Most of the current Overwatch League teams are in the process of rebuilding, many looking towards Contenders for their pickups. The T2 system is a good showcase of regional talent for any viewer that gains interest in international competition. In the Path to Pro Player Highlight: Europe the best EU players are looked at. This series features some of the best players in the scene.
In the beginning of the life of Overwatch as an esport, Europe was one of the premiere scenes for talent. However, since the establishment of the Overwatch League and Contenders, the perceived value of the region decreased drastically as top competition relocated to North America. This does not mean that the region as a whole is worse, but North America has imported a large majority of the best players in Europe.
Crème de la Crème
After failing to perform internationally in the Atlantic Showdown and Gauntlet, Europe looked like it was at its worst. Though there were some players to highlight in those tournaments, there was no result that reflected their skill. The region did find redemption in the Overwatch World Cup held at the beginning of November, with 6 out of 10 teams in the final legs of the tournament. A mixture of OWL and Contenders talent made up the cores for these teams. Although many are in NA Contenders, a large part still competes in their home region.
Of those, Lucas “Leaf” Loison, Ilya “Txao” Makarov and Mads “Fischer” Jehg are three standouts.
Both Leaf and Fischer joined the ranks of impressive flex DPS players in the tournament, which was by far the standout role in Anaheim. Though Leaf is more of a projectile specialist, both managed to put on a display that wowed audiences. Pharah for Leaf, Mei and Hanzo for Fischer and Doomfist for both, the players’ comfort picks are not to be underestimated in future matches. Currently, Leaf is playing with Team Gigantti, while Fischer is on HSL Esports.
Meanwhile, Txao was part of a Russian team looking for redemption. He proved to be a capable Sigma for HSL Esports in the Gauntlet, despite the failings of the team. With Russia, he managed to push a team with little competitive play in the past months into the top 10 where they held their own. Despite a single win in groups, Russia’s performance is not one to be overlooked, as every player displayed their proficiency.
Up and Comers
A big feature of the Path to Pro is the discovery of new talent. Each of the following players have found their way into the scene thanks to either scouting or ascension through Open Division. Joni “Jofi” Ilves, and Brice “FDGoD” Monsçavoir both fit the former category. Philip “Munkmutta” Tegman is notorious for rising through the ranks of Open Division.
On British Hurricane, Jofi joined the team to fill in gaps after the departure of certain players. He has been surprisingly good for the Academy team, distinguishing himself on main support. Jofi has stiff competition in his niche, behind OWL and OWWC talent, but he is still putting out solid performances regardless.
FDGoD was a fairly unexpected selection for le 6. He debuted for the French national team in 2019 after barely a year of playing in Contenders. Currently, on Young and Beautiful, his flexibility and mechanics as a main support contributed to France’s return to the top four.
Finally, comes a Clockwork Vendetta player. Most [non-OWL casters] know the history or effects of this team to some extent. While every player is great in their role and is worth mentioning, Munkmutta has interesting traits that set him apart. He has an unconventional hero pool, more so than his teammates’ signature picks. Specializing in Zenyatta and the three sniper heroes, he assisted CV’s diversity and threw wrenches in the plans of opponents. How he fits in the era of role lock and potentially on a new team will be an interesting trajectory to follow.
Proving Their Worth
The format has, however, arguably failed some players in its history. While they are not regarded as unskilled or unworthy, some players have apparently stayed under the public radar. Among these, there are Erik “Erki” Nolander and Fabio “AFoxx” Veigas of Angry Titans fame.
Both have been reaching top four results for the TakeOver owned org since 2018. Erki brings a diverse hero pool that focuses on projectile heroes, and is a reliable asset. AFoxx, meanwhile, has been the off support bridesmaid, always proficient but never considered the best. They had hoped to gain further recognition in the World Cup, but early exits affected their opportunity.
Meanwhile, Nikolaj “Zaprey” Ian Moyes’s recognition comes from his time on Misfits back in 2016, yet he returned to the spotlight with HSL Esports. His talent on hitscan heroes assisted the now premiere European team in their pursuit of success. He will have to prove himself once again, but at his young age this shouldn’t be a major issue.
It should be noted that Tuomo “Davin” Leppänen is the perfect fit for this, however, he is taking a break due to personal issues.
Path to Redemption
Tomáš “Exorath” Kotačka, Daniel “Danii” Lindblad and Mikaël “Hidan” Da Silva. Three players were absent from competition for a while and currently looking for a team. All three are great players that are currently teamless, despite their skill. It would be a big hit to the scene if any of the three left Overwatch.
Both Exorath and Hidan were moving from team to team, region to region, struggling to find a place to call home. They are some of the best off supports Contenders has seen. Best known for Zenyatta and Ana, respectively, they reached high highs and low lows in an effort to move to the big leagues.
Lastly, Danii was last playing in Contenders Season One. His D.Va play was one of the most impressive in the region, but fans never saw his Sigma. An unsuccessful season with Young and Beautiful led to a departure from the team, and he has been teamless since. A player of his caliber would benefit any team that opts to sign him, and without a doubt, he can adapt to the everchanging meta.
The offseason of the Overwatch League leads to the release of players as teams look to rebuild. This has impacted a number of European players, many of which opted to either retire or join a Contenders squad. This year, Normunds “Sharyk” Faterins, Georgii “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha, Karol “Danye” Szcześniak joined the ranks of those released. Two rookies with little game time, one an Overwatch legend, all three departed their reshaping Season 2 teams.
Sharyk was best known as the Winston/Reinhardt prodigy for fan-favorite teams eUnited and CIS Hope (also Winstrike). After CIS Hope broke up in 2018, he joined North American Contenders team Second Wind, notorious for being the Path to Pro Fast Pass. Toronto Defiant Academy team Montréal Rebellion hired Sharyk, and later promoted him to OWL in a rebuilding effort. Despite his best attempts to impress, neither him nor main tank starter Jo “Yakpung” Gyeong-Mu, received the support necessary to lead them to success. The Defiant let them go in the offseason.
Danye and ShaDowBurn joined the Paris Eternal for Season 2 as they opted to create the sole European (and Western) squad in the League. Recently, they were let go of the team as they rebuilt.
ShaDowBurn is a player that needs no introduction, yet unfortunately has had difficulty fitting in the OWL. One thing, however, is certain. He performed well with the Russian national team (only to lose to a finalist). His time in the League could have been smoother, though. First benched by a mechanically equal, yet more flexible player in the Philadelphia Fusion. Then, affected by the GOATs meta, with which Paris struggled. Finally, the contractual situation and acquisition of DPS prodigy Kim “Sp9rk1e” Yeong-Han in a surprising move.
The latter also affected Polish DPS player Danye. He did not struggle in the same way that the other DPS did with the meta, yet he saw less playtime as his hero pool overlapped with his teammates. Most people argue that ShaDowBurn is no longer good, but cannot make the same argument for Danye. He is incredibly flexible, and whichever hero the staff set him on he could perform well. It will be difficult for him to settle down in the OWL, but will be an incredible tool for whoever opts to sign him.
Whether these three, in particular, opt to retire or keep searching for opportunities, not seeing them in the OWL will certainly be painful.
A showcase for other regions will be releasing soon.
Featured Image Courtesy of Blizzard Esports
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