The moment has arrived for the Vancouver Titans. The anticipation has been building for months, and on Saturday at 7:30 ET they will make their Overwatch League debut. It has been a long time coming for a roster that was left on the outside looking in at OWL Season 1. Now the Titans expect to make their mark on the league, starting with a showdown against another fan favorite in Week 1.
Shanghai Dragons: 0-0
Dragons fans probably have mixed feelings about last season. Despite a 0-40 record, Shanghai quickly became one of the most beloved teams in the league. Everyone rooted for them to snap their streak of bad luck and worse play on stage. Ultimately they never broke through and come into OWL 2019 with that baggage.
During the offseason, Shanghai built a formidable roster – one expected to fully shake off the failures of its previous incarnation. They attracted some of the best prospects from Korean Contenders to pair with their returning veterans. Everything was finally coming together.
Then, last week, the team announced that Euiseok “Fearless” Lee has returned home to Korea due to unspecified health concerns. It remains unknown if or when he will return to the United States. Fearless was the only main tank on the Dragons roster.
The timing could not have been worse for the Dragons. With the season’s opening weekend less than a week away, they will be forced to play someone out of position. That duty will likely fall to Joon-hwan “GuardiaN” Cho, Se-yeon “Geguri“ Kim or Young-jin “YOUNGJIN” Jin.
The game on Saturday will be something of a rematch from the Season 2 Grand Finals of Contenders Korea. In that iconic series, Runaway defeated Kongdoo Panthera 4-3 in an eight map marathon. Now, that Runaway roster represents Vancouver while the majority of KDP has a new home with the Dragons.
Player to Watch: Sang-beom “Bumper” Park
Bumper is in many ways the heart of this Titans lineup. Around since the early days of Runaway, Bumper is the type of player that will do whatever the team requires of him. During their time in Korea, he played three positions for Runaway, picking up main support and flex tank before becoming one of the best main tanks in Korea.
He is among the best players at arguably the league’s most important and stacked position. On Saturday he will be going up against a stand-in, and he must win that head-to-head matchup. The front line battle should go strongly in Vancouver’s favor, and Bumper will be the most important piece to that puzzle. His play can enable the rest of the stars on the Titans to reach their potential and get the team off to the start they want.
Prediction: Vancouver wins 4-0
This would have been an impossible prediction just a week ago. These were two teams with shared history, and this game was set to be one of the marquee matchups of week 1. That was when Shanghai had a proper main tank. Without Fearless in the lineup, there is no other way to predict this outcome. If the Dragons can manage to sneak away a map, it should be heralded as a success.
Featured image courtesy of the Overwatch League.
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