¡¡¡¡The Dallas Fuel fully anticipated they would win against the Vancouver Titans on Saturday. Still, that Dallas won 3-0, and did so smoothly, surprised Fuel head coach Yun ¡°RUSH¡± Hee-Won, because the team knows Sunday¡¯s 2 p.m. match against the Houston Outlaws would be more important.
¡¡¡¡Dallas didn¡¯t completely ignore Vancouver, but the Titans were in the midst of a 0-8 season without a map win in June Joust pool play. The Titans were never going to be a true threat to the Fuel, which secured the No. 5 seed for the North America bracket.
¡¡¡¡Yun also sympathizes with Vancouver. He¡¯s been there before, struggling to get anything going with a team.
¡¡¡¡¡°When I was a part of creating our first Overwatch team, although we weren¡¯t a team that was good enough to make it to APEX (before the Overwatch League),¡± Yun said via interpreter. That¡¯s when I tried to take it step by step and then develop into a better team.¡±
¡¡¡¡He also dealt with similar difficulties in coaching a StarCraft team, but what he learned is that you can¡¯t try and fix everything all at once. Replacing pieces and trying to win in an instant wouldn¡¯t work, in his eyes.
¡¡¡¡Of course the Fuel got to skip some rebuilding steps, transitioning from a 9-11 Fuel team in 2020 that suffered from chemistry issues and internal conflict. But the Fuel picked up a coach that had been through it, with players he built up.
¡¡¡¡So in a way, the Fuel defeated a much older version of themselves on Saturday. The first control map was competitive, but Volskaya Industries and Numbani were rolls.
¡¡¡¡Again, Dallas expected that. The short turnaround before playing Houston was what Yun was mostly concerned about.
¡¡¡¡¡°Obviously today¡¯s match was very important, but tomorrow¡¯s match will be even more important,¡± Yun said. ¡°I did mention to the players at the beginning of today that we don¡¯t have to win 3-0. It¡¯s just that we have a more important match to prepare for and that we have to be ready for that.¡±
¡¡¡¡Both the Fuel and Outlaws are teams with histories of not meeting expectations. The Titans found success in their franchise¡¯s first season, making it to the 2019 OWL Grand Final. Since then it¡¯s been laborious to get a win.
¡¡¡¡It¡¯s basically for the inverse for the Fuel and Outlaws. This season has been far and away the best for both, and the two Texas rivals already met twice. The Outlaws took the season opener on April 16, but the Fuel claimed the more important matchup on May 2 to secure a Hawaii trip for the May Melee.
¡¡¡¡The Fuel are gunning for a second OWL mid-season tournament win, which would cushion their slim lead in the NA standings. The Outlaws will seek redemption, but Fuel damage star Kim ¡°Sp9rk1e¡± Yeong-han wasn¡¯t concerned.
¡¡¡¡¡°I feel like the reason Houston looks good is because they have been playing teams that are not necessarily very good at this meta except for Atlanta,¡± Kim said via interpreter. ¡°So it¡¯s just that their bracket was just really nice. But obviously they are on their way to losing to us and it will be a repeat of May Melee.¡±
¡¡¡¡Houston and Dallas may be past their bottom-of-the-league stages, but the fight to stay at the top is as competitive as ever. The Fuel¡¯s new goal is to prove their staying power.
¡¡¡¡Find more Fuel coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.
¡¡¡¡Find more esports coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.
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