Back in late-August, TGH Staff Writer, Connor “GoopyKnoopy” Knudsen, partnered with Chase “Syphyt” McKenzie of Triumph Gaming and @Contenders_OW to put together the first-ever complete OWWC power rankings. These were released in installments over the course of several weeks to better highlight teams from various skill levels.
Now, with Blizzcon rapidly approaching, these rankings can now be accessed here, in their entirety, removing teams that have officially announced that they will no longer be at Blizzcon. As mentioned when these rankings released, each team’s rank features a blurb from various contributors across the competitive Overwatch scene. These contributors have a more in-depth knowledge of the team(s) they are covering and this was intended to spotlight that expertise.
Each team’s final rank was determined through a three-part process:
- First, the number of professional (OWL) and semi-pro (Contenders, Trials, Open Division) players on each team was taken into account, as well as each of those players success on their respective team.
- Each contributor was given the chance to give their ranking of the team they wrote for. Those were taken into account, although each contributor’s potential bias was considered.
- The final landing spot for each team was decided collaboratively by Syphyt and GoopyKnoopy after using the steps above to narrow down the results.
The Guarani Lions are here! This is the first time that we’re seeing Team Paraguay participate in the Overwatch World Cup, and while their social media is fun, I’m not seeing too much from their 7-man roster, unfortunately. According to their Twitter, the community scene in Paraguay is very small, so a lot of players are just now getting into Overwatch and other esports. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them higher on this list next year if they gain some experience. – Chase “Syphyt” McKenzie
When it comes to teams outside of the Blizzard Top 10 to keep an eye on for this year’s OWWC, Team Mexico should be on everyone’s radar. At the tip of the spear, leading the front line on the main tank role is Ex-San Fransisco Shock member, David “Nomy” Lizarraga. While the rest of this roster may be less widely known, they’re certainly not to be underestimated.
If Samuel “Sam” Orozco can bring out his impressive Pharah play, and “Sh0ckwave” can maintain his peak performance level, they’ll be able to wreak an absurd amount of damage at long ranges to even the best of teams. Couple this roster’s experienced tank play and the explosive DPS potential with the consistent and intelligent support play brought by players like Emmanuel “Reptile” Neyra, and Team Mexico has a real chance of dishing out quite a few upsets. – Paul “Paulsible” Morrison
Team Italy is one with some experience, but perhaps not enough to bring them World Cup glory this year. They are led by Samsung Morning Stars streamer and player, Edmondo “DragonEddy” Cerini and their coach Tommaso “joYnt” Gavioli. These two provide most of the semi-pro experience for the team, although some of the lesser-known players have their chance to come up big. – Connor “GoopyKnoopy” Knudsen
The 2019 Overwatch World Cup will be Team India’s debut should they qualify. Not much is known about this team so far. Like most first time teams, there is not a lot of information out there about most of the players on the roster. However, “Cruzi” is a DPS player for Global Esports, a team currently competing in Pacific Contenders. Cruzi has not seen a lot of playtime for Global Esports, but they are one of the top teams in the region. Being part of the team speaks to the caliber of his play, and it will be interesting to see how Team India will fare should they make it in. – Kate “Sybil” Shepard
Without Normunds “sharyk” Faterins or Gia Huy “Chris” “MirroR” Trịnh, Team Latvia loses much of their competitive experience and leadership. Now, the team will look to Viktors “Forsak3n” Bernevs, a former player for FaZe Clan and the 2017 Russian OWWC team. There’s no doubt Forsak3n will be able to lead this team of players with little competitive experience, but will it be enough to cover for the loss of their two, star players? – Connor “GoopyKnoopy” Knudsen
I spoke with Community Lead, Connlocks, who was happy to say a few words about Team Ireland, so I’ll let him introduce you to the Celtic Wolfhounds instead.
“There’s a lot of talent on our roster, which only grows stronger the more we watch these guys play together. We opted to try out players from all over Ireland this year, meaning both Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland players were eligible. This led us to find players like “Buckle,” our hitscan dps player from Belfast, who absolutely frags out every chance he gets.
