Shanghai Dragons take the OWL stage three championship

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The Shanghai Dragons started their Overwatch League history going 0-40 last season. But, with a new starting six and a meta that has changed for their advantage, the redemption story is completed as the Dragons have beaten the San Francisco Shock 4-3 to claim the stage three championship. Let’s take a look at exactly what went down.

Map One: Oasis

San Francisco started off the day with a surprising starting six. Fielding Smurf, Striker and Architect instead perennial starters Super, Rascal and Sinatraa, San Francisco looked to catch the Dragons off guard. And it almost worked.

Oasis was a back and forth affair as Shanghai took the first and third points, while San Francisco took point two in a solid performance. The highlight for San Francisco in this map Choihyobin coming out on the Roadhog. A strong showing that would continue to pay off big throughout the seven game series.

The final thing that pushed the Shanghai over the line in map one has to be Diem’s success on the Widowmaker. Diem has been called the best Widowmaker in the Overwatch League and today it showed why. Diem denied Striker’s Tracer. Then he forced Striker off of Hanzo as he picked him off time and time again. Diem pushed Shanghai over the line to get the match off on a great foot for Shanghai.

Map Two: Numbani

In playoffs maps are chosen by the loser of the previous map. The expectation was for San Francisco to chose Hollywood as it is both a map San Francisco is undefeated on, and doesn’t play into Shanghai’s DPS heavy style of play. But to the surprise of all the analysts San Francisco chose instead to take the match to Numbani. The choice did not pan out for them. Even with their standard starting roster reassembled it wasn’t going to be enough.

Shanghai got off to a fast start on their attack. Between Diem’s Widowmaker and YOUNGJIN’s Doomfist San Francisco couldn’t get their bearings and were easily pushed off Point A. After Point A San Francisco stiffened up and forced Shanghai into overtime before eventually giving up Point C.

It looked like San Francisco was going to out do Shanghai as they went into Point C with over four minutes left to take that last point. But Shanghai pulled together an epic defense to put a halt to San Francisco’s progress. Being kept alive by the excellent support play of Luffy and Coma, Gamsu’s Wreckingball seemed to be immortal as he bounced around disrupting every attempt at pushing the payload San Francisco made and opening them up for barrages by Dding.

Map Three: Horizon Lunar Colony

With two maps in Shanghai’s corner the momentum was firmly in their corner goin into the assault map. San Francisco chose Horizon as it is both difficult for DPS heavy compositions and favors the classic GOATS composition San Francisco loves. But even though it seemed good for a moment, Shanghai again snatched away a victory from San Francisco and put them that much closer to defeat.

After both teams had impressive first attacks, completing the map with solid times, Shanghai was held short of completing Point B on their second attack. San Francisco steamrolled through Point A only to once again get stopped cold, and just short of catching Shanghai.  This was the closest map yet in the series, but the result left Shanghai up there to zero in this first to four match and it was beginning to look grim for San Francisco.

Map Four: Havana

Next, San Francisco opted to take the series to Havana for the escort map. With their backs against the wall it was do or die time for the stage two champions.

Shanghai started their defense with a Reaper, hoping his self healing attacks would allow them to stall out San Francisco. This didn’t work, and San Francisco capitalized on the mistake pushing the payload hard through Point A. Things slowed down a bit for them after that as Point B on Havana is notorious for favoring the defense. Yet they still managed to push on, being stopped only just shy of Point C.

All the energy in the arena was up to peak levels as Shanghai began their attack. But from the first moment they struggled. San Francisco challenged them hard with a forward defense that denied them even Poimt A. San Francisco was running a composition much like Shanghai’s. And with Choihyobin continuing to pop off on Roadhog no one on Shanghai seemed safe from a quick hookshot, followed closely by death.

Map Five: Ilios

For the first time in the match Shanghai picked the map. With Ilios’s long sight lines favoring Diem’s Widowmaker, and huge open areas giving Dding plenty of room on the Pharah it was a given this would be their choice.

With Shanghai taking Point A 100-0 it looked like Ilios was the right call, and their victory was looking assured. But San Francisco again stepped up, stringing back to back captures of Points B &C to claim another map and push themselves that much closer to a reverse sweep.

Map Six: Eichenwalde

Shanghai’s choice of Eichenwalde was the best of a bad situation for them. Both maps heavily favored San Francisco, both in win percentage, as well as style of composition best suited for them. Nevertheless Shanghai showed up with a good initial attack as they completed the map with one minute in their time bank.

San Francisco however was building momentum and were not about to be stopped. With a lighting swift attack they managed to complete the map with over three minutes remaining. An extremely impressive pace any day.  And another sign that Shanghai might be crumbling.

Shanghai then failed to capture Point A on their second attack, and followed that up with a lackluster defense that crumbled before San Fransico’s Offense. With this win the match was now tied up at three maps a piece. The next map would decide it all.

Map Seven: Dorado

Goin into map Seven it felt like everything was completely reversed from the start of the match. It seemed as if San Francisco could do no wrong, and Shanghai couldn’t get out of their own way. Dorado would decide the final fate for both of these teams.

Shanghai was the first on defense and they quickly showed why Dorado had been their map of choice. Diem and Dding proceeded to use the long sight lines and open areas of the map to pick apart San Francisco’s formation as they were left slamming themselves against the wall  of Orisa and Roadhog before them. Though San Francisco was hard put to it, they did manage to capture Point A. Though their forward momentum was halted shortly thereafter.

Usually such a short push means all but a guaranteed win for the second attacking team. But with so many amazing defenses already been seen this series nothing could be ruled out. San Francisco came out with everything they had, forcing Shanghai to earn every meter of ground they gained.

But earn it they did. Reigniting the coordination that had earned them this spot in the Overwatch League stage three championship they proceeded to break San Francisco’s defense, and claim the match a stunning four games to three.

Victory!

For the Shanghai Dragons, who had begun their journey in the Overwatch League with the longest losing streak in professional sports this was the ultimate vindication. Fans were seen crying with joy as the entire team and coaching staff came onto the stage for photos and to accept their championship.

It has been a long road for Shanghai, but having gone through all three of the top ranked teams in the Overwatch League during this stage playoff run one can’t help but wonder… Are there even bigger things in store for Shanghai before this season ends?

Thats it for this recap of the Overwatch League 2019 Stage three championship. I hope you’ve enjoyed!

‘Til next time, keep playing the point!