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Contenders Gauntlet: Finals Recap

Contenders Gauntlet

On Wednesday, ten teams entered the Giga Arena to compete in the first-ever Contenders Gauntlet tournament. Night after night, fans would watch as they fell one by one until the top three teams were established. Runaway, ATL Academy, and Element Mystic would fight tooth and nail for their spots at the top. After two wild matches, Element Mystic were crowned as the Gauntlet champions.

Contenders Gauntlet
Graphic courtesy of Overwatch Path to Pro official Twitter

Lower Final

Contenders Gauntlet
Photo Courtesy of Runaway’s official Twitter

Coming into this match, no one knew what to expect. Having earned a bye into the playoffs, Runaway started their tournament run with a perfect 3-0 score against Gen.G. They would only be knocked down into the Lower Finals after suffering a 4-2 loss against Element Mystic. After a Map 5 game, Element Mystic also sent ATL Academy down into the lower brackets. ATL Academy would then go on to destroy both XL2 Academy and Gen.G. Both teams went into this match desperate for a rematch against Element Mystic.

The finals were structured to go first to four, and many had expected the series to be insanely close. ATL Academy would have a different idea in mind. On Lijiang, it would be the battle of the Lucios between Daniel “FunnyAstro” Hathaway and Jae-gon “LeeJaeGon” Lee. FunnyAstro would come out on top with a magnificent double boop on Garden that Runaway were not able to recover from. Although they managed to get Garden and Nightmarket to 99 percent on both sides, ATL Academy would come in clutch at the last second, securing the first map. From there, Runaway seemed to be mentally boomed. Fans watched in shock and disbelief as ATL Academy secured map after map.

At the Half

On Horizon Lunar Colony, it seemed like Runaway had a good chance at turning things around in their favor. However, Steven “Kodak” Rosenberger is an incredible Ana, and his ability to enable Garrett “Saucy” Roland on Bastion would be too much for the boys in pink to handle.

On Route 66, Runaway’s frustration was evident. They struggled hard to get out of spawn and struggled even further once they managed to push it past the gas station. For a brief moment, it seemed as though Hee-Su “Heesu” Jeong would be able to save his team after finally being able to set up correctly on Bastion. A quick swap onto Reinhardt – yes, Reinhardt – from Xander “Hawk” Domecq would surprise not just Heesu and his teammates, but the casters and fans as well. ATL Academy would take the series in a miraculous 4-0 victory and move on into the Grand Finals.

Grand Final

Contenders Gauntlet
Photo Courtesy of the official Overwatch Path to Pro Twitter

Fans expected another drawn-out battle between Element Mystic and ATL Academy. The last time they faced off, things were incredibly close. ATL Academy nearly sent Element Mystic into the lower bracket but were unable to counter Dong-ha “Doha” Kim’s Sombra on control maps. Coming off the high after defeating Runaway, NA fans were confident that ATL Academy would be able to go the distance this time around. However, much like during their match against Runaway, Element Mystic would take the first two maps with ease. Lijiang was a piece of cake for Mystic as Doha’s Sombra once again wreaked havoc on ATL Academy’s backline. Consistently landing six-man EMPS, Doha would render ATL Academy useless, allowing Element Mystic to secure the first map.

On Eichenwalde, ATL Academy would be unable to push through Mystic’s defenses for quite some time. Doha on Bastion would be an absolute menace while a pocketed Yeong-han “Sp9rk1e” Kim on Pharah battled against his Pharah counterpart, Kamden “Sugarfree” Hijada. Although ATL Academy did their best to maneuver themselves behind Element Mystic, the moment Doha went tank-mode, it was all over. Only needing a tick, ATL Academy would make things easy for Element Mystic by not even hopping on the point to defend due to fear of Sp9rk1e’s Pharah from above.

At the Half

Things were looking grim for ATL Academy after the first two maps. Choosing Horizon Lunar Colony, ATL Academy would breeze through the first two points on their attack despite some great plays from Han-been “Hanbin” Choi on Sigma. On defense, Jeong-ho “MCD” Lee getting the initial pick on Saucy’s Bastion would allow Element Mystic to capture Point A. However, Sugarfree’s Mei, in combination with Saucy, would prove to be too much for Mystic. ATL Academy would once again confidently claim the moon as their own.

On Dorado, Sp9rk1e and Doha came back with a vengeance. While Sp9rk1e is most well known in the community for his Doomfist, many would argue that Doha’s Doomfist is much deadlier. Viewers saw it early on in the tournament, but a swap of Doha onto Doomfist meant that things were getting serious. Element Mystic was determined to take this map, and both Doha and Sp9rk1e slaughtered ATL Academy as the team pushed the payload to completion of the map. On defense, Sugarfree would be unable to counter Sp9rk1e on Pharah, and Element Mystic would not even allow ATL Academy to get close to Point A.

It All Ends Here

Contenders Gauntlet
Image courtesy of Overwatch Path to Pro official Twitter

On Ilios, ATL Academy fans watched quietly as their team struggled even to capture the point. On Ruins, Element Mystic would reign supreme. Once again, ATL Academy could not come up with a solution for Doha’s Sombra. Although they managed to flip the point a couple of times, the battle was mostly one-sided.

With Mystic quickly securing Ruins, ATL Academy would seem to wake up a bit on Lighthouse. Managing to capture the point, ATL Academy would maintain a solid hold on it until cockiness got the better of them. They were constantly moving away from the point which allowed Mystic to back cap multiple times. ATL Academy would manage to turn things back in their favor, but as the point neared 99 percent, Saucy would do the unthinkable and split off from his teammates. Not unlike a scene in a horror movie, Doha would find Saucy’s hiding spot and hack him from behind. Getting the pick they needed, Element Mystic would then swoop onto the point during overtime and claim the point, and the championship, for themselves.

Conclusion

After an incredible week of games, The Gauntlet has officially drawn to a close. The ten teams invited proved themselves to be the best of the best. Although many fell along the way, new fans were introduced to some insane talent from all over the world. Teams like Talon Esports finally got the recognition that they deserved, and North America proved that NA isn’t a region to be trifled with.

For fans who have been here since the APEX days, tuning into The Gauntlet felt a lot like coming home. OGN’s production of Overwatch events is genuinely something special. The dramatic closeups of player’s faces, the fun team walkouts, and the light-hearted post-match interviews make the tournament so much more fun to watch. Seeing this new batch of players battle it out on the stage where it all began was a nostalgic treat for viewers. Hopefully, the overall success of The Gauntlet means a better and brighter future for the Tier 2 scene.

Stay Connected

Follow me on Twitter: @Sybil_OW! You can also message me on Discord @ Sybil#3517! I’m always happy to discuss anything I’ve written!

Featured Graphic Courtesy of Element Mystic’s official Twitter.

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