Our main goal so far has been to take our fans on a journey with us, to put on a great show along the way, and to shine a light on our players and help them progress on the Path to Pro. I think we’ve held this up quite well so far with our social media team working overtime to bring out great content, but we’re not done yet.
We may not win the World Cup this year, but you can be damn sure we’ll win the heart of every fan. There’s a lot of great competition this year, we have a lot of potential, and I feel we can really learn a lot from facing off against the greatest countries in the world.”
Everyone has a bit of Irish in them, after all. So, why not support the #Underdogs? – Siarnaq
Their only Contenders player is Joshua “Grandeesauto” Ogame who plays support in Contenders but is on off-tank for the OWWC team. This makes his anticipated performance hard to judge, honestly. Overall, I’m not really expecting much from this team, but their staff is very driven and dedicated which could go a long way in a World Cup with a relatively new meta. – Jing Hao “Avalon” Liang
28: Saudi Arabia
2019 marks Saudi Arabia’s first appearance in the Overwatch World Cup. Of the group, only off-tank Alhumaidi “KSAA” Alruwaili has Contenders experience, as he currently plays with European Contenders team Young and Beautiful. Two other members of the roster, Abdulmalek Mohammed “KssarPlayz” Al-Dwaireg and Muhannad “BeCanBauer” Baharith, come from the Saudi Overwatch team Osh-Tekk Warriors, best known as the winners of Saudi Arabia’s first Overwatch tournament.
Besides that, the only other player with notable experience is Bader “Boostio” Mehaini (not to be confused with the streamer of the same name), who has played on several teams since early 2018. All in all, Team Saudi Arabia is very much a fledgling team this year, but their presence at the World Cup offers an opportunity to demonstrate a handful of Middle Eastern Overwatch talent. – Darby “soundchecck” Joyce
27: South Africa
This is the first time South Africa have been able to field a team since the inaugural OWWC, where they were unable to make it through the qualifying stages. The scene in South Africa has developed significantly since then, and the ZA Barbarians roster is stacked with talent from this scene. They’re notably drawing players from Energy Esports, unIDentified, and Goliath Gaming, three of the top-ranking teams in the region.
Both “Visions” and “Senticall,” who played on the 2016 world cup team, are back in 2019 – and even if you don’t recognize the name from the world cup, Senticall should ring some bells as a force on the EU ladder who made a name for himself as one of the first ZA players to reach Top 500 EU. ZA are used to playing with a high ping, being located so far from the EU servers, so look for a big step change in performance against their EU counterparts when they get to LAN. – Phill “BiggHungryPhill” Moxley
Team Japan combines a fair amount of veteran and fresh talent for their roster this year. Kaito “kenmohororo” Yoshida and Sean Taiyo “ta1yo” Henderson both return to the fray from 2018’s squad – in ta1yo’s case, it’s his third year in a row representing Japan. The bulk of the remaining roster comes over from Pacific Contenders team Green Leaves, which put on a reasonably average mid-table performance in their last season.
Rounding out the group is NA Contenders veteran Robert “HaKu” Blohm on support, and ex-JUPITER main tank Kazuki “SamuraiD” Nouno. Though Japan fell in the Incheon qualifier last year, the combination of Green Leaves synergy and experienced talent could both work in their favor this time around. – Darby “soundchecck” Joyce
Colombia is an exciting, yet very much unknown, team to watch in 2019, fielding a couple of players with lots of potential. In particular, keep an eye out for Jason “Circci” Rangel Valderrama. A former console player, Circci has risen as high as rank one on the competitive ladder using a hybrid controller/mouse setup. Both he and Cesar David “Bokk6” Nunez Mejia are the two most well-known players on this team. – Connor “GoopyKnoopy” Knudsen
With the loss of their star Flex Support player Oliver “ecLipse” Nguyen due to age restriction, Team Austria has me a little worried. Fortunately, their second-largest change leaves me less so. Bernhard “Minimi” Hartl has transitioned this past year from Main Support to Main Tank and has blossomed into one of the best Orisa players in EU. Playing on Clockwork Vendetta this season, his incredible game sense during Contenders matches will lead Team Austria to strong wins this year, especially in a metagame that is required to have a strong Orisa. – Chase “Syphyt” McKenzie
Singapore is coming back onto the world stage after not being seen in the World Cup since 2017, where they didn’t perform well in the qualifiers, going 0-1-2 in a group with Canada, Russia & Turkey. That may lead you to believe Singapore is a weak team, but that could not be further from the truth.
Singapore has built up an impressive roster this year consisting of many Contenders level players. Most notably, Muhammad “Xenofly” Syafiq and Hao “ZeonFlux” Haiyang from Global Esports, their off-tank and flex support, who recently came second place in Pacific Contenders with the team.
Unfortunately for Team Singapore, Global Esports DPS Tan “Lilraxx” Shawn Lee is ineligible to play, as he’s under 18. Figo “Azalea” Chua has stepped up to the spot to take over from Lilraxx but it’s unclear how well he will do given his previous team, Xavier Esports’ results in Pacific contenders, only making it to the group stages before dropping out.
Another strength is in their main tank and projectile DPS, Mohammed “Sachokk” Asri and Timotheus “Bubblekitty” Yeo. Both are coming from a strong showing in Pacific Contenders with a 3rd place finish alongside Far East Society.
Overall, there’s a huge amount of talent across team Singapore coming from different teams. For that reason I’d rate them at a pretty decent mid-tier team with the potential to bring an upset if people sleep on them from their previous World Cup showings. The Team Singapore of 2017 is not the same as the one in 2019, and that’s for the better. – andygmb, Team Ireland GM
22: Hong Kong
This team is spearheaded by their two leaders with Contenders experience. Chi-Yeung “Moowe” Yip plays for Nova MS and fans may remember him from his epic duels with Jae-hyeok “Carpe” Lee last year. Additionally, Kin-Long “ManGoJai” Wong is part of the undefeated Talon Esports team that is used to winning.
Other than that, all of their remaining players are in Open Division, which means they have competitive experience, but perhaps not at the highest level. They might put up a fight against some solid teams, but don’t expect too much from them in the long haul. – Jing Hao “Avalon” Liang
This team is really strong. Main tank Teetawat “Teetawat” Teerayosyotin plays for Uprising Academy, Pongphop “Mickie” Rattanasangchod is well known to everyone, and Ubon “oPuTo” Dara plays for Talon Esports, who dropped just a single map in PAC Contenders this season. They probably have the best chance to make it to Blizzcon of their group, just off of sheer talent alone. The other players either aren’t in Contenders at all or are on Xavier Esports, which finished 7th out of 8 teams this past season. Because of this, they’ll need to rely on their best players to lead the team. It has to start from the top. – Jing Hao “Avalon” Liang
20: Chinese Taipei/Taiwan
This team is pretty strong, overall. Most of their players are with Nova MS, so they will have some pre-existing synergy which could really go a long way in the OWWC. Chen “ATing” Shao-Hua (main tank) and Lin “ShaiuLin” Keng-Yu (flex DPS) are my picks to watch of those players with Nova MS. They impressed at last year’s group stages and may be able to do the same this year.
Also, it is impossible to miss Lo “Baconjack” Tzu-Heng on this roster. His OWL experience should prove very valuable to this team and should give them the ability to experiment with some different DPS compositions. – Jing Hao “Avalon” Liang
19: New Zealand
A returning face to this year’s World Cup, Team New Zealand are happy to come back after their 2017 appearance. Notably missing from last year, this team of Kiwis looks to leave their mark on the rest of the world. With introductions to new players, and fronted by New Zealand’s own Kelsey “Colourhex” Birse, New Zealand are ready to fight, and to prove themselves.
Joining Colourhex are familiar faces, both from the Path to Pro Contenders scene, and the previous Team New Zealand team from 2017. In damage roles, Christopher “August9th” Norgrove and Dale “Signed” Tang join Birse. On tank, Jack “Joker” Wyles and Shilp “plihS” Naik with pair together. Initially, Joker put his name in the ring for an operations team role. However, a turn of fate has allowed him to play alongside his friends, and his Twitter suggests he’s over the moon for the chance to show his stuff. Lastly, on support, Oliver “Jungle” and Paul “Truth” van Hutten fill out the roster.
