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Esports: Dragons look for fantasy finish

On October 8, 2020

BY RYAN RUTKOWSKI / VN STAFF WRITER

The Shanghai Dragons look to make a storybook ending as the third season of the Overwatch League comes to a close.

The Dragons join the Philadelphia Fusion, San Francisco Shock and Seoul Dynasty in the final double-elimination tournament of the year Oct. 8-10.

The Dragons, led by MVP Byung-sun "Fleta" Kim, are the heavy favorites as they had the best overall record this season at 27-2.

This success may come as a surprise to those who have not kept up with the league since the inaugural season when the Dragons failed to win a single game, going 0-40.

Although the underdogs were a fan favorite, success was the ultimate goal in the league, not popularity.

As a fan of Shanghai myself, I saw the team give fans heartbreak after heartbreak before becoming the best team in the league. It was somewhat poetic.

Watching the team finally earn a win in season two is something no fan will forget.

It was a touchstone event in the esports world.

You can ask someone, “Where were you when the Dragons won their first game?” and people will give a descriptive answer.

But not only did the Dragons start winning, they kept winning in season two.

Although they were not the best team in the league, they were still one of the best teams to watch.

Shanghai managed to win the season two, stage three playoffs, countering the standard “GOATS” meta and beating the three best teams in the league at that time with a high-flying triple-damage composition.

In one weekend the Shanghai Dragons beat the New York Excelsior, the Vancouver Titans and the San Francisco Shock, proving that they were no longer bottom feeders.

Yet, the league thought they had reached their peak after that tournament win because they failed to make it to the season playoffs after falling short in the play-ins.

A team at the top was struck down by the implementation of the 2-2-2 Role Lock, which prevented the Dragons from playing their exciting damage composition.

After the season, however, the Shanghai management went to work, bringing in future MVP Fleta, star rookies Jae-won “LIP” Lee and Jae-won “LIP” Lee and bringing back season one main tank Lee “Fearless” Eui-Seok.

With yet another re-tooled roster, the Shanghai Dragons performed with flying colors and took hold of the APAC region.

They won two out of three of the monthly tournaments and secured first seed for the season playoffs.

A large part of their success, aside from their MVP player, was main tank Fearless, a member of the original season one team.

Fearless was released at the end of season one due to health reasons but never gave up and proved himself worthy in Overwatch Contenders on Team CC.

Fearless was signed after a season away from the Overwatch League and played a key role in the Dragons season, a true comeback story.

Now the Dragons face their toughest task yet, a weekend against three of the best teams Overwatch has to offer and only one shot at the glory.

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