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Vancouver Titans: Stage 1 Playoff Preview

Vancouver Titans vs Atlanta Reign

As far as opening statements go, it was an emphatic one from the Vancouver Titans in Stage 1 of the Overwatch League. Seven wins, zero losses. The Titans emerged unscathed despite their fair share of close calls. With a 4-0 sweep of the Guangzhou Charge last week, Vancouver avenged one of their near misses and in the process snagged the league’s top seed heading into playoffs.

Week 5 Review

Guangzhou Charge (3-4)

The Charge represented an opportunity for the Titans in Week 5 – the chance not only to lead the league but also to test themselves against an opponent and a play style that gave Vancouver all they could handle back in Week 2. In that match, Guangzhou kept the Titans perpetually off balance with a variety of DPS-led lineups. This time around, they tried the same playbook, but Vancouver was prepared.

A slow start on Ilios gave way to a dominant series from start to finish for the Titans. The Charge still saw glimmers of the success from Week 2, but those moments were few and far between. For most of the night, Guangzhou opted into the GOATs matchup, where they just couldn’t keep up with Vancouver.

It was methodical excellence from the Titans as they held the Charge shy of point B on every map. Superb fragging from Juseok “Twilight” Lee, clutch fights from MinSoo “SeoMinSoo” Seo and some reserved – by his standards – Reinhardt play from Sangbeom “Bumper” Park all signaled a team that is rounding into form and learning from their mistakes.

Player of the Week: Haksal

Photo: Stewart Volland For Blizzard Entertainment

It was a supreme team effort for the Titans, so it’s only fitting that this title goes to the player who has sacrificed so much for Vancouver’s success. Longtime fans of the team know Hyojong “Haksal” Kim as the flex god who will play anything if it means he can help his team win. So far, Stage 1 has seen him locked away in Brig jail as his team stuck firm to the meta that made them the top team in the league.

On Sunday, not only did he play his role as the dutiful soldier. He also got the chance to break out his Genji for a few glorious minutes, reminding everyone that he can still play it with the best. His presence has been muted this season, as his teammates on flashier roles have seized the spotlight, but Haksal deserves his share of the plaudits for his unwavering commitment to winning above all.

Stage Playoff Preview

Boston Uprising (4-3)

It’s hard to pick a better matchup for the Titans among the playoff teams. Maybe the only team in the league that plays GOATs more than Vancouver, the Uprising don’t have the flexibility to disrupt the meta like Guangzhou or Chengdu. Their GOATs is formidable to be sure, but at this point, it’s hard to pick against the Titans.

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

The main tank matchup should be one of the best of the entire season, with Bumper taking on Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth. Fusions has been Boston’s leader during this stage and has proven himself as one of the best GOATs shot-callers out there. With him in the lineup, the Uprising have lost just twice all stage, including once in Week 1 against NYXL with their backup main tank filling in on Zarya duty.

Still, there are weaknesses to exploit in the Boston lineup. Kristian “Kellex” Keller has been shaky at times, getting caught out of position while trying to do too much for the Uprising. He’ll have to be in top form if he wants to keep up with Seong jun “SLIME” Kim, who has established himself as one of the league’s best Lucio’s.

Despite the glory of a reverse sweep, Boston struggled with Dallas’s Sombra last week, and SeoMinSoo has shown he can pick it up if the moment is right. It should hardly be necessary. If the Titans maintain their form, they are the best GOATs team in the world.

Prediction: Vancouver wins 3-0

Fun Fact

The Titans currently have the top three players in Eliminations/10 minutes in the entire league. Granted, Jun Keun “Rapel” Kim has only played 28 minutes on the season, but HyunWoo “JJANU” Choi and SeoMinSoo have been putting up insane numbers in large samples.

Player to Watch: Bumper

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Last week Bumper looked like a new player. He didn’t overextend, he didn’t go for absurd sneaky Earthshatters and he didn’t single-handedly lose fights for the Titans. He finally found a way to incorporate the aggression that makes him great without it costing his team dearly. How that holds up in a pressure-packed environment against tougher competition will go a long way to determining Vancouver’s fate this weekend.

Looking Ahead

It feels like a foregone conclusion. Vancouver vs New York in the Stage 1 Finals. The two undefeated teams towering above the league as they trade blows. Before that happens, the Titans need to take care of business in the first two rounds. At times in Stage 1, they have looked unbeatable, steamrolling some tough competition. At others, they have looked lost, floundering as they struggled against off-meta picks. No one has been able to target that weak spot for a victory yet, but now only the best remain. Can one of them topple the Titans?

Featured image courtesy of the Ben Pursell for Blizzard Entertainment.

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