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Contenders Catch-Up: Playoffs Edition

Keeping up with all seven Contenders regions isn’t easy, but we have the Game Haus have found a solution! In this handy article, you can find the current status of each region’s playoff pushes. Some have yet to begin, and some are almost done – but all of them are worth watching. As always, you can stay up to date with Contenders on their official site, official Twitter, or on @Contenders_OW.

 

Australia


The Aussies are one of the few regions left to enjoy one of Overwatch’s greatest luxuries. Their semi and Grand Finals will be held on LAN at the Qudos Bank Arena during IEM Sydney, and each match-up will be insane.

Semifinals start at 11PM PDT on Frday, May 3rd, with the Sydney Drop Bears (6-1, +18) taking on the Melbourne Mavericks (4-3, -1) and ORDER (6-1, +18) taking on Blank OCE (6-1, +9).

The Drop Bears are out for blood after dropping their first match in over a year to Blank back in March. Melbourne have had a tougher time of things this season, but the upset potential is there. Keep an eye on the frontline, as Teetaway “Teetawat ” Teerayosyotin and Robert “Minny” Shishoian should both put on a show.

Our pick: SDB all the way. The Mavericks could make this interesting, but a single loss doesn’t negate the dominance the Drop Bears have brought to bear (ha, get it?) all these seasons.

ORDER vs Blank should be a real show of force – each team is known for its punchy style and impressive mechanical ability, which often leads to clutch plays in crunch time. While we might consider SDB vs MEL to be… less than close, this one could really go down to the wire. Keep an eye on Dale “Signed” Tang for ORDER – he’s one of the best DPS/Zarya flexes in the world right now, no joke – and Giorgio “tongue” Lahdo for Blank. He makes plays that could leave JJONAK blushing.

Our pick: ORDER. This will be one to watch, especially as we look forward to the Grand Finals. It also bears recalling that ORDER 4-0’d Blank when they last played one another… will they give us a different look for playoffs?

 

China

China are taking a bit of a break before their semifinal push on May 11th, but that gives you plenty of time to catch up with a region that normally plays when western fans are dreaming peacefully of Pulse Bombs and Pachimaris. The region is known most prominently for its chaotic, DPS-heavy style – Chengdu plays like Chengdu for a reason, after all. LGD (3-2, +4) will face off against the fearsome T1w (5-0, +15) at 3am on the 11th, with LGE.Huya (the Hunters’ academy team, 5-0, +17) facing off against Hangzhou’s Contenders squad, Bilibili Gaming (4-1, +10).

The numbers make T1w vs LGD look somewhat one-sided, and it’s hard not to trust them after seeing what T1w has been able to do over the past few seasons. Dominance is a given when watching T1w play, and we expect that to continue against LGD, revamps or no. An upset is not out of the question, but even so…

Our pick: It’s hard not to choose T1w when looking at the data. China is prone to chaotic results, but not when The One Winner steps up to bat. Regardless, keep an eye on this game – if only to see some future OWL players do their thing.

Following the trend in Australia, the second semi-final should be a bit closer. LGE and BLG have both had blistering regular seasons, proving their newly developed rosters (plucked from some of China’s best teams last season) can hold their own in a tumultuous scene. Ultimately, you should keep an eye on two players in particular – Zheng “Shy” Yangjie, one of China’s brightest remaining T2 stars, and Zhong “Haker” Haotian, who’s made a name for himself as a fantastic Sombra player.

Our pick: LGE, but this one will be close. Each team is built on rock-solid foundations, so it will come down to who can keep their cool and exploit their enemy’s mistakes when it matters most.

 

Europe

Europe has moved quickly through their playoff bracket, and now only one game remains. It’s a rematch of a little Week 7 match-up we covered not too long ago – Angry Titans (6-1, +13) vs British Hurricane (7-0, +15). The two teams are fairly evenly matched (though their last game was a 3-1 victory for the Brits), and each team should be bringing their best after a good amount of time to prepare. Keep an eye on long-time T2 stars like Hafþór “Hafficool” Hákonarson from BH to make an impact with some nice bombs, or Lukas “LullSiSH” Wiklund and Stefan “Spectr9l” Fiskerstrand to combine for some crazy combos and clutch plays. This might be the best Grand Finals in the Contenders world.

[Related: Interviews with Hafficool, LullSiSH, and Spectr9l]

Our pick: BH, but it’ll be closer than their last go-round. Remember, Hafficool said that BH is better than AT in almost every way… we’ll see if they can back that up a second time.

 

Korea

Korean playoffs don’t kick off for a long while – their first games are on the 11th – but it’ll be well worth the wait. The region has long stood as the greatest bastion of up-and-coming talent in the world, and this season could reinforce that point one more time.

