Week 1 of 2018 NA Contenders brought us some exciting and high-caliber North American Overwatch that has been desperately missed since the World Cup. With the game of the week coming deservedly from either Second Wind’s thrilling victory over Gladiators Legion or Fusion University’s close call with Uprising Academy, there was a plethora of great Overwatch on display. With all of that in mind, how do the teams stack up against one another?
After tracking the projected rankings of the NA Contenders teams in last weeks Preseason Power Rankings, I have updated that list here to reflect each team’s overall change in ranking. The quality of each win/loss, the likelihood of each team to either win or lose next week and several other factors are taken into consideration when assigning each team’s ranking week-to-week. Due to the unpredictability of the preseason rankings and a wide range of results in the first week, there are some teams that made significant moves in the rankings. Out of all these teams, let’s see who shook up the rankings the most in this week’s NA Contenders Power Rankings:
1. XL2 Academy (+1)
Week 1 Result: 3-1 Victory over Team Envy
Moving up to the #1 spot this week is XL2 Academy. XL2 took a team in Team Envy, that has the makings of a very threatening Contenders roster and handled them with ease. Andreas “Logix” Berghmans, one of the biggest question marks for XL2 coming into the season, turned out the be their biggest exclamation point in this opening match. Logix, former Florida Mayhem DPS, had an absolute standout performance alongside the rest of the stacked XL2 roster.
This was the most impressive victory of the week in terms of the strength of the opponent beaten. With such a strong performance all-around, XL2 has officially erased any doubt about their legitimacy after their defeat in last year’s Grand Finals and the subsequent roster shakeup. It’s clear that XL2 is here to stay and looks to keep the wrecking ball rolling next week against a hot NRG Esports team.
2. Fusion University (-1)
Week 1 Result: 3-2 Victory over Uprising Academy
While this team takes a dip in the rankings this week, they are still a force to be reckoned with. In last weeks nail-biter against Uprising Academy, Fusion University proved to be the more clutch of the two teams when it counted most. So much came down to the solid main tank play of Chang-sik “ChangSik” Moon for Fusion University. Matched up against one of the hottest main tanks in Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth, ChangSik was able to handle the pressure and help lead Fusion University to the victory.
While this victory was close and could have gone either way, it was Fusion University that ended up having what it took to close it out when it counted. Whether the tightly contested nature of this match speaks more to Fusion University’s vulnerability or Uprising Academy’s strength is yet to be seen. Either way, Fusion University looks to catch their breath and go 2-0 next week against a frazzled Kungarna team.
3. ATL Academy (+2)
Week 1 Result: 3-1 Victory over Mayhem Academy
Moving up to the #3 spot this week is ATL Academy. In a 3-1 win over Mayhem Academy that felt like a 4-0, ATL have cemented themselves as one of the scariest looking teams moving forward. This, in large part, is due to the young phenom Kamden “Sugarfree” Hijada. Last week I mentioned how high of a ceiling this team has if they can gel as a team and best utilize the skills of their players. So far, it’s looking like vaulted ceilings in the ATL Academy house.
Next week, in perhaps the most interesting matchup of the week, ATL are matched up against an Uprising Academy team that took Fusion University to a 5th map and look to get their first victory of the season. Because of how shaky Mayhem Academy looked Week 1, this matchup will be an opportunity for ATL to prove why they belong at the top of the table.
4. Second Wind (+7)
Week 1 Result: 3-2 Victory over Gladiators Legion
By far the biggest story of Week 1 was Second Wind’s thrilling victory over a stout Gladiators Legion team. Filled with a team of previously lesser-known players without a lot of the T2 and even OWL experience that the other teams have. Despite this, Second Wind has knitted together a roster that can clearly compete at the highest level, even under immense pressure.
— Second Wind (@SecondWindGG) November 29, 2018
While their entertaining victory was truly a team effort with all players playing extremely well, one player that stood out was Gia Huy “MirroR” Trịnh on the Zarya. Consistently maintaining a high charge and damage output, MirroR played a big part in Second Wind catching their, well, second wind towards the end of that match.
All-around, it seems like Second Wind is a team that is extremely well-suited to play GOATs composition and matches even the best of tank players (like Panker, for instance) toe-to-toe. Next week they’ll look to continue winning against a Skyfoxes team that has their tail between their legs.
5. First Generation (+2)
Week 1 Result: 3-1 Victory over Kungarna
While Kungarna may not have been the strongest opponent, the fact remains that First Generation took a demanding victory Week 1. First Gen displayed a great deal of coordination and played a far superior GOATs composition in the win, which was highlighted by the Zarya/DPS play of Nikolai “naGGa” Dereli.
Similar to Second Wind, this is a team without a clear standout player but one that still managed to look very solid as a team. In the current meta, teams built like Second Wind and First Gen may fare better focusing on clear communication and micromanaging their GOATs play.
Next week, First Gen will face much more of a challenge against a reeling Mayhem Academy team. With one having a victory over a weak opponent and the other having severely underperformed, look for a scrappy week 2 matchup that could go either way in the end.
6. Envy (-3)
Week 1 Result: 1-3 Defeat by XL2 Academy
While suffering a 1-3 defeat to XL2, I’m giving Team Envy a slight edge in the rankings this week due to the strength of their Week 1 opponent. In the matchup against XL2, Caleb “McGravy” McGarvey and Ashley “Trill” Powell both had flashes of greatness but struggled to string full fights together with their team. If the DPS and Support can better gel, Envy is still a team to look out for moving forward.
Overall, while this team struggled Week 1, they maintain the #6 overall spot due to the skill on the roster and their projected ability to bounce back next week against Gladiators Legion. Both teams will be attempting to avoid going 0-2, which would be an extremely disappointing start for either team.
7. NRG Esports (+3)
Week 1 Result: 4-0 Victory over Skyfoxes
NRG was the only team to shutout their opponent in the first week of Contenders which puts them at the #1 spot in the overall rankings. Simply put, this team looked Smexy Week 1 against Skyfoxes. Eoghan “Smex” O’Neill was the MVP of the match on the D.Va, consistently getting massive value out of his D.Va Bombs against the Skyfoxes.
Even with all of this flair Week 1, the team only manages to jump three spots in this week’s power rankings. Similar to First Gen’s handling of Kungarna, it is hard to say how much this win really means for NRG. The severe underperformance from the Skyfoxes is something we have to take into consideration when rating the overall power of NRG, which contributes to them making such a small jump after Week 1.
NRG will have an opportunity to prove themselves next week as they take on XL2 Academy. If they can show up in a big way against a more worthy foe, they will certainly see a larger jump in the rankings.
8. Uprising Academy (No change)
Week 1 Result: 2-3 Defeat by Fusion University
Uprising Academy finds themselves in very much the same way as Team Envy does after Week 1. Each played a top team, put up an excellent fight, but couldn’t come out on top. While Envy drops three spots this week, Uprising Academy’s closely fought battle against Fusion University keeps them locked in the same spot in this week’s rankings.
For the people expecting a repeat of OWWC in terms of shatters, you gotta remember me and @KYB played together for a year and it was on LAN. Me and @KlaussOW have played for 4 days with me on 180 ping and Klaus on 230 ping. We’ll get there in time don’t worry.
— Fusions (@Fusions) November 28, 2018
With the last-minute addition of the first South American player in NA Contenders, Nicolas “Klaus” Ferrari, the team still managed to do quite well; even with a mere four days of preparation time as a full team. As Klaus continues to gel with the tank line in front of Gabriel “Swimmer” Levy and Hunter “Dino” Traupe, this team has a very high ceiling moving ahead.
We’ll get to see just how high that ceiling can reach next week as they take on an ATL Academy team that may not be ready for the Uprising that is headed their way. Until then, Uprising Academy remains #8 in the rankings.
9. Gladiators Legion (-3)
Week 1 Result: 2-3 Defeat by Second Wind
Losing such a close match is heartbreaking for a team in their opening week and puts Gladiators Legion in a pivotal situation early in the season. Will the defeat in crunch time to Second Wind send the team reeling, or will they rally around the defeat and pride themselves on never suffering the same fate again?
In a series that was so close, it’s hard to spell what the issues were for Gladiators Legion. Their GOATs seemed just about on par with Second Wind and they executed most everything as best as they could have. However, seeing Gladiators Legion fall to Second Wind despite the resources at hand ought to alert the rest of the league that there may be some large kinks in the purple shield of the Legion.
Next week, the Legion is matched up against another heartbroken team in Team Envy. Each at a crossroads that may very well define the rest of their season. As I said earlier, a 0-2 start for either one of these teams would be devastating and would be a major call for concern. If I’m Gladiators Legion, I’d be beginning to sweat.
10. Mayhem Academy (-6)
Week 1 Result: 1-3 Defeat by ATL Academy
This is a team that many, including myself, may have seriously misjudged heading into the season (as evidenced by their massive drop in ranking). The former OWL tank line of Russell “FCTFCTN” Campbell and Tim “Manneten” Bylund looked a bit past their prime against a young and spry ATL Academy. However, not all of the fault rests on these two player’s shoulders. The entire team and support line, in particular, seemed to be getting outplayed throughout the match against ATL.
Mayhem Academy gets a very interesting matchup week 2 against First Generation, a team that took care of a Kungarna team that looked lost. In a lot of ways, this is a proving ground for each team as they look to put any doubts about their legitimacy to rest.
11. Skyfoxes (-2)
Week 1 Result: 0-4 Defeat by NRG Esports
Quality over quantity seemed to ring unfortunately true for Skyfoxes in Week 1, getting swept by NRG Esports in a match that was brutal to watch. The team made switches at tank and DPS, but stuck with the former OWL support line of Mikias “Snow” Yohanne and Stefano “Verbo” Disalvo the entire match. It seems to be a trend that former OWL position duos is not the play in NA Contenders this year and that, perhaps, fortune is favoring the young. With plenty of other support players waiting in the wings (like, Joshua “Felty” Pryor, for example) one would think that we would have seen switches coming in more quickly, but certainly by next week.
One perk of having 11 players signed, is that you have a chance to test what works and what doesn’t in order to get the best possible result. A refined team that has proven themselves worthy, in a perfect world. The trouble comes when this takes several weeks to figure out or you don’t have a roster that can figure it out at all.
Skyfoxes matches up against a Second Wind team that will be coming in more confident than ever. Being the only swept team and likely coming in with a shaky roster, I’m fearful for the foxes in the sky when week 2 rolls around. They need to make some serious changes in scrims this week or this could get ugly.
12. Kungarna (No Change)
Week 1 Result: 1-3 Defeat by First Generation
There isn’t a lot to say here for Kungarna after a messy loss to First Generation in Week 1. Cameron “Wub” Johnson was a player that was particularly targeted by First Gen, making sure that the team was without their Brigitte early in team fights. Because of this, First Gen was able to hit several huge Earth Shatter’s on Kungarna and take several team fights before they had even begun.
While Kungarna is lower on this list, they may be able to surprise us and get a win before the season’s end. Unfortunately, I don’t think that surprise will come in week 2, as they face off against Fusion University in what may be the second sweep of the season. All I can say is, get your brooms ready.
As a reminder, NA Contenders picks back up on Tuesday, December 4th at 6:00 PM CT. You can catch all the games on Twitch and keep up with my weekly Contenders Power Rankings here, at The Game Haus.
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Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
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