This Overwatch League season will be a proving ground for the newest iteration of the Vancouver Titans roster, heading into their first year as a stable, Western-based organization.
In the middle of the 2020 season, Vancouver’s management gutted the all-Korean roster and put together a crew of Overwatch Contenders players. While the team managed to tread water for the remainder of the season, they were never able to develop on solid ground and fell to the bottom of the leaderboards.
Management retained half of the 2020 roster, keeping a core of relatively successful players and filling in the gaps with players dropped or traded from other Overwatch League organizations. Vancouver has in no way built a dream team of expensive acquisitions, but its players are looking to exceed low expectations.
Main tank Abtin “ShRedLock” Shirvani slammed the hammer down in 2020 when the Titans needed him most. While he wasn’t necessarily the most notable tank in the league, he successfully kept his head above water as Vancouver’s management threw Overwatch Contenders players into the fray. This year, he’ll have to prove that performance wasn’t a fluke.
Atlanta Reign meme god and off-tank Nathan “frdwnr” Goebel has joined the Titans’ ranks in 2021, bringing his deep hero pool and considerable experience to the team. Much like ShRedLock, he was never a standout, but this year is his best shot at gaining some fame.
Vancouver (smartly) opted to keep the veteran presence of flex support Randal “Roolf” Stark around for another year. A true grinder of the Overwatch Contenders scene, Roolf provided consistency and leadership last year as the roster dove headfirst into competition.
Roolf will be joined by another former Atlanta Reign player, main support Anthony “Fire” King. While he was often benched on the Reign roster, this is Fire’s chance to prove he deserves this starting position. It’ll be difficult fighting back against North America’s impressive main supports, but it’s only uphill from here.
If the Titans excel in any area, it’s hitscan DPS. Vancouver staple Dalton Bennyhoff was retained and will likely repeat his impressive Tracer plays in 2021. Former Houston Outlaws sniper Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin will be there to back him up, offering deadly Widowmaker and Ashe headshots.
Aching for a flex DPS, the Vancouver Titans added Kim “Teru” Min-ki, formerly of O2 Blast out of Contenders Korea. It will likely be difficult for Teru to mesh with an all-Western roster and possibly even more difficult for him to take on every hero required from a flex DPS. We’ll see if he’s up to the challenge.
This 2021 Vancouver Titans squad is arguably more impressive than last year’s haphazard mix of Contenders players, but they’ll be facing their own problems. With only seven players, the team lacks flexibility and the “backup plans” that other Overwatch League teams have. Having only one flex support, one off-tank, and one flex DPS—roles that routinely require a lot of hero swaps and constant change—is a massive risk.
Another issue is the relative skill level of the whole Titans roster. Most of these players, especially those taken from other teams in the league, objectively underperformed in the past. Vancouver looks like a puzzle with some strange pieces. But with good coaching, everything may come together when it matters.
Due to all of these issues, Vancouver has a lot of naysayers in the Overwatch League community. But the underdog mentality could inspire these players to rise above all that.
The Vancouver Titans play the Toronto Defiant on April 17 at 2pm CT.