After finishing the stage with a 5-2 record, the Toronto Defiant found themselves cemented as the third seed for the team’s first ever playoff birth. Regardless of many writing off the expansion roster early, the Defiant overcame tremendous adversity through their run to the Stage 1 playoffs. Player flexibility and coaching ingenuity were key components to their early success. Despite their early exit at the hands of the San Francisco Shock, there is still much to be optimistic about for the Defiant heading into Stage 2.
The Regular Season
With starting flex support Se-hyeon “Neko” Park slotted to miss Toronto’s first three matches, fans tempered expectations for the young roster early on. Joo-seong “RoKy” Park filled the main support role, while fellow main support Jae-yoon “Aid” Go stepped in as the team’s flex support in Neko’s absence. The duo certainly had their work cut out for them.
Two key victories against veteran Overwatch League talent in the Houston Outlaws and the Los Angeles Valiant propelled the Defiant’s stage. Neko’s return would come just in time for two more key week three matchups against the New York Excelsior and Boston Uprising.
Without much success until the final map against the NYXL, Toronto would carry their momentum from Dorado into their matchup against Neko’s previous team. In a match that clearly meant a lot for the veteran support player, Toronto would come out on top and best the Uprising to launch Toronto into playoff contention. Victories over the Chengdu Hunters and Hangzhou Spark would help solidify Toronto’s playoff bid.
Neko’s return bolstered the Defiant’s support line for the remainder of Stage 1, but Kang-jae “envy” Lee and Seung-hyun “Ivy” Lee both showed, they too could be major contributors to Toronto’s success. Envy’s ability to clutch teamfights and devastate opponents with massive Self Destruct combos worked off Ivy’s incredible ability on Zarya perfectly. Both players carry massive skill, but the overall team coordination really shined when envy and Ivy were in their element.
Stage One Playoffs
Toronto’s coin flip victory over the Fusion locked them in as the third seed for the playoffs. This decision matched the young squad against a heavily favored, but lower seeded San Francisco Shock. Despite their seeding, San Francisco were certainly up to the challenge.
Toronto entered the match with a clear intent to utilize envy’s Sombra to disrupt the Shock’s impressive 3-3 compositions. Time and time again, envy would be weeded out by the Shock’s aggression. When the team finally made the decision to return envy to his natural DV’a pick, San Francisco had all the momentum they needed. Shock main tank Matthew “super” DeLisi had some strong words for any opponents using Sombra in the current meta in an interview with TGH’s own Brandon Padilla.
If you’re going Sombra into GOATS, that means you’ve just got sloppy GOATS. – SF Shock main tank Matthew “super” DeLisi
With San Fran eventually moving on to an impressive Stage 1 finals matchup with the Vancouver Titans, Toronto fans were left with the sight of their players exiting the playoffs far earlier than they would have preferred or anticipated.
Looking to Stage 2
Players and fans alike are theory-crafting the meta shift that will come with Stage 2. Without solid evidence to expose the upcoming meta, all that can be sure is with Stage 2 comes the introduction of Baptiste, a new support hero with devastating defensive and offensive capabilities.
Having seen Chengdu’s successful meta adaptations first hand, it’s very possible struggling teams like the Washington Justice, Los Angeles Valiant or Florida Mayhem build their overall composition diversity in search of Stage 2 success. Toronto however remains in a questionable spot. They do offer a flexible roster with an ability to adapt through superior coaching, but will they want to make such drastic changes after their early success in Stage 1?
Be sure to catch all of the Stage 2 action through our coverage here at The Game Haus. Recap the top moments from Toronto’s Stage 1 HERE before they kick off Stage 2 on April 5 at 8:30 p.m. EST, against the Washington Justice.
Featured Image Courtesy of Babak Pedram
Player Images Courtesy of the Overwatch League
Follow me on Twitter @LClope_OW for more sports & esports updates.
“From Our Haus to Yours”