The first Shanghai Dragons win has finally happened last night in their series against the Boston Uprising. After an 0-40 record in the inaugural season of the Overwatch League and 2 losses at the start of the second season, the Shanghai Dragons persevered and defeated their opponents with class.
The series began as normally as any other with the casters talking about the possibilities of a Shanghai Dragons win. "We know every team prepares super hard against the Shanghai Dragons because you don't want to be the first one to drop the ball, to give them that victory," said Seth "Achiliocasts" King in an oddly prescient bit of commentary prior to the start of the match.
His co-caster Wolf "Proxywolf" Schröder had a somewhat more pessimistic take on the prospects of a Shanghai Dragons win, stating: "Hate to be the guy to bring this up, but I feel like the Shanghai Dragons—this is not the map pool for them. They don't have Busan until [a potential] tiebreaker and they do not have maps that suit their aggressive playstyle. Looking for line of sight on Widow, for example. This is a very 3-3 heavy map pool, especially when you look at King's Row, when you look at Rialto, and Shanghai has just not been [running comps successfully]. And with Colourhex back in the lineup here for Boston, it feels [like] the map pool heavily favors [the Boston Uprising]."
Before we get into the breakdown of the series, we'll briefly go over what is viewed by many to the bane of high-level competitive Overwatch: the Goats team composition.
The Goats CompCasual Overwatch players may have heard of the Goats comp, but they might not know exactly what it is. The Goats comp is named after the GOATS Overwatch Contenders team who used the composition to great success. In short, it's a team composition usually comprised of 3 tanks and 3 healers, eschewing DPS heroes entirely.
Typically, the Goats comp consists of D.va, Reinhardt, and Zarya on the tanks and Brigitte, Lúcio, and Zenyatta on the healers. Occasional variations do come into play, though. Winston is sometimes substituted for Reinhardt and teams will occasionally swap out one of the tanks for DPS. We saw more than a few variations on the Goats comp in this showdown between the Boston Uprising and the Shanghai Dragons with the most notable change being the Dragons' Dding eschewing D.Va in order to play Sombra to great effect. These little adjustments to the Goats comp were critical to the first Shanghai Dragons win.
Now that you have the basics of the Goats comp, let's get into the breakdown of the match itself.
Ilios (Control Map)
Shanghai Dragons Starting Lineup
- Tank: Se Yeon "Geguri" Kim
- Tank: Youngjin "Gamsu" Noh
- Healer: Gyeong Woo "Coma" Son
- Healer: Sunghyeon "Luffy" Yang
- DPS: Min Sung "Diem" Bae
- DPS: Jinhyeok "Dding" Yang
Boston Uprising Starting Lineup
- Tank: Minseob "Axxiom" Park
- Tank: Lucas "Note" Meissner
- Healer: Kristian "Kellex" Keller
- Healer: Minseok "Aimgod" Kwon
- DPS: Kelsey "Colourhex" Birse
- DPS: Jeffrey "Blase" Tsang
Ilios LighthouseIlios opened with the Boston Uprising running the Goats comp, the modern standard in the current Overwatch meta. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Dragons started off with a more traditional dive comp, utilizing Dding on Pharah and Coma on Mercy. The Uprising tweaked their comp a bit right out of the gate, switching in a Wrecking Ball and Sombra to deal with the Pharmercy on the Dragon's team.
Dding kicked things off playing Pharah with an excellent elimination on Colourhex's Sombra, forcing an Uprising retreat and securing the point for the Shanghai Dragons. The Dragons successfully repelled the second attack with minimal losses. The turning point was the third attack from the Boston Uprising thanks to a well-timed EMP from Colourhex on Sombra at 64% control for the Shanghai Dragons. Several kills later, and the Uprising flipped the point with 76% control banked for the Shanghai Dragons.
