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Contenders: Some Important Takeaways From the Atlantic Showdown

Contenders Atlantic Showdown

The Atlantic Showdown came to a close yesterday, ending with an entirely North American Grand Finals matchup between Team Envy and Fusion University. While Fusion Uni took the finals prize money in convincing fashion, there were many other major narratives running through the weekend in Krefield. Some stories just beginning and some coming to a close. In the end, there are a plethora of things that can be taken away from both this and the Pacific Showdown. Here are just a few of those takeaways.

LANs are Necessary for True Talent Development and Scouting

Both showdowns were monumental in that they were not played online. Players are able to get used to incorporating travel into their training routine, the crowd comes into play and the other team is just feet away. These factors are a sampling of what the end goal, the Overwatch League, is like for these players and is crucial to effectively judge players’ talent and develop it subsequently.

Contenders Atlantic Showdown

Image Courtesy of Twin Galaxies

The Atlantic Showdown demonstrated the value of this, in part, through the victorious run of Fusion University. This team’s heavy LAN experience, along with its very talented roster, proved key in their success at the tournament. These players demonstrating they can perform on-stage, in the clutch, ups their value for both the Fusion and other OWL teams looking for roster replacements. Without this sort of data, these players may very well go unnoticed. This is much the same logic behind keeping the World Cup, another extremely important tool in scouting players and forming them into potential OWL talent.

NA Reigns Supreme… For Now

Yes, NA did effectively assert themselves as the more dominant of the two regions between themselves and EU. But, with the Gauntlet coming in October, EU has plenty of time to pick itself up and begin their Rocky-style training montage to get back to the top of the West. Their journey will also be much easier considering the fact that Fusion University, the undisputed best T2 team in the West, is moving to Korean Contenders.

Overall, it’s likely a smart move for FU. It protects most of their players and allows them to continue pushing themselves against better competition, which will only serve to help develop and strengthen the players, in the end.

For NA, however, things aren’t looking nearly as bright for the future. Mayhem Academy and Fusion University, two of the top teams from 2019 Season 1, are both gone (along with NRG Esports). That leaves, for now, ATL Academy, Team Envy and Gladiators Legion to presumably carry the mantle for the region. Although there are several teams on the rise, like Triumph or Meta Skyfoxes for example, that could make a formidable run at being among the top in 2019 Season 2.

Behind all of this, there’s a sea of EU fans whispering. They’re saying things like, “Regardless of all of this Atlantic Showdown rubbish, EU still has World Cup glory! And the meta will be so different when the Gauntlet rolls around that we can’t possibly get beat by NA again. Right?”

But, in the end, they were only whispers.

Contenders is Proving Effective at Producing OWL-Level Talent, Even if Cracked at Parts

Contenders Atlantic Showdown
Image Courtesy of Liquipedia

Although the Contenders system itself may not qualify for all of the credit, it is showing to be effective in getting players to the point where being signed by an OWL team would make sense. Among these are players like Se-won “BERNAR” Shin, Kyungbo “Alarm” Kim, Elliot “ELLIVOTE” Vaneryd and Stefan “Spectr9l” Fiskerstrand, although there are a great many more that could be justified to be in the OWL.

Although it’s still very fair to be critical of different shortcomings in the T2/T3 developmental system, fans would be remiss not to celebrate when it does actually work. Blizzard put on two great LANs these past weekends and gave these players a stage to showcase their stuff. That’s a fact that all OW fans can be thankful for. Also, in the end, credit the teams and the players as well. Their work keeps the ship afloat, often times.

Looking Ahead

Many teams and players coming into this past weekend didn’t have any experience playing in a LAN environment. They go home with that vital experience, some change in their pocket and, hopefully, a renewed sense of what it means to develop and grow in professional Overwatch. With all of this in their arsenal, keep an eye on each and every player at the Atlantic and Pacific Showdowns. For some, this may have only been the first chapter in their story.


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