Friday’s quarterfinal matchup between the US and UK provided the most unexpected result of any of the matches at Blizzcon. Team UK’s slaying of the American Goliath 3-1, with a team comprised mostly of Contenders talent, left everyone wondering, “What went wrong?”
Using the new Overwatch World Cup Viewer, I reviewed the VOD of the match and have picked out six moments that I believe best capture the essence of the stunning US defeat. Themes of overconfidence, poor ultimate economy, and even poorer positioning echoed throughout the entirety of the match.
Moment #1: Sinatraa Gets Tactical on MikeyA
Illios, the first map of the series, was taken by the US in a landslide. On Lighthouse, in particular, the US went a perfect 24-0 on the kill feed. However, one of those kills had something special in store afterward. San Franciso Shock DPS player, Jay “sinatraa” Won decided that Michael “MikeyA” Adams needed a little extra reminding of who was on top.
Did this play a role in lighting the fire of the UK? This exchange on Twitter seems to indicate that it did.
I can’t, ur not in OWL LMAOOOO
— Jay Won (@sinatraa) November 4, 2018
If we’re gonna bring up career history pic.twitter.com/Q2wUaPydC3
— Jay Won (@sinatraa) November 4, 2018
It’s hard to know the true effects of something like this on the actual results of a match. This could have made the UK angry and caused them to play with a greater intensity, or perhaps it didn’t. This cockiness may not have made the US players lazy, or maybe it did. It’s hard to do anything but speculate here.
But at the end of the day, one thing is clear from this clip: if you’re going to talk trash and showboat, you better be ready to back it up.
Moment #2: Muma Misses the Mark
After the first map, the US became less and less tight in their positioning. In this clip, Austin “Muma” Wilmot jumps up to contest high ground but misses and falls next to Sinatraa on the low ground. The UK immediately takes this opportunity to jump on the dispositioned main tank and secure the easy kill. After that, the US appears to fly around the point without much purpose. João Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles joins the party on point, only to be met by Finley “Kyb” Adisi’s hook, and the backline of the US is left completely vulnerable as a result.
Throughout this team fight, as well as many others throughout the series, the UK remained solid and congealed as a unit. Currently, European-style Overwatch tends towards this congealed style of play, typically manifesting itself through GOAT’s comps. When the US split up or missed jumps, they were consistently punished by this style of play from the UK.
Moment #3: MikeyA Turns the Tide
After a staunch and aggressive second-point hold from the US, the UK arrived at overtime with the payload having made very little progress. Then, chaos ensued. Several ultimates were used frantically as the US tried to end the round, but the patience of MikeyA ultimately saved his team.
Seeing Muma use Earthshatter and charge towards his fellow countrymen, MikeyA wisely ducks around a corner to bide his time and ensure his own survival. Nearing his ultimate and having almost 100% charge makes him a fight-winning player for Team UK and he must survive because of it. After his teammates take out Muma on a counter-attack, MikeyA traps several US players in a Graviton Surge, Boombox triggers Transcendence to keep him alive and Team UK begins taking the fight back.
There is an unprecedented amount of instinct and shot-calling that goes on in fights like these, and often times the more coordinated and level-headed of the two teams wins. In these moments, it seemed like the UK was consistently coming out on top, having better management of their ultimates and more patience in crunch time. They don’t call themselves the LANimals for nothing, that’s for sure.
Moment #4: Kruise Times it Just Right
The timing of this play is everything. After several seconds of teammate MikeyA being dead on Brigitte, Harrison “Kruise” Pond knows he needs to act quickly in order to get him back in the fight. Utilizing the Defense Matrix of Eoghan “Smex” O’Neill, MikeyA is able to be resurrected and immediately uses Rally. At nearly the exact same moment, Muma is Nano-boosted as Winston, jumps in and is immediately stunned by MikeyA. As a result, Muma and the other Team USA players are brought down and the UK are able to secure the point.
Part of the beauty of the OWWC Viewer is that we finally get to show some appreciation to main support players, like Kruise. Without that play, the UK could have easily been wiped out by Muma and left to scramble with less than a minute left. This play reinforces that Overwatch is a game where support players are often the ones winning fights behind the scenes, and ought to be appreciated for nuanced plays like this one.
Moment #5: ZachaREEE Looks Lost…Twice
As is usually the case on Volskaya Industries, each team was able to secure the first two points with time remaining. However, the US had an extra two minutes of time on their side, making them the clear favorites. Then, thanks to more sloppy positioning, everything fell apart.
Right out of the gate, Zachary “ZachaREEE” Lombardo is immediately caught out of position on Sombra. Team UK immediately makes a move towards point. Muma and Sinatraa desperately dive right back at them and the UK uses their 6 vs 5 man-advantage to dispatch Muma quickly. After losing two members, the US rightly back away and give their reinforcements time to return.
At their return, with one last chance to get it right, the US does just the opposite. Indy “SPACE” Halpern, Sinatraa and ZachaREEE heave their characters towards the Brits, only to find themselves once again terribly out of position. ZachaREEE is left with no movement abilities on Doomfist and is easily taken out by Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth.
The UK absorb the pressure and exploit the mistake for an easy Point A capture and an eventual map win. The sense that the match was slipping from the hands of the American’s was becoming more and more clear. Yet, with one map remaining, there was still hope for the US to regain their composure and force a map five.
Moment #6: Fusions Hits the Home Run
It’s fitting that Route 66, an iconic American landmark, would be the final resting place for Team USA. On the same rugged streets that we saw Jesse McCree on just days prior, the Americans’ hopes of a World Cup medal were hammered down by Fusions and Team UK.
This fight was all about ultimate economy and showed Team USA’s lack of composure in a tough spot. After Fusions hit a 4-person Earthshatter, essentially resulting in the death of 2 US players, the US still ended up using two support ults and a D.Va bomb in this fight. Throughout all of this, the UK only used one ult (a Graviton Surge that was absorbed by SPACE) and kept five ultimates heading further into the streets of Route 66. Team USA, on the other hand, was left with only three and were on their heels. Had they conceded when the fight was initially lost, they could have entered the second phase of the map with an ultimate advantage and possibly stopped the UK more quickly.
Throughout all of this, let’s not forget to give credit to Team UK. With all of the hype and pressure of being one map away from beating Team USA, they kept their composure and played their game in the clutch. This was the case in nearly every highlight (outside of the “tactical crouch”). While the US may have made some key mistakes, the UK ought to be equally credited for capitalizing on them.
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Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
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