Overwatch League team The Shanghai Dragons have secured their first-ever win in the scene’s most expensive circuit, ending the longest losing streak in organized sports.
The Shanghai Dragons finished the first season of the Overwatch League with a 0-40 record, winning a few maps here and there but never managing to take them consecutively enough to put a win on the board. They apologized to fans about it early on, and suffered visa issues mid-season, but as their streak went on, the team went from laughingstock to longshot underdogs, becoming one of the most amicable teams in the league thanks to endearing players like Se-yeon “Geguri” Kim, the first female player to join the league.
Going into the season two, things weren’t looking much better, even with roster changes that included swapping in The Boston Uprising’s Youngjin Jin for their own team. It seemed like history was doomed to repeat itself. But as it so happened tonight, Boston sat on the other end of the stage as the Dragons’ opponent. If they scored their first win here, well, wouldn’t that make for a pretty good story?
The first map was Ilios, which proved to the be the most contentious battlefield of the match. On the first map, Boston’s lineup wasn’t able to with Jin-kyeok “DDing” Yang’s mobile Pharrah, lacking any snipers to bring him down as he lobbed potshots at the point whenever Boston tried to stand their ground. Before Shanghai could close the deal, however, Boston flipped the point for a short while, which could have hampered Shanghai fans’ enthusiasm some had the team not quickly built up their collective ultimates and used them to ensured they were able to hold the point long enough to bring the game into overtime, after which a clutch second Winston ultimate cleared the point long enough for them to win the map.
The second map was all Shanghai. Boston was quickly shout out of the point, but planned to bring the hammer down once all of their ultimates were up and force the point into overtime. However, their last-minute Hail Mary didn’t work, as Shanghai was able to miraculously fend them off, again with the Winston able to do work to help secure the overtime victory.
Between matches, the stream showed a short clip higlighting Jin, where he was interviewed about his initial reaction to being traded. He was upset the change, but was hopeful about being able to contribute to the team. After the clip, you saw why they’d shown it: Shanghai swapped Geguri out and put Jin in for the second map. On the stream’s player cam, you could see Jin tearing up at the moment. The crowd was clearly with him, the ostracized player on a team of underdogs.
The crowd was happy, but had to keep their excitement in check; they’d been here before, and their team had let them down. But no one could deny things were definitely looking up.
On King’s Row, Boston mad a strong push early on on the payload (for all you Overwatch players out there, remember: stay on that thing!), putting up a concerted front long enough to take the first point. The Dragons stopped contested just as the payload was about to reach the first checkpoint, which gave them a bit of momentum; if they could hold them off long enough, they could shut Boston down early and kill whatever momentum they planned to bring into round two. After a few fights, however, the Dragons found themselves on the wrong end of Note’s Reaper, pushing Boston past the first checkpoint.
Note’s second sneak attack didn’t fare as well, however, as his attempt to synergize his ultimate with Zarya (played by Diem) failed after he was knocked off the map. With Note neutralized, the Shanghai Dragons were able to hold the last point just before a short pause in the action. By the time the pause resumed, Boston had regained their composure, held off, and ran in with their ultimates, finally breaking the Dragons’ hold on the payload.
Dragons then shifted to offense taking the first point of the map with ease. They kept that initial momentum going, cruising the payload past the first checkpoint where Boston struggled. And they nearly took that forward swing the end, but were quickly rebuffed by Boston as they made their final push. On their second try, however, Shanghai proved unstoppable, taking the map with 2 minutes to 33 seconds to spare.
In the tiebreaker round, cheers quickly erupted, and after Shanghai cleared them for the first time, it was seemed like all but a given they were going to take the second map long before they actually did.
Could this be the night?
Horizon was the site of the third match, and Shanghai started strong, as Seong-hyeon “Luffy” Yang’s Zenyatta (on defense) was was able to score clutch kills early on in the map, forcing Boston off the point after their first push. Boston quickly rallied for a second push that proved more successful however, as their own Zenyatta, Min-seok “AimGod” Kwon, pushed with his team to capture the first objective of the map. Boston wasn’t going down the fight, and after a few key, quick fights, were able to take point B, giving them their best performance of the night.
When Shanghai hopped on offense, however, it wasn’t even close. Before the commentators could build up a narrative of how the map might swing, Shanghai took point B, beating back Boston’s defense with 6 minutes and 7 seconds left on their clock for the tiebreaker round, versus Boston’s 3 minutes and 27 seconds.
With such limited time to take the first point, Boston was under enormous pressure to keep the win at pay. But, proving they were in this league for a reason, Boston got themselves together and were able to take both of the points on the second round. If they managed to break Shanghai, who held such a dominant time lead, it could destroy the momentum they’d built up throughout the rest of the match, starting the snowball towards another crushing loss.
At first, it seemed like Boston would pull it off, keeping them off the point after Shanghai’s initial offense and catching a breather for the first time in what felt like forever. Things continued in Boston’s favor, as the team ate away at Shanghai’s lead by the minute, running down their clock with easy on point A. When Shanghai finally broke through, they had two and half minutes to take the point. Shanghai rallied, and made up for lost time, taking the point with a minute and half to spare to Boston’s 24 seconds. If Shanghai was going to take this thing, they were really having their fans sweat it out.
Boston had left with only a minute to take point A on round three. They were adamant about taking it in that time, but overtime was just around the corner. By the time it came, Shanghai was in full control, easily keeping Boston away. Shanghai was now closer than they’d ever been to win. All they had to do was take a single point in 2 minutes and 17 seconds – more than enough to maintain hope, but just enough to make things tense.
On their initial push on the map, they landed on the point in about 30 seconds. Boston was shuttered, doing every they could do keep one person on the point. It didn’t work. Shanghai rolled them, securing their first-ever victory in the Overwatch League.
Boston looked crushed. Shanghai began jumping in their seats. They’d earned it. A shot of the crowd showed a couple of fans wearing jerseys for the NYXL (one of the more popular teams who are currently first place in the league) crying tears of joy. The stream couldn’t linger on the moment for long; Overwatch rules stipulate the teams have to play out a fourth map no matter who won the first three, since individual map wins count on the team standings.
The crowd was dead silent on Rialto, but if people though Shanghai was going to go cold after their streak-breaking win, they were dead wrong. They shut Boston down before the payload could even reach the first checkpoint. Boston, however, wasn’t quite done yet; in formidable last hurrah, Boston was able to keep Shanghai away from pushing their own payload past that same check point, ending the series 3-1.
It mattered in terms of points, but for most people in the crowed, it was an afterthought. The Dragons finally had a point on the board, breaking a streak that had long since become a curse or a source of inspiration, depending on who you’d ask. They had a long way to go before they could hold on to this title, but for this one night, the Shanghai Dragons were champions.
Now imagine being the Houston Outlaws or the Hangzhaou Spark members who played in the next match, having to follow that up.