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Esports Overwatch

Overwatch Contenders Week 4: Group stage takeaways

We finally get the matches with the teams the people wanted. Ties, stomps, brutal come-from-behind victories and the occasional “well that just happened” makes its way to the front. The casting has grown to a rather fever pitch with everything becoming more comedic and punchy. Players and teams have settled into the tournament and are actively putting the pedal to the metal. The Overwatch Contenders tournament has been rough around the edges and maybe needs to retool itself, but there’s a working motor underneath this event and it finally got a chance to rev up a bit.

Let’s jump in.

Europe

If there was ever a need to have a guide on how to tie a match, just watch the VODs from Saturday’s matches. We finally get to see Vivi’s Adventure play against Singularity (Formerly Singularity Ninjas) along with 123 Squad smashing Alfa Squad. The uniqueness is that both matches involved ties. Oddly enough, looking at the map scores for Vivi’s, they tied on Anubis twice in a single day of play and if not for a tie with Gamers Origin might have ended up in a tiebreaker with RiP (Formerly Ninjas in Pyjamas).

The other story line is that the European scene has hit a few icebergs on its way through this tournament. Ninjas in Pyjamas released their one-time notorious squad (The Triple Tank inventors) and Cyclowns disbanded (and forfeiting every match this weekend), putting a small cloud in an otherwise strong showing from Europe. RiP qualifying for the final bracket and doing it under pressure speaks volumes for their commitment to playing. They could have easily just thrown their hands up and let it go but stuck it out, putting a hell of a stamp on their dedication mark.

A final thread to point to is Cyclowns. The talent is irrepressible, with the former players cropping up to save major teams. Boombox played out of his mind for eUnited against Team Expert, more specifically, in the match on Route 66 where his Winston play is the stuff of supports nightmares. destro helping push Movistar Riders over the hump after Finnsi’s depature, beating the tie against Alfa Squad which ultimately puts them into the final bracket. Cyclowns are dead but the squad still finds ways to influence the tournament.

Unfortunately, the group stages send home four of their teams with Vivi’s Adventure, GamersOrigin, Alfa Squad, ESPORATI, Ninjas with Attitudes, Team eSporters Cyberatheletes (Quietly Richard Lewis screams into a pillow) and Team Expert. Cyclowns’ demise ultimately begs the question, if the team had remained together could they have knocked off Movistar Riders? But like many hypotheticals, it’ll remain an unresolved question for the ages.

North America

Surprisingly North America’s showing was a bit more chaotic, it just took a long time to get through it. The matches themselves went till the wee hours of the morning. Call it a scheduling issue but the truth was that every match between teams seemingly took forever. Four maps played is a lot to order. In groups, this works because ties are a thing where as brackets need winners and losers. The merit however of having teams go the distance every time is fine. The issue taken is that matches need to be started sooner so viewership doesn’t drop towards the end of the night.

I just wanted to go to bed, thanks C9 and Kungarna

A good reason for so many maps played is highlighted in Liquid vs CLG. While it ended in a tie and made for some great plays on both sides, the idea of mind games lingered. Sure, they’re up two maps to one but they really suck at this map so a chance to draw presents itself. Kungarna drawing five times in groups and notching only two wins really speaks towards the power of draw games. Their final win was over Cloud9 in a winner take all best of one. Their tiebreaker match to cap off the night, Kungarna dug deep and buried C9 finally amidst the talk of the beef from the casters. A way better match to watch in the mid evening with some form of a snack. Suspiciously, Cloud9 was absent from the day’s streams despite their popularity. This harkens back to last week’s recap which highlighted the lack of strong teams being streamed.

Immortals, on the other hand, were essentially looking to run the table for their group until Arc6 (formerly YIKES!) pulled a Leonidas.

Arc6 can know they took the draw against Immortals and proved that their squad is beatable. While Immortals dropped maps, they did not drop matches until that one moment. If Arc6 needs anything to top its resume it’s proving that they were the only team to draw against Immortals. Their run came to an end sadly when FNRGFE won four to nothing. Toronto Esports and Counter Logic Gaming showed they could also hang with the big teams.

The NA teams that ended up leaving at group stages read like a mid tier tournament winners ticker line. Selfless Gaming, Counter Logic Gaming, Toronto Esports, Arc6 (Yikes), Cloud9, Tempo Storm, Hammers Esports (Happy Richard Lewis) and You guys get paid? all leave knowing they left an impression for other teams to look for. Sponsors are watching these tournaments and their actively looking for which teams are truly going the distance in their matches.

Conclusion

This is an open qualifier – the idea was more centered on proof of concept. The teams that did not qualify for final bracket showed they have formulas to win. Teams like Toronto Esports, Vivi’s Adventure, Team expert, Arc6, Cloud9 played incredibly close in their respective groups. If teams need to tell sponsors they’re getting exposure, look no further than this weekend. Contenders was strong this weekend and the finals are looming.

Check in later this week when I break down the upcoming matches for both North America and Europe!


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