The Overwatch League Stage 3 Finals weren't quite what people expected. Yes, the defending Stage 2 champions San Francisco Shock were on one side, but their opponents stunned followers of the league. On the other side was the Shanghai Dragons, less than a year after completing a winless season. But the Dragons were the kings of the weekend, defeating the San Francisco Shock in a thrilling seven-game series to win Stage 3.
The final map of the series went to Dorado, where Shanghai put on heavy defensive pressure. Matthew "Super" DeLisi found himself getting picked off spawn by Min "Diem" Sung Bae's Widowmaker more than once, disrupting the Shock offense. Jay "Sinatraa" Won kept his team in it with Sombra's EMPs, but it wasn't enough to overcome Jinhyeok "DDing" Yang's incredible Pharah play, as the Shock were held to one point.
That meant Shanghai only needed to cap the first two points to claim victory in Stage 3. Diem stuck with Widowmaker in an effort to control the SHock defense, but Hyobin "Choihyobin" Choi was an absolute terror with Roadhog, frequently hooking the Dragons' players and picking them off one-by-one. Shanghai did capture the first point, but that's where the Shock's defense intensified. Choihyobin continued to control the narrative, keeping Diem under control. But this has been DDing's series to lose and he helped lead one big push, knocking off the Shock defense, and capturing the second point to take the series.
The San Francisco Shock lived up to their name before play even began, shocking fans by sitting their top two players Sinatraa and Super for Map 1 on Oasis. Instead they started seldom-used Minho "Architect" Park, Namju "Striker" Gwon, and Myeong "Smurf" Hwan Yoo. It's a move that looked to pay off, with Architect monitoring the skies as Pharah while Smurf's Orisa helped support Choyhyobin's Roadhog. But the map was decided thanks largely to Diem's Widowmaker picking off the Shock one-by-one while Youngjin Jin's Roadhog cleaned up any remaining mess.
The Shock hoped to rebound by selecting Numbani for Map 2 and bringing Super and Sinatraa back out off the bench. Even with DongJun "Rascal" Kim's Baptiste helping out with his Immortality Field, there was no answer for DDing guarding the skies as Pharah. A well-timed Barrage was enough to clear the path to the final point for the Dragons on offense. The Shock looked to rebound on offense, but there was no toppling the Dragons, as Gyeong "Coma" Woo Son's Mercy kept the team alive while YoungJin "Gamsu" Noh's Wrecking Ball pressured Rascal into popping out Immortality Fields. The Shock wanted one last push, but Sunghyeon "Luffy" Yang's Ana put Super's Reinhardt to sleep and it was all academic from there, as the Shanghai Dragons went up 2-0.
Map 3 moved over to Horizon Lunar Colony. Super asserted himself more, putting pressure on the Dragons, while Sinatraa started to settle in with Zarya. The Shock looked to have a defensive stop, but DDing's Pharah wasn't going to be denied. Barrage cleared off Point A as time expired and the onslaught continued through to Point B, as DDing took out Super. This paved the way for the Dragons to take the last point, with Diem's Hanzo clearing off any last bits of resistance.
The Shock went on offense and looked to stay with what brought them to the dance, sticking with the Sombra GOATS lineup. They also looked to counter DDing's Pharah with Minki "Viol2t" Park bringing out Moira. The move paid off, as Sinatraa's Sombra set off an EMP on Point B and the Shock took the second point with 4:43 in their time bank. After holding the Dragons to one point, the Shock looked to do it again, but the Dragons adapted. Diem popped an EMP and DDing's Pharah ruled again, as the Dragons held the second point and took the map to go up 3-0.
Map 4 went to Havana and with the Dragons at match point, they appeared to feel greater pressure than the Shock. The Shock calmly proceeed with their standard game plan, with Sinatraa's Sombra popping EMPs and Choihyobin's Roadhog hooking foes with great frequency. But Havana's final point is the among the trickiest objectives to complete in the league. DDing's Pharah maintained total dominance, recovering from an Ana sleep dart to ward off the Shock offense and hold San Francisco to just two points. But that ultimately didn't matter, as the Shock clamped down on defense. Super held firm on the first point, while Sinatraa's switch to Tracer proved to be the X-factor that gave the Shock their first game of the series.
Map 5 went to Ilios and while Shanghai's nerves started to settle down, the Shock's resolve started to strengthen. Diem went back and forth between Widowmaker and Sombra, asserting himself with both characters. While the Dragons took the first point, disaster struck on the second map as Gamsu's Minefield got stuck in the chimney above the point, making it completely ineffective. Despite one last try, the Shock took the second point. That left the Ruins as the rubber point and the Shock wrapped this one up behind Super's Winston, who was able to sweep the Dragons away with Primal Rage.
Map 6 went to Eichenwalde and the Shock got off and running with Sinatraa infiltrating the back line and catching the defending Dragons by surprise. Shanghai's defense didn't get much better from there, as San Francisco escorted the payload in just two short minutes. The Dragons had a little more trouble, but DDing dropped a Barrage along the final point to clear off the Shock defense and open up the path to a successful escort.
The Dragons only had about a minute to capture the payload on the second go-around, but the Shock's defense held steadfast. With the Dragons' push unsuccessful, the Shock cruised to a victory on Eichenwalde, tying the series at three games a piece.
Even prior to today's victory, the Shanghai Dragons were undoubtedly the biggest story of the Stage 3 playoffs. Finishing Stage 3 with a 5-2 stage record (12-9 overall), the Dragons squeezed in as the #8 seed. They proceeded to knock off the top two teams in the league back-to-back, putting up wins over the New York Excelsior and the Vancouver Titans, who are a combined 39-3 in the regular season.
For their victory, the Shanghai Dragons take home $200,000. The Overwatch League now takes a break before heading into Stage 4, the final stage of the regular season. However, it should be noted that Blizzard is set to host a special Stage 4 preview episode of Watchpoint for Thursday, July 18 and is teasing a potential surprise.
The Overwatch League's regular season will resume on Thursday, July 25.