row Flank, they played Overwatch by the book. Busan was their strongest map with Carpe causing chaos in Shanghai´s backline with Tracer. Shanghai was able to barely beat them in the third round. King´s Row and Volskaya Industries favored double snipers more. In this slower style, Shanghai proved to be unbeatable today. While Philadelphia´s performance was good, without a special something to surprise Shanghai, they were unable to beat them in a straight matchup.
Continental Power Levels
With the victory, Shanghai has quieted the skeptics of the APAC region. Since the American and the Asian region didn´t compete during the regular season, speculation about regional differences ran wild before the Grand Finals. After Seoul´s close series with the Shock and Shanghai´s dominant victory, APAC looks very strong. A final judgment can only be made after more matches. Until then, Shanghai remains the favorite to win.
Featured image provided courtesy of the Overwatch League
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