Shanghai Dragons Win the Stage 3 Playoffs
In a series that went the distance, the Shanghai Dragons have defied all expectations by becoming the Stage 3 champions. Fans expected to see a usual rematch of the San Fransisco Shock and the Vancouver Titans, or even a quick run for the crown by favored Hangzhou Spark. However, the Dragons played an amazing game and showed everyone why they’re not to be underestimated.
This series, as many playoff series before, went the total of seven maps. In a best of four brawl for the title, the Dragons showed a display of dominance that almost ensured a quick 4-0. The first three maps went their way decisively, putting immense pressure on the reigning champions.
Whatever halftime pep talk the Shock had in their green room must have stirred their energy, and San Fran came out ready to make Shanghai work for their title. The next three maps, in a very similar fashion, went to the now dominant Shock. With Hyo-bin “ChoiHyoBin” Choi flexing onto Roadhog, and Jay “sinatraa” Won playing Sombra to counter Min-seong “diem” Bae’s own playstyle, it looked like the boys in orange had the Dragons all figured out. Their fate would come down to a tiebreaker at Dorado.
The Dragons, defending first, put up a strong hold that kept the Shock at bay. They were stopped just barely pushing past the doors of the first point. When it was their turn to attack, they threw everything they had into the fray. Shanghai fought, tooth and nail, for their chance to call themselves champions, and to rid audiences of the notion that a winless team is nothing more than that—winless, and simply not good enough.
Anyone who said those things about the Dragons are surely eating their words right now, because with over two minutes left in their time bank, the Dragons met their checkpoint, and became champions. This moment is so important for the franchise as a whole, seeing as where they were last year.
How Shanghai Got To This Point
For this team, a Stage championship means more than most could ever expect. Last season, the Shanghai Dragons became instant fan favorites, despite the fact that they went 0-40 in the regular Overwatch League season. Without winning a single game, they gained the underdog characteristic, and instantly became a pick in everyone’s heart to finally see their name in victorious lights.
This time around, however, the team is different. Over the break, the Dragons signed notable members from the strong Contenders team Kongdoo Panthera. With superstars like Yong-Jin “YOUNGJIN” Jin, Jin-hyeok “DDing” Yang, Kyungwoo “CoMa” Son, and Seong-hyeon “Luffy” Yang joining alongside superstar tank players Se-yeon “Geguri” Kim and Young-jin “Gamsu” Noh, the team hoped to turn things around.
Despite the roster being different, the weight of a winless season still weighed heavy in their heads, and on their hearts. It’s hard to come into a team with such a passionate fan base, and an expectation to “break the curse”, so to speak.
Instead, the Dragons played the long game. Their first win of the regular season came in Stage 1, against the Boston Uprising (a little game of revenge for Gamsu against his old team). In stage 2, the Shanghai Dragons made it to their first ever Stage Playoffs, but ultimately fell to the hands of the San Fransisco Shock, who went on to win the championship title.
Stage 3 was theirs to win from the start. With the meta shifting away from strictly 3-3, the Dragons showed their intense range. With the best Sombra-GOATs composition in the League, as well as hidden DPS gems in DDing’s Pharah and diem’s Widowmaker, they fought their way to get into the Stage 3 Playoffs as the eighth seed.
To get to the top, the Dragons had a mountain to climb. They had to face the New York Excelsior (the number one seed), the Vancouver Titans (the number two seed), and the San Francisco Shock (the number four seed). Though the NYXL have a tendency to slip up in playoff contention, most still picked them to win over the Dragons. Shanghai quickly proved them wrong and sent New York packing. The next day, no one truly expected the Dragons to topple their former Contenders rivals, the Vancouver Titans. However, another swift series came, and Shanghai arrived at the doors of the Stage 3 Finals.
With a new team, but the same passionate energy to deliver, the Shanghai Dragons made their way to the top. They have easily earned their place among the San Francisco Shock and the Vancouver Titans as Stage champions. #BreakThrough, indeed.
Featured Image Courtesy of @graxwell on Twitter.
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