With so many names coming from the Australian Contenders scene, there’s a lot of raw talent for this team to work with. Teams like ORDER, Mindfreak, Warrior Esports, and the Melbourne Mavericks are all represented in this roster. Paired with Colourhex, an Overwatch League pro who has expressed his excitement to play in his first World Cup, this team shows a lot of promise for success. – Mallory “macklemallory” McMahon
Germany possesses two of the most memorable tank players in recent memory. Hadi Daniel “Hadi” Bleinagel, a recent acquisition for British Hurricane, is the main tank for the team. Strong leadership and a wealth of experience make him a perfect fit. On off-tank, Germany has the very popular Max “Moose” Kießling of Clockwork Vendetta. His impeccable hook accuracy will allow Germany to secure early picks in team fights. Backing up Moose is his Clockwork colleague Moritz “Engineer” Becker, the flex DPS for the team, along with “Phi” and “Rady” as the other two DPS. The team is rounded out by the backline of “illbethebest,” a `mechanically gifted flex support, and ‘Rephid’ on main support. Team Germany are a dark horse for this year and one of the most exciting teams for the upcoming tournament. – ReactionGamingEsports
Team Brazil far exceeded expectations last year, placing 3rd in groups behind Canada and the USA. Expectations are even higher for 2019 as the core of the squad returns with a revamped tank and DPS line. This is the first OWWC for André “Txozin” Saidel of UP Gaming and Luiz “Ludwig” Motta of Lowkey Esports. Though new to the international stage, they’re no strangers to competitive Overwatch. In fact, five of the seven members of the team hail from Lowkey Esports, formerly Brasil Gaming House, the multi-season champions of Contenders South America. Brazil will be relying on this groundwork to bring the team together against some tough competition.
They’ll be headed by Team Brazil veterans Felipe “liko” Lebrao, Maurício “honorato” Honorato, Murillo “murizzz” Tuchtenhagen, and Renan “alemao” Moretto of the Boston Uprising. Though less well known internationally, the South American scene has become increasingly competitive as the parity between teams continues to rise. Brazilian teams play with an unmatched grit and passion that makes for some of the most entertaining Overwatch around. With veteran leadership at the helm and a never-say-die attitude, Team Brazil might just upend expectations once more, perhaps all the way to Blizzcon. – Evie “HamTornado” Feng
Team Norway will have a lot of familiar faces on their starting six this year. This will be the fourth year in a row that Stefan “Onigod” Fiskerstrand will be playing, alongside Jørgen “Decod” Myrlund and Usman “TracK” Mohammad. All three have been making names for themselves in the Contenders scene, but it is Norway’s support line that has everyone talking this year. A flex support player, simply known as “MeeeMyo” will be representing her home country for the first time. MeeeMyo is the first female player to participate in a World Cup event since Riley “Kitty” Frost, who played for Team France in 2016. Fans are excited to see what MeeeMyo, and the rest of the team, will bring to the table this year. – Kate “Sybil” Shepard
Portugal boasts a highly experienced support line with Alexandre “Phatt” Silva on main support and Fabio “AFoxx” Veigas on flex support. These two worked together to secure a 1st place finish in Contenders 2019 Season 1 Europe on Angry Titans; the synergy they’ve built up over the last year will be invaluable for the team. In the DPS role, Portugal has Overwatch League star Luís “Greyy” Perestrelo of the Paris Eternal. While his main role is flex support, he’s displayed a strong Widowmaker at certain points, proving his hitscan ability. On flex DPS, Portugal will likely go with Henrique ‘Horthic’ Damião, previously of Meta Skyfoxes. Finally, Portugal has “Lemonada” on main tank and “atf” on off-tank. With considerable tier 2 and OWL experience, along with an established core from GrowUpEsports, Portugal is an intriguing prospect for the 2019 World Cup. – ReactionGamingEsports
Last year, Team Spain did not make it past the Bangkok Qualifiers. This year, they will be fielding a relatively unknown roster with two notable exceptions. Alberto “neptuNo” Gonzalez, known for his ruthless Mercy gameplay, will be taking on the role of DPS. After opting out last year for his heath, fans are incredibly excited to see how neptuNo will do on this role. As the best Battle Mercy in the league, one can only imagine the mayhem that neptuNo will bring to the battlefield. However, this role switch has some fans concerned about what this will mean for Spain’s support line.
