The final week of NA Contenders Trials sealed the deal for four Contenders-bound teams, and shut the door for four more. The battle for the fourth and final spot was particularly close!
While this piece will primarily focus on Contenders Trials, many of these teams also participated in the BEAT Invitational, and their matches their factor significantly into their performance (and my analysis, in turn.) In short: this is basically a double recap.
Second Wind: 1st place in Trials (6-1, +20), 3rd place in BEAT
SkyFoxes: 2nd place in Trials (6-1, +14), 5th place in BEAT
These teams have proven that they’re more than ready to step into Contenders. With only four maps dropped, Second Wind are proving that they’re one of the more dominant squads in NA right now – and their performance in the BEAT Invitational definitely backs that up. They took down Skyfoxes (thanks to some smart play and a soul-crushing C9 in the last map) and only lost against LNL (in semis) and Toronto Esports (in Losers’ Finals.) Both of those teams went on to duke it out in the Grand Finals – putting SW in a comfortable third place. Not a bad look for this new roster.
The Skyfoxes cruised through Trials this weekend. They secured their Contenders berth last week, after all. In BEAT, though, the Foxes struggled a bit. After a close loss against Second Wind, Skyfoxes only made it to the second losers’ round before being swept out by Phase 2. Nothing to panic about, certainly, but something to review before Contenders kick off in mid-November.
In other foxy news, Lucio star Swimmer was picked up by Toronto Esports, and team owner Justin Patry was picked up by the Atlanta Reign as their Director of Marketing and Communications.
Phase 2: 3rd place in Trials (4-3, +5), 4th place in BEAT
GOATS: 4th place in Trials (4-3, +3), 6th place in BEAT
These teams have been on the grind to prove their worth. Luckily enough, that grind has paid off! Phase 2 controlled their own fate this weekend, crushing U4 in a win-or-go-home game for the ages. Conversely, GOATS stumbled into their Contenders spot, losing their last game (though just barely) against Shu’s Money Crew. I’ll chalk that one up to growing pains and move on. Welcome to the big show, GOATS.
In BEAT, both of these teams had fairly good (though unlucky) runs. Phase 2 crushed NRG before losing to Toronto Esports and Second Wind, and GOATS did the same thing… just in a different order. A loss to Toronto, a win against NRG, and a final loss against Second Wind left both teams out in the cold, but not without hope. They’ve proven that they can hang with some of the region’s top talent – the question is: can they maintain that progress and continue to grow?
There’s Always Next Season
Shu’s Money Crew: 5th place in Trials (3-4, -2), DNP in BEAT
Euphoria: 6th place in Trials (3-4, -3), DNP In BEAT
Bye Week: 7th place in Trials (2-5, -9), DNP in BEAT
These teams had a tough time of it, but were by no means hopeless. SMC came in to Trials with little preparation and even less motivation, but still managed to take wins over GOATS and Bye Week, who each fielded fearsome players and extensive staff. Their individual performances were all impressive – they just lacked in coordination and depth, especially once their go-to strat of “let Brandito be a really good Doomfist” failed. This team could flip the switch and grow a great deal for the next season of Open Division, and easily make their way back to Trials and beyond.
Euphoria were another team with a similar story. Comprised largely of unknowns, this fourth-place OD team managed to take wins over GOATS and SMC and damn near made Contenders. If they had won against Phase 2 on Saturday, they would have had it. Their 3-1 scoreline there still made for a close game, and should give the team hope even as they are cast back into the abyss that is Tier 3. Sharpen up, push forward, and come back stronger.
For Bye Week, it’s more difficult to say the same with any confidence. The team looked weak on all fronts in Trials, and will most likely not be coming back as we know it. A rough end for a team that’s pushed into Contenders off of sheer force of will, but one that we are by no means unfamiliar with. It’s been a ride, Bye Week.
🤟Thank you for everything! 🤟
— Bye Week (@ByeWeek_) October 21, 2018
GGEA: DNP in Trials (0-7, -28), DNP in BEAT
As we’ve covered, GGEA were hit hard by the recent financial fracas at Infinite Esports HQ, and the org’s future now hangs in doubt. By all rights, the team is still eligible to try and push back through Open Division – but will Infinite continue to put resources into the team when it has such a steep hill to climb? Will they perhaps buy out a team that made it into Contenders, bringing Second Wind or Skyfoxes under the Infinite banner? Will those teams even want that offer, after seeing what happened to the last GGEA?
We simply don’t know yet. Keep an eye on this team – live or die, this will be a big story in the Tier 2 scene, and one that many other teams will learn from.
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Featured Image Courtesy of Second Wind, Skyfoxes, GOATS and Phase 2