This weekend, the third group stage of the 2018 Overwatch World Cup will be broadcasted from Bangkok, Thailand. Another group of six countries from 24 qualifiers will partake in a round robin tournament to determine which two nations will compete at BlizzCon in November.
As Finland, South Korea, Canada, and the United States have successfully booked their tickets to Blizzcon, which teams will join them? Read on for features on each team, players to watch for, and predictions. Read about the previous group stages in Incheon and Burbank to catch up on any missed action.
Australia’s Skill Rating of 4,111 is ranked 11th out of the top 20 that qualified based on the average SR of the top 150 accounts in each nation. This does not include the four host countries of France, Thailand, United Stages, and South Korea. In the first World Cup competition, Team Australia was unluckily placed with South Korea, Finland, and Chinese Taipei in group stages. Swept that year by Finland and South Korea, their mission for redemption was largely successful in 2017, where after a dominant performance in Sydney Group Stages, Australia went to BlizzCon. Their road to the top four seemed guaranteed after a two map lead against Canada. However, a reverse-sweep ended Team Australia’s journey.
All eyes will be on Scott “Custa” Kennedy to lead his team to victory this weekend, as the sole representative of Australia, Custa was traded from the Dallas Fuel to the Los Angeles Valiant where he led the team to victory at the Overwatch League Stage 4 Playoffs. In his piece for The Player’s Lobby, Custa describes his experience with both teams, detailing his impact on team culture. “On Valiant, we have a lot of younger players, so I’m trying to lead by example and show them things they can do to get themselves in the right place. As much as management helps a lot with that, having a player who everyone can mimic and copy is good for the team”. This veteran’s experience will be pivotal for his team as they go up against one of the most competitive groups in the World Cup.
Watch Australia compete against Team Spain on September 13th, at 9:45 PM PDT.
China is the top-ranked country of all qualifiers, with an average SR of 4,484. A consistent contender throughout the history of the World Cup, in 2016 Team China placed first above Team France in their group stage, making the top 16. Unfortunately, they immediately met the 3rd-place finisher Sweden in the top 16, losing 0-2 and getting full-held on King’s Row. Coming back with a vengeance in 2017, China did not drop a single map in group stages, sweeping Norway, Hong Kong, and Romania. Ultimately, Team China fell to Team France 1-3 in the quarterfinals at BlizzCon.
China has high expectations for this group stage and will want to continue their positive track record at the world cup. Watch the team captain for LGD Gaming, Yangjie “Shy” Zheng for excellent DPS play, although he has a history playing support. Recognized in China for his support play last year, Shy plays predominantly hitscan Heroes but can flex onto Ana and Zenyatta if needed. This is likely to be unnecessary if Junjian “SKY” He can excel on support with his sleep darts standing out in many matches. The former Shanghai Dragons player will be looking to prove his worth to Overwatch teams and needs a stellar performance.
Team China will play Sweden on September 13th, at 11:30 PM PDT.
This country could play spoiler this group stage as Denmark has a 4,230 SR, ranking 7th out of the 20 qualifying nations. However, their Overwatch World Cup history has not been very successful, as in 2016 Team Denmark just missed the chance to compete in group stages. Their European Qualifier run was cut short by Sweden and Turkey, both who swept Team Denmark. Team Sweden eventually placed 3rd overall. In 2017, Denmark was ranked 9th overall before the top 32 competed in groups, but was once again stopped, this time by France and surprisingly, 24th ranked Thailand.
Kristian “Kellex” Keller is the sole Overwatch League player on Team Denmark, but is accompanied by a collection of talented Contenders players. Kellex’s Mercy and Lucio play were instrumental to Boston’s rise in the standings during the Inaugural Season of the Overwatch League; it will be vital for Team Denmark to protect their often aggressive support. Amelia Savery with Blizzard brings Contenders DPS player Mads “fischer” Josef Jehg to attention, citing fischer’s success against teams such as Cloud9 and his enrollment in the Houston Outlaw’s academy team GGEA.
Denmark will face Thailand in their first match on September 13th, 8:00 PM PDT.
