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Vancouver Titans: Stage 3 Week 4 Preview

Vancouver Titans Week 3 Preview

Nothing gold can stay. So it was with the Vancouver Titans and their unreal 19 game regular season win streak. Brought down by their failure to adapt to the meta and the stellar play of the LA Valiant, the Titans  finally fell after one of the most impressive streaks in the history of Overwatch.

Week 3 Review

Vancouver Titans 3-1 Chengdu Hunters

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

The last time these two teams met, Chengdu nearly pulled off the feat the Valiant accomplished. This time around, however, the Titans were much better prepared to handle the unique stylings of Menghan “Ameng” Ding and the rest of the Hunters. Even after the Titans gave up the first map trying to match Chengdu on Wrecking Ball comps, the series never seemed out of their control.

The Titans continued to run MinSoo “SeoMinSoo” Seo on Sombra in an attempt to add another weapon to their arsenal. It worked well for the most part against Chengdu’s scrappy approach, and SeoMinSoo put in maybe his best performance to date on the hero. Vancouver was still at its best when sticking to the 3-3 comp that made them the best team in the league, but the improvement was a sign that the experimentation might be worth it.

Vancouver Titans 1-3 Los Angeles Valiant

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

That was all thrown out the window against the Valiant. LA came into the series willing and ready to play Sombra 100% of the time, and Johannes “Shax” Nielsen proved that decision right with his stellar performance. He outperformed SeoMinSoo in every way – finding crucial pick offs, hacking key targets and decimating the Titans with killer EMPs. It was a master class that highlighted just how far Vancouver has to go if they want to be elite at both Sombra GOATs and traditional 3-3.

Even beyond their continued struggles to assimilate Sombra into their gameplan, the Titans made so many mistakes that they weren’t making in the past. The last two maps were filled with sloppy mistakes – poor positioning leading to staggered kills, failure to follow through on ultimates and a lack of poise that the Titans usually have in clutch moments. The nail in the coffin was YoungSeo “KariV” Bak’s phenomenal showing on Ana. He was a monster, hitting Sleep Darts like his targets weren’t even moving and punishing the Titans for their lack of D.Va, something Juseok “Twilight” Lee has excelled at.

Week 4 Preview

Los Angeles Gladiators (12-7)

The Titans have a chance to bounce back in Week 4 against another LA team. In a rematch from Week 1 of this stage, the Gladiators at least need to keep this close in order to keep their stage playoff hopes alive. That will be a tall task against a Titans team motivated by their first loss, especially with a map pool that favors Vancouver – no Paris this time.

Perhaps the Gladiators will take some cues from their cross-town rivals, but they didn’t run much Sombra the last time these teams faced. They seem much more comfortable running 3-3 and changing things up when the map calls for it, rather than going off-meta from the jump. That plays right into the Titans’ hands and makes it hard to see the upset happening. Still, if there’s any takeaway from Week 3, it’s that anything is possible.

Photo: Ben Pursell for Blizzard Entertainment

Prediction: Vancouver wins 3-1

Player to Watch: HyunWoo “JJANU” Choi

Beyond Vancouver’s issues with incorporating Sombra, part of their problem has been that SeoMinSoo is their Sombra player. Most teams prefer to have their flex tank make that swap, so they can keep the normal Zarya on that hero. Vancouver is forced to have two players out of their best role in order to make Sombra work.

That reality robs them of top three players on both Zarya and D.Va and puts them on heroes where they are decidedly middle of the pack. JJANU is not a bad Zarya, but he’s not the worldbeater he is on D.Va. He needs to improve right alongside SeoMinSoo if the Titans want to keep running Sombra moving forward.

Conclusion

Vancouver’s insane win streak had given the luxury of experimentation. They haven’t had to treat every game as a must win, and it hadn’t cost them until this week. Now though, their stranglehold over the number one spot in the standings has loosened, and NYXL is only one game back in the loss column. The Titans are staring down a murderer’s row in Stage 4, so they need to respond well if they want to stay on top.

Featured photo from Robert Paul

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