It wouldn’t be satisfying if it were easy. For the Vancouver Titans, the path to a Stage 1 Pacific Division crown was anything but easy. In Week 4, the Titans were pushed to their limits but hung on to put themselves one step closer to a perfect opening stage in their debut OWL season.
Week 4 Review
Paris Eternal (2-3)
It was far from a smooth start for the Titans on Friday. Ilios was a rollercoaster of a map, with Vancouver narrowly taking Well during an overtime scramble. Paris responded quickly on Ruins, where their GOATs composition looked more like the Eternal of Week 1 and 2 than the team that got shellacked by the Atlanta Reign in Week 3. It all came down to Lighthouse, and Paris jumped out to an early lead. Vancouver was able to turn things around thanks to great ult management and some stellar fragging from Juseok “Twilight” Lee.
The Titans took firm control of the series from there. On Numbani, both teams made great time through the first two points, but Vancouver secured the victory on point C. MinSoo “SeoMinSoo” Seo made up for a lackluster opening map with some impressive individual plays on both sides. His Graviton Surges and damage output were crucial to the Titans completion of the map and their winning hold.
Horizon Lunar Colony saw the Titans secure the match win in dominant fashion. A patient attack still left them with almost three minutes remaining after they captured both points. On defense, they really hit their stride, nearly holding Paris on point A before methodically stonewalling the Eternal on point B.
The Titans closed out the 4-0 win on Rialto, where a solid Paris defense made things interesting. Vancouver struggled at times, but the big plays came through from HyunWoo “JJANU” Choi and Sangbeom “Bumper” Park. A sneaky back cap from Harrison “Kruise” Pond on point B was the highlight of the day for the Eternal, but ultimately their slide continued in Week 4 as they failed to stand up to the Titans.
Chengdu Hunters (2-4)
The last match of Week 4 was easily one of the most entertaining of the entire season. Vancouver almost always plays the meta, sticking to the GOATs setup that is arguably the best in the league. The Hunters rarely play GOATs, preferring to play around Menghan “Ameng” Ding and his otherworldly Wrecking Ball. Early on it looked like the Titans had the Hunters figured out as Vancouver took a relatively easy victory on Ilios.
From there, everything went off the rails for Vancouver. On Hollywood, they struggled to crack point A before getting completely shut down by Chengdu’s double sniper setup on point B. Tzu-Heng “Baconjack” Lo and Hu “Jinmu” Yi kept the Titans off balance all match, especially on their Hollywood attack, where their Tracer and Pharah left Vancouver reeling.
If Hollywood was a surprise for Titans fans, then Anubis left them with their jaws on the floor. Everything seemed to be according to plan – the Titans’ GOATs defense was working to perfection on point B, even forcing Chengdu to play into the mirror matchup after their usual fare wasn’t cutting it. The Hunters couldn’t finish the map, and the Titans looked like they were righting the ship after Hollywood. Then Ameng happened. Despite having played Reinhardt just 15 percent of the time entering Week 4, he went toe to toe with Bumper and got the better of the matchup. Chengdu looked solid on GOATs for the first time and forced the Titans to the brink of their first match loss.
Vancouver managed to stabilize as the match went to Route 66. Chengdu continued to defy expectations by succeeding in the GOATs matchup, but Vancouver found the stop before the end of the map. The Titans finally found their stride on offense cruising through the first two points before grinding their way to a win in the end.
It all came down to Nepal, a map that should have let Chengdu play to their strengths. Instead, they forced 3-3 comps into Vancouver and fell apart. Twice they sent ultimates down the pit on Sanctum, along with players. The Titans closed things out on Shrine where they were finally able to punish Ameng and his inexperience on Reinhardt. It was an extremely close call and revealed some glaring weaknesses that the Titans will need to patch up before Stage Playoffs.
Player of the Week: JJANU
JJANU continues to be the Titan’s most consistent star. Against the Eternal, he gobbled 5 Graviton Surges with his Defense Matrix, a new OWL match record. On Sunday, he was instrumental in the Titans comeback against Chengdu. His Self-Destructs have been impeccable all season long and he’s a big part of why Vancouver remains undefeated.
Week 5 Preview
Guangzhou Charge (3-3)
Week 5 brings a rematch against the Guangzhou Charge, the other team to force Vancouver to a map 5 this season. The Titans struggled to deal with the Charge’s hitscan-heavy style in Week 2 and were a clutch JJANU bomb away from the losing the match outright. The Titans’ performance last week can’t inspire much confidence when facing another foe who likes to eschew the meta.
Still, Vancouver is a resilient and talented squad. They’re undefeated for a reason, and they will be hungry to finish off a perfect stage. Guangzhou will be equally eager to find the win since their Stage 1 playoff hopes depend on it. No matter the outcome, fireworks are guaranteed in the last match of the stage. Luckily for Vancouver, they haven’t lost any of the maps on the docket for Sunday.
Prediction: Vancouver 2-1 Guangzhou
Player to Watch: Bumper
Bumper had a rough showing last week. He tried to go for the cheeky aggression that has been his calling card, but Chengdu was ready for everything he threw at them. Ameng made Bumper look like the novice Reinhardt all match long. Still, after the match, Bumper was his usual confident self, saying that he was surprised how easy the OWL has been so far. Another tough matchup awaits – Seungpyo “Rio” Oh has asserted himself as one of the better main tanks in the league – but a bounceback performance would remind everyone why Bumper earned his arrogance.
6-1 doesn’t look nearly as pretty as 7-0. A victory here gives the Titans a perfect stage. Hopefully, the Titans don’t tunnel vision on results over process. They’ve been great, but Week 5 is another chance to work on their shortcomings. Guangzhou will be a great tuneup before the playoffs, where the level of competition will only ramp up. Perfection would be nice, but a Stage 1 Championship is the real prize for the Titans.
Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.
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