Ranked 16th with an overall SR of 4,040, Team Spain has an impressive track record in the Overwatch World Cup. In 2016, they excelled in the European Qualifiers, only losing a single map during its entirety to Team Benelux, sweeping Team Baltic and Caspian Sea. They won their group stage against the difficult group of Canada, Sweden, and Brazil, only to fall to Finland in the round of 16. Team Spain once again could not make it past the round of 16 in 2017, meeting Sweden where they were swept 0-3.
As Spain looks to take another trip to BlizzCon, Jonathan “HarryHook” Tejedor Rua expressed confidence to our own Brandon Padilla after Stage 4 of the Overwatch League. When asked about new talent, HarryHook said that Alejandro “Networkz” Martín Pérez was an outstanding tank player. Although HarryHook said that the main issue within Team Spain was their excess of support players, as Alberto “neptuNo” González decided to not compete in this year’s world cup, Daniel “dhaK” Martínez will have the opportunity to prove his impact after being cut from the San Francisco Shock.
See if his goal will be accomplished on September 13th, at 9:45 PM PDT as Spain faces Australia.
Team Sweden is ranked 3rd with an average SR of 4,278 and an excellent track record at past competitions. The nation won every single map they faced in 2016’s European Qualifiers, coming in 2nd in their group stage to Team Spain. Nevertheless, Sweden soundly defeated Team China 2-0, only to meet the eventual champions Team South Korea in the semifinals. Sweden placed 3rd, a feat that was repeated in the 2017 Overwatch World Cup. Fans were shocked as Team Canada defeated Sweden 3-2 in the quarterfinals, a loss that will want to be remedied if both teams meet at BlizzCon.
With Kevin “TviQ” Lindström being one of the sole original players left on the Florida Mayhem’s roster after major cuts were made, his versatile DPS play which has already impressed during the first two World Cups will be the foundation of Team Sweden’s compositions. Veteran player Sebastian “chipshajen” Widlund, who was recently cut from the Dallas Fuel, and Overwatch League analyst Jonathan “Reinforce” Larsson will also have much to prove through their support and tank play respectively. Paths to redemption will be the theme for many of Team Sweden’s players, and if the Talent Takedown is to be trusted (it is sadly not), Reinforce has a dominant Wrecking Ball to add to the mix.
Watch Team Sweden start on their path to BlizzCon on September 13th, at 11:30 PM PDT where they will face Team China.
Although Thailand is not ranked due to its host country status, its SR of 3,962 is the only sub-4,000 average and is the lowest in the overall tournament. The host nation’s performances have inspired fans to follow this lovable team. In 2016, Thailand defeated Japan and Hong Kong at the Asia-Pacific Qualifier to earn a spot in group stages, but the team’s journey came to an end in groups due to Team China and France’s dominance. Team Thailand’s path crossed once again with France and China in 2017, where Thailand made it through groups second to France, but was swept 0-3 to China in the round of 16.
The consummate host, Pongphop “Mickie” Rattanasangchod will be at the center of attention during this group stage. His inspiring story, as told in this Overwatch League feature, truly changed course at the Overwatch World Cup. Truly showing the impact of this weekend on many young players, “Mickie and Team Thailand were turning heads in the group stages, narrowly losing to China and defeating France before dropping both tiebreakers. During the tournament, Mickie became close with a player from Spain: Jonathan “HarryHook” Tejedor Rua, Dennis Hawelka’s teammate on EnVy”. As many are now familiar, this set Mickie’s path to the Overwatch League into motion. His tank play and Brigitte will stun both fans and opponents alike during the group stage.
Thailand’s first opponent will be Team Denmark; they play September 13th at 8:00 PM PDT.
Who Will Qualify for BlizzCon?
This group is the most unpredictable out of all four qualifiers, as arguments may be made for every single team to progress to BlizzCon. With Sweden having the most likely chance to excel due to their well rounded and experienced team, the real question is who will join the two-time semifinalists in Anaheim this November.
This author predicts that China will barely advance to the top 8, defeating the dark horse Denmark for the opportunity to represent their nation once again. However, Australia may be the team to determine which nations will qualify, as every single map win will count to the overall results.