NeptuNo is a great healer and is arguably better than Jonathan “Harryhook” Tejedor Eua. Despite Harryhook’s history within the Overwatch scene, he has faded into obscurity over the past year. Currently sitting on the Dallas Fuel’s bench, Harryhook hasn’t had many opportunities to show that he still has what it takes. This could be an excellent opportunity for Harryhook to prove his critics wrong and restore some glory to his name. With that in mind, Spain will definitely be a team that one should keep their eye on. – Kate “Sybil” Shepard
Could this be the year the Netherlands step out of the shadow of Europe’s more dominant countries? Boasting top talent from tier 2 such as Alex “A10” Kuipers, Thomas “brussen” Brussen and Jeffrey “Vizility” de Vries the Oranje are a team to be underestimated.
Do I expect this team to make top 4? No. But, there is no reason why they can’t show up big time and compete with some of the more established countries. The talent for this team is there and every player has tier 2 experience, which is only a good sign. If there was to be one sleeper pick in the EU region, it’s these guys. – Siarnaq
One of the favored teams in the World Cup lineup, Team Australia caused commotion early on with some key players missing from their starting lineup. Notably, the lack of Scott “Custa” Kennedy was something fans picked up on right away. However, in his absence are players both from the Contenders scene, as well as the Overwatch League. These shining stars are ready to prove themselves against the best of the best and are ready to show why Team Australia is more than deserving of the love they get.
Leading the charge on offensive roles are Jason “ieatuup” Ho and Felix “ckm” Murray. Previously, ieatuup was seen on Team CC, and ckm was a member of the Sydney Drop Bears, as well as a member of Team Australia in 2018. On tank, fans will recognize a new member of the Dallas Fuel. Ashley “Trill” Powell returns with his tank partner from last year, Uprising Academy’s Leyton “Punk” Gilchrist. Two new supports step into the limelight to round out the final seven. Giorgio “tongue” Lahdo of Warrior Esports will play alongside Max “Unter” Unterwurzacher, who currently plays for ORDER.
While fans could be upset due to a lack of familiar faces, this new team represents the next generation of Australian superstars. With strong players returning to several roles, and a new support line that’s sure to impress, Team Australia looks to reclaim their place among the top teams. Led by veteran coach of the Boston Uprising, Jordan “Gunba” Graham, Team Australia certainly has what it takes to compete among the best of the best. – Mallory “macklemallory” McMahon
Old Winstrike is back yet again, this time with an OWL player. Ilya “NLaaeR” Koppalov has shared much time on the Atlanta Reign roster this year with Andrej “babybay” Francisty but he’s definitely earned a spot on this year’s roster. With Stanislav “Mistakes” Danilov stepping up to the GM position, NLaaeR has a big opportunity this year for some incredible highlights on a team with tank and support synergy from last year. – Chase “Syphyt” McKenzie
It’s been three years since Team Iceland last competed in the World Cup. Only Finnbjörn “Finnsi” Jónasson and Hafþór “Hafficool” Hákonarson will be making a reappearance from the 2016 roster. Finnsi currently plays for the Paris Eternal and while Paris has had a rough season, Finnsi has always been one of the more consistent players. He’s an excellent off-tank, and his D.Va gameplay has been one of the bright spots in the Eternal’s streaky season. His experience in the league will be an excellent benefit for the team, as will Hafficool’s experience in Contenders. After making a name for himself playing for British Hurricane, Hafficool now plays for Team Envy, who has looked incredible in NA this season.
