Titans Survive Punchy First Match
Match at a Glance
- Result: Titans win 4-2
- Player of the Match: Hyo-Jong “Haksal” Kim
- Stat: Haksal finished with 121 eliminations as Doomfist
- Full match VOD
Momentum swung wildly in an intense playoff opener between the Seoul Dynasty and Vancouver Titans, but in the end, consistency won out for Vancouver in a difficult 4-2 win. Recent signing Jang-Hyun “Tizi” Hwang made a surprise start over mainstay Sang-Beom “Bumper” Park and played the entire match at the main tank position.
The Titans looked characteristically unstoppable at first after a knockout performance led by Hyo-Jong “Haksal” Kim as Doomfist on Lijiang Tower. But the Dynasty were bold in their response on Numbani, with Min-Seo “Marve1” Hwang’s flawless play as Sigma. Their strong defense resulted in a shocking map win, considering that the Titans players hadn’t lost on Numbani in two years.
It was then Dynasty’s turn to look invincible with a 1-0 victory on Horizon Lunar Colony. Taking the high ground and forcing the Titans into choke points allowed Dong-Eon “Fits” Kim to land earth-shattering multi-kills with Doomfist. The Titans weren’t able to get a single point.
Not to be outdone, Haksal stepped up on Doomfist once again to snuff out the Dynasty’s fire on Watchpoint: Gibraltar. Numerous thunderous punches set up the Titans to bulldoze the first two points of their attack round with 5:10 in the time bank, and it was an easy sweep from there to finish the escort map.
On Busan, it seemed as if Seoul would swing the momentum back their way after an explosive win on Downtown. But the Titans kept calm, and a crucial Sound Barrier from Seong-Jun “Slime” Kim secured MEKA Base. Vancouver further asserted their dominance on the final round, Sanctuary, before securing a clean win on Eichenwalde without allowing a single tick of control progress on defense.
Gladiators Taste Playoff Victory at Last
Match at a Glance
- Result: Los Angeles Gladiators win 4-3
- Player of the Match: Lane “Surefour” Roberts
- Stat: As Reaper, Surefour finished with 121 final blows and 59 Death Blossom kills
- Full match VOD
The Los Angeles Gladiators got their first taste of a playoffs victory in a scrappy battle against the Hangzhou Spark that ended in a nail-biting seventh-map finale. Hangzhou entered the match with a solid strategy for each map, but the Gladiators exploited their weaknesses effectively at key moments.
The Spark opened up with a creative teleporting Bastion that made a mess of the Gladiators’ defense on Busan Sanctuary. The maneuver was one of the most entertaining strategies of the evening and helped Hangzhou secure the map, 2-1.
What came to define the match from that point on, though, was Lane “Surefour” Roberts’ flanking Reaper, with which he bagged 249 total eliminations. His partner in crime for most of the match was Joao Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles, whose sneaky Doomfist often distracted the Spark, and the pair helped the Gladiators secure an easy 2-0 win on King’s Row before extending their lead with a 4-3 win on Temple of Anubis on the back of a massive time-bank advantage.
But the Spark weren’t going down without a fight. Both teams showed grit in a high-octane battle for Rialto, won by the Gladiators by centimeters thanks to the daring wall-riding maneuvers of Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni’s Lúcio, which led the team to a crucial hold at Point B. That map also saw the first of two role swaps of the night for Hydration, as he replaced Jun-Woo “Void” Kang on Sigma duty and showed off his hero flexibility.
Despite being at match point, Hangzhou hung on with a 2-1 win on Lijiang Tower to stave off a loss, and their tenacity didn’t go unnoticed. “After the fifth map, the Spark realized they could go aggressive on us,” Surefour said after the match. It paid off too, as they were able to continue their momentum on Eichenwalde, edging out a win in a momentous time-bank attack.
With both teams charged up, the final map, Gibraltar, was decided by a chaotic series of intense teamfights, one that was ultimately won by—no surprises here—another epic last-second defense from the Gladiators as they dug their heels in early on defense.
The Gladiators and Titans move on to face each other in the winners bracket on Sunday, Sept. 8, at 12 p.m. PT, while the Dynasty and Spark will renew their rivalry in the losers bracket on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 6 p.m. PT.