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Thursday, March 21th @ 11 P.M. – Boston Uprising vs. Vancouver Titans
After an epic reverse sweep against the Dallas Fuel last Thursday and getting some help from other teams around the league, Boston has secured the 8th seed. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, they have to play the undefeated and top seeded Vancouver Titans. You’ll be hard pressed to find any pundit giving the Uprising a prayer. If you’re drinking the Kool-Aid on Boston, how do you chart a path to victory? Let’s take a look.
It’s High Noon
It may be Vancouver’s first season in the league, but you wouldn’t know it by the way they’ve performed. The former Contenders Korea Champions have run roughshod over the rest of the league. For example, they’ve already gotten three 4-0 sweeps, more than any other team in the league. Records don’t tell the whole story, as the Titans reign supreme statistically, too. Jjanu and SeoMinSoo are the top two players in eliminations per 10 minutes across the league of players with at least 5 hours of playtime, while Jjanu is also second in lowest number of deaths. Obviously, Jjanu is a force to be reckoned with, and someone the Uprising need to prepare for if they want to win. As an off-tank, Jjanu has been knowing for his aggressive pokes and timely self-destructs. How can Boston counter that?
Any path to victory against Vancouver will come through team compositions. Guangzhou and Chengdu each took the Titans to a 5th game. How did they do it?
Both teams were willing to go against the 3-3 meta. That first pic is from Vancouver’s match against Guangzhou, and shows the Charge’s hero usage during the matchup. Here we saw some of the most prominent use of Ana across Stage 1. Those Nanoboosts and Biotic Grenades were devastating to the Titans, and showed they were caught off guard. Next, we see the hero lineup for the Chengdu Hunters. Known for their off-meta play, Chengdu employed some of the highest usage of Hammond and Mercy we’ve seen this season. Though both teams relied on the 3-3 across their matches against Vancouver, it is clear that their boldness in team composition factored into their success.
What does this mean for Boston? Last week against Dallas we saw a flash of brilliance in off-meta play. For example, Note’s brief time on Tracer and Colourhex’s head turning switch to Widow suggest this team can play DPS. Will the Uprising’s coaches go wild? Will Blasé be stuck on Birgitte the whole match, or could he and Colourhex be put on a DPS? Well, it seems to me if Boston wants to win they have to do something crazy. Fortune favors the bold.
Justice Rains From Above
In contrast to team composition, the maps don’t portend as much potential for the Uprising. As the specific map sequence hasn’t been revealed, we can only look at game type. Unfortunately, Vancouver’s dominance and the small sample size of Stage 1 doesn’t indicate any advantage for Boston. Sure, there’s a bit of a statistical edge on escort mode – but don’t hang your hat on that.
|Boston Uprising||Vancouver Titans|
3 – 0 – 4
7 – 0 – 1
4 – 0 – 2
5 – 0 – 1
3 – 1 – 2
5 – 1 – 0
3 – 1 – 2
3 – 0 – 3
Besides maps and team composition, let’s look at play style. Vancouver’s star tank player, Bumper, is known as one of the most aggressive tanks in the league. How will Boston’s own aggro Rein, Fusions, play? Fusions could scream himself to death shot calling, but it will be for naught if he doesn’t have support. Boston has looked weak when Fusions gets picked first, and needs to make sure he gets the Zarya bubbles and Orbs of Harmony to sustain him. We may find out what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object in Bumper and Fusions. Someone will flinch. And the whole match may rest on it.
Given the team’s preseason power rankings, trades, contract signings, and player suspensions, it’s nothing short of a miracle that Boston made the playoffs. From pushing the NYXL to the brink in opening night, to giving Shanghai their first win, the Uprising’s season has been an emotional roller coaster. Is it fair to expect them to take out the seemingly dominant Vancouver? Nope. Not at all. As a result, what can we reasonably hope to see? Ideally, I want to see some flexibility. If Boston runs GOATS and it isn’t working, will they have make adjustments on the fly? Can they run some DPS in the mix, put in an off-support or off-tank hero? Or is the team stuck behind a rigid structure of preset plays and prepared strats? To me this is one of the fundamental questions Boston has yet to answer all season.
That said I think we shouldn’t go in expecting the worse. Even in a GOATS v. GOATS matchup, Boston has plenty to feel good about. Note has quietly become a support assassin. Problem is he always pops off in the midst of the fight, which makes it hard to see on the broadcast. But he’s been on top of his game. Additionally, Aimgod has also flown under the radar as a star Zenyatta main this stage. Can he hope to keep it up and make a name on the biggest stage of the year? That’s what I’ll be looking for. We know this team is resilient (see Fuel, Dallas) so don’t count them out until the end. This team has always been full of surprises.
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