Whether you’re a professional basketball player or whoever left that Starbucks cup on the Game of Thrones set, everybody has off nights. Well, everybody except the rejuvenated San Francisco Shock. After a messy first season, they’ve spent season two looking like an entirely different team. Yesterday, they achieved something no other team ever has: a perfect stage.
Overwatch League seasons are broken up into stages, each of which last five weeks and feed into their own mini-playoffs. While the ever-dominant Vancouver Titans—to whom the SF Shock narrowly lost one of the best matches of the season to cap off stage one—have made it through multiple stages without losing a match, SF didn’t drop a single map during stage two. They won four maps to zero against every team they played, for a total of 28 consecutive map victories. This is a first.
Stage two concluded yesterday afternoon. Over the course of five weeks, SF played against the Los Angeles Valiant, the Guangzhou Charge (twice), the Toronto Defiant, the Hangzhou Spark, the Philadelphia Fusion, and the Shanghai Dragons. Admittedly, only two of those teams—the Shanghai Dragons and the Hangzhou Spark—are currently in the league’s top eight. One could argue that top teams like the Vancouver Titans and the New York Excelsior fared nearly as well while facing tougher competition. Then again, the New York Excelsior dropped two matches to the 11th-ranked Atlanta Reign during stage two, so who really knows what’s going on with them anymore?
Still, all that aside, it’s been fun to watch SF build to a place of confidence that borders on outright swagger. Yesterday, for example, they absolutely styled on the Shanghai Dragons with plays like this split-second Winston bubble that countered a Pharah rocket barrage midair, causing her to self-destruct.
During the same match, SF set a new completion-time record on Overwatch’s Paris map during their first attack. Apparently that wasn’t enough for them, because they proceeded to break their own record during their next attack. After the match, SF tank player Matthew “Super” DeLisi joined OWL’s commentators at the desk and talked mad shit—or at least, talked some shit, which is a change of pace in a league where players are largely soft-spoken (at least, when the cameras are on).
Stage two playoffs begin on Thursday, with SF once again playing Shanghai to kick things off. I wouldn’t call that match’s outcome a foregone conclusion, but well, let’s be real here: If nothing too crazy happens, then we’ll probably be looking at an SF-Vancouver rematch in the stage two finals. As for who takes it, I’m still favouring Vancouver, but if the rematch is even half as good as their first tilt, it’ll be required viewing no matter what.
Featured image: Robert Paul (Blizzard Entertainment)