OWL Stage One Playoffs: Vancouver Titans Take the Win

Overwatch League 2019 Season Stage 1 Playoffs / photo:Stewart Volland for Blizzard Entertainment

Vancouver Titans 4-3 San Francisco Shock

This weekend saw the culmination of the first stage of Overwatch League’s second season. Eight teams entered after finishing atop the standings during Stage One, but only one could be crowned winner and walk away with the lion’s share of the $500,000 on the line ($200,000 for 1st place). Every analyst saw this coming down to an inevitable Titans v Excelsior finish…they got that half right, as the Titans were there, but joined by the San Francisco Shock.

This stage was the first in which teams did not play the majority of other teams in the League, only playing seven matches, with 20 teams in the league, in comparison to last year’s ten matches with only twelve teams in the league. There’s some argument in there concerning possible strength of schedule issues, especially moving forward as the standings work themselves out. This weekend’s matches actually highlighted a possible issue with that.

The weekend started off on Thursday, with the highest ranking two teams taking on the lowest. While many thought this might mean just two quick matches, we didn’t have to wait long for some impressive Overwatch action.

Courtesy Blizzard Entertainment

Day 1 (Thursday March 21)

Seoul Dynasty (7) v. NYXL (2)

Game 1Game 2Game 3Game 4


Game three and four were the big takeaways in this match. NYXL came in undefeated and pretty heavy favourites; yet, something about NY and performance issues in big matches came to fruition once again. Seoul looked through two games like they might just quickly sweep the series 3-0. Game three (Volskaya Industries) was possibly one of the best games of Overwatch played this year, until a ridiculous turn of events in game four (Rialto).

After taking game three, NYXL looked poised for a possible reverse sweep. The atmosphere was changing, the players looked driven, everything seemed to be setting itself up for the inevitable. Map four did not disappoint though. Seoul continued to just barely be able to progress the objective, while NYXL’s defence looked poised to hold. Still, Seoul almost managed to finish their entire attacking phase, but a slip up at the end left them mere metres from full score. NYXL’s offence in comparison was a juggernaut. They never seemed to slow, as Seoul’s resistance seemed futile. Somehow, yet again, a massive hold at the end by Seoul, and a slip up by NYXL’s Nenne proved to be the deciding factor.

If you missed it, highly recommend that you try to catch a VOD of at least games three and four.


Boston Uprising LogoBoston Uprising (8) v. Van Titans (1)

Game 1Game 2Game 3


Whereas the first match of the day provided for excitement and upset, Vancouver’s triumph over Boston went exactly to script. The Titans absolutely rolled over the Uprising; in doing so, they cemented their station as the clear favourites to take the stage championship.


Day 2 (Friday March 22)

Atlanta Reign (5) v. Philly Fusion (4)

Game 1Game 2Game 3Game 4


The Reign came out strong, taking the first game against the Fusion. After that though, the match seemed all Philly. Atlanta were able to keep it close on Volskaya (game three), but Philadelphia prevailed and that seemed to have broken the spirit of the Reign players. Game four went in favour of Philadelphia pretty convincingly and that was that.


SFS (6) v. Toronto Defiant (3)

Game 1Game 2Game 3


This may have been the strongest argument for a possible issue with strength of schedule having such an impact the way stages are currently set up. Toronto clinched a stage playoff spot pretty early with their 5-2 record; conversely, San Francisco snuck into the playoffs on the back of some key wins/losses right at the end of the stage. This match however, looked less like an upset, so much as a clearly better team taking another to task.  


Day 3 (Saturday March 23)

Seoul Dynasty (7) v. Van Titans (1)

Game 1Game 2Game 3Game 4


Vancouver’s spot as the number one team throughout the first stage remained after this match, but some chinks in the armour began to appear. Throughout the stage, the Titans’ opponents had a measly .390 win record. Seoul were not able to overcome Vancouver, but they were able to keep it closer than a seven seed were expected to against the “Kings of the Jungle”.


SFS (6) v. Philly Fusion (4)

Game 1Game 2Game 3Game 4


San Francisco proved true to their name, Shock(ing) the OWL community once again, playing through a match looking as the clear favourites all along. The Fusion (last year’s runner up in the overall Finals) were held to a mere TWO objectives throughout the entire match, both coming on Horizon Lunar Colony in what looked their their last ditch effort before being entirely broken down by the Shock.


Day 4 (Sunday March 24)

SFS (6) v. Van Titans (1)

Game 1Game 2Game 3Game 4Game 5Game 6Game 7


There has yet to have been such a perfect, and close match as this. SEVEN GAMES! It took us seven games to declare a winner, and this was supposed to be a pretty clearcut match. No one could have scripted a better finish to the first stage after expansion than this. Vancouver came in clear favourites, having proven themselves kings of the meta, finishing the stage undefeated with the best game differential record. If you are going to watch any match from this weekend, this should be it hands down.

Game one showcased just how close this first to four would be. Each team looked at their best, and managed to take a point each before the Shock finally finished up the game with a pretty impressive retake for the final objective.

Game two was all Vancouver. A full hold on defence, and a quick take of the 1.2 ticks they needed gave Vancouver the win.

Game three began looking like a recharged Vancouver would roll right over San Francisco after the first break. The Titans looked like they were about to full hold the Shock, but a key series of ultimates to take objective A allowed San Francisco to snowball the map. Vancouver were forced to fight harder than they thought they’d need to, but after an absolute banger of a game, San Francisco emerged victorious.

Game four saw the Titans tie it up once again. Escort on Dorado hasn’t been a strong map for the Shock thus far in 2019 (0-3), while the Titans remain undefeated (3-0).

Game five saw another map (Ilios) which the Titans were undefeated on coming in (5-0). The Shock looked unphased by this, taking objective A and 99% of Objective B before the Titans seemed to finally wake. The awakening wasn’t able to shake off the Shock though, and Game 5 went the way of San Francisco.

For the third time, Vancouver managed to tie it up. In another turn of events, this match just kept going, giving the fans truly an impressive experience. King’s Row is a pretty quintessential Overwatch map. Constant manipulation of corners and angles drive a fast paced and at times hectic game. Perfect for the Titans’ play-style. Through six games, all odds went to San Francisco while all the evens to Vancouver.

Game seven saw action on Rialto. Finally, a map San Francisco themselves were undefeated on. Their attack seemed nearly unstoppable, managing to push the payload to the end with a little time remaining…Vancouver laughed at that and responded with the fastest Rialto take in the OWL thus far (4:26 remaining in the timebank [3:33 to finish]). That breakneck speed broke the Shock, as the second attempts at the map saw the Shock barely able to make it to the first checkpoint and unable to capture it. Vancouver took that weak push and almost immediately matched it. One big fight later, they were able to win the stage one playoffs, their first, and remain as the undisputed top of the standings.


Austin White
Austin White is Overwatchscore’s senior beat writer, mostly covering the London Spitfire and Toronto Defiant. An avid esports fan and gamer, Austin spends his free time playing, watching, and writing about video games. You can find his articles both at Overwatchscore as well as EGF. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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