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Gauntlet Preview: XL2 Academy

Gauntlet Preview XL2 Academy

The end of OWL Season 2 could not have come at a better time for Tier 2 Overwatch. With the Gauntlet right ahead, it’s the best time to see what the minor leagues of Overwatch have to offer. One of the teams taking the stage this coming month will be XL2 Academy. The New York Excelsior’s academy roster, XL2, has a lot to prove coming in as the third place NA team, and needs to perform big in order to make an impact during Gauntlet.


XL2 has had a very diverse set of players over the years. Many former players from XL2 have even been prior Overwatch players, including Seung-hyun “WooHyaL” Seong, Jang-hyeon “TiZi” Hwang and Andreas “Logix” Berghmans; many others went onto OWL later on, such as Yeon-oh “Fl0w3r” Hwang and Yeon-kwan “nenne” Jeong, who moved up to the big leagues on the NYXL. Currently their roster is primarily NA with a few others splashed in as well.


The DPS they’re using now are Nicholas “Speedily” Zou and Kai “KSP” Collins. While Speedily is very young at only 15, he has proven a capable flex DPS player. KSP is a Team UK World Cup veteran, returning again this year, who is a highly proficient hitscan player. Both balance each other out rather well.


Their tank line consists of Rick “GiG” Salazar and Casey “buds” McIlwaine, with Dong-wook “BiaNcA” Kim in reserve. GiG is a relatively new face to competitive Overwatch, but has been performing very strongly as the team’s main tank. On the other hand, buds has been around since the game’s beginning and has been on many notable teams including EnvyUs, Fnatic, Envy and Skyfoxes, before landing on XL2. Buds has been a DPS in the past but has been playing flex-tank as of late, and has scored several quarterfinal results before on previous teams.


This team’s supports are also no joke; Christian “Ojee” Han is another young but qualified member who has played on Bermuda for a while. He is also 15 and plays a mean Lucio and Baptiste. Their flex support, Robert “HaKu” Blohm, boasts a long competitive history himself. He also qualified to make Team Japan for the 2019 World Cup, and must have shown prowess to come in as a new player on that team. Both of them work well together and put the finishing touches on this stacked young roster.


Gauntlet Preview XL2 Academy
Image Courtesy of Liquipedia

With their first round loss to Team Envy and subsequent win over Gladiators Legion, XL2 firmly stands in 3rd place amongst the NA teams. They will have neither in their initial group stage however; their first round will be against HSL Esports and they could potentially face Element Mystic and Talon Esports. Due to the nature of the bracket, XL2 can move out of Groups so long as they come in third place, or avoid losing two matches.

HSL is an Italian team and the lone EU team in the tournament this year. XL2 should have the dominance to defeat these underdogs easily and secure a spot. Element Mystic got second place in Korean Contenders so they’ll likely win their first match, and could be a much more difficult foe to vanquish. Talon also dominated Contenders Pacific this season but time will tell how they fare compared to an NA team. Barring upsets, it seems plausible that XL2 could face all three of these teams in Group Stage, and how they finish will determine their opponent in Finals.


XL2 may not have been the strongest NA team this year, but the boys on the team have shown dedication and have earned this gauntlet spot for their play. They’ll be looking to avenge their losses to Team Envy and show why they finished so high in the highly competitive NA West this year. Time to see how they face off against the rest of the world.


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