PHILADELPHIA -- In a 4-0 sweep that wrapped up in less than two hours, the San Francisco Shock defeated the Vancouver Titans in the 2019 Overwatch League Grand Finals.
In front of a sold-out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center, the Shock disassembled the best regular season team in what felt like was the best matchup for the culmination of the league's second season. Led by Grand Finals MVP Hyo-bin "ChoiHyoBin" Choi and regular season MVP Jay "sinatraa" Won, the Shock carried the momentum they generated in the season playoffs throughout September.
The journey to Philadelphia didn't start out easy -- on September 6, the Atlanta Reign defeated the Shock 4-3 in a devastatingly close loss for the Northern California-branded team. Shock players Matthew "super" DeLisi and Grant "moth" Espe pointed to the Atlanta loss as a motivating factor for the team, who went on to clean sweep the London Spitfire, Los Angeles Gladiators, Hangzhou Spark and New York Excelsior en route to the finals. In Season 2, the Shock cleanly swept 24 of the 43 series they played.
"I kind of knew we were going to 4-0 coming into this," Sinatraa said in a post-win press conference. "After the London Spitfire match, I thought we were going to 4-0 everyone. I told my team that every day. [Vancouver] did put up a fight but I knew we were going to 4-0."
ChoiHyoBin shined in the finals. Throughout the regular season, the tank player averaged 3.48 deaths per 10 minutes, the sixth-least among tanks in the Overwatch League, and in the playoffs before the final, he had the second-highest eliminations of all players at 22.96 per 10 minutes. He had the most eliminations of his tank peers in the postseason.
"Choi is the most selfless player in the game," Super said. That sentiment was echoed by his teammates throughout the press conference. "Choi is the best teammate I've ever had," Sinatraa said. "He always puts his teammates first. He never tilts in scrims."
Two years ago, in late 2017, when the front office of NRG Esports began to build this team, they did so around sinatraa and super. In September 2017, sinatraa was the center of a nasty bidding war between Cloud9, who founded the London Spitfire, and NRG, who own the Shock. But neither sinatraa or super were eligible to compete in the first half of the first season of the Overwatch League -- as both were 17 and the league minimum was 18.
Yet, the Shock played it patiently. Sinatraa underperformed in his first season, despite high expectations from analysts, fans and most importantly, his team. He couldn't have bounced back any higher, though, dominating the second season -- notably and seismically on Doomfist and Zarya. The character that made him famous, Tracer, remained absent for the majority of the 2019 season but Sinatraa adapted and so did the Shock.
The Shock and the Titans faced off in the Stage 1 and Stage 2 Finals in March and May, with the Titans besting the Shock first and the Shock getting their revenge on the second go-round.
Throughout the first three stages of competition, GOATS -- a composition consisting of mainly three tanks and three supports -- dominated games. A DPS player, sinatraa had to evolve to survive or find himself once again sitting on the bench. He did so through Zarya, who he ran the gamut with throughout the league and quickly established himself as an off tank to be reckoned with.
In July, the Overwatch League instituted a 2-2-2 role lock, restricting teams to two characters from each position. This allowed sinatraa to shine where he was best, but also for the Shock to play other players it did not throughout the first portion of the season.
Sunday showed the Shock's biggest strengths: flexibility and teamwork. On Friday at media day, the players -- regardless of their primary language or nationally -- grouped as one and clearly enjoyed one another's company throughout the two-hour interview session. Getting along was something the team has pointed at through the season. After their final win on Sunday, their bond came up again.
"More than the language, the team chemistry has to be there," manager Chris "Thugnasty" Chung said during the press conference. "We just had to establish that environment."