In a continuation of our “Watch Around the World” series, we’re here today to talk about supports. Like tanks, support players are crucial in the current meta, and have always been the basis on which great teams are built. In-game leadership and shot-calling have most often fallen in the lap of a support player, and that means there’s a lot to look at when considering who will make the biggest impact on their teams’ performances in Contenders playoffs.
As in our Tanks to Watch article, let it be known that these supports won’t always be from the front-runners in their region. There are many bright spots on lower-ranked teams, and these supports are often what makes their team so good in the first place. Keep an eye on them, wherever they go.
Junglejazz and Declan “Dalsu” Selby – Heist
We showcased BUS and Gus “Guzto” Scholz in our last article in this series, and it looks like players from Heist GC are once again stealing the show in this region. The meat of the matter is that there are few support duos who can claim to have as much experience or clutch capability as these two in the region – though they certainly have some competition, of course.
Dalsu has been playing competitively for two full years now, and helped hand Sydney Drop Bears their last loss back in March. (Yes, they haven’t lost since March.) While his counterpart is a bit less storied – he doesn’t even have a Liquidpedia page yet – he can pull off plays like this.
— Jungle (@junglejazz_ow) November 27, 2018
With these two coordinating in the back line, you’ll know that Heist will be able to react quickly to anything that’s thrown their way. Just as well, too – if they make it to the semi-finals, they’ll be facing the Drop Bears once again. Maybe Dalsu can hand them their second loss in a 2018 season too?
Pedro “ole” Orlandini and Paulo “pizzalover” Vitor – LFTOWL
Based Tryhards get a lot of well-deserved love in the SA scene. Thing is, there’s been another team this season that’s done just as well. One that might boast the best support players in the region. Maybe even some of the best in the world.
Check out that shot from Cougar, and check out that huge triple kill from @oleziin! The man can't be stopped!
LFTOWL take Hanamura, and the series. On to Map 4! pic.twitter.com/uFQPffsqMg
— Path to Pro Community (@Contenders_OW) November 24, 2018
While LFTOWL has a great squad across the board, their supports have been responsible for some of their brightest moments. Many an Earth-Shatter has been foiled by a timely Transcendence from ole, and when things were at their worst, pizzalover was often the mastermind behind some ridiculous turnarounds for his team. These are OWL-ready players, and their dominance over their group – and potentially their entire region – shows that well.
What makes these two so good is the sheer amount of time they’ve spent together. They’ve shared back line duties since their time on “Just W” back in February, and if we’re being honest, they’ve kicked ass since the moment they got together. An extra year to sharpen their skills hasn’t made life any easier for their opponents. That should make for quite the post-season run. With a probable finals match-up against Based Tryhards in their future… we might be in for the greatest match in South American history.
Kin-Long “ManGoJai” Wong and Yang “CQB” Hao-Cheng – Hong Kong Attitude
Hong Kong Attitude have been one of the longest-standing teams in their region, and have fostered some of the brightest stars the region has ever given to the world stage – like Chi-Yeung “Moowe” Yip, who clicked heads and stole hearts with equal aplomb in the Incheon qualifier last year. Beyond the flashy plays, though, players like ManGoJai and CQB have been the quiet grinders that keep the greatest PAC teams on top.
They’re also some of the most important figures in the effort to get their historically low-viewed region some exposure, too. ManGoJai was described in Team Hong Kong’s introduction as the soul of the team, acting as shot caller and captain on Team HK and HKA alike. He even helped THK’s committee finalize a roster, and is generally described as a ridiculous talent and highly charismatic figure within the PAC scene.
In a region where Twitter links and Liquidpedia pages are hard to come by, ManGoJai understands the value of exposure and performance in a world where those two things are the only thing keeping you from an OWL tryout. While the exposure (for him and for PAC as a whole) is still a work in progress, his performance is something more easily controlled. Hong Kong Attitude will need to put up quite the fight to make it big in their bracket, though – potential matches against Xavier and Talon Esports will leave no room for error. These two will need to be what holds their team together, as always.
Lee “LeeJaeGon” Jae-Gon and Gang “Gangnamjin” Nam-Jin – RunAway
As with Europe’s proclivity for tanks, Korea has a penchant for developing amazing support players. When your team comps involve high mobility and insane mechanics, you need to be able to outwit and outgun the flankers and snipers that want to eat you for breakfast. Notable alumni of this system include Tobi and ryujehong from the Seoul Dynasty – often hailed as the best support duo the region has ever seen, though that point is refuted by many – as well as players like Neko, Closer, Kariv, CoMa, and Luffy. (There are many, many more, but I’ve only got so much space here.)
While the meta we’re in is far from the DPS-heavy days of old, support players are still burdened with managing and surviving in a meta full of meat-shields – which means running the show from an overhead perspective, and keeping the front line alive long enough to win the fight (or run away).