The point traded back and forth until an EMP from Diem and a Barrage Ultimate from Dding's Pharah quickly turned things back over to the Shanghai Dragons' control, leaving the percentages at 76%-43% in favor of the Shanghai Dragons. The Uprising managed to flip things back at 99% control for the Dragons, but Shanghai ultimately took the point and this section of the map thanks to some excellent Main Tank play from Gamsu. It was here that the Dragons claimed the first section of Ilios, setting the score at 1-0 for the map. Sombra ended up being the key player on both teams for Ilios Lighthouse—a well-timed and properly-aimed EMP was often the deciding factor in a successful attack for both teams.
Ilios RuinsIlios Ruins opened with both teams running near-identical Goats comps. Each team had a Zenyatta, Lúcio, Brigitte, Zarya, and D.Va, with the only difference being in the Main Tank; Shanghai Dragons had Gamsu playing Winston and Boston Uprising had Axxiom playing Reinhardt. Although the Dragons' Geguri has long been famous for her Zarya play, she instead took on the role of D.Va while her teammate Diem took up Zarya.
The opening fight saw no kills, but superior positioning allowed the Shanghai Dragons to capture the point. The Zenyattas on both teams secured the kill against the opposing Main Tanks, knocking Axxiom and Gamsu out of the fight. The Shanghai Dragons managed to hold their own, thanks in part to Dding's Rally fortifying the team's defensive capabilities.
The Shanghai Dragons held the point for the entirety of the match, eventually coming down to a last desperate fight right before Overtime. The critical blow came when Gamsu's Primal Rage was used to knock Colourhex's Zarya off the side of the map. That was the mortal blow for the Boston Uprising, resulting in a Team Kill and securing the first map towards the Shanghai Dragons win.
King's Row (Hybrid Map)
Shanghai Dragons Substitutions
- Tank: Young-jin "YOUNGJIN" Jin for Se Yeon "Geguri" Kim
King's Row - Round 1King's Row opened once against with the Shanghai Dragons on defense. Both teams used mirror Goats comps save for Shanghai Dragons' Dding once against playing Sombra in place of a D.Va on his team's comp as Geguri had been subbed out. In response, the Uprising's Note swapped out his D.Va for a Reaper to bring a little more anti-tank damage to bear on the defending Dragons. The Boston Uprising managed to secure Point A in just 44 seconds in a heavily one-sided fight.
Aimgod's Zenyatta brought the cart up in the rear as the rest of the team moved up to push back the Dragons. Note's early Reaper switch proved critical for helping the Boston Uprising move forward on the second point. "And again, this is not Note doing damage," said Seth "Achiliocasts" King. "You can see he's only at 55% on the Reaper. But it's the threat of what he could do and the burst-damage potential that keeps Shanghai Dragons' positioning a little bit awkward and that's why they weren't in range to capitalize on [Dding's EMP]." This posturing by Note's Reaper almost brought the chances of a Shanghai Dragons win to a standstill.
Despite this pressure, the Dragons managed to stop them just before capturing the second point. Note attempted a flank with Reaper in the next fight, but the Shanghai Dragons managed to hold their ground. Several excellent picks ultimately allowed the Boston Uprising to secure Point B with a little over 2 minutes on the clock. Note's Reaper continued to provide pressure, and he notably hadn't yet fired off his Death Blossom Ultimate until the very last moments of Round 1. Hilariously, his Ultimate was quickly nullified by a boop from Coma's Lúcio, sending the cantankerous former Blackwatch commander into the depths below Point C.
An unfortunate pause kicked in at the climactic moment of Round 1. The game resumed shortly thereafter and the Boston Uprising bullied the Shanghai Dragons off of Point C, completing the map in Overtime.
King's Row - Round 2Teams swapped sides and we once against had a Goats comp vs. Goats comp battle, the only difference being the Shanghai Dragons' Dding on Sombra instead of D.Va. A precision right-click barrage of balls from the Dragon's Luffy on Zenyatta took out the Uprising's own Aimgod on Zenyatta, giving the Dragons the momentum they needed to secure Point A. Luffy's Zenyatta play was critical in the follow-through, dumping a lot of damage into the Boston Uprising.
An EMP from the Shanghai Dragons' Dding at the first chokepoint showed just how critical Sombra is to countering the Goats comp. A six-man EMP from Dding resulted in a Team Kill and gave the Dragons a comfortable amount of space on the streets of King's Row. The battle on the streets was intense, but a fat shatter from Gamsu quickly put an end to the battle with 2 kills on the Uprising in the follow-through and allowing the Shanghai Dragons to easily secure Point B.
Another EMP from Dding ended any chance of opposition on the other side of Point B and allowed the Shanghai Dragons to comfortably roll up to Point C. The Dragons almost managed to capture the point, but a solid Charge from the Uprising's Axxiom took out the Dragon's own Gamsu on Reinhardt and allowed the Boston Uprising to stabilize. Another EMP from Dding's Sombra followed up by a Graviton Surge from Diem's Zarya put an end to the Boston Uprising's defense, locking down Round 2 for the Dragons with a massive 2 minutes and 30 seconds in the time bank.
King's Row - Round 3Following two complete captures, the rules state that a Hybrid map comes down to a final third round. If the attacking team captures the point, they win the map. If they fail, the defending team wins the map. Round 3 began with the Shanghai Dragons attacking once again with the prospects of the first Shanghai Dragons win seeming that much closer to reality.
The comps for both teams stayed the same—a Goats vs. Goats showdown with the Dragons' Dding playing Sombra once again. An early flank attempt from Dding failed, leading to a positional fight around the Mondatta statue that was ended when Blase's Brigitte nailed Luffy's Zenyatta with a Whip Shot, forcing the Dragons to retreat. Diem managed to pick Axxiom's Reinhardt and Blase's Brigitte in the second fight and allowed the Shanghai Dragons to secure Point A and ultimately win the map, making the series score 2-0 in favor of the Dragons.
The halftime show followed with analysis from Malik "Malik4Play" Forté, Brennon "Brencasts" Hook, and Soe "Soembie" Gschwind-Penski. "I feel like we've been there before" stated Soe, referring to the numerous times when the Shanghai Dragons came close to victory but were ultimately defeated. This statement led to her getting booed by the audience—we were on the cusp of the first Shanghai Dragons win and blood was in the water. We then moved on to the Assault Map Horizon Lunar Colony.
Horizon Lunar Colony (Assault Map)
Horizon Lunar Colony - Round 1
"Shanghai have never really been this close [to victory] before and this is a dominant first two games from them. It feels like everyone's just waiting to celebrate. It feels like we're about to fall off the cliff of the first win." —Wolf "Proxywolf" Schröder, adopting a more optimistic take on the Shanghai Dragon's chancesTo the surprise of no one, the game opened up against with a Goats vs. Goats showdown, although there were some minor tweaks this time. Dding continued to run Sombra for the Shanghai Dragons and the Boston Uprising responded by having Colourhex play a Sombra of their own. Blase also took up the mantle of Wrecking Ball in place of Zarya for their first attempt at attacking on Horizon Lunar Colony. After a quick scout, the Uprising swapped out to a more standard Goats comp, abandoning both Wrecking Ball and Sombra in favor of Brigitte and Zarya, respectively.
The Boston Uprising pushed up the right-side stairs and forced the Shanghai Dragons back to the catwalk in front of Point A, but the Dragons' Luffy (playing Zenyatta) got a precise first pick on the Uprising's Axxiom (playing Reinhardt) and forcing the Boston Uprising to retreat. The Shanghai Dragons' Luffy then nailed the Uprising's Kellex with an alternate fire headshot, further stalling the Boston Uprising's offense.
The opening fights were enough to allow Dding to build up his EMP, providing the same lethal threat that had often been the opening move in a victorious fight for the Dragons. The Boston Uprising rotated to outside of Horizon Lunar Colony on the far right of the approach. Dding's EMP hit everyone save for the Uprising's Aimgod on Zenyatta which allowed him to engage his Transcendence and protect his team to a degree with massive burst healing. This evened out the fight, forcing the Shanghai Dragons back and allowing the Boston Uprising to get a single tick. The Shanghai Dragons quickly pounced and got a Team Kill on the Boston Uprising, forcing a full reset once again.
Zarya's Graviton Surge comboed with D.Va's self-destruct allowed the Boston Uprising to take out the Shanghai Dragons' Coma (on Lúcio), providing them the opening the needed to get onto Point A. An EMP from Dding threatened to stall their push, but the Boston Uprising responded with Zenyatta's Transcendence and Lúcio's Sound Barrier to keep the team alive. While this secured Point A for the Boston Uprising, it left them painfully short on Ultimates for the subsequent fight on Point B with only 4 minutes and 30 seconds on the clock.
The Boston Uprising attempted to approach Point B from the low ground on the left, but they decided to pull back and rotate to the high ground on the right. Boston's Axxiom on Reinhardt dropped down onto the point to start capturing and the Dragon's Diem on Zarya responded with a Graviton Surge Ultimate which only managed to catch Axxiom in its radius. The Uprising's Colourhex on Zarya countered with a Graviton of his own, catching the entire team save for the Dragon's Luffy on Zenyatta who was able to use his Transcendence Ultimate to keep everyone alive with the power of The Iris. The Dragons' Gamsu and Dding attempted to repel the Boston Uprising with an Earthshatter and EMP, respectively, but the Boston Uprising were able to capture Point B with 3 minutes and 27 seconds in the time bank.
Horizon Lunar Colony - Round 2The Shanghai Dragons switched to offense and the Goats vs. Goats battle continued with the Uprising's Axxiom playing Winston instead of Reinhardt and the Dragons' Dding continuing to play Sombra in place of D.Va. The opening battle quickly went into the Dragon's favor when Dding landed a Hack on Axxiom's Winston. This allowed the scientifically-inclined monkey to be quickly eliminated by the combined force of the Shanghai Dragons. The Dragons rotated to the high ground on the right and subsequently eliminated Boston's Aimgod on Zenyatta, giving the Dragons a 2 man advantage for the fight on Point A. Shanghai rapidly secured Point A and had nearly 7 minutes in the time bank to comfortably capture Point B.
The Dragon's Blitz onto Point B opened with Dding landing an EMP on everyone except the Uprising's Zenyatta (played by Aimgod) who was just a few percentages points away from his Transcendence Ultimate. This allowed the Uprising's Axxiom (on Reinhardt) and Colourhex (on Zarya) to quickly fall, followed by Blase (on Brigitte) and Note (on D.Va). The Dragons pressed their four-man advantage and secured two and a half ticks. Kellex (on Lúcio) and Axxiom ran in to attempt to stall, but the Shanghai Dragons beat them back and captured Point B with 6 minutes and 7 seconds in the time bank.
Horizon Lunar Colony - Round 3The teams switched sides and we once again had a Goats vs. Goats lineup with Dding continuing his Sombra substitution for D.Va. Dding continually harassed the Boston Uprising with Hacks, but the boys in blue were able to rotate onto Point A and capture nearly 2 ticks before the Dragons could get on point and begin to fight back. The first pick happened a full minute into the fight when the Dragons' Gamsu (on Reinhardt) landed a deadly Fire Strike from Axxiom's flank and eliminating his main tank counterpart. Shanghai stabilized and held the line with 2 ticks in Boston's favor.
At this point, the Shanghai Dragons had a full four minutes more in the time bank compared to the Boston Uprising—the Uprising only had 2 minutes and 7 seconds to capture Point A and stop the first Shanghai Dragons win. The Boston Uprising rotated outside the airlock and attempted to approach from the high ground airlock. This was a risky move—their last attempt at this positioning didn't go so well. This time, the Uprising managed to push out onto the catwalk and drop down onto the point. An EMP from the Shangai Dragons' DDing attempted to stop them but only landed on half of the Boston Uprising. The Boston Uprising managed to beat back the Shanghai Dragons, securing Point A with 1 minute and 33 seconds left on the clock.
