The 2019 Overwatch League season has been in need of an adrenaline shot for some time. Stage 3, in general, has been fairly lackluster, outside of the handful of upsets, and in terms of exciting narratives, this stage has been ramping into a very competitive playoff bracket.These stage playoffs so far have been a breath of fresh air for the Overwatch League and the upcoming semifinals are no different. Here is a preview and my predictions on how Stage 3’s semifinals will conclude.
Vancouver Titans vs Shanghai Dragons
In the first semifinal, we have the Pacific Division leaders, the Vancouver Titans facing off against the craft and dangerous Shanghai Dragons. The Titans walked through the Houston Outlaws without much of an effort needed in their quarterfinal match.The teams last big test was against the Los Angeles Gladiators whom they not only convincingly beat 4-0, but did so in a new style. The Titans seem much more keen on keeping Stitch in the starting lineup to play Sombra. On the other hand, the Shanghai Dragons have been executing well on their triple DPS compositions. It’s easy to see why when you take a look at how individually skilled each of their members is.Luffy played exceptionally well against NYXL on Ana, sleeping Mano constantly as he tried to engage. DDing becoming more a focal point with his world-class Pharah. Youngjin has been another weapon that the Dragon’s can rely on with his Doomfist and diem handles the Widowmaker and Sombra very well. I don’t see Envy seeing too terribly much playtime this match. The Dragon’s seem very confident in their triple threat lineup and mirroring the Titans with Sombra GOATS. They’ll end up playing leaning into their color, as much as they can to try and force the Titans to adapt to their style, something which the Titans have struggled with in the past. For great examples of this, revisit the Titans loss versus the Los Angeles Valiant and their struggles early in the season against the Chengdu Hunters. The Titans are at their most vulnerable when a team approaches them with a distinct style and forces them to become reactionary.When it comes to brass tacks, I think this match is going to be incredibly difficult for Shanghai to win. With how quickly the Titans have adapted to their new style and how dominant they look with it, I don’t see where Shanghai has many advantages outside of a handful of Control maps and the odd Assualt map. Now, I don’t think Shanghai has a 0% chance of winning. If anything I’d give them a solid 20% chance of winning. I think Control is going to be a dog fight, where Shanghai can come out ahead, but outside of that, the Titans just have more cohesive teamwork, they’ve shown mid-stage adaptation, and they look good integrating new members into the fold. As for predictions, I’m going to give this to the Titans, 4-1, with Shanghai taking Control and falling to the Titans’ aggressive playstyle.
San Fransisco Shock vs Los Angeles Valiant
The second match of the day is between the Stage 2 champions, the San Fransisco Shock and the promising Los Angeles Valiant. While the Valiant are very promising and they have taken a match off of the Vancouver Titans, who are likely to make the finals, they are facing off against another team that has taken the Titans to their limits numerous times and beaten them.The Shock still look strong on GOATS and it’s many variations as well as their own particular iteration adding Rascal’s Baptiste to the mix. However, I wonder how much trouble they will run into when facing off against the Valiants more broad and colorful compositions. This again is going to be another battle of styles, but in their quarterfinal match, we have seen the Shock be able to not only adapt but weather the storm of some of Seoul’s more unorthodox compositions.In their quarterfinal match, the Shock featured great mid-map adaptation against Seoul on Dorado. Seoul all series long had been running Marve1 on the Wrecking Ball and abusing how well the hero engaged from high ground. Knowing this, the Shock had Sinatraa use his Graviton Surge to lock down the engage and catch Seoul off guard. Another oddity that we saw from the Shock was their apprehension to putting their star flex support, Viol2t, onto Ana. With how much Moira they’ve been playing against DPS based compositions, could this pose a problem for them when the Valiant begins to accelerate later into the series and pulls out a double sniper composition?Speaking of the Valiant they were able to bring out quite a few different compositions in their quarterfinal match against the Hangzhou Spark. This, to me, seems like they have a good grasp on the new meta that has popped up towards the end of this stage.Not only that, but they also have what seems to be a pocket map pick in Havana and looked solid on it against the Spark. However, this match, in general, holds a pretty big asterisk for me and I’m incredibly uneasy about Valiants form right now. That quarterfinal match felt like one of those games that no one truly won, but one team just made slightly more mistakes. It seemed to be a carousel of errors between Agilities somehow finding his way into the enemy backline, FCTFCTN playing overly aggressive, and Shax had a number of awkward EMPs that slowed down the Valiant’s tempo. Again, I think I can excuse a fair bit of these due to the team still finding their footing and the pressure mounting on some of their more green players.While I think neither team played their best match in the quarterfinals, but I still think that the Shock was much coordinated with their ultimate usage and were able to identify certain win conditions to pull them back from the brink. That said, I think the Shock are going to take this match 4-1 with the Valiant possibly taking Control or Assualt by leaning into their bunker compositions.Joseph “Volamel” Franco has followed esports since the MLGs of 2006. He started out primarily following Starcraft 2, Halo 3, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. He has transitioned from viewer to journalist and writes freelance primarily about Overwatch and League of Legends. If you would to follow his thoughts you can follow him at@Volamel.In the meantime, follow our Overwatch section for more news.Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.