For the Vancouver Titans, the final week of the OWL regular season is little more than a victory lap. They secured the league’s best record two weeks ago and didn’t play last week. On Saturday and Sunday, the Titans will take on the Shock and Excelsior, the two teams that challenged them as the best team in the league.
All three have likely spent their recent scrim time preparing for season playoffs and the introduction of Sigma. That doesn’t mean, however, that fans won’t get an excellent show as the Titans put an exclamation point on their incredible regular season. Even if the hype has died around the NYXL matchup, it’s still the top team from each season going head to head. As for the Shock, they’ve been the Titans’ biggest rival and surely want to even up the season series.
San Francisco Shock (21-5)
For much of the 2019 season, the Vancouver Titans and San Francisco Shock have been linked at the hip. After meeting in the first two Stage Finals, they were only denied a third installment by the Shanghai Dragons’ improbable Stage 3 run. They’ve been in a league of their own for much of the season. They both mastered the 3-3 meta so fully that they were untouchable to the rest of the professional Overwatch world.
This will be their first meeting under 2-2-2, and despite the lack of stakes, it could be one of the more entertaining games of the week. Everyone will be playing loose and leaving everything on the server. In the end, that probably favors the Shock, who have transitioned into 2-2-2 better than any team in the league. The Titans have had their issues, but they won’t go down easy with the Shock across the stage.
Prediction: Vancouver loses 3-2
New York Excelsior (21-5)
No doubt, New York’s recent slump has taken some of the shine off this matchup. If they had kept pace in Stage 4, this could be a game to decide the top overall seed. Still though, NYXL needs a confidence boost heading into playoffs. Even if they’ve mentally moved on to playoffs, it would hurt to have their first losing stage as a franchise. They’ve been the picture of excellence in the league since day 1, but that might be coming to an end.
Last season, it was hard to imagine an OWL team more dominant than NYXL. Now the Titans have a chance to bookend the best season in league history. To do it with a win over New York would be poetic.
Realistically, that shouldn’t be too difficult for Vancouver. New York hasn’t shown anything to suggest they have a chance here, and Vancouver has only gotten better each week. They will want to put on a show in their last game of the season. For Vancouver this a matter of attention rather than ability, and they should be locked in enough to get the win as they celebrate a brilliant year.
Prediction: Vancouver wins 3-1
Player to Watch: Hyojong “Haksal” Kim
Haksal has been the most consistent force on the Titans for the entire season. His Brig play fueled their meteoric rise, and his return to DPS heroes has given him the chance to flex his hero pool. His Mei still needs a little work, especially if she’s going to be in the meta for playoffs. Still, he’s already made big strides there and the rest of his DPS picks remain as strong as ever.
Ultimately, Week 5 might be meaningless to the Vancouver Titans. They’ve been the best team for most of 2019, and that’s earned them a week to celebrate their accomplishments. Knowing Vancouver, though, they aren’t content with the league’s best record. So enjoy the victory lap. In two weeks, the Titans are all business.
Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.
You can also follow Bradley @shyguyow.