The 2018 Overwatch World Cup group stages will continue this weekend in Burbank, California. Six of the 24 qualifying countries will compete in the round-robin tournament to determine which two will move on to compete at BlizzCon in November. Which teams will meet Finland and South Korea at BlizzCon? Read on for features on each team, players to watch for and predictions. You can read about the previous group stage here.
The top 20 countries in Overwatch – not including the four host countries of France, Thailand, United Stages, and South Korea – qualified for the group stages of this World Cup based on the average Skill Rating of the top 150 accounts in each nation. Austria is currently ranked 14th out of the 20 qualifiers, with an average SR of 4,068. This team has not had much success in past World Cups, as in 2016 they failed to break out of the European qualifiers, falling to Spain and Benelux and only defeating Serbia. Last year, Austria was the 31st ranked nation out of the 32 qualifiers, and were swept 0-4 in groups against South Korea, the Netherlands, and Poland.
Austria will be wanting to redeem themselves from these past performances, especially since in this year’s World Cup, only two nations will come out of each group stage. Austria will be leaning on their only Overwatch Contenders player, Michael “McDragonlol” Jörg. This DPS player is not one of the starters for his team We Have Org, but his experience in tier two Overwatch will serve the team well. Also look for great synergy between Diving Under the Influence teammates Sensotix on Tank and Minimi on Support to round out Team Austria. They will compete in the first matchup of the group stage against Canada on September 7th, at 10:00 AM PDT.
This team comprised predominantly of the recent South American Contenders champions, Brazil Gaming House, is ranked 20th with an SR rating of 4,010. Brazil’s first run at the Overwatch World Cup saw them qualifying for the group stages, but the team was defeated by their competitive challengers in Spain, Sweden, and Canada. The nation was unable to escape the groups once more in 2017, and were swept 0-4 by the United States and recently eliminated Chinese Taipei.
Although Brazil is certainly an underdog in this stage, the aggression and passion shown by the members of Brazil Gaming House is impressive. Main Tank Mateus “neil” Kroeber and DPS player Eduardo “dudu” Macedo showed great synergy on the Reinhardt and Brigitte in the recent South American Contenders final. As Contenders caster Evie “HamTornado” Feng discusses in her analysis of the Brazilian team, Off Tank Maurício “honorato” Honorato’s “well timed bubbles enable Neil to become a battering ram for the team while Honorato’s ability to quickly generate high charge makes him a DPS threat, despite his role”. Brazil’s first match will see them play against Team Canada on Sep 7th, at 1:30 PM PDT.
Finalists from last year’s World Cup, Team Canada has an SR rating of 4,269 and is ranked 4th out of all qualifying nations. Canada’s 2016 journey to the World Cup was cut short, with the nation joining Brazil in their losses to Spain and Sweden in the group stages. However, last year’s attempt saw Canada successfully making it through the round robin groups and defeating both Australia and Sweden 3-2 to meet South Korea in the finals. South Korea prevailed in this final matchup 4-1, but Félix “xQc” Lengyel’s incredible Winston play was recognized as he was named the World Cup MVP.
A team mostly compiled of Overwatch League veterans, Canada has a well-rounded roster filled with fan favorites. As mentioned before, xQc’s play on Main Tank was intrinsically linked to Canada’s unexpected victories against Australia and Sweden last year. Watch for DPS duo Lane “Surefour” Roberts and Brady “Agilities” Girardi to represent the two Los Angeles Overwatch teams well, potentially shining on a double-sniper composition where Surefour’s Widowmaker and Agilities’ Hanzo can dismantle enemy back lines. Find out if these snipers will reign supreme against Austria on September 7th, at 10:00 AM PDT.
Ranked 11th overall with an SR of 4,122, Team Norway is hoping to join their neighbors Finland at BlizzCon. Having been invited to the European Qualifiers in 2016, Norway advanced past the round robin segment of the qualifier, only to be knocked out of contention after a 0-3 defeat against Russia. Team Norway came back with a vengeance in 2017, however, placing second to China in Group A, qualifying for the top 16. Their hopes to compete for the cup were extinguished in a 0-3 loss to France where they were full held on Numbani.
Some will recognize players such as Stefan “ONIGOD” Fiskerstrand, who has represented Norway in all three World Cups. A starter for Angry Titans, ONIGOD thrives on DPS heroes such as Genji and Widowmaker. He will have synergy with former World Cup teammate and current Angry Titans substitute Kha “iPN” Nguyen, who’s Ana will hopefully see some playtime after the recent buffs to the hero. This team hopes to continue their upward trajectory gained from 2016 to last year’s competition. See if they will be successful against their first opponent Switzerland on September 7th, at 11:45 AM PDT.
Switzerland is ranked 19th out of the 20 qualifying nations, with an average SR of 4,011. However, readers should be aware that this is a major accomplishment for the country, as in 2016, Switzerland was unable to win a single map during the European Qualifiers, falling to Russia, Italy, Israel, and Bulgaria. This is the team’s opportunity to prove their worth, especially because Switzerland was not one of the 32 qualifying nations for the 2017 World Cup.
Unlike the other nations in this group, Switzerland does not have any representatives that compete in the Overwatch League or Contenders, putting them at a disadvantage. However, as Amelia Savery details in her preview of this group stage, “Luux, Mimi7, R3M1X, and Sk0rpi0n are part of a Swiss organization called Silent Gaming. Founded in 2006, the team is the oldest active esports organization in the country, with teams participating across many esports titles”. Support duo Alex “R3M1X” Badertscher and Matteo “Sk0rpi0n” Palermo’s familiarity and teamwork will provide a stable back line for this team. Switzerland will have an opportunity to upset Norway on September 7th, at 11:45 AM PDT.
The United States automatically qualified due to their host status, but has the highest average SRs in this group with 4,429. Team USA’s history repeated itself during the first two World Cups, with the 2016 team led by Brandon “Seagull” Larned excelling during group stages only to be eliminated by South Korea 2-0 in the quarterfinals. Last year’s world cup saw the United States meeting South Korea once more in the quarterfinals, the matchup giving spectators one of the most widely praised matches in Overwatch history. Although Team USA took the first map, Nepal off of the reigning champions, they ultimately fell 1-3.
The favorites of this group stage, the United States has a team stacked with Overwatch League stars, including Jay “Sinatraa” Won of the San Fransisco Shock and Shane “Rawkus” Flaherty, support for the Houston Outlaws. However, the standouts of this team will likely be found in the tank duo of Austin “Muma” Wilmot and Indy “Space” Halpern, two talented players with consistent and intelligent play. Space’s off tank, highlighted in Xander Torres’ summary of the Los Angeles Valliant, “brought a new, more aggressive off-tank playstyle that alleviated the pressure on Fate of having to make big plays, and provided the team with a more stable frontline”. See if these favorites will have home court advantage in their first match against Austria on September 7th, at 3:15 PM PDT.
Who Will Qualify for BlizzCon?
Unlike the group stage in South Korea, this is the most predictable set of teams out of all four qualifiers. With the United States and Canada having a wealth of Overwatch League players at their disposal, it is hard to imagine these two nations not moving forward to BlizzCon.
While this author predicts that the United States and Canada will join Finland and South Korea in advancing to the top 8, watch for Norway and Brazil to still perform well against Austria and Switzerland. The opportunity to represent one’s country on the world stage will provide viewers with a great display of competitive, passionate Overwatch.