New York Excelsior, the kings of the GOATS meta, has been toppled by the Shanghai Dragons in the Overwatch League Stage 3 playoffs. In their first-ever playoffs match since they formed prior to Season 1, the Dragons defeated the Excelsior 3-1.
While everyone remembers the Dragons for their 0-42 record at the franchise’s beginning, the Shanghai Dragons have been steadily improving throughout Season 2. They had finished Stage 3 with a 5-2 record, putting them in 8th place overall. This victory over NYXL wasn’t just a fluke.
Still, even the San Francisco Shock thought they’d be facing the NYXL in the playoff finals this stage. In an interview with WIN.gg, Jay “sinatraa” Won speculated that they’d be facing NYXL in the finals because of New York’s mastery of GOATS with Sombra.
But many have underestimated the Dragon’s skills when it comes to countering GOATS meta.
“In the beginning of the season, we were not sure what we had to play, GOATS, Sombra-GOATS, or DPS. We started to play DPS meta way earlier than other teams and it’s been the meta right now, and that’s been the biggest benefit for Shanghai,” tank Young-jin “Gamsu” Noh said in an interview with ESPN.
Throughout the four games, the Shanghai Dragons stuck to DPS-heavy compositions, since they knew the NYXL would be dominant in a GOATS mirror. They had Jin “Youngjin” Young-jin on Doomfist and Bae “Diem” Min-seong often playing on Sombra. Yang “DDing” Jin-hyeok also showed off his Pharah skills during the series.
The Dragons scored a win on Volskyaka thanks to Diem’s EMPs. And the crowd erupted as Younjin and DDing went on kill streaks with their unconventional DPS picks on Watchpoint: Gibraltar. Gamsu, the team’s main tank, also played a lot of Wrecking Ball, which allowed him to disrupt NYXL’s tight formations.
Under Gamsu’s command as the in-game leader, the Dragons also prioritized killing NYXL’s main tank Kim “Mano” Dong-guy first.
Through it all, the NYXL stuck with GOATS, despite DPS star Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-reyol often leading the charge throughout most of their Stage 3 matches.
This is the Dragon’s first time defeating NYXL, and it just so happens to be in the playoffs. NYXL took to Twitter to apologize to their fans.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to find the form today, but we will work harder and come back stronger for Stage 4,” NYXL said.
Meanwhile, the Dragons have been celebrating with their fans on social media.
“WE DID IT! Thank you to all the fans who have supported us and cheered us on, we definitely felt your energy tonight! We’ll do our best in the semifinals,” the Dragons said in a tweet now pinned to the top of their page.
This is a whole new attitude for the Shanghai Dragons. Gamsu was worried about his team’s mentality after a rocky start to Season 2. He admitted to feeling uncomfortable when he was first traded to the then losing team. But he made it his goal to lift their spirits and their confidence.
In the semifinals, the Dragons will be facing the Vancouver Titans. This is another GOATS-heavy opponent that has proven the power of tank play.
But Gamsu admitted that Vancouver likes to play “weird comps” to throw them off. So far, the Dragons’ strategy is to find a new weird composition to counter that tactic.
The match will take place Saturday, July 13 at 7 PM PST.