How ‘The Last Dance’ and three-peat quest may keep San Francisco Shock together for 2021

Three-peats are tantalizing. Few surer ways to provide the bedrock of a "dynasty" argument exist. At minimum, it's historic.

The San Francisco Shock are not a dynasty, or even three-time champions. They are the first back-to-back conquerors of the Overwatch League (in Year 3 of existence), winning the 2020 title in an isolated space in South Korea — a far cry from the packed Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia where they captured their first title in 2019. 

Hardly an hour after the Shock were crowned champs a second time, questions of sticking together for a third were asked. League free agency has already opened. Some players have expired contracts. Teams, including San Francisco, have budgets that require adherence. Decisions for Shock general manager Chris Chung await. 

"Our goal is to keep the Shock," Chung began before uttering the all-important word "together." A tangential thought then crossed his mind: "We kind of briefly talked about doing this a third time."

The San Francisco Shock have won back-to-back titles. (Photo: San Francisco Shock)

Team captain and longest-tenured Shock member Matthew "Super" DeLisi held three fingers in the air to signal his support of the three-peat quest. Chung revealed that the team watched the Michael Jordan documentary "The Last Dance" — which chronicled the two Chicago Bulls' three-peats of the 1990s, and more — about a month ago.

"They saw the ugly side of how a sports (organization) runs, with Jerry Krause and ownership and the way the players felt about it. So they have a head start in a way. I'm just gonna have to finesse my way in there," Chung joked during the post-match championship news conference Saturday held on Zoom. 

Chung remains confident he will once again find the right pieces to construct a roster his coaching staff, helmed by head coach Park "Crusty" Dae-hee, can mold into a juggernaut. A desire to win with fans losing their minds as the Shock close out the final map is a motivational factor. But running it back with the same roster seems unlikely, even if that is Chung's preference. 

"All right, we'll settle this right here," Chung said, turning around to face his players. "Who wants to go to another team, raise your hand?" 

Arms shot up in dissent, but only to get a rise out of the GM. 

"Jokes aside," Chung said, "we need to tell (owner) Andy (Miller) to open up his checkbook." 

If Chung must confront roster turnover, at least he's done it before. After last season, the Shock lost league MVP Jay "Sinatraa" Won, who left Overwatch, and traded Minho "Architect" Park in May. 

"I'll admit, there are times when I'm not sure certain decisions I make are what's right for the team," Chung said. "But I think what got us to keep going without players like Architect or Sinatraa is the fact that these players were still willing to follow. They weren't hindered by the fact we lost these players. Obviously it was very emotional when we lost Sinatraa and Architect, but the next day, these players just came to work and it was as if nothing happened. That's something that's very hard to have — for every player to be on the same kind of page that way. It's the right pieces at the right time … it's nothing technical." 

Overwatch League draw record viewership for Grand Finals

Prior to the 2020 season, YouTube and Overwatch announced a partnership that became even more beneficial for the league when the pandemic forced all matches to be played online. 

Overwatch is touting the Grand Finals broadcast from Saturday morning (eastern time) as the league's most-watched match ever. Overwatch has partnered with Nielsen in pioneering the average minute audience (AMA) metric, which is the "average number of people watching a broadcast at any minute during the broadcast, calculated by the total minutes watched divided by total minutes broadcast." 

The global AMA viewership, according to YouTube, was 1.55 million, a 38 percent increase from 2019 Grand Finals viewership. 

At its peak, the broadcast had 180,000 concurrent viewers. 

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

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