Led by Hafficool and Finnsi’s veteran leadership, it will be interesting to see what other hidden talents have yet to emerge from Iceland. – Kate “Sybil” Shepard
Denmark has one of the most dangerous DPS trios of all the teams in the field, with former Envy DPS Mads “Fischer” Jehg headlining that role. At support, Denmark has OWL leadership and experience with Kristian “Kellex” Keller at main support and a promising Victor “Scaler” Godsk at flex support. On top of all that, the Danes boast a tank line with plenty of EU Contenders experience and one that has good synergy between members of HSL Esports. All in all, Denmark should be a team on everyone’s radar heading into the World Cup. #SmallCountryBigPlays – Connor “GoopyKnoopy” Knudsen
How can you stand up versus the Swedish powerhouses that are Elliot “ELLIVOTE” Vaneryd and Lukas “LullSiSH” Wiklund? Ha, don’t make me laugh, have you seen how tall and jacked they are? Also, not sure if I mentioned but they brought their cool and sophisticated support players from out of town, Gustav “Gustav” Garpenståhl and Andreas “Epzz” Vallvingskog.
Haven’t heard of them? I shouldn’t be shocked, they play on the most hippest of teams in the most exclusive leagues out there. And how could I forget Simon “snillo” Ekström, Erik “Erki” Nolander and Rat? Be careful what you say about these DPS players, they know powerful people in high places that can make your team’s life hell. – Jack “Jaws” Wright
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That’s the rallying cry, not only for past GOATs enthusiasts but also Team Canada, who return in 2019 with the same starting lineup as the previous year. It’s no wonder they’re sticking to their guns as Canada took home the bronze medal in the 2018 OWWC. Brady “Agilities” Girardi of the Los Angeles Valiant, Lane “Surefour” Roberts of the Los Angeles Gladiators, and Liam “Mangachu” Campbell of the Toronto Defiant make up the talented DPS line. All three are capable of clutch plays but do struggle from inconsistency at times. Lucas “NotE” Meissner of the Dallas Fuel will be playing off-tank while Félix “xQc” Lengyel, streamer and former OWL player, will reprise his role as main tank for the third year. An Orisa player from the start, xQc’s knowledge of the hero may also give Canada a leg up in the current bunker meta. Chris “Bani” Benell of the Houston Outlaws will play main support and William “Crimzo” Hernandez of Contenders North America’s Team Envy, will play of flex support. While Crimzo has not yet been called up to OWL, don’t underestimate him. As one of the strongest flex supports in Contenders NA, Crimzo’s mechanical skill will take the team far.
Alternates for Team Canada include Ricky “Akaydia” Nguyen on DPS, Blake “Zholik” Solberg of former Contenders NA team GRUNTo Esports on main support, Travis “AutumnSouls” Letwiniuk of Harrisburg University on flex support, Shayne “Chayne” La Rocque of Contenders NA team Bermuda on main tank, and streamer Walid “Mouffin” Bassal on off-tank. – Evie “HamTornado” Feng
Finland vs South Korea was one of the most explosive matches of the entire 2018 Overwatch World Cup tournament. Finland were the ones to show us that team South Korea could bleed. Tuomo “Davin” Leppänen, Richard “rCk” Kanerva, Petja “Masaa” Kantanen and Roni “LhCloudy” Tiihonen are reunited after more than a year, back from when they used to play on the 2018 Season 1 & 2 Contenders roster which just screams great synergy. Otherwise, on this Finland Roster, Davin and Joonas “zappis” Alakurtti are also coming in on a high note after securing second place in Contenders Europe Season 3.
Speaking of Contenders Europe, Clockwork Vendetta’s Mei specialist Ricky “Ricky” Foxell will be joining the team this year. With all the Mei and Reaper we’ve seen this last stage, you can be sure he’ll be brewing up a tundra for the opposition. To top it off, their backline is led by two OWL players and is just bubbling with experience. Once again, this year I’m expecting solid results from Finland. – Zander “Blank” Padwick
France took their time figuring out their roster for the 2019 World Cup, but the reveal video was worth the wait. In their initial announcement, they solidified Damien “HyP” Souville of the Paris Eternal and Brice “FDGod” Monsçavoir as their support line. They also decided to go with Simon “Chubz” Vullo on main tank. The most puzzling thing about their announcement was that they would be choosing between seven (yes, seven) DPS players.
