North America’s Contenders Trials kicked off last weekend, and now we’re beginning to see what these teams are capable of. For some, it’s been an impressive showing so far. For others, last weekend was a wake-up call. Whether or not they’ll answer said call, well… that’s anyone’s guess.
Reminder: The stats listed for these teams all include a free win against GGEA, who failed to submit a roster in time to participate in this season’s Trials. You can read a bit more about that here.
The only perfect record team – sitting at 3-0 with 11 map wins – the Skyfoxes are flying high after a strong initial showing. Jang “Luna” Gyeong-ho and Gun-ho “claris” Lee were probably the most impressive of the bunch, proving that they haven’t lost their step after lengthy breaks in competitive play. The squad as a whole ran a tight ship, executing pristine dives and deathballs against Shu’s Money Crew and GOATs, which says a lot when you remember that SMC thrived in Open Division off of the chaos Brandito and Co. could cause, and that GOATs made the comp that the Foxes used against them.
P2 are also undefeated, but they weren’t as smooth about it as the Skyfoxes were – going to Map 5 in a gritty rematch against SMC on Saturday before their clean sweep (and a draw) against Bye Week on Sunday. The entire match against Shu’s was a back and forth brawl, but ultimately SMC’s reliance on Doomfist – and Ana’s existence – helped Phase 2 pull out a close game. Not that SMC made it easy for their Open Division rivals, mind you. Brandito and Baboon all had the game of their lives. P2 were just a bit better, is all.
I wish we had been able to watch Mohr’s POV. Some of the sleep darts he managed to land… “amazing” doesn’t even begin to cover it. They were otherworldly.
Other Phase 2 news: On Wednesday, the team announced the signing of a new Head Coach – none other than resident leakboy-in-training Michael “mykL” Padilla. The team will be well stocked on juice, at least.
You Win Some, You Lose Some
Bye Week had… well, a week! A 3-1 victory over U4 and a loss against Phase 2 isn’t entirely unexpected for the two-time Contenders participants, who will need to rally in their game against SMC next weekend to stay in the hunt. Their draw against Phase 2 shows that Bye Week have a spark – what matters is whether or not they can light it when they need it. So far, we’ve gotten a so-so answer.
Other notable Bye Week news: Alec “Shereshoy” Bynum announced that he would be parting ways with the team once their Trials run is over – for better, or for worse.
I have decided to part ways with Bye Week. They are a very skilled team and can find great success, but I felt like it was in my best interests as a player to move on. Moving forward I will be playing with them for the remainder of Trials, but I am even more emphatic about
— Alec Bynum (@Shereshoy_OW) October 8, 2018
The key question, of course, is why? Has he found better opportunities elsewhere? Is there conflict in the team? And how will this impending move affect the team and its chances moving into Week 2?
Like Bye Week, GOATs had a mixed bag this weekend. Their 3-1 win against Second Wind was impressive, but their loss against Skyfoxes was anything but. Luckily for us, GOATs was one of the only teams to stream their POVs this weekend – which means I can more specifically look at what went wrong.
Ultimately, the team as a whole struggled to get on the same page. That’s hardly surprising, considering the magnitude of their roster shuffles lately. Chayne and Coluge were frequently out of sync, and the backline didn’t help much either – though they gave it their best shot, to be fair.
GOATs’s performance this weekend raises some questions. #1 – where’s Nomy? I’m not saying he ought to replace Chayne right away, but he could be what the team needs to bring things together. His experience is a valuable asset; GOATs would be foolish to waste it in such a key stage of their career.
Hoping to right the ship, GOATs announced a number of additions to the coaching staff on Tuesday, including former CLG support Michael “The” Kuhns, Chris “Choco” Dixon, and former Nocturns member Simon “Simon” Schumph.
— Goats (@GOATSgg) October 10, 2018
Accounting for GOATs’s original staff, that brings the total to four coaches, one manager, and an analyst. Will it be enough? Will it be too much?
Not Lookin’ So Hot
Second Wind only had one game this past weekend, and it wasn’t that hot. GOATs made short work of SW’s newly retooled roster, losing only a single map.
What needs fixing? Without any VOD to review, I’m afraid I can’t really say. With an almost entirely new roster, Second Wind probably just need a little time to gel. Overwatch is a hectic game, and the current meta is especially punishing to teams that are still finding their footing. More time will bring more progress, though, so be sure to keep an eye on Second Wind as they face off against Skyfoxes and SMC this weekend. The Money Crew has struggled as well, but for entirely different reasons (as I see it, anyway,) so that will definitely be a match-up to watch.
Like Second Wind, U4 — also known as Euphoria Esports — have struggled in the limited time we’ve seen them in Trials so far. Their game against Bye Week ended in a 3-1 loss, with U4 actually taking the first map before losing the rest – some by inches, others by miles. U4 has the potential to upset teams in this bracket – but they’ll need to work on their consistency if they want a true chance. Look for the frontline to step up when their DPS struggle, or look for U4 in next season of Open Division. Again.
There’s “Not Lookin’ So Hot,” & Then There’s SMC
Oof. Shu’s Money Crew, hot off of an impressive Open Division championship, were knocked down a peg or three this weekend. Their game against Phase 2 was impressive, but sloppy in key moments, which gave P2 the win in overtime on Map 5. Their loss to Skyfoxes really showed the team’s weakness: a need for adaptability. When pushed off of their comfort picks, SMC struggled to maintain the same polish and structured chaos we’ve come to know them for. Without the wild-card feel, the Crew quickly ran out of cash. If they actually want to take Trials seriously, they’ll need to up their game against Bye Week and Second Wind – teams they really shouldn’t lose to.
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