I miss Saturday’s games already. Sunday’s looked to be a fatalistic foreshadowing of future proceedings. Immortals were not giving a single point to anyone and lived up to their name going two to zero every game they played throughout the bracket. They ended up annihilating any and everything in their way. Not too surprising coming from Carbon League where they went six and four but ultimately won the tournament convincingly. In essence, despite losing in the Bracket Saturday, Immortals returned Sunday like a shadow.
Throughout the night I found myself drawn to the odd ball type teams. The current meta itself rotates primarily through dive comps situated around Winston, D.Va, Zenyatta, Lucio, Soldier 76 and Tracer. The dive meta comp however seemingly disappears, especially on Lijang Tower’s Garden area. Control point maps, especially wide open control points like Lijang Tower Garden and Nepal Sanctum suddenly burst to life when you see a Mercy or a Mei.
The issue however was that outside of the various little differences, you saw teams very rarely try to play anything outside of the dive meta. This staleness in the game really has plagued Overwatch over the last year. Near the inception of Ana, it was the three tank meta where two teams would slam trains together assuming different results. Now with every nerf bat ever made, the three tank meta slowed and it’s now become submarine battles. If your team is unable to dive and kill the critical element of a team, you’re forced to reset and try again usually.
Getting off the soap box however, I’m a sucker for long games with a lot of back and forth. Meta or no meta, if a game is going to be a slug fest, you can sign me up. The series that gifted me such a request was once again the match before the final match. Toronto Esports and Hammers Esports went the distance. Every single match on Sunday night was a two to nothing win except for one and it was a screamer. Not much can really top off a D.Va ult suddenly and irrevocably changing the team fights.
A blurb about Toronto Esports from their About Us page “Toronto Esports Club was founded in 2016, with the goal creating a local Esports team for Toronto and Canadian fans to cheer for. On September 6, 2016 the Club announced their intention to enter the competitive Overwatch scene with the introduction of their first professional Overwatch roster.” It also helps that this team has seasoned professional players in Chris “Huk” Loranger. More to the point, most of their entire roster is essentially been together since March but showing they’re stuff in Open Qualifiers thus far.
Hammer Esports was primarily a mobile-MOBA focused team but their expansion into non-mobile Esports, primarily Overwatch feels like an attempt to finally put themselves on a wider stage. Their showings thus far in the Open Qualifiers stands to reason that they have nothing but good things coming their way in the coming competitions.
MAP 1: WATCHPOINT: GIBRALTAR
Gibraltar seems to be the initial map for every skirmish. Hammers had Snizzlenose (Roadhog, which is his main) and Christfer (Winston) while Shaz and Tomzey played around with Ana and Lucio. No Zenyatta meant that Winston’s dive target might actually last a tad longer. On the flip side however, Ana using Roadhog to build her nanoboost to give an edge to Winston for the pick was a safe assumption. With a Nano’d Winston, it’s safe to assume that Winston getting a pick in the backline was all but guaranteed. DPS duties were resting with Nesh and Fischer on Soldier: 76 and Genji.
Toronto’s team went full dive comp with Winston, D.Va, Tracer, Zenyatta, Lucio but used Genji instead of Soldier: 76. Cynic (Winston) and Jaru (Genji) were truly on their game though, pushing Hammers back line while Note on D.Va seemingly got picks on her Ult consistently. There was not a single self destruct on offense where Note seemingly didn’t kill someone. In the hanger, Toronto was forcing the issue as they’d lost momentum thanks to the doors shutting. Note bowled a strike by sending D.Va’s ult into the hanging shuttle above the main cart route and getting a double kill. Arguably play of the round as Hammers retreated immediately after losing two.
Hammers stuck with Ana but the better players prevailed as it was showing more and more evident that Fischer was not as strong at Genji as Jaru. Toronto secured the first game, with Hammers trying to be over aggressive on defense and ultimately costing them. Toronto used their obvious advantage in DPS, flipping to a lopsided one tank, three dps, two supports set up. Note held down the first point leaving Jaru and Onigod to get picks and hamstring Hammers push until overtime when Note and Jaru closed down the point with solid point awareness and a devastating team fight.
