2019’s first season of Overwatch Contenders is coming to a close. As playoffs loom on the horizon, we figured it would be a good time to talk about some rising talent that OWL teams should be keeping an eye on! Today’s article will focus specifically on Europe – one of the most competitive regions in the world. EU talent has become a staple for many OWL teams, so fans who want to stay on top of things should definitely pay attention to this region – and its future stars.
For each region, we’ll go over players in each role that are worthy of attention – though there are far too many to list here! In the interests of promoting as many players as possible, we’ll refrain from repeating names we’ve listed in similar articles in the past. You can find those articles – and our justifications for each player listed there – just below this paragraph.
Main Tanks: Lukas “LullSiSH” Wiklund (Angry Titans) and Seb “numlocked” Barton (British Hurricane)
Flex Tanks: Théo “Tek36” Guillebaud (One.PoinT) and Hafþór “Hafficool” Hákonarson (British Hurricane)
Picking just two in each of these roles is a real challenge. Europe as a region is best known for its tank-heavy play style, which means European front-liners are often the biggest and brightest names on the field at any given time. There are many great tanks in this region, but these four are a cut above the rest.
Numlocked has remade a name for himself after being cut from the LA Valiant at the tail end of the 2018 season. While many doubted his capacity to re-enter the top MT conversation, he’s proven that you can grind your way back if you buckle down and give it your all. The results speak for themselves – British Hurricane are undefeated right now, with a week left in the regular season. The hunt for a perfect run is not out of the question for numlocked and crew.
The one team that can ruin Hurricane’s perfect run (for now) is Angry Titans. Perennial silver medalists, AT have adjusted and adapted to every season’s challenges for over a year. This season might be their chance to take the gold – and if it is, it will largely be thanks to their tank line.
LullSiSH first made a name for himself playing for a team called Vivi’s Adventure. This team of relative unknowns (at the time) netted nine first place finishes between March and August of 2017, including seven straight Go4Overwatch Cup wins. When Angry Titans started putting together a roster, they knew who to call. LullSiSH, Elliot “ELLIVOTE” Vaneryd and Fabio “AFoxx” Veigas were all called up to join the AT roster, and the rest is history!
Another key component in Hurricane’s quest for the perfect season is Hafficool. He’s one of the most veteran presences in the EU scene at this point, hailing most notably from the FNATIC roster that gave us Scott “Custa” Kennedy, Matthew “coolmatt69” Iorio, André “iddqd” Dahlström, and Casey “buds” McIlwaine. Those years of experience (across a variety of rosters) have built one of the best D.Va players in the world, with a long history of consistency, and really nice bombs.
The tank rounding out this category is… different than the rest. While the first three players here have enjoyed decent (though varying) degrees of consistency, Tek36 has had anything but. Since his first notable tournament entry in March of 2016, Tek36 has played for eight different teams. That’s certainly not unheard of in the T2/T3 scene, sure, but it’s still a pretty significant swath of rosters to have been through over a career as long as his.
Tek36’s most recent runs with Bazooka Puppiez and HSL Esports have both yielded disappointing fruit. The now-defunct Puppiez went 0-5 in Season 2 of 2018, and HSL finished their run last season in the quarterfinals against One.PoinT. After that team was utterly eviscerated by other squads across the world, they gave Tek36 a call. Since joining the team, One.PoinT have earned a 3-3, -3 record. Almost all of their games have ended with a 2-1 or 3-2 scoreline for the winning team, with one glaring 0-4 exception against Gigantti. What makes them so close?
When it’s a win, you can often point to Tek36. You can almost always expect him to eat a key Graviton Surge or score a multi-kill D.Va bomb in the dying moments of a series, when the team needs it most. It’s made for some of the best games of the regular season so far, and kept One.PoinT in the playoff hunt after six grueling weeks of poaches and instability. This team had no right to do as well as it did this season, but Tek36 was integral in making it so.
Main Support: Andrey “Engh” Sholokhov (One.PoinT)
Flex Support: Aleksi “Zuppeh” Kuntsi (Gigantti)
Support players have always been the quiet cornerstones on which a truly good team gets its start – and that’s especially true in the GOATS meta. These support players have been anchors for teams tossed about on the roiling sea that is Contenders – players that have kept their ships stable when they might otherwise shake apart.
Like Tek36, Engh has been a solid performer in a team wracked by poaching. His time on Winstrike and CIS Hope – basically the only Russian rosters in high level Overwatch – yielded a strong, stoic support style with plenty of room for enabling flashy plays. Lucio boops are often the key to a great Grav/Bomb combo, and Engh knows it.
[Related: An Interview with Engh during his time with Winstrike]
Much like numlocked, Zuppeh has been on the road to redemption since the Mayhem’s first implosion in 2018. While most assumed that the team’s EU players simply weren’t at an OWL level, Zuppeh and his fellow ex-Floridian zappis have proven that they have what it takes to be consistent playoff-caliber performers when given the right tools for the job. Zuppeh has shown that his Zenyatta and Ana are nothing to sneeze at, and that skill snagged Gigantti a Contenders championship in short order. It might not be the last, either…
Stefan “Spectr9l” Fiskerstrand (Angry Titans), Tuomo “Davin” Leppänen (Gigantti), Kai “KSP” Collins (Morning Stars), Div “Zeal” Valobobhai (Eternal Academy)
Alright, this title is largely in jest. These players have played plenty of damage dealing Heroes – real DPS Heroes, not just everyone’s favorite shieldmaiden – and have been making a name for themselves in the role for a long, long time.
Spectr9l – formerly known as ONIGOD – is one of the oldest names in the EU game. A lot’s changed since he joined Nordic Alpha in September of 2016, but all that change has been good! A good run with Toronto Esports (RIP) looped back to Spectr9l playing for Angry Titans, who have had a great deal of success together since Spectr9l joined in December 2017. If your team needs a Zarya/hitscan flex with experience… there aren’t many better options.
Speaking of experience… Davin has one of the shiniest Liquidpedia pages we’ve ever seen. Since joining Team Gigantti in August of 2017, he’s helped gather six first place finishes, two second places, and a semifinal 3rd/4th finish – out of nine total tournaments. Wow. Beyond the team’s great track record together, Davin’s performance on Heroes like McCree and Tracer have earned him a mantle as one of the best DPS players in EU – and quite possibly the world. Much like Spectr9l, Davin should be a shoe-in for any OWL team looking for a very scary hitscan player.
KSP and Zeal
Two newer names round out this DPS list – KSP, who played on a variety of EU teams before landing with the Morning Stars in November of 2018 – and Zeal, who’s been with Shu’s Money Crew since last September. Both have shown impressive Hero depth, and some ridiculous capabilities on their favorite Heroes – which has made for some great, entertaining games. (Seriously, Zeal’s Pharah and KSP’s Widow are both insane.) For OWL and academy teams looking for some up-and-coming talent, or fans looking for players to root for, these two should definitely be on your list.
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Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.