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Hero to Zero and Back Again: A Vancouver Titans Tale

Vancouver Titans First Win

It took six games after the rebuild for it to happen, but in Week 20, the new Vancouver Titans got their first win. In a 3-0 sweep over the Dallas Fuel, the Titans were finally able to shake that chip off their weary shoulders. It took some time, but the players on the team were at last able to know what it is like to win in the Overwatch League. The potential has been there from the start. Players like Dalton “Dalton” Bennyhoff, Abtin “Shredlock” Shirvani and Randal “Roolf” Stark had the previous synergy, and success while under the Second Wind banner. The rest had shown immense promise in either Contenders or the World Cup. Fans had reason to hope for good things – something desperately needed after the events that led to the release of the former roster. 

They faced immense pressure and criticism right out of the gate. Fans of Contenders wanting to see success for players from the path-to-pro. Other teams seeing them as a now easy win. It was rough out there for the Titans community. Their early play left much to be desired. The lack of team synergy was immediately apparent. Dalton did his best to carry, but it was not enough. While they were able to take a map here and there, it was clear something else was needed to take them to the next level.

The Missing Piece

Vancouver Titans sHockWave

Courtesy of the Vancouver Titans

That something else had a name: Niclas “Shockwave” Jensen. Signed just before the start of the May Maylee. A player those at the Toronto Defiant will surely be kicking themselves for not promoting when he was on their now-disbanded Academy team Montreal Rebellion. After a string of disappointing losses, his explosive play gave fans something to believe in. He enabled the rest of his team to play better. The fresh energy, and carry potential took them to a close 3-2 loss. Leading to their just barely not qualifying for the May Maylee. That was the past though, and in this league living there can be dangerous. The team looked to the future and new horizons in June.

Brief Break, New Hope

OWL Summer Showdown
Courtesy of the Overwatch League

The Vancouver Titans first win would have to wait however as the redemption arc took a bit of a hit in their first game back. In a rematch against their Canadian rivals, they fell 3-0. With the Defiant looking much cleaner with the inclusion of some key new players and the return of Lane “Surefour” Roberts. Not to mention the explosive force that is Andreas “Logix” Berghmans. It wasn’t a horrible showing considering the score, but work was still needed. Losing the Canadian Crown was a blow for sure, perhaps indicating that in this match up the team with the most Canadians will win. Jokes aside, the Titans were now faced with a tough challenge. To qualify for the tournament, or to have a chance, they now needed to win at least one of their next two games. Next up was the Fuel.

To Decay, or to Not Decay

Going into this match, most analysts and writers (this one included) saw a Fuel victory. On paper, the teams are surprisingly even, with one little exception: Jang “Decay” Gui-Un. Now, the DPS lineup on the Titans is incredible, a powerhouse duo for sure. Yet, Decay is seen as one of the very best players in the entire league. Having the ability to put his entire team on his back, a true superstar. Most thought that if the Titans could not contain him, they would suffer immensely.

The starting lineup for the Fuel comes up, no Decay. In his place was a new signing to the Fuel, Stefan “Onigod” Fiskerstrand, fresh off winning NA Contenders with Team Doge. Now Onigod is an incredibly talented player in his own right. He and Decay as a duo in the current double hitscan meta was a terrifying thought. So it was a surprise to not see Decay. The Fuel so often relied on his pop off skills that there was suddenly a bit of doubt in their chances at victory.

Head Coach Aaron “Aero” Atkins revealed the reason for his absence during a break in maps:

Vancouver Titans First Win
Courtesy of the Dallas Fuel
Vancouver Titans First Win
Courtesy of the Dallas Fuel

If there was ever a visual representation of the phrase “Never underestimate your opponent” in the Overwatch League, this would be it. Though it has come to light that Decay himself may have asked for this rest, which is unfortunate. A player needing a break is understandable, but it put Onigod and the rest of the team in an unfortunate situation. In addition, this move also will sadly take away from the conversation about how well the Titans played, with many analysts choosing to focus on what could have been instead of what was.

Coming Out Swinging

The Vancouver Titans first win started to take shape immediately. The Titans in this game showed they were not willing to go quietly into the night. They came out fast and tough, swiftly taking round one of Busan. The Fuel did wake up in Sanctuary but, it wasn’t enough to fell the surging Titans. They came back strong and delivered a strong performance on downtown to take the map. Casters Bren and former Florida Mayhem and Los Angeles Gladiators superstar Sideshow were stunned. The disbelief in their voices was palpable.

Junkertown however, was really where the series got away from the Fuel. Despite some truly impressive Tracer play from Onigod, the DPS of the Titans were simply too much for the Fuel to handle, with Shockwave truly earning his player of the match title with his stunning Widowmaker play.

While Hollywood was reasonably close one thing was clear, the Fuel had run out of gas. The Titans rallied together and were able to secure their first win with a clean sweep. The elation on the player’s faces was outstanding. Like years of weary went away in an instant. Fans of the team were ecstatic. It is hard to watch players you know have talent, and who you know have been put in such a difficult position suffer. At this moment though, in this victory, it was worth it. The Vancouver Titans’ first win came to pass.

Follow Ethan on Twitter @EthanButler for all your Vancouver Titans, Overwatch League, Valorant and Esports needs.

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