Keep an eye on Gen.G (5-2, +6) and perennial favorites RunAway (6-1, +14) once we hash out the quarterfinal rounds – each team has impressed this season, even if the latter lost their winning streak against Element Mystic to close out the regular season in Week 7. Now that the pressure valve has been released, RunAway might be playing loose – though whether that’s good or bad remains to be seen. An Element Mystic-RunAway rematch is not out of the question…

Our pick to win it all: RunAway. Despite the loss, they’ve still been playing insanely dominant Overwatch against (most of) the other teams in the bracket. Let’s hope they can recover their potentially boomed mentals and win it all again. #DoItForRunner #DoItForFlowervin

 

Pacific

Like EU, the Pacific has moved quickly. Their Grand Finals are on the 3rd, though it hasn’t come without a good deal of bloodshed. Talon Esports (6-1, +17) have been up to their usual hijinks, but Nova (6-1, +13) have had a resurgence this season after a complete rebuild in January. Which will come out on top, we wonder..?

Our pick:  Talon are looking too good not to root for them, though this one could be close. Keep an eye on Lee “Gogora” Ji-Yoon at flex and Wang “inin77” Qi-Hong at flex support if you want to see a real fireworks show – especially against their counterparts, Wei “Craz1S” Hsiao-Chin and Kao “OYO” Ruei-Chou.

 

South America

This region might have one of the most intriguing storylines of the season. After an up and down start and a 4-3 group stage finish, FURY – an organization straight out of Australia, of all places – have pushed through the playoff bracket and toppled our predictions after beating XTEN Esports (6-1, +20) in the semifinals. Their 3-2 upset also means that, for the first time, a female player has made a Contenders final!

Gabriela Nacaratto de Fanceschi Vieira – or Win98, for short – is only 16 years old. Despite her youth, she’s one of the most experienced players left in the scene, having pushed through Trials and Open Division in Season 2 of 2018. While her efforts with Breakdown Gaming and Gira de Venganza (and even FURY, to an extent) have borne disappointing fruit, FURY have recently surged upwards after a perfect Trials re-run, and have a real chance to take it all the way.

Their opponents won’t make that easy, of course. Lowkey Esports (7-0, +19) are one of the most dominant Contenders teams in the world. They’re a veritable super roster formed from the ashes of Based Tryhards and LFTOWL – last seasons Grand Finalists – and are making a convincing push for a top spot in the Pacific Showdown to come. No matter how this series ends, it should be flashy…

Our pick: Lowkey Esports. FURY could make for a great story, but it’s hard not  to say LK will pull out the win after the season they’ve had. Keep an eye on Pedro “Ole” Orlandini and Paulo “Pizzalover” Vitor – they’re one of the best support duos in the world – as well as the handsome, intelligent Mauricio “honorato” Honorato.

 

North America West

Well well well. After a long and contentious season, NA West has developed quite the interesting post-season – for two reasons.

One – Envy. This team has crushed any obstacle in their path, cementing themselves as one of the best T2 teams in the world. Veterans across the board, this team has proven that the right mix of players, staff, and dedication can bring back the dominant days of old.

Two – Atlanta Academy. After a 5-2, +12 season, many wondered if they could stand up to Envy and Skyfoxes. Until last night, of course. In a grueling six map series – the first of its kind in NA – ATL managed to pull it off with a dominant Lijiang finish.

New blood has emboldened this team, it seems. They’ll need all the boldness they can get against the Smasher of Good Ults.

Our pick: Do we have to?

 

North America East

This. Region. NAE has shown itself to be one of the most competitive in the world, and playoffs have pushed that point even further. Both semifinal games went to close Map 5s, and that means these Grand Finals should be a doozy.

Mayhem Academy (6-1, +17) managed to snap Fusion University’s (6-1, +6) 30 game winstreak, only to lose to the rough-and-tumble Gladiators Legion (3-4, -1). By Muma’s Transitive Property, that pretty much means that Gladiators Legion is the best Contenders team in the world right now.

Unless.

Fusion Uni are still far from rock solid – with as many Map 5s as they’ve been through this season, were they ever? – but with the right amount of dark magic and plot armor, anything can happen. Despite the close finishes and the rare loss, Fusion Uni could still paint a big FU over the Contenders logo this season, again.

Our pick: Gladiators Legion. Maybe a hot take, but with Maid at the helm and Bischu at the sticks, this team has a real shot. Fusion Uni are at their weakest right now… even if the Map 5 magic is with them. Don’t miss this one, kids.

 

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Featured Image Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.

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