Figuring out how the Titans move forward into 2021.
Obviously, the Vancouver Titans have had a less than stellar second season. Their championship-contending roster imploded midway through the year (and half of their fanbase along with it), leaving them to settle with last-minute tier 2 talent who, collectively, didn’t have the greatest of debuts. Outside of Niclas "sHockWave" Jensen, the Titans squad didn’t leave too much of an impression.
They didn’t fare well against any team that wasn’t Boston or Dallas, and while there were some bright spots later in the season, there isn’t much to show from it after a complete molly-whop from the Washington Justice in the first round of the playoffs. To paint it clearly, if the league had a most forgettable team for each season, the Florida Mayhem would take the title for 2018 and 2019. In 2020, Vancouver would make a good argument for the year’s most unremarkable, outside of all the drama that happened earlier on.
It’s harsh but true. Again, outside of sHockWave’s fantastic individual performances, the Vancouver Titans simply didn’t have the makings of an exciting Overwatch League franchise anymore, and the 2020 season felt more like an obligation rather than an attempt to live up to their previous results last year. So, now for them, what are they supposed to do? With one of the smallest rosters in the league, the most inexperienced from the tier 1 perspective, and seemingly not a lot to build around, what do the Vancouver Titans go for that could give them a fighting chance to escape the bottom of the league in 2021?
SHockWave The Star And Committing To The Vision
Moving forward, probably the path everyone suggests, is to build around their diamond in the rough, sHockWave. This guy went crazy in his debut season of the Overwatch League, putting in standout performances on Echo, Widowmaker, you name it. He was such a standout, that there was a lot of discussion surrounding sHockWave as an MVP candidate, Rookie of the Year, Role Star, and any other award that a player could win. People wanted to see sHockWave recognized for his value, and they wouldn’t be wrong for feeling so. He was the bright spot, the carry for Vancouver, very visible in his impact on a struggling team. Even if Vancouver were to nuke their roster, one would hope they'd keep sHockWave locked away in a bomb shelter to keep the best part of their season alive.
Keeping sHockWave and building around him also lets Vancouver commit to their vision of supporting tier 2 players, bringing in more from the North American and European scenes. Admittedly, most of the top NA talent is underaged for a good while, and EU’s best team, British Hurricane, happens to be the Academy team of the London Spitfire, an organisation who’s been rumoured to move in a more western direction. It would be a huge bidding war for EU’s top Contenders team, but one might be worth fighting for. Even if they don’t win out on those players, there are still long-time figures looking to get their breakout starts in OWL. Otto "Milkyman" Saren, Nikolai "Naga" Dereli, or even Fabio "AFoxx" Veigas, all players who have been on the Contenders grind for a while and maybe who can finally have the opportunity to play in the Overwatch League, under the Vancouver banner.
@Danteh punches his way to victory in one of our most watched social media highlights of Stage 3.
2 hours until Stage 4! Watch it here:
Raiding The Fridge For Leftovers
If the Vancouver Titans for some reason don’t keep sHockWave, let go of their players, still want to keep the western identity, don’t want to commit to the oncoming trade war for top South Korean talent, and want a few veterans to round out the roster, then there are some widely sought-after free agents on the market. Probably one of the hottest western free agents right now is Dante "Danteh" Cruz, a super talented DPS player that was never on a roster that really gave him the chance to shine. Danteh was always treated more as the quiet kid in class, never centre stage, but always good, a standout student who always cleaned up after everyone else. He deserves to be on a team that would put him at the forefront, with dedicated resources to make him even better. If the Titans have the cash to spend, Danteh would make a great starting point.
With other notable free agents like Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin or Isaac "Boombox" Charles currently on the market, maybe you have something really nice brewing in the works for Vancouver. On paper, it looks like the Titans might be getting other teams’ leftovers, but under the right conditions finding the right players to support the talent of the players mentioned above, it could prove very lucrative. Now, if the rumours are true that the London Spitfire are looking to go western or mixed, and the recent roster movements indicate that being a possibility, then these players are definitely going to be hard to get. Especially against London who could undoubtedly be promoting their academy team and rounding out the roster with talented and popular veteran OWL talent. But again, it could be a fight worth fighting, maybe even one that sees the Titans gain a lot of the favour and good-will that they had lost with the dramatic departure of their previous squad.
Vancouver has their work cut out for them, but honestly, 2021 could be their season to bounce back after a mediocre turn around to a once-promising franchise. That’s all if they could commit to getting talented players with a lot of potential, and executing the vision to help them work together and improve as a team, even if 2020 was a rough year for the franchise. Gaining popular OWL and Contenders veterans to revamp a roster that seemed put together last minute, it could allow the Titans to return to a spot once again in the Overwatch League where they were considered a threat.
All images courtesy of the Vancouver Titans