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EU Contenders Preview: The King is Dead, Long Live the King

2018’s last Contenders season is almost upon us. There’s a lot to keep track of – seven regions, dozens of teams, hundreds of players. It might seem impossible to stay up to date on all the action, but I’m here to assure you it isn’t! Just follow along with my Contenders previews and you’ll be good to go.

We’re starting off with EU – a contentious region that has had a busy off-season to boot. Teams have come and gone, including the S2 champions Eagle Gaming – so who will take their spot at the top of the pile?

 

Angry Titans


What sticks out to me when I look at this Angry Titans roster is their sticking power. Contenders teams almost never stick together in the same form for this long. Players are poached, find better opportunities, retire, swap games… something always pulls a Contenders roster apart. That’s the nature of Contenders itself – developing talent for the Overwatch League, then having it ripped away from you once a major franchise takes notice of your new stars.

This tells me a few things about AT. Good – the roster has consistently worked well together, evidenced by the point above, as well as second place finishes in S2 of Contenders and their eponymous Angry Cup held this past weekend. Bad – those second place finishes haven’t been good enough for any of their players to be picked up by an OWL franchise. The Titans will need to get even angrier to win this season and be noticed by OWL franchises looking for mid-season signings. If they don’t, well… we’ll see if this long-standing roster can really stick it out.

 

Bazooka Puppiez

Roster Changes


Tank: Milkyman–> Gigantti, kraandop signed
DPS: Zaprey–> First Generation , TracK signed
Coach: Immortal released, R0IV signed (Head Coach)

On the other end of the roster cohesion spectrum lies Bazooka Puppiez. I’ve mentioned before that this team switches things up frequently – mostly because their best players are often signed elsewhere. Coming into Contenders S3, though, it looks like they’re settling in. Minor changes at tank and DPS and a new Head Coach should solidify the Puppiez’ power, especially with Usman “TracK” Mohammad on the field. His performances with Last Night’s Leftovers and Team Norway were spectacular, and I have no doubt that he’ll thrive in the current meta with Joshua “cRNKz” Santana at his side. This team could be the pups’ best shot in awhile. Let’s hope they don’t waste it.

 

British Hurricane

Roster Changes


Tank: Fusions–> BOS, numlocked signed
Support: FunnyAstro and CrusaDe released, Jofi signed
DPS: MikeyA–> We Have Org

As mentioned in my Contenders Trials preview, BH have been pretty low-profile this off-season. After a dominant Trials showing and major World Cup upsets from many Hurricane players on Team UK, though, I don’t think I can really call them “quiet”. These guys are loud, just like their namesakeThis season will be where they show they’re worth listening to.

Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth is gone, signed to the Boston Uprising days after his ridiculous World Cup performance, and Daneil “FunnyAstro” Hathaway is rumored to be going the same way. Ryan “CrusaDe” van Wegen has fallen off the radar a bit, but I wouldn’t count him out for long. He’s a scary good support, and teams will always need one of those.

What really interests me about the Hurricane right now aren’t who they’ve lost, but who they’ve gained. With a star main tank gone when he’s hit his peak, who better to bring on than a former OWL player like Sebastian “numlocked” Barton? He may have ridden the bench for the Valiant, but don’t think he’s rusty – his stream will show you that he’s still got that Immortals-era skill that got him signed in the first place. Coupled with the tricks he’s learned from Pan-seung “Fate” Koo and Byung-chul “Moon” Moon… Well, that’s so spooky I could almost swear it’s still October.

 

HSL Esports

Roster Changes

Tank: kraandop–> Bazooka Puppiez
DPS: Tae signed
Support: Mono released

HSL squeaked through Trials, but a spot secured is a spot secured. With another shot at the big time, HSL have made some slight changes and strapped in. I’ll say the same things I said when they stepped into Trials – as long as Mikaël “Hidan” Da Silva walks this earth, HSL will have some skin in the game. Keep an eye on him and Julian “ProGi” Maier when HSL takes the stage again.

 

Samsung Morning Stars


Table Courtesy of Liquidpedia

With Eagle Gaming out of contention (read: existence), someone had to fill the spot they left behind. Morning Stars were more than willing to fill the gap, and have put together quite the roster to live up to the former champs whose spot they’ve so brashly taken.

DragonEddy is MS’s most tenured player, who’s joined by fellow Team Italy flex-support Nisa. KSP and Exorath join the team fresh off stints with Young and Beautiful, Caspere comes to MS off an impressive underdog showing with Orgless and Hungry, and dridro hails from Copenhagen Flames.

I’m most excited for the last two players on this list – Leaf and mowzassa. Leaf was an integral piece of Eagle Gaming’s championship run, and is one of the best Doomfist players in the world. By a lot. Mowzassa, meanwhile, is one of the oldest names in EU – his first tournament appearance was in the 2016 World Cup, where played for Team Portugal. He’s been consistently good ever since, most recently playing for One.PoinT. Here’s hoping he can turn that consistency into excellence. He could be the next Kruise if he plays his cards right.

 

One.PoinT


Roster Changes


Tank: mowzassa–> Samsung Morning Stars, SuperPlouk and GetAmazed signed
Flex: MirroR–> Second Wind, brussen released
DPS: Frost released, Hqrdest signed
Coach: Casores–> ATL

Speaking of One.PoinT… this is a team that knew it had to make some changes to stay competitive. A shiny new frontline was first on their list, and One.PoinT made it a point to splurge on their new tanks. (Get it? A… a point? Okay).

