NA Contenders Trials 2019 Season 1 kicked off on Feb. 2, with a handful of great matches. For those who may not be aware, Trials is a collection of eight teams made up of the six top seeds from the previous Open Division season and two teams that were relegated from NA Contenders last season. These teams are fighting for their right to move up and join the ranks of NA Contenders with the eventual hope of being acquired to become an OWL academy team.
[To get some background on these teams, TGH writer Brandon “thibbledork” Padilla recounted each team’s roster swaps and gave a preview of each in his Trials Preview piece, which you can find here.]
As mentioned, week 1 action kicked off on Feb. 2 and went through Feb. 3. The season will continue through the next couple of weeks, wrapping up on Feb. 17. But before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s break down the action from the first week of games.
Day 1 of Matches
Chicken Contendies 3-1 Paradigm
Contenders Trials opened up with an exciting and aggressive showing from Chicken Contendies. Fight after fight, Chicken Contendies pushed the tempo against Paradigm behind the frontline push of Gig and Anthony “Harbleu” Ballo, leading them to a hot 2-0 start. After catching their breath, Paradigm took Volskaya despite a favorable timebank for Chicken Contendies. Yet, when it came down to match point on Route 66, the aggression of Chicken Contendies simply proved too much for Paradigm to handle. The series came to a close with a 3-1 result in favor of Chicken Contendies in a scrappy and very defensively favorable match on Route 66.
— Path to Pro Community (@Contenders_OW) February 2, 2019
Each team showed a great deal of promise in this match. For Paradigm, flex support player Daiya had a very strong showing when subbed into the match. He looks to be a key player for this team moving forward. For Chicken Contendies, they proved strong with a cohesive team effort, however, the play of Gig and Harbleu did stand out, especially considering their aggressive playstyle.
Bermuda 3-1 Underwater Squad
This match opened up with a Busan match that is evidence that GOATS may not be the end all be all of metas in the current patch. With DPS player Carter flexing on the Widowmaker, Bermuda took the first map filled with unorthodox compositions. It seemed the synergy was simply more intact for Bermuda to start, as they manage to play a very successful GOATS comp on the GOATS-friendly King’s Row. Similar to the first match of the day, Underwater Squad seemed to find their identity on Volskaya Industries in an offensive showdown, utilizing a Sombra-focused attack. With match point coming on Rialto, Underwater Squad simply couldn’t do enough on attack, as Bermuda looked very prepared to attack on Rialto.
While much of Underwater Squad’s strategy ran though Derrek, with EMP’s being a primary win condition, he managed to do well despite the losing result. In the end, the Bermuda DPS core of Carter and Zechariah “Guru” Koppes proved to be too much to handle, with each having standout performances of their own.
Skyfoxes 3-1 Phase 2
The chants of “Syfoxes are back!” have already begun to echo through the halls of Overwatch Twitter. While it may be a bit too soon for this, the new-and-improved Skyfoxes did look quite good in their first match. While they started a bit slow on Busan, returning Skyfoxes main tank, Luis “iRemiix” Galarza Figueroa, led Skyfoxes through a very close Busan map. Skyfoxes DPS, Casey “buds” McIlwaine was consistently hitting essential EMP’s and hacking Phase 2 players in key moments. With a combination of Zenyatta-GOATS and Sombra-GOATS, Skyfoxes kept rolling through the streets of King’s Row, going up 2-0 in the series.
In what became a theme for these first few matches, Phase 2 managed to steal Horizon Lunar Colony with an aggressive dive-oriented playstyle. With map four coming to Rialto, Phase 2 DPS player, Rene “k1ng” Rangel, looked absolutely lights-out on Pharah. Yet, despite this standout performance, Skyfoxes simply proved to be too dominant. Behind the shield of former XL2 main tank, James “Cloneman16” D’Arcangelo, the Skyfoxes took the series 3-1 over Phase 2. While it is still early, Skyfoxes look to have a very strong one-two-punch with iRemiix and Cloneman16 rotating at main tank.
Square One 4-0 Triumph
— Square One (@SquareOne_OW) February 2, 2019
In the first sweep of the day, Square One proved that they have officially transcended the Path to Poverty that they were previously on. From Busan to Route 66, Square One looked consistently more coordinated and cohesive, running a very formidable GOATS composition. They forced Triumph to play a mirror composition, for the most part, for the first two maps. With Square One up 2-0, Triumph looked to keep the Day 1 trend alive and take the third map. However, Square One simply won the war of timebank attrition on Volskaya, going up 3-0 and clinching the series. They carried this momentum into the streets of Route 66 and clinched the 4-0 in an epic overtime battle just before the third and final point.
This 4-0 victory put Square One in the driver’s seat early in NA Contenders Trials, as they jumped above the other three winning teams today due to a superior map differential. Despite being swept, Triumph did have moments where they looked strong, especially through the Zarya play of Lucas “Peebimitsu” Nettesheim. Keep an eye on both teams moving forward.
Day 2 of Matches
Square One 3-0 Bermuda
Last to play in Day 1 and first to play in Day 2, Square One kept on rolling despite the close game times, winning 3-0. Bermuda stayed true to their identity, despite the loss, and continued their attempt to innovate different compositions. They attempted a dive-style push on Illios and a double-sniper composition with Ashe and Hanzo on King’s Row in an attempt to throw Square One off balance. In the end, consistency reigned supreme as Square One GOATS’ed their way through wins on Illios and King’s Row.
This trend was interrupted by the map three battle on Volskaya Industries. Through a quad-DPS composition and several other non-GOATS compositions, Bermuda forced a tie on Volskaya, despite Square One having a favorable timebank. A tie meant the result of the match was already decided, however, neither of these teams were done fighting. In one of the most intense team fights in recent history, Square One managed to clutch out a victory through some split-second timing from their flex support, Ultraviolet.
— Elo Hell Esports (@EloHellEsports) February 3, 2019
Triumph 3-2 Phase 2
With the return of their starting main tank, Jeromy “Moopey” Lensky, Phase 2 came back looking much stronger in this match. However, Triumph lived up to their namesake and eventually, well, triumphed in the first five-map series of NA Trials 2019. This triumph began on Illios, winning in a tightly contested opening map. Yet, after a strong defense on King’s Row, Phase 2 took care of business and evened the series at 1-1 with some strong GOATS play.
[For more on Moopey, check out TGH’s recent interview with him here.]
Every map in this series was close and usually contained at least one overtime fight. No map exemplified this more than Volskaya Industries. With every fight coming down to the absolute wire, Triumph were simply more clutch in the end. Triumph DPS player Fae was able to eventually close out the map with a very well timed Rocket Barrage, putting Triumph in control at 2-1.
We bounce back on our second match of Contenders Trials and win in game 5 against @Phase2OW! Incredibly close game, and we look forward to next weekend to compete again!#TogetherWeTriumph pic.twitter.com/OCXPE4WLn0
— Triumph (@TriumphGamingGG) February 3, 2019
After an incredible and aggressive defense from Phase 2 on Junkertown, they left themselves with an all but guaranteed map win on offense, which they closed out with relative ease. Phase 2 flex DPS Nishik and main tank Moopey had especially strong showings on this map win. On the other end of the spectrum, on Nepal, Phase 2 Zarya player, ItsOnyx, consistently found himself getting environmentally killed. This, paired with some well-coordinated Mei-GOATS by Triumph, led to the eventual match win for Triumph, three maps to two.
Chicken Contendies 3-1 Underwater Squad
With their signature aggressive style, Chicken Contendies kept on rolling, moving to a 2-0 record at the expense of Underwater Squad. This aggression did cost Chicken Contendies, as Underwater Squad absorbed the initial pressure and took Illios 2-1. This trend did not last long, however, as Chicken Contendies won a King’s Row map which rewarded them for being the better tank-centered team. Chicken Contendies Zenyatta player, Suhpoze, was the MVP of the map, countering an essential EMP from Derrek and hitting several important shots throughout the duration of the map.
— Chicken Contendies (@ChickensGG) February 3, 2019
Chicken Contenders continued winning, dominating Volskaya Industries 1-0 in a very unorthodox defensive match. Finally, they were able to close out the series on Rialto with a set of two impressive pushes. This netted them their second win of NA Contenders Trials, currently with a +4 map differential. Underwater Squad have a long way to climb these next few weeks, currently sitting at 0-2 with a -4 map differential.
Skyfoxes 4-0 Paradigm
Those chants that were alluded to earlier must be in full force by now as the Skyfoxes look completely reborn in a 4-0 sweep of Paradigm. Again starting with iRemiix, who has looked very comfortable on Orisa and Reinhardt, the Skyfoxes jumped out to an early lead on Illios. This continued on King’s Row, with Skyfoxes DPS player, Casey “buds” McIlwaine, making a big difference on Sombra.
— Skyfoxes #FoxesTakeFlight🦊 (@SkyfoxesOW) February 3, 2019
The final two maps went in favor of the Skyfoxes in fairly dominant fashion as they continued to play their game. In particular, Jung-won “Lastro” Mun, the flex support for the Skyfoxes, had a strong performance to close out the series. With his standout performance, the clutch DPS play of buds and the strong main tank play, this team looks to be among the early favorites to advance back up to NA Contenders.
NA Contenders Trials returns on Friday, Feb. 8 at 6 pm PST. You can catch all the action on the official Overwatch Contenders Twitch channel and you can keep up with all of the coverage here, at the Game Haus.
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