Ben Pursell for Blizzard Entertainment
With a 4-2 win over the Seoul Dynasty, the San Francisco Shock have won the Overwatch League Grand Finals in consecutive seasons and cemented themselves as the greatest team in Overwatch history.
While the sample size is too small for the “dynasty” moniker to be slung around, the Shock’s organizational culture warrants praise. After winning 2019’s championship, partly on the back of play from that season’s MVP, Sinatraa, and his fellow DPS, Architect, San Francisco was without both players in 2020’s playoffs.
As other teams have tried rotating starters, no team has found success doing so quite like the Shock. With Sinatraa leaving to pursue a professional career in Valorant and Architect being transferred to the Hangzhou Spark, both midseason, the organization’s next-man-up mantra paid dividends as midseason acquisition ANS slid into the lineup and helped carry the team to a cool $1.5 million in Grand Finals winnings.
When asked about that ability to rotate players seamlessly, the team’s main support, Moth, offered a simple explanation: “Shock’s always been a team that feels like we don’t really have bench players. Everyone has a role.”
Primarily running ANS and Striker at DPS with Moth and Viol2t on support, head coach Crusty rotated his tank line, complementing ChoiHyoBin with both Smurf and Super during their tightly contested playoff run. Here’s how the final four shook out, followed by the biggest plays and moments from the year’s most important match.
Thursday, October 8
Seoul Dynasty 2-3 San Francisco Shock
Philadelphia Fusion 0-3 Shanghai Dragons
Friday, October 9
San Francisco Shock 3-2 Shanghai Dragons
Seoul Dynasty 3-0 Philadelphia Fusion
Seoul Dynasty 3-2 Shanghai Dragons
Saturday, October 10: Grand Finals
San Francisco Shock 4-2 Seoul Dynasty
Staving off a trip to the losers bracket, San Francisco won consecutive tiebreaking maps to make it to the Grand Finals unscathed. Once there, they took a 2-0 lead over Seoul, thanks in part to Striker’s return to his patented Tracer, before the unthinkable happened and the Dynasty chose Hanamura as the series’ third map. At 18-0 on Hanamura since 2018, San Francisco was pleasantly surprised, only to get rocked in the jaw by a stunning performance and a suddenly competitive series.
Despite some nutty Zenyatta production from the Shock’s quasi-DPS, Viol2t, San Francisco’s lead dropped to 2-1, and the Dynasty built some momentum.
In Map 4, that momentum carried as Seoul secured another win and tied the series at 2-2 with a dominant showing on Watchpoint: Gibraltar. Then, in Map 5: Busan, Seoul once again pushed San Francisco to the brink—until a stunning sniping spree from ANS secured the victory.
Finally, the series finale came in Hollywood, as San Francisco reran the show it’s been putting on all season. Striker was single-handedly outdueling hefty Roadhogs with pristine headshots, Super was dominating on heroes he is not known for and, of course, Viol2t was taking on obnoxious fights as a bloodthirsty Zenyatta.
Last week, I asked Super, who has come off of the bench in spurts all season to play different heroes despite being known for his Reinhardt, how he envisaged the team’s culture. “Everyone knows their role, bench or not, and you’ll see that this weekend,” he said.
Now, $1.5 million richer, the Shock have proved why the world’s best teams are built on organizational character, not just star power.