France has decided that they are once again going with the Philadelphia Fusion’s Gael “Poko” Gouzerch on off-tank. They will also be putting their faith back in Terence “SoON” Tarlier, and he will be joined by Lucas “Leaf” Loison and Jeremy “Hqrdest” Danton. One of the more exciting things about this roster is that France has decided to highlight talent from the Contenders scene. Last year’s roster was full of Overwatch League talent but they fell short during the quarter-finals. Their loss against Team Canada was heartbreaking for fans, especially after the Paris Qualifiers. This healthy mix of talent seems like a step in the right direction, and fans are eager to see how the team will stack up against their competitors – Kate “Sybil” Shepard
Team UK, as an establishment, is riding a high coming into World Cup 2019, despite not having a direct invite to the Blizzcon stages. Their 2018 performance, including an upset victory over the much-hyped (as-ever) Team USA puts many eyes on the team from Great Britain.
I have several concerns, however, including the interesting decision to choose Harrison “Kruise” Pond as the seventh man over a strict DPS player. While Kruise has great experience as a DPS player (including in Team UK’s ill-fated 2017 run) in high stakes situations, his hero pool may find itself less than useful in a constantly shifting meta where a more flexible DPS like Div “Zeal” Valobobhai could have been an asset.
Despite a languishing performance for Boston, Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth remains a high-value asset for the UK scene and his leadership, along with Kruise’s, in the backroom or on the stage will give the UK a strong direction inside of the game, and inside their own heads.
There are also concerns regarding Finley “Kyb” Adisi’s lack of OWL playtime. We saw with Elijah Hudson “Elk” Gallagher’s adventure between Fusion University and Philadelphia Fusion, what a lack of time on-stage/in-match can do to a player that is otherwise at the top of their game. Currently, Kyb is sitting in that same Fusion support structure. Luckily, this will give him more face time with Coach Hayes and Isaac “Boombox” Charles, allowing for some pre-prep synergy establishment between the three. – Harry “LEGDAY” Pollitt
Ah, Team USA. That powerhouse of perennial disappointment. A squad that will benefit from the vastly lowered expectations of a jaded nation, who cling to the idea – despite everything they’ve endured – that this year could be the year we achieve something truly great.
To say there’s a lot of pressure on this team is a gross understatement. General Manager Analynn “bawlynn” Dang was recently signed to the Washington Justice, filling a long-emptied gap in their org chart after the departure of Kate “Kate” Mitchell, so her performance here will serve as our only insight into her working style before we get a good view of her work with the Justice in 2020. She’ll need to give the fans her A-game come BlizzCon, and make sure her players and staff step up to what has otherwise become a rather daunting plate.
A dearth of firepower has never been Uncle Sam’s weakness, but finding a way to get all of that energy onto the playing field certainly seemed to be. Dallas Fuel head coach Aaron “Aero” Atkins is being given a major second chance – to prove that last year’s flub was a fluke, and to prove that he belongs in OWL at all after the Fuel’s flame flickered out in the latter half of OWL 2019. This will be his most harrowing gauntlet yet… luckily, though, he has a healthy variety of talent at his fingertips.
This year’s final seven might be the most mechanically gifted American squad we’ve ever seen. Kyle “KSF” Frandasia had an impressive performance at the LA Valiant’s Kit Kat Rivalry Weekend, and if the crowd at the Novo amped him up that much, I’m frankly a bit scared to see what he can do with the BlizzCon crowd (mostly) at his back. Joining him from the ranks of green and gold is Team USA veteran Indy “SPACE”
Halpern – the only off-tank candidate Aero and Harsha had in the Top 12. Their confidence in his ability should tell you everything you need to know about his capabilities, if you haven’t already seen him on stage (If you haven’t, how did you get here?).
Corey “Corey” Nigra has been a revelation for the Washington Justice once he managed to escape Brig jail, and has set records in sheer damage-dealing efficiency all throughout Stage 4. (He also serves as the one person on Team USA whose real name and handle match, replacing Jacob “Jake” Lyon in that crucial role.)