Anywho, Bastien “SuperPlouk” Klau and Zouheir “GetAmazed” Baba are a scary good duo. Like mowzassa – the tank he replaced – SuperPlouk is an old and experienced name in the EU scene, joined by his long-term Eagle Gaming comrade GetAmazed. This is not a tank line to be trifled with.

Beyond those changes, One.PoinT are sticking with what they know – founder/DPS player Henrique “Horthic” Damião and support duo Alexandre “Phatt” Silva and Victor “Scaler” Godsk (what a pair of names). Here’s hoping their mix of new and old can win the day, or at least give them a better finish than 5th-8th.

 

Orgless and Hungry


Roster Changes


Tank: eMIL signed
DPS: Caspere–> Morning Stars, Kevster–> NRG. Wayfast, Dannedd and SparkR (sub) signed
Support: Dennia released, Epzz–> Mayhem Academy, Jofi–> British Hurricane, FDGoD (sub) and Kaas signed

Some interesting changes out the gate for Orgless and Hungry, but you can hardly blame them for the roster turbulence when so many players were given better offers elsewhere this off-season. What hurts the most is that almost all of O&H’s biggest guns are gone – and I have no idea how well this new blood will do. Daniel “Dannedd” Rosdahl and Emil “eMIL” Sandgren are the oldest new faces here, but the rest are relatively unproven. That doesn’t mean they won’t show up, of course – just that they might have some growing pains. Stay hungry, boys.

 

Shu’s Money Crew (EU)


Roster Changes


Tank: Shock signed

Minimal changes for SMCEU, who did – let’s face it – better than many expected in Trials. A 4th place finish got them in, but their innate synergy will hopefully keep them moving as they face off against the big guns in Contenders. They’ve triumphed against a few teams on this list, and could do so again if they put their minds to it. They scrim, too, unlike their NA counterparts. Put all those pieces together, and you have to start asking – are we looking at a sleeper playoff pick in the making?

 

 Gigantti


Roster Changes


Tank: LHCloudy–> Paris Eternal, rCk–> Dallas, zappis and Milkyman signed
DPS: shadder2k released, Vizility signed
Support: Ripa–> sub, Masaa–> ATL, Zuppeh and Lilbow signed

WOW. This roster looks really, really good. Gigantti has always been an org that attracted star talent – their earliest Contenders roster featured stars like Fragi, BigG00se, Shaz and LiNkzr; the team’s third-place finish shows they’ve maintained that star power after the fact, too. Unsurprisingly, third place isn’t nearly good enough for Gigantti. This roster is out for blood.

Otto “Milkyman” Saren has bounced between rosters quite often lately, and I’m sure he’d love to settle in alongside Joonas “Zappis” Alakurtti, who had a great showing for Team Finland after being snubbed by the Florida Mayhem. Speaking of that snub, Zappis definitely has a chip on his shoulder, and has been playing out of his mind. I expect that performance to continue here.

At DPS, Jeffrey “Vizility” de Vries enters the equation as a veteran with a lot to prove, and will need to make a name for himself to not be outshone by Tuomo “Davin” Leppänen. Or is it the other way round? Davin has been good, certainly, but not good enough to be picked up for OWL like so many of his former teammates. Both will need to step up for Gigantti.

In the backline… man, this backline. Aleksi “Zuppeh” Kuntsi was hardly a revelation in Florida, but I know he’s got the right stuff. Conversely, David “Lilbow” Moschetto has been working to prove that he’s OWL worthy for some time, and will hopefully shine brighter than ever in this lineup. There’s potential here. I like it.

 

We Have Org


Roster Changes


Tank: Midna released, Twolzz transitioned from Coach, crems and Chubz signed
DPS: IDxD released, MikeyA signed

Quite the series of changes up front for We Have Org, but they all look pretty good at first glance. The most obvious upgrade is Michael “MikeyA” Adams, who just went on a tear in the World Cup for Team UK. That Graviton Surge against South Korea on Rialto… perfection. Welsh’s gift to esports is an understatement.

He’s joined by an experienced front line – Carl “crems” Aspehult and Thimo “TwoIzz” Wilts have been in the scene for some time, and the former’s academy experience with the Mayhem should serve WHO well. Don’t sleep on their backline, either. Kangakanga is my boy, and he can do great things.

 

Winstrike


Table provided by Liquidpedia

No roster changes at all for Winstrike, and you can hardly blame them after their tied-for-third finish last season. Like British Hurricane, Winstrike is a team that knows it just needs to put its head down and go again. Unlike British Hurricane, they didn’t have to go through Trials this season. Maybe this analogy doesn’t hold up as well as I thought…

In any case, I’m excited to watch Winstrike play this season. A lot of old names on this squad, with a lot of chemistry together. Not to mention Txao is an absolute monster. Keep an eye on that guy, seriously.

 

Young and Beautiful


Roster Changes


Tank: Benbest–> Paris Eternal, Tonic signed
DPS: KSP–> Morning Stars, TracK–> Bazooka Puppiez, Dids released, Graceful and Tsuna signed
Support: Exorath–> Morning Stars, Ding signed

With their star main tank sent off to the big leagues and their DPS corps gutted, Young and Beautiful had to make some big changes for this season of Contenders. Martin “Graceful” Wongprom is an experienced name in the scene, and should do well at DPS – a role he’s swapped in and out of before – while Tsuna is relatively unproven. Like Graceful, Denis “Tonic” Rulyov is a grizzled vet – but will he be good enough to fill Benbest’s large, rocket-powered shoes?

 

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