Fresh off his team’s 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Valiant, Seong jun “SLIME” Kim had a message for fans and the rest of the OWL. In a post-match interview with Danny Lim, SLIME guaranteed that the Titans would finish Stage 1 undefeated until the playoffs. That may seem brash, but the team has earned the right to be a little cocky. Another dominant win and a 4-0 start to the season have the team in prime position to make SLIME’s promise a reality.
Week 3 Review
Los Angeles Valiant (0-4)
The Titans did not play around on Friday, taking control of the series from the get-go. On Nepal, they were locked in and didn’t allow the Valiant to capture a single percent on either control point. MinSoo “SeoMinSoo” Seo showed why he’s one of the scariest Zaryas in the league, and SLIME dominated Sanctum with four environmental kills as the Titans cruised to an easy 2-0.
Vancouver kept the good times rolling on King’s Row where they nearly held LA on points A and B before getting the stop well before the final checkpoint. Then they shook off a slow start on attack to power through the map behind their trademark aggressive style. Horizon Lunar Colony was the Valiant’s last chance to turn the match around, and their attempt was feeble at best. They were unable to get YoungSeo “KariV” Bak’s Reaper into position to punish Sangbeom “Bumper” Park, and LA’s attack petered out without acquiring a single tick on point A. The Titans plowed through the Valiant’s meager resistance to take Horizon and lock up the match win.
Los Angeles did answer back on Rialto, where Jun Keun “Rapel” Kim saw the OWL stage for the first time. Looking miles better than they had all series, the Valiant sped through the map convincingly. They arrived three maps too late, however, and now these teams sit at opposite ends of the OWL standings.
Player of the Week: SLIME
In the current meta, Lucio players have to do it all. Beyond their usual roles of calling and ultimate tracking, they are now being asked to become playmakers with their ability to displace enemies with boops. SLIME has been at the head of the pack when it comes to both responsibilities. Against the Valiant, he was unreal, consistently disrupting their positioning and setting his team up for big plays.
Week 4 Preview
Paris Eternal (2-1)
The Titans’ first game may have lost a bit of its luster after Paris suffered a 4-0 beat-down at the hands of the Atlanta Reign last week. Still, the Titans would do well to take the Eternal seriously. They could be the toughest 3-3 test that Vancouver has faced this season, even if Paris doesn’t appear to be the juggernaut many thought they were.
Vancouver should take a page out of Atlanta’s playbook – no, not Daniel “Dafran” Francesca’s rooftop hijinks – and focus on two Eternal players. Benjamin “BenBest” Dieulafait had a rough outing against the Reign, and with Vancouver playing so well around Bumper, he could be in for another nightmarish matchup. Part of the reason he had such a hard time was that Atlanta completely shut down Harrison “Kruise” Pond. Without their superstar Lucio popping off, Paris struggled to find openings to attack. If Vancouver can replicate that, they should be able to handle the Eternal.
Prediction: Vancouver wins 3-1
Of the four maps the Titans have lost so far this season, three have been Escort. Two of those came after Vancouver had already secured the series, but it will be something to worry about if the trend persists over the whole stage. Luckily, outside of Escort maps, the Titans have lost just once.
Chengdu Hunters (2-2)
Vancouver’s second opponent could not be more different from their first. Where Paris relies heavily on the traditional 3-3 variants, the Hunters barely play it at all. Instead, they opt for Wrecking Ball in order to accommodate Menghan “Ameng” Ding. That choice makes them a very streaky team – they often post impressive attack rounds but fail to see the same results on defense.
A 2-2 start belies the struggles the Hunters have faced early on. With no traditional main tank on the roster, Chengdu has resorted to bizarre compositions more often than not. It may have been good for a couple early wins, but now the league seems to be figuring them out. Vancouver should have no trouble dispatching the plucky upstarts, but the Titans still need to be wary against such a unique opponent.
Prediction: Vancouver wins 4-0
Player to Watch: JJANU
HyunWoo “JJANU” Choi will have quite a challenge in Week 4. Against Paris, he will be expected to maintain his brilliance in the 3-3 matchup. Terrence “SoOn” Tarlier has been shaky on Zarya so far, and his Graviton Surges will definitely be in danger with JJANU on the other side. Against Chengdu, JJANU will need to play a key role yet again, as he will be the one to help protect his backline from Wrecking Ball dives. JJANU has been superb so far this season, and another good week would put him right in the middle of the league’s MVP discussion.
Week 4 will be a test of Vancouver’s ability to strategize and prepare for different styles of play. Two wins will show that Vancouver can play against any type of team in this meta. This week will also be their opportunity to lock up a spot in the Stage 1 Playoffs. So far Vancouver has been unstoppable, but now they will have a target on their backs. Can they handle every team’s best shot?
Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.
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