The Vancouver Titans have had a tumultuous year so far, between players leaving and a whole new roster signing on. 2020 in general hasn’t been ideal for the Overwatch League or its teams.
The Vancouver Titans’ new roster played last week, and the results were about what you would expect from a fresh Contenders players.
The Vancouver Titans’ new roster
The 2019 Vancouver Titans’ roster was an unprecedented rookie squad taking down some of the top teams in the Overwatch League. The Titans picked up the entirety of Korea Contenders’ Team Runaway, including notable names like Hyojong “Haksal” Kim and Hyeon-Woo “JJANU” Choi.
2020 was a year of high expectations for the Titans, but a series of unfortunate events early on took a toll on the team. Players reported that they were unhappy with management. Most of them removed the Vancouver Titans association from their social media profiles before parting with the team a few days later.
— Vancouver Titans (@VancouverTitans) May 8, 2020
A matter of days before Week 14 kicked off, the Vancouver Titans announced a completely new roster. The team’s new roster is composed of various Contenders players, three of which came from Second Wind.
The most notable of their additions was support player Randal “Roolf” Stark. Roolf competed at the Overwatch World Cup for Team Canada in 2017. In 2019, he helped carry the Gladiators’ Legion to a second-place finish in Contenders North America. None of the new players that Vancouver picked up have experience in the League, but this wouldn’t be the first time that Vancouver has worked with T2 players.
Many had hoped that the Titans would find their second wind this weekend, but instead it ended with a dull whimper.
The first performance
It’s best to get all of the excuses out of the way when talking about the Titans’ performance last weekend. Sure, some players dealt with high ping, that’s a factor. We also don’t really know how much time this squad got to prepare, before they were thrust into the big leagues. Vancouver apologists should be plenty satisfied, and here is what actually went down.
The Titans new roster played two scattered yet promising matches Week 14 of the Overwatch League. Against the Washington Justice, mistakes were plentiful and it was painful watching the series go on. At one point, the Vancouver Titans used six ultimates in a single fight and still lost.
The individual skill of the fresh roster shone through at moments, but was squandered when the rest of the team failed to follow up. Coming out of halftime against the Washington Justice, the Vancouver Titans played aggressively, forcing the Justice to make mistakes. Justice caught on and adapted going into the Temple of Anubis, matching the Titans’ aggression and playing as a unit.
In their match against the Florida Mayhem, the Vancouver Titans new roster struggled to close out the win. Late ultimates, poor positioning, and more hero swaps than are ideal for a professional game handed Florida a win for the weekend. In the off-tank matchup between the two teams, Alhumaidi “KSAA” Alruwaili got beaten and battered around, while Beom-jun “Gargoyle” Lee on the Florida Mayhem navigated the team fights with ease.
This isn’t to say that the rookie was utterly helpless. In fact, he did a better job of creating space for his team than tank counterpart Abtin “ShRedLock” Shirvani.
Hopes for the future
The replacement Vancouver Titans roster is not in a position to succeed currently. The team has not been given the time or resources to prepare for the imposing jump into the Overwatch League. Additionally, players are competing from Saudi Arabia, France, Canada, and on both sides of the United States.
Most other teams have secured a team house in their designated region, coaching staff, and a rigid schedule. There has been no word yet on how the Vancouver Titans will invest in their new team’s success. It is hard to judge a team based solely on one weekend of play, but the Titans have potential. The organization can invest in their current players and build a talented roster of former Contenders players, or plan to start off clean next year again.
I know the Titans players are getting a lot of flack right now from fans worldwide, but I think these guys have serious potential if they stick with it and work hard. There were definitely flashes of brilliance this weekend, and with better prep, this team will have its moments.
— Wolf Schröder (@proxywolf) May 11, 2020
Right now, if any team were to make their exit from the Overwatch League, my money would be on the Vancouver Titans. There wasn’t much logic in dropping an entire roster instead of working to keep them happy.
That said, recruiting a team of Contenders players mid-season is admirable in a way. Blizzard and the Overwatch League receive criticism for their lack of support for the tier two and tier three scene constantly. However, fans forget that teams also must open opportunities for players to climb to the top.
Going into this season, these players have a chance to make their Overwatch League debut matter. Against all the odds, a few if not all of these players have the chance to shine, and forge their own victories under the Titans’ banner.