In what was expected to be a titanic showdown in the 2019 Overwatch League Grand Finals, the San Francisco Shock pulled off a crushing 4-0 sweep of the Vancouver Titans to win the title in front of a sellout crowd at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
The contest saw two of the favourites for the title facing off after the end of season playoffs that took the top 12 teams and dropped them into a knockout tournament run over the past month. It started with the play-in tournament for teams ranked 7th-12th through the regular season on 30-31st August, which saw the London Spitfire and Seoul Dynasty progress to the main Playoffs with a double-elimination format.
As the first seeds in the winners bracket, the Vancouver Titans (an expansion team for 2019) progressed as expected, defeating the Seoul Dynasty 4-2, the LA Gladiators 4-2 and coming through a close battle with the New York Excelsior to win 4-3 and move to the final. Each team beaten then dropped down to the loser’s bracket, giving them a second chance to progress through to the final.
This format actually provided the Shock a lifeline, as they lost their first match against the sixth seed Atlanta Reign 3-4. From there the Shock absolutely obliterated everyone that they faced, defeating the London Spitfire, LA Gladiators, Hangzhou Spark and New York Excelsior 4-0 across the four loser rounds.
At that point there were high expectations for another huge tussle between the Titans and the Shock, who have met on several occasions throughout the season. With the season split into four stages, with three stage playoffs punctuating them, the Titans and Shock met in the first two playoff finals, the Titans winning 4-2 in the first and the Shock taking the second by the reverse score. But for an interruption by the Shanghai Dragons in the final days of the GOATS meta, they would have met in the stage three finals as well.
Since Blizzard introduced the 2-2-2 role queue in July, putting an end to the tank and support GOATS team composition that dominated much of the year, the Shock have seemingly adapted better – they won seven matches in Stage 4, while the Titans had a 5-2 record – and their mastery of the game told in the finals.
With San Francisco’s victory, eyes turn to the 2020 season. The 2020 signing window is now open with teams looking to strengthen ahead of the 2020 Overwatch League’s start on 8th February, where the New York Excelsior and Dallas Fuel will host the first weekend of matches at their new home stadia.