These are exciting, albeit uncertain, times in the Overwatch esports scene. Overwatch League has been announced, the World Cup is underway and Contenders Season 1 is kicking off in a week. This upcoming weekend will have the OWWC take place in Santa Monica and then on the 14th of August Overwatch Contenders will begin. The teams were decided through Contenders Season 0, and two teams were invited.
In a strange turn of events, Team Liquid dropped their roster due to three of their players moving onto (or going back) to other games. This is an interesting wrinkle in the upcoming tournament as the spot needs to be filled within a week. But how does Blizzard resolve this issue? Do they sell the slot to another team or do they give it to a runner-up?
There is no confirmed news regarding what Blizzard chooses to do with this free slot. However, it would be consistent with Blizzard if they were to sell it to the highest bidder. Realistically, there are only three teams that could afford that slot: Cloud9, NRG and CLG. NRG doesn’t even have a full roster so it is unlikely that they would be able to take the spot. Cloud9 is only missing one tank since Kaiser went back to RunAway due to “visa issues”. CLG has a six man roster that they could compete with. Technically, Cloud9 also has a six man roster but Mendo is not a tank player so they wouldn’t be able to play with tanks.
Speculation about that slot aside, this promises to be a highly competitive Contenders Season. Two months ago, there were a couple of teams that dominated the rest, but the gap between Tier 1 and Tier 2 teams has been closing rapidly.
Let’s have a look Contenders Season 1 North America and make some predictions.
Replacement for Team Liquid
One of the teams that got invited to compete in Season 1. EnVyUs and Rogue were both in Korea for Apex Season 3 where EnVyUs lost to KongDoo Panthera. This isn’t a bash on nV. The fact that they made it so far is a testament to how strong this team is.
However, I do have one reservation. How good are they against Western teams? There is a difference in play style between the West and East. And while the best in the East are unequivocally better than the best in the West, the different play style could hurt nV.
However, they are still a top team and considered one of the favorites for winning the whole event. They have one of the best Ana’s in the world in Chips and one of the best DPS in the world in Taimou. On top of this, they have Effect who tore up in Apex, carrying the team at some points. It will be exciting watching Effect use his Tracer in the West. Here’s hoping for a Soon vs Effect matchup.
Sadly, we can’t do proper predictions because the groups haven’t been made and we don’t know who they will be playing against. But, I would be shocked if they didn’t get a top three finish.
FaZe Clan is one of the more interesting teams in this competition. They have the parts in place to have a stunning DPS but lack a core backline and tanks. You can have as many star DPS as you want, but if they don’t have space to work with then you will lose. Always.
This happened with Cloud9 a while ago. They had Mendo, Gods, and Surefour. Three players who play DPS but they weren’t able to perform. Gods wasn’t actually a bad tank, but he preferred playing DPS and so he had to learn Winston.
This is sort of the same situation faced by Faze. The Clan lacks a strong supporting unit. But if ShaDowBurn can pop off and deliver insane Genji play on low ping, like he did at the World Cup, then Faze could make it out of groups.
The All American Rejects. Except for one Canadian, this is an All American team that was formed from the pieces of other teams. This is true of a lot of teams, but these guys decided to make it a part of their personality. Their name FNRGFE is an acronym of the teams that they came from including NRG and FaZe.
If this team takes the tournament seriously then they may make it out of groups, but even that would be a surprise.
This is one of the strongest teams in the West right now. Anything less than top two will be a disappointment. Immortals has two of the best DPS combined with a solid support and tank line. Their kryptonite may turn out to be communication as they have three Koreans and four North Americans. If the Koreans have put in more effort to learn better English than this team could take first.
Agilities is one of the best Genji’s in the world, he went toe to toe with ShaDowBurn at World Cup. During the match against the Netherlands, he had one of the most insane Genji plays that I have ever seen. Back this up with KariV who is a great support and some solid tanking who can give Grim and Agilities the space that they need and you have a scary team. At the BEAT Invitational last month they took Rogue to within two fights. The score was 3:1 but it doesn’t reflect how close that match actually was.
They did better against Rogue than EnVyUs did.
Kungarna barely qualified for Contenders, beating out Cloud9 with an Overtime BO3 on Oasis. I don’t think that they have the firepower to make it out groups. They don’t have any superstars and their basic gameplay isn’t that strong.
If they have taken their time off to practice and grind then they could surprise some teams, but I don’t think that they will be able to go deep into the tournament.
5-Hour Energy Detroit Renegades
Renegades managed to surprise a lot of teams during season 0 of Contenders. Tying Kungarna and beating Cloud9 3-1 was a huge surprise to many people, including me. They qualified first in their group and looked solid doing it. Then seeing Mangachu represent Canada at the OWWC gave me some hope that they may make it out of groups if they got lucky. He is a solid player and a great Pharah. But I don’t think that they have enough players with a good enough base level to qualify out of groups.
Look at them to get a win or a tie but not quite make it out of groups.
The French all star team, their World Cup team and one of the best, if not the best, teams in the West. They have dominated during the dive meta and looked unstoppable. Until Korea. Then they didn’t make it out of groups as the Koreans managed to out think them.
However, it doesn’t look like there are any teams in the West except for maybe nV and Immortals that can beat them. Look to them to take first place.
SoOn is a Tracer god and aKm is top three Soldier in the world. Back both of these up with a Korea level Winston in KnoxXx and a top three Zenyatta in uNKOE and you get an unstoppable force.
But they aren’t unbeatable. As I said in another article, they have a weakness. A glaring weakness, in fact. They lack depth. If you can find a way to neutralise dive, you neutralise a lot of Rogues threat. Rogue will always compete for a top five finish, but if you can shut down dive, then you can shut down the biggest reason Rogue is dangerous.
Easier said than done.
Formerly Team Liquid
Team Liquid qualified for Contenders Season 1 but AZK has decided to go back to CS:GO and two of their other players are switching to Quake which means that they will not be able to compete in Season 1. I can’t make any predictions on where they will end up because we don’t know who is going to replace them.
I hope Cloud9, but we will see. They do seem to be the most logical choice, or ARC6, which would also be a lot of fun.
I think Rogue will take first place in a close match against Immortals with nV coming fourth and FaZe coming third. But FaZe and Renegades could easily switch.
The way Blizzard has done this has been really good. Most of the teams are very closely matched in skill and it is hard to pick the best. Except for the top three which are Immortals, nV, and Rogue. Without a doubt.
That doesn’t matter Overwatch Contenders will be a lot of fun to watch and I am glad that we now have Apex and Contenders at the same time.