MAP 2: LIJANG TOWER
As the rotation for the maps plays out in Payload, Control Point, Assault, the next up was Lijang Tower and my personal pick for the best solo game of the night. Hammers and Toronto stuck mostly to script outside of throwing in a Mercy/Pharah combo as well as just unreal D.Va play out of Note and Snizzlenose who finally got comfortable. At no point was any single map in Lijang a conclusive result as you saw Toronto and Hammers trading ults and kills back and forth. There were Mercy ults on both sides, it looked like a modern movie climax with everything exploding into a ball of fire. Garden had the team trading blows and point capture up until the final moments with both teams coming down hard on how to counter and dive one another. Hammers luck held up however and truly showed off their
skills as Note’s impressive D.Va play was matched by Snizzlenose time and again.
With match point, Toronto shows adaptation at its finest as it abandons the 2/2/2 set up and runs lopsided DPS with Note going back to Solider 76, flipping the scales completely and dominating Hammers on Night Market. That game was distilled Overwatch, a game built around switching heroes to better suit your advantage versus another team.
The final match returned to Garden however and another massive brawl happens on the point but ultimately Toronto looked like it was out of ideas on just how to counter Hammers superior map presence. Hammers never conceded the point and tied the match up. We get a real match and suddenly I feel like it’s a no holds bar type of excitement bubbling up from the center. These two teams are insanely even and it really takes just incredibly strong play from both sides but who was going to crack?
MAP 3: TEMPLE OF ANUBIS
Final round began with Hammers starting on Offense. Both teams fielded lopsided set ups with Toronto running two tanks, three DPS and Luddee on Lucio. Just a note, Luddee is officially listed as a sub and is only playing with Toronto on this specific tournament which is truly a testament to his skill as a player. People might knock Lucio for being rather simplistic in his playstyle but it’s entirely different to have to sub in for a team on a huge stage. Not to mention being a strong enough a player to keep you in a match by simultaneously getting kills and healing everyone enough to put you in the ring with Immortals.
Toronto managed to hold out on last point for six and a half minutes, punishing Hammers over and over using Sombra’s EMP effectively. Much if the game between FNRGFE and FaZe, with FNRGFE attempting to use Sombra to stall out FaZe, Toronto used Sombra in a much more effective manner. This was primarily because of Toronto abandoning first point the moment it became evident they could no longer hold out. Hammers with a minute left forced a team fight in the enclosed hallway to the side of the last point.
The fight initialized with Shaz landing a hail mary biotic grenade on Jaru who had just activated Dragonblade. Sensing weakness, Christfer identified Jaru as unable to heal, killing him, and Hammers pushed through onto point, despite an EMP. Suddenly it turned into a complete brawl as not only did the EMP not hit Lucio, Lucio had Sound Barrier and put Hammers in a position to score. On top of this, Nesh switched to McCree and that single switch from Nesh seemingly got them into a fight where Tracer and Genji could not. This happened in less than a ten second window with only 40 seconds left to win the point. They tied in the team fight and Hammers finished with 34% of a point captured. True to form for Anubis however, it takes the royal flush level of coincidences to really win Anubis handily.
Sensing an opening, Toronto returned to the 2/2/2 set up but abandoning dive comp completely. Jaru and Snow went with Pharah/Mercy, Note and Cynic on D.Va and Winston respectively and Onigod on Widowmaker with Luddee finishing the squad on Lucio (because of course). What put it in Toronto’s favor was that Hammers too had gone Widow with Nesh picking up the rifle himself.
The casters noted offensive Widowmaker is given a lot of leeway and that put Hammers down essentially to a five versus six without them even knowing it. Within moments of the match beginning, OniGod makes the call of Nesh’s Widow pick, you see Note and Cynic instantly harass. Despite an effort to hold, the first point collapsed like the old ruins they’re fighting in and Toronto began storming towards the last point.
With ultimates a plenty, Toronto drew up a play and laid their Royal Flush on the table. Jaru and Snow still on the Pharah/Mercy flew over the right side picking off Tomzey. A split second later Cynic killed Snizzlenose, and Hammers went down two players. Even if anyone crucial died, Snow’s Rez was ready and waiting to punish any ults used by Hammers. Onigod fired up garbage truck cleaning up the remaining members brave enough to try and stall.
Game, two to one, Toronto Esports.
The rest of the matches had highlights but this particular one stands out as not only does it highlight one of the primary features of Overwatch, it shows just how much is can radically alter a match when used both effectively and creatively. On the whole however, the night was taken by the best team and that was Immortals. Immortals might ultimately become the ones with the targets on their backs for the rest of this tournament.
Check back June 18 when I cover the Open Qualifiers for Europe as well. In the meantime I’ll be covering other various aspects of Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm.
“From Our Haus to Yours”