Photo Credit: Overwatch League
The stage has officially been set for the 2019 Overwatch League Grand Finals and it’s a familiar story that we’ve seen play out a few times this year. The new kids on the block, the Vancouver Titans will meet the San Francisco Shock on stage at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia next week to find out once and for all, who the best team in the league is.
The road to the Grand Finals looks a lot different this year than it did last year, with the biggest change being the play-in tournament that determined the 7th and 8th seed and the double elimination tournament that decided the final two teams that would be battling it out in Philadelphia.
There were quite a few surprises and some and ups and downs, ultimately leading to the 3rd head-to-head match against these two teams for a title. The Vancouver Titans, who over the season proved that their motto ‘Force of Nature’ was more than just a saying. However, even in the play-offs their competition came to play. The Seoul Dynasty managed to rise a bit about the mediocrity we saw for the majority of their season taking two maps of off Vancouver, but ultimately still taking the fall. The most surprising non-surprise was the match against the New York Excelsior. On paper NYXL have always been one of the top flight teams with a star studded roster, 3rd best record of the season and leader of their division, they absolutely should be considered one of the contenders for the title. However, historically they don’t do well with high pressure situations. The New York Excelsior have been present in every single title tournament since the leagues inception. That’s 4 stage play-offs and a season play-off in the inaugural season and 3 stage play-offs and finals play-offs this season. That’s 9 total chances at a title, more than any other team and they took home 2 stage play-off titles. Nearly every other time they lost out in the first round. So, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that they would push the Vancouver Titans to a final game 7 in their series yet.
The other major surprise of the road to the Grand Finals was the San Francisco Shocks lost to the Atlanta Reign, pushing again to a game 7. This invalidated a lot of brackets for the play-offs and gave some people hope that we may not be seeing a repeat of the Shock v Titans Stage 1 and 2 finals. The Shock, however, had other plans as they bounced back in a commanding and convincing way after being sent to the losers bracket. The final map they lost to the Reign, would be the last map they lost in the play-offs. The San Francisco Shock, the only team in the history of the league to earn a ‘Golden Stage’, which means not dropping a single map the entire stage, proceeded to eviscerate the lower bracket. They swept the 2018 Champions the London Spitfire, they swept Los Angeles Gladiators who had also managed to take at least two maps from Vancouver. Then they swept the Hangzhou Spark, who had just swept the Atlanta Reign the day before. Finally, they went up against the New York Excelsior who just got sent to the lower bracket after their 7 game series against the Vancouver Titans.
This match against the San Francisco Shock and the New York Excelsior couldn’t have been a more classic display of what has made both teams over the past year. The Shock swept the NYXL in a devastating 4-0 match series. The NYXL choke memes flooded social media and the San Francisco Shock secured their spot in the grand finals opposite the Vancouver Titans after 12 consecutive map wins through the lower bracket.
This Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, the Overwatch League Grand Finals will see the Vancouver Titans once again face off against the San Francisco Shock. You couldn’t have picked a better pair of teams to be battling it out for the title of Grand Champion. These two teams have faced off against each other four times over the 2019 season, twice in regular season play and twice in stage play offs. The Titans took the first match against the Shock in Stage 1 with a 3 – 1 series score and in the finals for the same stage won in game 7 with a 4 – 3 series score. The Shock turned it all around in the Stage 2 finals beating the Titans with a 2 map difference, 4 – 2 and in the final week of regular season at the Kit Kat Rivalry Weekend the Shock once against defeated the Titans in map 5. These teams could not be more evenly matched and on September 29 the true champion will be revealed.
Keep your eyes on our social media over the next two weeks for more coverage on the Overwatch League Grand Finals, including previews and predictions.
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