America’s real key this year, though, won’t just be in a star-studded roster of high profile head clickers. Team USA’s real strength will be found in their ability to abuse the synergies of three of the league’s biggest western stars – Jay “sinatraa” Won, Grant “moth” Espee and Matthew “super” DeLisi, from the San Francisco Shock. Few teams have been able to stump the Shock this season, and the communication and coordination between those three players has played no small role there. If they can get their four fellows in on their system in time for BlizzCon, we’re in for a scary, star-spangled treat.
There’s just one more piece to this equation… the caboose at the end of the train, if you willl, who will lead from the rear and cover the squad’s six o’clock all the while. I’m talking, of course, about the Outlaws’ resident flex support star Shane “Rawkus” Flaherty. A veteran like SPACE and sinatraa, Rawkus has proven to a litany of US coaches that he has what it takes to hold down the flex support position for the red, white, and blue – even if the fans don’t always believe it.
The eye test is not kind to flex support players, and I doubt it ever will be. To be considered an excellent flex support player means you have to consistently show up in the kill field, nailing every Ana sleep dart and Zenyatta right-click with unerring accuracy. You can never die, but should always mete out death with brutal abandon – all while keeping the rest of your team in good health, assisting in fight management and ultimate coordination, and maintaining your positioning relative to the other 11 players on the field. It’s an unforgiving role, and Rawkus has often slipped when it’s mattered most – for Houston, and for Team USA. But that’s not to say that he’s an obvious weak link, or that he hasn’t proven himself time and time again, against a variety of opponents across the globe. With the right team around him, this could very well be the year Rawkus shows the world what he’s truly made of.
All in all, I’m cautiously optimistic about this year’s Team USA. Have I said that for the past three years now? Yes. Will I probably be disappointed again? Also yes. Despite that cynical side of my brain standing ready, ever braced for disappointment and failure, I find myself hoping again. Seeing this year’s squad, even after all this country has endured, finds me caught in that dangerous refrain… maybe this year is the year. Maybe, just maybe, we’re staring down the barrel of something greater than before. – Brandon “thibbledork” Padilla
Like in last years World Cup, China is looking again to make its mark as one of the best regions in the world, now with even more OWL experience than they had last year. Many players who made their names on the world stage last year are looking for more than just the recognition. OWL 2019 MVP Candidate Xu “guxue” Qiulin and superstar DPS Huang “leave” Xin headline the roster alongside a number of Chengdu Hunters players and a solo Guangzhou Charge player. Coach Xingrui “RUI” Wang will also be returning as Head Coach from last year.
China will be very hard to read. They play towards their comfort picks, and with someone like leave on your roster, every hero is a comfort pick. As someone who has covered this region for over a year through 4 seasons of Contenders, don’t sleep of Team China another year in a row. – Eren “Kenobi” Erkey
1: South Korea
In previous World Cups, metas were mostly defined and studied through the Contenders Seasons happening concurrently, allowing for a much more fleshed-out insight (i.e. GOATs in 2018). However, this year there is likely to be a meta shakeup between OWL Grand Finals and World Cup. In such a time, having arguably the most able coach in Overwatch at the moment, Dae-hee “Crusty” Park, at the helm of Team South Korea will make them even more fearsome than their usual selves.
The roster is headlined by two do-it-all DPS players in Minho “Architect” Park and Jae-hyeok “Carpe” Lee. Pairing these two alongside a superstar popoff talent like Hyojong “Haksal” Kim, who could easily fill any projectile niche which arises between now and Blizzcon, means it’s going to be a tough ask for any team to bring more firepower to the table than South Korea.
The one questionable area for SK does come from their support line. While both Ho-jin “iDK” Park and Seung-tae “Bdosin” Choi are considerable talents in their own right, they will have little pre-baked synergy and less room to practice and develop such until later in the year, with both of their respective teams headed for the OWL playoffs. – Harry “LEGDAY” Pollitt
As a reminder, online qualifiers for Blizzcon will take place throughout the entire day on October 31, with Blizzcon officially getting underway the following day. Be sure to tune in and see these teams battle it out!
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