Speaking of RunAway, their success this season (and in many others) has been contingent on their support players’ performances. Luckily for them, they’ve nailed their selection process once again, and found two dynamite medics that rival the efforts of Lunatic Hai or Kongdoo Panthera. I just made many people very upset by saying that, but I’ll stick with it.
Leejaegon and Gangnamjin may have come from relatively obscure beginnings, but that hasn’t stopped them from having a huge impact on RunAway’s near-perfect season so far. In a GOATS meta, every fight comes down to a single mistake – a misplaced bubble, a minor over-aggression, anything you can exploit to get the edge in what is usually a mirror match-up. This duo does not allow for small mistakes. That makes them, and their team, very scary.
Case in point:
leejaegon really is the support partner we all dream of pic.twitter.com/sEw6tjxmwA
— bonnie qu (@bonniequeue) December 8, 2018
Elijah “Elk” Gallagher and Kyung-bo “Alarm” Kim – Fusion University
Look, I’ll admit that I had to ask the crowd for this one. And when a player steps up to defend their pride in a region full of big talkers, well… what am I gonna do, tell him he’s wrong?
Me and alarm 21-0 tyvm
— Elk (@elk) January 3, 2019
Truth is, Elk and Alarm are far and away the most dominant duo in the west, and make what might be the strongest case in the world at the Contenders level. While the landscape of FU’s roster has changed over the last year, Elk and Alarm have been the rocks that Aero and spazzo have built off of since forever. They’re the foundation of two Contenders championships, and their chance at a third. They crush the competition. They do stuff like this. “Fairness” has exited their vocabulary at this point. There is only victory.
Come on, @FusionUni. This play was just dirty. The back cap from @Elk? The 3k bomb combo from @bernar_ow? The 2-0 win on Lijiang Tower? The stagger on @YouMustHooey?? Brutal! Savage! Rekt! We're moving on to Hollywood, with FU in the lead! pic.twitter.com/czgHuQdfwH
— Path to Pro Community (@Contenders_OW) December 12, 2018
🚨SOUND THE ALARM 🚨
— Path to Pro Community (@Contenders_OW) January 3, 2019
Ludvig “Luddee” Håkansson and Arthur “dridro” Szanto – Angry Titans and Morning Stars
I was having a really hard time picking between Luddee/Afoxx and dridro/Exorath, but then I realized that I can literally do whatever I want with this article. To that end, I’ve picked two players from entirely different teams! Why not?
Luddee is an old name to EU fans these days, having played since 2016. While he’s often compared to his brother Mendokusaii, he’s forged his own destiny in the competitive circuit – though it’s taken him on a more roundabout path than his mother’s older son. His performance with Angry Titans has been the foundation on which the team has been built, and after a year of consistent work, it’s hard to argue with the results.
In our next chapter of "Surviving in the Wild", we will talk about Doomfist.
A quick displacement ability use like @Luddee_OW's boop can make him miss his target and lead him to a painful death.
— Path to Pro Community (@Contenders_OW) December 17, 2018
Dridro is also a younger brother in the OW community – this time to Troma, France’s World Cup Community Lead in 2018. Dridro’s performance as a player is independent of Troma’s work, which probably alleviates a lot of pressure. It is reflected in his quick, calculated gameplay.
Hollywood goes to @MorningStarsET !
We've seen great shatters, but also great counter play against shatters ! This perfectly timed boop from @dridro_OW is one of those.
— Path to Pro Community (@Contenders_OW) December 10, 2018
When a fraction of a second separates you and your team from death, it pays to have an itchy trigger finger. Lucio players have an interesting niche in the current meta – far removed from the peel-and-kill moments Tobi and Boink are famous for, but still worth watching in their own way. Their job involves having a great sense of timing and awareness. If you know exactly when you need to press Q, or when to boop the Reinhardt, you’ll end up with plays like these. That’s a good thing.
Longest. Fight. Ever.
— Path to Pro Community (@Contenders_OW) December 16, 2018
Tan “illusion” Li and Qi “Wya” Haomiao – T1w
Hailing from one of the three perfect teams this season, the supports of T1w are not remotely close to messing around. There’s no room for failure when you’re at the level this team is at. Making it to the Overwatch League means showing your best self at all times, and these two definitely deliver on that front. Great ultimate management, great positioning, great shot calls – what’s not to love?
An honorable mention here: I had a hard time deciding between these two and Flag Gaming’s Liu “Mika” Jiming and Tong “Coldest” Xiaodong. Each team had a perfect season, separated only by map scores, and both had a lot riding on their support duos to do it. When these two teams meet in the Grand Finals on the 13th, keep an eye on the back line. They’ll be the deciding factor in their teams’ success, especially when we start seeing some crazy quad-DPS comps or any non-GOATS strategies. The world is relearning comps that don’t involve 3-0-3 setups, but these teams – and these duos – are on the cutting edge right now.
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Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment