Photo/Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
In one of the most amazing playoff runs in the history of Overwatch, the Shanghai Dragons defy all odds and defeat the San Francisco Shock to win the Stage 3 playoffs. To win this stage, the Dragons had to beat not just the top three teams of the stage. The Vancouver Titans, San Francisco Shock and New York Excelsior are the top three teams of the entire season so far.
Shanghai came into the match off a dominant performance against the championship favorite, Vancouver Titans. The Dragons made short work of them 4-1 and never really looked troubled during the match. So going into the finals it seemed that Shanghai, in a roundabout way, may not actually be the underdogs. A intoxicating prospect for Dragons fans considering their finals opponents would be the Stage 2 champion San Francisco Shock.
The match began on Oasis with a massive roster shift from the Shock fielding three players (Striker, Architect, Smurf) that never started during the Stage. Weather. It did not pay off for the Shock. Shanghai’s Diem won the sniper battle versus San Fran’s Striker and Dding rained absolute hell onto the Shock’s tanks and supports. The set the tone for the next three maps where the tank and damage dealers of Shanghai would swashbuckle through the Shock’s back line and make them constantly uncomfortable.
The second map, Numbani, brought in the more expected Shock lineup (bringing back Super, Sinatraa and Rascal), but the result was the same. The Shanghai front line steamrolled the payload through and with very clever tanking plays from Gamsu the Dragons took a 2-0 lead in the series.
Through the series it became clear that the trio of Diem, Dding and Youngjin had a very unique and hard to counter gameplan. Dding would attack from above with Phara. Diem would harass at range and neutralize any airborne counters with his Widowmaker. And Youngjin would knock or hook enemies out of position with Doomfist or Roadhog. This rendered the Shock’s preferred 3-3 or Sombra compositions nigh on impossible to execute. So for the first half of the seven map series San Francisco couldn’t really get into their comfort zone. Its is a testament to how good the Shock are by forcing a map seven considering how strong Shanghai looked early on.
The final map, Dorado, saw a stalwart defensive job from the Dragons. They allowed only one checkpoint to be captured on the escort map. On their attack phase they disoriented the Shock and basically walked the payload onto the final spot.
It cannot be stressed enough. The Dragons did NOT win a single match last season. 0-40. But they stood on the back of a very flexible meta that played right into the wheelhouse of some of their best players and dominated the post-stage. While a stage win is not a season championship, Shanghai’s run is exactly why OWL’s format is so engaging. Every stage has stakes and every season that five chances to be heroes to your fans. The Dragons now stand with the London, New York, LA Valiant, Vancouver and San Francisco as Stage Champions.
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