While the city of San Francisco was sleeping, the San Francisco Shock were faced with their biggest challenge this year. In a five map series, San Francisco defeated the Shanghai Dragons 3-2. Both teams were the first seed of their region and fans had long looked forward to this duel.
Shanghai´s Shaky Start
The first two maps did not live up to the hype around this matchup. While Oasis appeared close from time to time, the Shock were able to consistently pressure Shanghai. The two keys to disrupting Shanghai´s flow were intelligent positioning, spy checking against Jae-won “Lip” Lee´s Sombra and punishing shutdowns against Jae-gon “Leejaegon” Lee´s Lucio. Shanghai, who attempted to run a dive style, often failed to keep their players alive during their own aggression.
Shanghai decided to pick Hollywood as the next map. Unfortunately, their strategy for this map was brutally countered. The Dragons played a split style, but San Francisco were easily able to collapse on the weaker parts of their enemy. Time and time again, single pieces of Shanghai were caught out of position. At halftime, Shanghai appeared outclassed.
A slow crawl back
After halftime, the Dragons surprised everyone with a surprising substitution. The 2020 Overwatch League MVP Byung-sun “Fleta” Kim was swapped out of the lineup. The new DPS lineup for Shanghai was LIP and sniper expert Min-seong “Diem” Bae. However, it did not take long for this decision to pay off. On Volskaya, the two made excellent use of the long sightlines and helped Shanghai to achieve a large timebank. Despite San Francisco´s best efforts to equalize, the time difference was too much for them to overcome. Even though Shanghai´s defense was not solid on this map, they were able to barely push past the Shock for a 4-3 win on Assault.
On the following map, Watchpoint Gibraltar, the snowball continued to roll. While Seonchang “ANS” Lee and Nam-joo “Striker” Kwon played excellently on their snipers as well, Shanghai were able to utilize the few windows that were given to them to get three points on their attack. On their defense, Shanghai utilized their supports perfectly. Min-chul “Izayaki” Kim played Ana, who in the current meta is often replaced by Zenyatta. However, with the healing denial of the Bionic Nade, Shanghai were able to win a lot of tank matchups. And, if one of the tanks did fall, Leejaegon was always there to resurrect them, while avoiding the Shock´s shutdown tools. Together, Shanghai were able to stall out San Francisco and force the series to a map 5.
The Final Difference
On Map 5, a Control rematch this time on Busan, both teams wanted to play Tracer. Shanghai decided to put their MVP Fleta back into the lineup to play the essential backline disruption. However, San Francisco´s Striker was able to outclass him on this final map. The player who two years before carried the Boston Uprising to the first perfect stage of the Overwatch League consistently put pressure on Shanghai who once again seemed to always be on the back foot. While Shanghai´s players were able to clutch a few wins with great individual plays from their players, in the end, it was not enough to stop the well-oiled machine of San Francisco.
The Shock have now earned themselves a spot in the Grand Finals tomorrow. Shanghai will need to win a Loser´s Final against Seoul.
Featured image provided courtesy of the Overwatch League
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