Overwatch League Stage 2 Finals Recap
The second stage of the sophomore Overwatch League season is behind us, so let’s do a somewhat quick Overwatch League Stage 2 finals recap in order to go over the hectic six-map clash between two giants of fairly equal strength — the San Francisco Shock and the Vancouver Titans.
As expected, the finals were brimming with back-and-forth action, and both teams played out of their minds map after map in an effort to lift the trophy (and get a huge sack of cash). It was a fight worthy of the history books, and if things continue developing in such a way, we’re bound to get spoiled by these immense displays of skill and high octane Overwatch. Everything should be taken in moderation — even incredible top tier play!
Let’s take a closer look at what had transpired, and what it means going forward for both teams. Needless to say — spoilers ahead!
Coming into the finals, everyone knew we were in for quite a thrilling ride, regardless of the final outcome. Whenever these two giants step foot on the stage no one is left indifferent. Fortunately for everyone involved, last night didn’t break that trend. Not in the slightest.
As everyone expected, maps went back-and-forth between the two teams. They were trading heavy blows map after map, but they weren’t as clean in their execution as one might expect. There was a lot of sloppy play, but there were also flashes of brilliance across the board. Things were incredibly tense and close up until the fifth map.
After the Shock got brutalized on Paris, a lot of people doubted their ability to bounce back — but San Francisco proved everyone wrong. Their incredible mental fortitude allowed them to claw back on Gibraltar and tie the series 2:2. Whenever their backs were up against the wall, they were able to step up — both individually as well as a five-man unit — and clutch things out in spectacular fashion. That’s what true champions do, but it was still too early to give them the benefit of the doubt, seeing how they already lost to the Titans just a month prior.
The Shock never surrendered, and their unrelenting aggression caught Vancouver by surprise. The Shock were aggressive when attacking, but when defending as well. They forced Vancouver to make mistakes, and the Stage 1 champions were unable to adapt in time. Once Oasis came around, the Shock looked like a well-oiled machine. They made almost no blunders and took the map 2:0 with relative ease.
Coming into Blizzard World, the Shock had championship point, but it was still too early to start celebrating. So many things had gone wrong for the Shock the last time they had a lead against a team of Vancouver’s caliber. Fortunately for all San Francisco fans watching, their boys were able to put on a clinic. This is the map where everything clicked for San Francisco, and their individual mechanical prowess and split-second ingenuity shined the brightest. Heck, that’s even an understatement.
Matthew “Super“ DeLisi and Jay “sinatraa” Won played out of their minds. Whenever the Shock needed a miracle or a Hail Mary play, one of these two prodigies was able to step up and do what many thought was impossible.
Their ultimate timings and wombo combos were downright insane. To make matters even more fascinating, the Shock only had one ultimate against Vancouver’s six coming into the very last fight, and yet they weathered the storm and emerged victoriously. Every single member pulled his fair share of the weight, and their innate flexibility and talent were on full display.
After six hard-fought maps, the San Francisco Shock were finally able to lift a trophy and enjoy the customary confetti shower. It’s been a long time coming, but better late than never. This is the only fitting conclusion after such a dominant Stage 2 run. A fairy tale that ended as most expected, rather than with a surprising twist.
The path towards the finals was also fairly interesting and other than the fact that London lost to Hangzhou, there weren’t any surprises. There are a couple of interesting narratives that are emerging from the recent playoffs — New York’s inability to step up to the plate, and the silent (but noticeable) rise of the Shanghai Dragons.
One thing is for sure: Stage 3 should be even more exciting with a couple of new contenders rising up the ranks.
Looking Ahead to Stage 3
We’ve finally approached the mid-point of the 2019 season, so let’s take a look at the upcoming schedules for both of these two giants, and what they might entail:
The San Francisco Shock have a surprisingly easy schedule going forward. Perhaps that’s even an understatement. There’s not a single opponent that could pose an actual threat, other than perhaps Seoul Dynasty and the London Spitfire — but even those two teams failed to leave a mark throughout the second stage of the competition. They’re solid, that’s a fact, but if they don’t step up and adapt to the current meta they will be unable to trade blows with the teams at the top.
Such a schedule raises a fascinating question — could Shock go undefeated once again? All signs are pointing towards a resounding yes, and they could even win all seven matches without dropping any maps. Then again, such an accomplishment no longer holds the same allure, seeing how they already succeeded in winning all twenty-eight maps last stage.
The only question now is — will they get complacent? Will they approach the process of defending their throne as vehemently as they did when it came to claiming it? Getting to the top is a very peculiar kind of challenge. It is thrilling, and the climb is a unique reward in and of itself. When you’ve reached the top, however, things can easily become a lot less interesting. They lose a bit of its glamour and charm. You’ve already proven your worth — both to yourself as well as the world.
With nothing left to prove, one has to wonder — will San Francisco continue building on the fantastic foundation they’ve built, or will they start following the path more traveled? There’s a big target on their backs, and at this level of play it’s easy to slip up.
Either way, the Overwatch League has never been so exhilarating.
By the same token, Vancouver also has a very solid, relatively “easy” schedule. They do have a somewhat tougher road when compared to San Francisco, but nothing insurmountable. The fact that they will go up against the Los Angeles Gladiators, the Dallas Fuel, and Hangzhou Spark could complicate things quite a bit. They’re still favored to win all three matches, but things aren’t as black and white. They could also drop a couple of maps along the way, which could impact the standings once everything is said and done.
Even the Chengdu Hunters are far from an easy challenge, and the last time these two teams fought against each other (Stage 1 Week 4), we witnessed a hard-fought five-map series that was decided by the slimmest of margins.
Regardless, the path towards the Stage 3 playoffs is pretty clear.
As for the players themselves, their most recent loss didn’t hurt their stock too much. The Stage 1 final was also incredibly close and was eventually decided by split-second decisions. The Titans came short this time around, but it could have gone either way. They were, however, slightly bested on multiple maps. They weren’t as cohesive, nor as individually dominant.
They’re still a Top 2 team in the Overwatch League, but they looked far less adept and creative this time around. They were unable to figure the Shock out, and it eventually became their downfall. Finally, this is the first time the Titans have lost in over a year. They’ve entered the Overwatch League with a metric ton of hype, and they lived up to it immediately. Losing at this point in the season should motivate them even further, so we could eventually see a Vancouver Titans roster that’s bent on revenge.
Could you imagine a more frightening sight?
These two teams are, without a doubt, the two best contenders in the world, and their paths will undoubtedly cross in the future. When these two titans clash, their matches are always absolute barnburners. They leave everything on the stage, and in the end, the viewers win out the most.
That’s it for our Overwatch League Stage 2 finals recap! The Overwatch League is currently on a short break, but Stage 3 is just around the corner — June 6th!