November 27th marked the beginning of North America’s Contenders season. The group’s twelve teams had their first opportunity to show off the work they’ve put in and to set expectations for the season to come. In this roundup, we’ll be taking a look at what happened and what might come next, if these first six matches are any indication of the future.
In addition to the new rosters, this week marked the debut of two new casting duos. Former Boston Uprising player Connor “Avast” Prince joins casting veteran Andrew “ZP” Rush, while Evie “HamTornado” Feng and Chris “Boop” Lessard join the lineup from Broadcast.gg. Both pairs proved comfortable in front of the camera, and the balance of established and fresh talent will keep the casting lively throughout the season.
Atlanta Academy v. Mayhem Academy
The season began with a face-off between academy teams. Atlanta Academy had a successful Contenders debut, taking down Mayhem Academy 3-1. The former Last Night’s Leftovers roster proved that their synergy is still intact after an impressive showing in last month’s BEAT Invitational, and they are bound to keep improving under the Atlanta Reign banner.
Despite the score, both teams offered solid performances throughout the match. In particular, Xander “Hawk” Domecq gave us a standout performance on D.Va, while Damon “Apply” Conti had several opportunities to show off his DPS skills. Overall, Mayhem Academy can walk away from their defeat with the knowledge that several of the maps were close calls, but Atlanta Academy has proven that being the newest academy team is nothing to scoff at.
First Generation v. Kungarna
Later in the evening, First Generation took their first victory of the season, defeating Kungarna 3-1. Made up of the former GOATS roster, First Generation showed off plenty of the ‘beloved’ composition named after them, and Kungarna followed suit. However, First Generation proved that it’s difficult to bring down a team known for its skill in the current meta.
In addition, notable performances from former San Francisco Shock player David “nomy” Lizarraga Ramirez Osmar and support player Robert ‘robdab’ Garcia ended up difficult to counter. Kungarna finished out their first week of Contenders with an unsteady performance, but one that they can hopefully build off of.
Fusion University v. Uprising Academy
Fusion University finished out the first evening of matches by managing a 3-2 victory over Uprising Academy. The two-time Contenders champions demonstrated from the very beginning that they intend to keep their title, and despite some shaky plays, they’ve overall shown excellent form already.
However, Uprising Academy has an equally powerful roster on their side, and they gave Fusion University a run for their money. Tank player Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth proved just as impressive as expected after his World Cup run, while support player Gabriel “Swimmer” Levy stood out as well.
Fusion University and Uprising Academy put on an excellent show in their first match of the season, and both teams are poised to be serious threats as we go on.
Second Wind v. Gladiators Legion
Second Wind and Gladiators Legion kicked off the second day of matches with the most captivating fight of the week. Though Second Wind pulled off the 3-2 victory, the match was so close that any fight could have turned the tides back towards Legion. Both teams came into the season in top form, with especially notable performances from off-tanks Nathan “frdwnr” Goebel and Daniel “Gods” Graeser.
Both teams leave the match looking organized and well-trained, and after their performance, they also look like strong challengers in the season ahead.
NRG Esports v. Skyfoxes
NRG Esports stands out as the only team to achieve a 4-0 victory this week, rolling through their match against Skyfoxes. Though the Skyfoxes’ season debut marks the return of several former OWL talents, such as Stefano ‘Verbo’ Disalvo and Luis ‘iRemiix’ Galarza Figueroa, their roster couldn’t counter a standout performance from Eoghan ‘Smex’ O’Neill and support from the rest of NRG. As a whole, Skyfoxes appeared disorganized, and may need more time to mesh. Hopefully, things are only looking up for them from here.
XL2 Academy v. Team Envy
Many viewers expect XL2 Academy to pull off another strong showing this season, and their match on Wednesday seems like a good place to start. They closed out the week with a 3-1 victory over Team Envy, with especially impressive plays from Andreas “Logix” Berghmans and James ‘Cloneman16’ D’Arcangelo. Despite their loss, Team Envy put up a good fight. After garnering attention with Team Australia in the World Cup, Ashley ‘trill’ Powell stood out several times throughout the evening, as did William “Crimzo” Hernandez. Score aside, Team Envy demonstrated clear potential, and could prove a solid team in the weeks to come.
Until Next Week!
All regions of Contenders are in full swing now, but NA Contenders in particular returns on December 4th. After setting expectations with this first week, the upcoming matches are sure to be entertaining, so stay tuned!
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Featured image courtesy of Overwatch Contenders.
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