Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
One single series stands between us and the end of the 2019 Overwatch League. Out of all 20 teams in the league, you couldn’t pick two teams more evenly matched than the Vancouver Titans and the San Francisco Shock. Coming into the 2019 season everyone knew the Titans were going to be top tier and that the Shock had the players to reach the top. No one should be surprised that these two teams sundered every other roster that came before them to make it to where we are now. After a mediocre inaugural season, the San Francisco Shock have risen through the rank and file to claim what is rightfully theirs and secure their legacy in the history of the Overwatch League.
The Road To Philly
In the inaugural season of the Overwatch League the San Francisco Shock finished 9th out of 12 teams with a record of 17 – 23. So, the turn around in the 2019 season with their run to the Grand Finals and a regular season record of 23 – 5, you’d think they had found some miracle recipe over the off-season. The truth is that they had the ingredients all along but they were just a bit too young to do anything but ride the bench, Matthew “Super” DeLisi and Jay “Sinaatra” Won. The Shock had invested in young, promising talent to ensure their future legacy had a strong foundation to start on. It worked.
The Shock dropped only five matches the entire season, three in the first stage, two in the third stage and went undefeated in the second and fourth. Beyond that, the second stage they managed to become the first team in the short history of the league to attain what is now referred to as a Golden Stage. The Shock didn’t drop a single map in that second stage, winning 28 consecutive maps. In the play-offs when the Atlanta Reign took the Shock to a game 7 and knocked them into the lower bracket, they obliterated the losers bracket and swept all three teams 4 – 0. The San Francisco Shock are the true force of nature in the Overwatch League.
Roster Breakdown: Tanks
Super, Smurf, Choihyobin
Throughout the entire season the team relied heavily on the wisdom of the young Super. His Reinhardt was something to be feared and respected. According to OmnicMeta.Com he’s ranked the #2 Reinhardt in the League and without him during the GOATS Meta, there’s a good chance the Shock aren’t where they are today. Yet, there’s been no sign of him since the play-offs and the OrisaSigma double shield meta took over. You’d think without the tank player that got them here, the Shock would be in trouble but that’s where one of their biggest strengths comes into play. Myeong-hwan “Smurf” Yoo has stepped into the main tank role on Orisa opposite Hyobin “Choihyobin” Choi on the Sigma. Even without their young, stalwart leader the San Francisco Shock’s tank line are formidable and may even be in a better position defensively since you don’t have to worry your Reinhardt getting too aggressive at the wrong time and dying. If Vancouver hadn’t made a similar change by benching Sang-beom “Bumper” Park, this would be a huge advantage for San Francisco to capitalize on the over aggressive nature of the Titan’s Reinhardt, instead it puts both the tank lines at an even stand still.
Roster Breakdown: Damage
Sinaatra, Striker, Architect
The Damage Dealers is where the Shock really starts to shine. Their ace in the hole in the 2019 MVP Jay “Sinaatra” Won, who made an early name for him playing Tracer, but in the year since taking a permanent spot on the roster in a GOATS dominated meta has shown he can play literally anything. Alongside Super he melted through the competition on his Zarya and since the DPS Role Lock change has shown he has the chops to flex on any team with nearly any hero. Sinaatra is a wild card that it’s nearly impossible to plan for. Between the other two damage players Nam-joo ‘Striker’ Gwon and Minho “Architect” Park and even Dong-jun “Rascal” Kim, the biggest advantage of the San Francisco Shock is that they can throw any combinations of players into their damage roles and perform to the highest degree any form of comp. The moment the Shock feel like the Titans may have their number, they can switch it up and throw the competition off center.
Advantage: San Francisco Shock
Roster Breakdown: Supports
Moth, Viol2t, Rascal
When it comes to championship caliber teams, there isn’t a single part of the roster that you’d dare call weak. However, teams of this tier still have their own strengths and weaknesses, no matter how small they might be. When put up against the support line of the Titans, I think the Shock’s back-line is where they could really get hurt. Grant “Moth” Espe and Mink “Viol2t” Park are great at what they do when you’re looking at the team as a whole and with a defensive tank line consisting of Orisa and Sigma, if you’re playing safe you shouldn’t have a whole lot to worry about. The problem then is that in a meta with Doomfists and Reapers where just a single pick can turn the tide of battle, Moth and Viol2t on their own aren’t going to be making big plays. However, if they can at least make a habit of saving and shutting down offensive ultimates with their own they can at least break even. The other third of the support, despite being labeled everywhere as a damage player is Dong-jun “Rascal” Kim and his Baptiste. There is some play making potential here if properly played alongside the Shocks Damage Dealers. Keep an eye on Rascal.
Advantage: Vancouver Titans
See you in Philly!
Over the season these teams have faced off against each other four times. The Titans took home the first two wins, the Shock took home the second two. The map differential between the two teams is zero. They are so evenly matched going into the grand finals you’d think this was written for the silver screen. This win is so important for San Francisco, as a team that was less than average in the inaugural season because they were planning for the future they need this championship. History is written by the victors and no matter how great of a match we get, a loss in Philadelphia is one step towards falling back into obscurity.
For more Overwatch and Overwatch League content check out more episodes of Low Team Damage!
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