The Boston Uprising pushed in right down the middle in a super-aggressive attempt at quickly capturing Point B. A precision strike from the Uprising's Zenyatta dropped the Dragons' Brigitte, but the Dragons' Zarya responded by taking out the Uprising's Reinhardt. An EMP from Dding hit the entirety of the Boston Uprising, but the Dragons were unable to capitalize on the Sombra Ultimate. The fight on Point B was an absolute brawl with teams trading eliminations back and forth and Ultimates being fired as soon as it was advantageous to do so. The Boston Uprising managed to capture Point B with only 24 seconds left on the clock.
Horizon Lunar Colony - Round 4
"I'm not gonna lie to you guys—it feels hopeless here for the Uprising." -Wolf 'Proxywolf' SchröderThe comps remained the same save for the Boston Uprising's Axxiom switching to Winston for their defense against the Shanghai Dragons. The Shanghai Dragons opened their attack by rotating outside to the right through the airlock, but they had to fall back to the stairs and their formation was badly split up. The Dragons jumped down on to the point and very nearly secured their first tick but their first attack was repelled.
The Shanghai Dragons pushed up across the catwalk above Point A and forced the Boston Uprising back to the left-hand stairs on the defender's side. A Graviton from Colourhex's Zarya hit most of the Shanghai Dragons, but Luffy's Transcendence Ultimate kept the entire attacking team alive. The teams traded picks until an EMP from Dding allowed the Dragons to secure two ticks. The Uprising nonetheless put up a stalwart defense and managed to stall the Dragons yet again. An EMP from Dding in the next fight allowed the Dragons to de-mech the Uprising's Note and let them secure Point A with 2 minutes and 41 seconds on the clock.
The Uprising's Lúcio Kellex was caught in a Graviton Surge and focused down by the entirety of the Dragons. This was the turning point that allowed the Shanghai Dragons to capture Point B with 1 minute and 42 seconds in the time bank versus just 24 seconds for the Boston Uprising.
Horizon Lunar Colony - Round 5At this point, fatigue was surely setting in for both teams. There had been only a single substitution for the Shanghai Dragons and the discipline of both teams was gradually slipping; battles in the previous two rounds often descended into chaotic brawls rather than the coordinated team fights one would expect to see from the highest level of professional Overwatch players. The Boston Uprising switched back to the attacking position and had only one minute on the time bank.
A chant of "Let's go, Dragons!" filled the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles Country. Both teams continued with the team compositions that they had been using for the majority of this historic fight. The Boston Uprising uneventfully pushed up the right side stairs and moved across the catwalk with only 30 seconds on the clock. The Dragons' Youngjin landed two eliminations as Brigitte, taking out Colourhex's Zarya and Axxiom's Reinhardt in short order. A flurry of Ultimates from the Shanghai Dragons stopped the Boston Uprising attack with only 79.5% of Point A captured. The potential Shanghai Dragons win would be decided in the next round—it all comes down to Point A on Horizon Lunar Colony.
Horizon Lunar Colon - Round 6: The DeciderWe finally came down to the critical moment. The very first Shanghai Dragons win hinged on the Chinese team's ability to capture more than 79.5% of Point A. They had just 2 minutes and 17 seconds to Capture Point A and secure the first Shanghai Dragons win after a 42 game losing streak across two seasons. Team comps largely remained the same (with only the Uprising's Axxiom switching from Reinhard to Winston) as the Shanghai Dragons valiantly charged into battle to the cheers of the entire Blizzard Arena.
A hack from Dding in the opening battle allowed Note to be de-meched and quickly deleted by attacks from the entirety of the Dragons. Kellex's Lúcio and Blase's Brigitte were quickly dropped, bringing the first Shanghai Dragons win that much closer. The excitement was palpable and the crowd was cheering louder than ever. A Brigitte Shield Bash from the Shanghai Dragons' Younjin pushed the Uprising's Winston player Axxiom off of the point and cleared the way for the Shanghai Dragons win.
They did it. After a 0-40 record in the first season of the Overwatch League and 2 losses in the second season, the Shanghai Dragons finally secured their first series victory. The crowd went absolutely bonkers. Fans in the audience were cheering and some were even crying after the first Shanghai Dragons win. The series was decided for the Shanghai Dragons, but there was still one more map to go.
