Vancouver Titans (14-0) vs New York Excelsior (12-2)
Vancouver Titans Starting Lineup
Sangbeom “Bumper” Park
HyunWoo “JJANU” Choi
Seong jun “SLIME” Kim
Juseok “Twilight” Lee
MinSoo “SeoMinSoo” Seo
Hyojong “Haksal” Kim
Vancouver Titans 4-1 NYXL
The Stage 2 semifinals finally gave fans one of the most anticipated matchups of the season. The best expansion team against the juggernauts of Season 1, the battle between the Vancouver Titans and NYXL did not fail to deliver. New York pushed the Titans more than any team this stage but still couldn’t measure up to the league’s top team.
Busan: Titans 2-1 NYXL
Vancouver got off to a slow start on Sanctuary, where the Excelsior’s methodical play boosted them to an early lead. The Titans struggled to find any advantage during neutral fights, and their ultimates came up mostly empty. Vancouver’s brief control of the point came to an end when Twilight’s Transcendence was too late to save Bumper, and New York took the first point.
With the teams moving over to Downtown, the Titans finally did what they could not on the first point – find the opening pick. They took down Haeseong “Libero” Kim early and separated Dong-Gyu “Mano” Kim from the rest of his team. New York flipped the point at 98% behind Mano’s brilliant Earthshatter, but they couldn’t hang on. The Titans came back with a bevy of ultimates and overwhelmed NYXL to force a third point.
It all came down to MEKA Base, where the Titans again took the early lead, this time with an early pick on Yeon-Gwan “Nenne” Jeong. They built a commanding lead until Mano again broke through with another big ult. His efforts pushed the round to a decisive final fight. Vancouver was in a shaky situation after their ults found little value, but SLIME sent Mano off the map to save the day and give the Titans map 1.
Blizzard World: NYXL 3-1 Titans
If there was any doubt that this would be a hard-fought series, New York put those to bed on Blizzard World. They blew through the map on their attack, punishing the Titans with their patient playstyle. Vancouver put up a solid fight on Point C, chaining several fights together and stalling the payload effectively. In the end, New York pushed through when SeoMinSoo got too aggressive trying to follow up on his Graviton Surge and they finished with 12 seconds remaining.
Vancouver needed to finish the map and turned to a 4-DPS composition to crack Point A. It took a couple of attempts, but eventually, SeoMinSoo’s EMP paved the way for Vancouver to get the payload moving. Vancouver went back to the 3-3 for the rest of the map but found themselves down in ultimates. It cost the Titans dearly on Point B, as they struggled to even the economy and ultimately fell short of the checkpoint.
Hanamura: Titans 3-2 NYXL
After a rough map 2, Vancouver got back to their comfort zone on Hanamura. The teams traded kills on Point A, but Vancouver’s spawn advantage put them in position to take the point with six minutes to approach Point B. It was almost a snowball for the Titans when they took down Mano early, but the stall and spawn advantage was enough for New York to stabilize. After a couple failed pushes, Vancouver again picked off Mano and finished the map with nearly two minutes left.
New York took a page out of the Titans’ book, opting for a triple DPS comp on Point A. It came through in a big way when Libero’s Pharah caught the Titans off guard and killed Bumper before the fight really got going. New York rolled into Point B with Tae-Hong “MekO” Kim’s EMP almost ready, but Vancouver pulled off the stop and settled in for the long haul. New York captured the point in the end, but it came in overtime thanks to SeoMinSoo getting on point as Mei.
Needing just one tick on Point A, the Titans went back to the 4-DPS setup. This time it came through exactly as planned as Vancouver played patiently. Again SeoMinSoo’s EMP was the nail in the coffin as Vancouver took Hanamura and a 2-1 lead.
Rialto: Titans 3-2 NYXL
Map 4 was an all-out brawl as the teams traded fights back and forth. On their attack, New York executed nicely on several Graviton Surges, often with Mano charging Bumper away from his teammates. They lost too much time in the process, however, and Vancouver was able to force an overtime fight. Libero went down early, and Vancouver held on for dear life to keep the Excelsior from finishing the map.
New York needed a strong defensive showing to even the series, and they almost pulled it off. Headlined by Mano’s consistent Earthshatter prowess, they pushed Vancouver to the brink of a full hold on Point A. The Titans went all in with Twilight’s Transcendence to kill Mano and secured the checkpoint and extra time. They breezed through Point B when JJANU’s Self-Destruct found three kills. New York gave up too much ground for free and found themselves down 3-1 when Bumper connected on the map-winning Earthshatter.
Lijiang Tower: Titans 2-1 NYXL
With their backs against the wall, New York started on the right foot when they punished Bumper’s Winston pick. They built to 67% before a couple of failed ultimates gave Vancouver the opening they needed. New York came back strong, securing early kills on Haksal and Bumper. SLIME refused to let the Titans go down, however, and saved the day with an insane stall and kill on SeonngHyun “JJONAK” Bang. Vancouver’s reinforcements arrived to turn the fight, and they took the lead on Lijiang Tower.
Going over to Mecha Base, the Excelsior again jumped out to an quick lead. They forced Vancouver to disengage, taking the point early and winning the fight when SeoMinSoo went down to Meko’s Self-Destruct. It turned into a stomp for New York as they maintained momentum and nearly kept Vancouver off the scoreboard entirely.
Night Market would be the decider, and New York kept up the pressure. They took prime position on the point and the first fight, building up to 66% in the process. The Titans regained control when they somehow lived through Nenne’s Graviton Surge and traded kills efficiently. A strong ult economy and Bumper building two Earthshatters in the final fight sealed New York’s fate. They couldn’t make it back to the point to trigger overtime and Vancouver punched its ticket to a second straight stage final.
The 4-1 final score doesn’t do the NYXL justice. They pushed the Titans on every map and barely came up short. Mano, in particular, was a monster all night, repeatedly laying Bumper and the Titans out with his Earthshatters. Vancouver relied on their uncanny ability to clutch and found a way to win. Tomorrow, they face the San Francisco Shock in a rematch of the epic Stage 1 Finals.
Featured image courtesy of the Vancouver Titans via Twitter.
You can also follow Bradley @shyguyow.