Despite the inability to play their signature GOATs line-up, the Titans adapt - and overcome.
The Vancouver Titans proved today they are not just a one-trick GOATs team after taking down the Shanghai Dragons 3-1 in their first match of Stage 4 in the Overwatch League (OWL) last night.
The first major shock of the match was Vancouver’s starting line-up, which featured the return of DPS legend Dong-Eun ‘Hooreg’ Lee. As the previous triple-tank, triple-support meta did not favour DPS characters, Hooreg spent nearly all of Season 2 rooting for the team on the bench.
However, Hooreg failed to impress on the first map, Lijiang Tower, prompting commentators to speculate whether Stitch would be swapped in for the next map to challenge DDing’s unopposed Pharah. But it was on King’s Row and Junkertown where Hooreg truly showed a return to form. In the moments when it mattered, Hooreg was there with massive plays, taking four consecutive players out as Widowmaker, demonstrating he can carry team fights on his own.
Ultimately, the Titans won 3-1, and for the third and fourth maps, it was clear that including Hooreg in the lineup was no experiment.
Despite speculation the Titans would struggle in adapting to the 2-2-2 meta, the victory should send a message to every team in league doubting them.
Haksal’s return to Genji (and DPS heroes in general) came as a relief, as he had been delegated to playing the brawler support character Brigitte for most of Season 2, one of the vital heroes for the triple-tank, triple-support meta. With his signature hero, he proved able to quickly end team fights against the Dragons.
“First of all, I’m really happy that I don’t have to play Brigitte. Brig is almost deleted in our composition, so I’m really happy about that and I feel really comfortable playing a damage hero,” Haksal said in a post-game interview translated by OWL’s Korean insider Danny Lim.
“Through the whole season, we have been known to be one of the best 3-3 composition teams, and a lot of people are saying we are weak in 2-2-2,” Haksal said to Lim after the game.
“We are really good in 2-2-2 and we are going to give it all we have in Stage 4.”
Players like Hooreg and Haksal were able to play the characters they’ve spent years perfecting, rather than simply playing what the lmeta demanded.
Titans head coach Ji-sub “paJion” Hwang told OWL’s Korean insider Danny Lim that Hooreg is currently the best DPS player in the league. While this match against the Dragons demonstrated his skills have not faltered, viewers will need to see a few more matches with Hooreg at the lead to see whether he can claim that particular title.
One takeaway the Titans coaching team (and rivals) should note is that the Titans continue to struggle against DDing’s Pharah. The verticality and damage of Pharah continues to be the Titans’ downfall in team fights, as DDing went nearly unopposed on the second part of Lijiang Tower, despite Hooreg playing direct counters to Pharah.
The league awarded Hooreg as MVP of this match as his skilled plays helped carry team fights, and he showed that he could go toe-to-toe with Dragons Widowmaker specialist, diem. The league is likely going to see a lot more of Hooreg on the starting lineup if he continues to show that bench-warming hasn’t made him weak.
The Vancouver Titans will face off against the Florida Mayhem on Sunday, July 28 at 3:30 p.m. and the game can be streamed live at twitch.tv/overwatchleague, on the ESPN app, or on overwatchleague.com.
Jonathan is a video game enthusiast and fan of the Overwatch League esports scene. By day, he’s a graphic designer and communications specialist in Burnaby, but at night he plays main tank as Orisa in Overwatch.