Now that the dust is beginning to settle on the Overwatch League 2020 season, the time to look back on what occurred over the year has come. To say the year was business as usual would be a bald-faced lie. This year was straight-up bonkers. With the Vancouver Titans 2020 season being notably more bonkers than most. In hindsight, some of the craziness was hinted at by way of surprise player departures and signings. Or rumors that found their way into the Twitterverse. In short, it was certainly an emotional rollercoaster of a year for Titans fans. Yet through it all, all the highs and lows, nights of tears and days of cheers, it was a year not soon to be forgotten.
The 2020 season began with fans’ hearts full of cautious optimism. The offseason was both cruel and kind to Titans fans. The departure of the cheeky Prince of the Overwatch League, Sangbeom “Bumper” Park, alongside other fan-favorite players had fans spirits down a tad. Yet with the bad comes the good, like the legend and sexiest man in the league, Jehong “Ryujehong” Ryu, joining the team alongside the wildcard that was Chanhyung “Fissure” Baek. On the outside, it looked like the team was bound for another dominant season following their second-place finish in 2019.
The excitement was palpable when the lads took the stage for the first time in 2020 at the Dallas Homestand. The cheers were loud, the fans ready to watch the lovable Titans debut this somewhat new look. The team was smiling, all looking excited to play the game they are all so passionate about for their legions of supportive fans. The fans were rewarded.
Their first game against the Los Angeles Gladiators may have been close but the lads were still able to showcase their patented force of nature and take home the win. They promptly followed up with a swift win over the Gladiators city siblings, the Los Angeles Valiant. The energy at the homestand was downright electric, giving the Titans a perfect way to begin their 2020 season run.
The homestands that were planned for the 2020 season had to be canceled due to the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the world like a freight train. The horrible disease lay waste to the league’s plans for a homestand-filled season. Humanity wise, this was for the best as there was no need to put fans, players and staff in unnecessary danger. Yet, it also led to the Titans being sidelined for a lengthy period of time, during which the players returned home to South Korea where they were destined to play in the newly formed APAC region.
During these weeks, trouble was brewing beneath the surface. It was at this time where the bad relationship between the team’s upper management and the players began to rise to the surface. The Titans’ players played their first games since week one in week ten. This resulted in the team’s first time losing two games back-to-back, signaling that all was not well in Titans’ land. Early April saw the start of the fall.
Players began removing team branding from their socials. Comments about displeasure with the current situation begin coming out from a variety of those with the team. The Avalanche truly began its onslaught in the week of April 21 when the team parted ways with Hyeonwoo “Jjanu” Choi and Head Coach Jisub “Pajion” Hwang. With Jjanu going so far as to tweet out “I’m Free”. If that doesn’t tell you how bad the relationship between the players and Org had gotten, then nothing will. It all came crashing down on May 6, 2020 when the remaining members of the team parted ways with the Org.
Fans were stunned. As the community was witnessing one of the greatest organizational collapses in Esports history a question now loomed. Who could possibly fill the shoes of the legends who now left the team?
Hope for the Future
Fans did not have to wait long for the answer to that question. On May 8, 2020 the team announced who would be taking up the mantle of Titans, bringing into the league the core of NA Contenders team Second Wind alongside some promising prospects. Fans were curious to see how the new team would fare. In short, the new team had a rocky start. It takes time to establish synergy. Something that is woefully forgotten by many. The amount of hate these young lads received from many fans was depressing. It was definitely not how they would have liked to have finally made the League, but it was still a dream come true to be playing at the highest level of competition.
Four games passed and the lads were struggling. There were flashes of excellence, but they just could not seem to put it together. They searched for hope to aid their dampened spirits. That hope came in the form of Niclas “Shockwave” Jensen, a danish player who had recently played for the now-disbanded Academy team of the Toronto Defiant, Montreal Rebellion. He was the shot of adrenaline the team so desperately needed. His first game saw them fall in a remarkably close bout with the Defiant. Yet at last, after six consecutive losses, the new Titans finally tasted victory.They took a very clean sweep over an also struggling Dallas Fuel.
The joy on the faces of these lads after the screen read “Vancouver Titans Win” was the stuff that makes esports so special. It was uplifting in all the right ways. It gave Titans fans a reason to hope again, a reason to think the future of the team may not be so scary.
As the season progressed, the team was able to gather a total of five wins. Not a lot to be fair, but in these wins, they showcased immense promise. There is hope for the future as these players will only grow and develop over time. The off-season, however, is a scary place, populated by uncertainty. Will the team go through another massive rebuild? With the team announcing the resigning of three players and the departure of three others the team will definitely not be the same. What new faces will don Titans jerseys in Season 4? It is impossible to answer these questions. Yet despite how scary it all seems, there is always hope for a better future for the team. A force of nature can still come to Vancouver.