This team is unreal. After a humbling from the Shanghai Dragons in the Stage 3 Playoffs, the Vancouver Titans came out of the gates with a statement win over the Stage 3 champs. Hyojong “Haksal” Kim turned back the clock and staked his claim as the best Genji – and maybe best DPS player – in the league. The Titans started 2-0 and silenced the doubts about how they would fare in 2-2-2.
Week 1 Review
Vancouver Titans 3-1 Shanghai Dragons
The Titans’ first match under 2-2-2 was maybe the best of Week 1. The Stage 3 semifinal rematch pitted two of the league’s best against each other as they tried to figure out the new meta. Vancouver was successful insofar as the meta is letting Haksal and Juseok “Twilight” Lee go wild. Those two clutched a staggering number of fights against the Dragons. More than anything else, they were the reason Vancouver was tied at the half. The tank line went through some growing pains in the Orissa-Roadhog meta but steadily improved as the series went on.
Things started clicking for the Titans coming into the second half. Dong-eun “Hooreg” Lee really came into his own the longer he was out there, consistently winning duels against Min Sung “diem” Bae and keeping Jinhyeok “DDing” Yang at bay. A dominant Vancouver win on King’s Row gave way to a scrappy Junkertown that saw both teams finish the map with time to spare. In the clutch, it was Haksal once again making the defining play. With the clock winding down, he secured 8 final blows in less than 30 seconds, putting a stop to the Dragon’s attack. His mastery of Genji’s kit delivered a candidate for the highlight of the year and a win for the Titans.
Vancouver Titans 4-0 Florida Mayhem
This match can be summed up in one sentence. Jeongwoo “Sayaplayer” Ha was good, but Haksal was better. A strong showing from the Mayhem’s star sniper was enough to keep them from being completely blown out, but they never really stood a chance. An improved frontline performance for the Titans made sure they never really had to sweat against the team on the opposite side of the standings.
Sangbeom “Bumper” Park looked more comfortable on Orissa, and the Halt-Hook combo was landing consistently for him and HyunWoo “JJANU” Choi. The issues weren’t gone completely, but it was more than enough. Florida’s lackluster season continues, but at least they get to watch Sayaplayer back on his best hero.
Player of the Week: Haksal
There’s no other option here. Haksal basically broke the meta in Week 1, playing Genji where it absolutely should be a terrible pick. He’s so skilled on the hero that he can still be the best player on the server most of the time, even playing a suboptimal pick. If he can continue this kind of performance, the Titans should remain among the league’s elite.
Week 2 Preview
Washington Justice (4-19)
The Justice certainly look like they’ve stepped up their game in 2-2-2, but this really shouldn’t be close. The Mayhem took them to Map 5 on Thursday, and they still have a long way to go before they’re ready to compete with the Titans. The Justice frontline is improved in the Orissa-Roadhog meta, but if they can’t win that battle consistently, they have no chance. Corey’s Widowmaker might be good for one map, but that’s more due to the newness of the meta than any shortcomings from the Titans.
Prediction: Vancouver wins 3-1
Player to Watch: Twilight
Haksal may have stolen the show, but Twilight has been the silent carry for the Titans this entire season. Even after a strong showing from Jun Keun “Rapel” Kim against the Mayhem, the Titans’ MVP Support isn’t going anywhere. In a meta that lets him play Ana heavily, Twilight is a superstar, constantly making huge plays with clutch heals, Sleep Darts and Biotic Grenades. He’s probably playing the best of any of the five MVP candidates at the moment, and really enables Vancouver’s strategies.
Week 3 isn’t exactly the toughest test for the Titans, but this is still just the second week of the new 2-2-2 world. Vancouver has a few areas of improvement, particularly as Bumper and JJANU flex outside their comfort picks. The Titans can take this week as an opportunity to inch closer to securing the league’s best record and continue to work out the kinks.
Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.
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