Rialto Round 1Although the first Shanghai Dragons win was now secured, the league's rules mandated that the Shanghai Dragons and Boston Uprising must still play the final map Rialto. Although the number of overall series wins is important to the league standings, the total of map wins is still somewhat important for placement in the penultimate matches of each stage. This system means that teams should have to fight just as hard on subsequent maps of a series even if they've already lost to give them every possible chance of having a shot at winning the season.
Rialto opened with Goats vs. Goats continuing. Colourhex swapped to Widowmaker in place of Zarya on the Boston Uprising for their first attacking run. The payload safely advanced over the bridge and up to the first corner before the Dragons' DDing (on Sombra) got a pick on Axxiom (on Reinhardt) and ultimately led to the Uprising's first attack being repelled at 27.65 meters. The cart advanced to the second corner without any picks on the second push. An EMP from Dding between the second and third corners of Point A repelled the Boston Uprising once again.
Despite several valiant attacks from the Boston Uprising, the Shanghai Dragons managed to fight them off every time and kept them between the second and third corners of Point A. The Shanghai Dragons put a final stop the Uprising's attacks at 74.50 meters.
Rialto Round 2Round 2 of Rialto began with some modified Goats comps. The defending Boston Uprising used Reinhardt, Zarya, D.Va, Brigitte, Lúcio, and Moira. On the attacking side, the Shanghai Dragons used Reinhardt, Roadhog, Sombra, Ana, Lúcio, and Zenyatta. The Boston Uprising attempted an aggressive forward defense on the attacker's side of the bridge. However, Diem (on Roadhog) jumped down from the high ground behind them and used his Chain Hook to dunk the Uprising's Axxiom (on Reinhardt) into the water. This followed up with several eliminations and allowed the Shanghai Dragons to move past the first corner with relative ease.
The Uprising picked the Dragons' Reinhardt on the second fight and stopped the cart at 48.63 meters. The teams traded blows and picks back and forth, but the Boston Uprising were able to stop the Shanghai Dragons at 72.58 meters, closing out the series with less than a 2-meter gap between the teams.
|Team||Ilios||King's Row||Horizon Lunar Colony||Rialto||Final Score|
The Aftermath of the First Shanghai Dragons WinThe Shanghai Dragons win on Horizon Lunar Colony had the crowd going wild, but the Uprising's victory on Rialto made for a less exciting end to this historic Overwatch League series.
One thing was made abundantly clear in the leadup to the Shanghai Dragons win: Sombra is absolutely a game-changer against the Goats comp. The changes made to Sombra a few months ago have ultimately proved to make her a much more viable choice in the highest tier of Overwatch competitive play. While this was certainly a team effort, Dding's EMPs and Hacks were undoubtedly a critical component to the Shanghai Dragons' victory over the Boston Uprising.
Dding was rightfully named Player of the Match for his efforts as Sombra. He individually Hacked 152 players and disabled a grand total of 89 players with EMPs, averaging a total of 3.7 Hacks per EMP. Goats is a strong comp, but any team composition is severely weakened in face of Sombra's Ultimate.
The first Shanghai Dragons win was truly a historic moment for the #1 underdog in the Overwatch League. It brought me (and many fans in the audience) to tears. The Dragons had to claw their way to victory, fighting hard for every single little advantage. In the end, they finally managed to pull it off and secure the first Shanghai Dragons win in history. This shows what the Esport is all about.
You can watch the full VOD of the night's matches or you can just check out the individual VOD for the Shanghai Dragons win versus Boston Uprising on both Twitch and ESPN. If you're interested in more details, you can see the match breakdown over on the Overwatch League's official website. The Overwatch League returns later today at 3:00 PM Eastern with the Los Angeles Gladiators facing off against the Paris Eternal. You can see more details of future matchups on the Overwatch League schedule.
What do you think of the first Shanghai Dragons win? Did you get to see this historic moment live? Let us know in the comments below!