For starters, if you are arriving at this piece and haven’t had a chance to check out the Incheon qualifier report card, I urge you to do so first. It provides background for how we will be grading this qualifier, as well as the other two that will follow in the coming week. If we are going to be good students, we need to read the directions, right?
In short, these report cards are grading the qualifiers themselves, not the teams. We are trying to find out which of the four qualifiers did its job the best. To do this, we use the team’s performance and some other factors, but it is the qualifier as a whole that we are interested in. With that being said, let’s look at how the Los Angeles Qualifier did, holistically.
Los Angeles Qualifier Overall Grade: B+
Total Blizzcon Talent: A+
This group, more than any other, succeeded in producing two teams who have an equal chance of making a Grand Finals run this year. Team USA has looked more dominant than perhaps any other team in the field thus far. Their OWL experience and aggressive play make them the first team that has a real chance of giving South Korea a run for their money. On the other hand, Canada has a great shot at the finals as well. They’ll have a tough road ahead, matching up against France first and then China/Finland second. Even so, the Canadians have had flashes of brilliance in the qualifier and look to meet Team USA in the finals to enact their revenge.
The downside of producing two top-level teams is that we all knew who would be advancing before the qualifier even began. Some could argue that Brazil had a shot at the Cinderella story, but that was a long-shot at best. Riddled with taunting and tomfoolery, it only felt like two or three of the games in this qualifier were played at full tilt by both participating teams. This made the majority of this qualifier very difficult to watch and get excited about.
Crowd Intensity: B
This is another aspect that goes hand-in-hand with a low competitiveness rating. I don’t think the L.A. crowd was a bad one by any means — in fact, it was quite the opposite. The crowd did what they could with the games that were played. They rallied around the Brazilian team in a big way and cheered for good Overwatch. Sadly, there just wasn’t a whole lot of that to go around. Outside of USA vs Canada, this crowd struggled to find games worth really cheering for. Naturally, this caused lower than optimal marks in overall intensity.
Entertainment Value: A-
One thing that these not-so-close games brought us was a sense of fun that has been missing in Overwatch for a long time. This qualifier hearkened back to the All-Star break of the Overwatch League when all that was at stake was having a good time. We saw cringe-worthy Widow duels, a good bit of tactical crouching, and a general sense of glee. It was unfamiliar, but nice, seeing these people playing the game they are so constantly grinding with. As a fan of the league, the game, the players and the idea of Overwatch as a whole, I had a lot of fun watching this group stage, despite the results of the games having little effect.
Next up, the thrilling and ever so competitive Bangkok Qualifier. Stay tuned for this and the conclusion of the series with the Paris Qualifier, here at The Game Haus.
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Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
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