The way the west was won…
Home crowds make the world go round in this tournament. When Australia was running its leg, the home crowd went wild for Australian’s national team. America didn’t hesitate to up the ante in as many ways as it could. The display of high-end skill on teams like the US, UK, Germany and Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) really helped elevate true skill. The warts of the prior week, however, were still on display with sub par matches bogging down the first two days.
Day One: “Big” Jake and the Boombox
Great players create art on the battlefields of their choosing. For the United States, opening up immediately with triple tank using Zarya, Winston and D.Va smashed New Zealand’s expectations for a high DPS. Jake and Sinatraa essentially used the old school combo of Zarya/Tracer Graviton Surge and Pulse bomb. To make it worse for New Zealand, Jake robbed them of defensive positions by repeatedly popping in and out of their back line. It never got better for New Zealand as the US rode roughshod on them for four straight matches.
On the opposite side of the pond, but just a few hours later, the UK showed they came to play and win. In a much harder group, it became intensely evident that the UK squad wasn’t backing away from glory. Boombox once again showed up as a force of nature, just like in his eUnited run in Contenders. They confused Belgium who were arguably going into the tournament with a chance to make the bracket and crushed them in every game.
The shock of the tournament, however, was Germany and Israel who dished a slug fest. With Germany almost capping but falling short on Hollywood, Israel came within meters of winning. From then on, it was a matter of putting everyone on the edge of their seats. The cooler heads prevailed with INTERNETHULK showing composure and keeping Germany in the games despite Israel’s aggression. The tie on Horizon Lunar Colony put the whole game on a single match as the sides were dead even going into it. Route 66 swung to Germany’s favor however and their superior defense choked Israel of the momentum.
Day Two: United Nations Summit
The four previously mentioned countries from Friday showed up large and in charge on Saturday. Crazy plays involving Jake on Bastion cut off Brazil’s chances on Hollywood. Boombox broke down Israel with a flex to Soldier to score five kills and secure the round on Lijiang. Germany smacked Belgium and looked a lot more solid than the day prior. Taiwan looked remarkably strong as well and was obviously a challenge to the US winning the top spot.
Taiwan’s defense on Kings Row against New Zealand looked and worked flawlessly. New Zealand used a rather tanky set up just to break in and take the first point. It wasn’t going to be flashy, just a brutal slug fest of positioning. Taiwan probably ran something similar six months ago when it was fashionable but in the dive meta, this push went south quickly. New Zealand’s team fell apart over and over and map after map they looked helpless. When they finally went dive against Taiwan and matched, it looked a lot more even though definitely slanted toward Taiwan’s skill.
Day Three: Real games, real steaks, real pleasure to watch
It shouldn’t shock anyone, but the build up of the US versus Taiwan match actually fizzled out quickly. The US won three to one but the idea of them losing a single map was a shocker to the crowd. The United States only looked less in control on Lunar Colony. The whole squad answered back strongly, beating Taipei in a squeaker on Route 66 afterwords. The difference, however, was that they were the favorites to take the whole thing and left blood on the mat. Some predicted a possible two two tie but in reality, the matches started hard but felt almost foreboding in a predetermined way.
Great Britain and Germany squared off in a match to determine first and second. Whoever lost was forced to face the US in the bracket and likely be sent home before their tickets to Blizzcon could even get approval. Britain held back no punches and made Germany look foolish against them. Boombox, Smex and MikeyA broke team fight after team fight using a simple principle. If Germany lost one player, the rest of UK would initiate a team fight. Boombox delivered on his promise of long range tactical kills. His skills apparent, the UK was not forced to babysit him and thus were given almost free reign to unleash hell. Germany fell to Britain in quick fashion and was forced to face the US.
The Bracket Matches: We find out who is Strong… and who is dead
There’s very little to say outside of the obvious. The US and UK were beyond dominant in their games. At no point in any map in the best of five did they look any less prepared than 4.0 GPA students in a college test. They had answers for everything, creativity to build plays to save either each other or matches. The US gave Germany little mind or quarter on their march to a perfect three to nothing domination. The UK showed Taiwan that not everything is gift wrapped even if it’s been promised.
What completed the final surprise came when the commissioner of the Overwatch League, Nate Nanzer, said there’d be a reveal. The bracket as we knew it was not the final bracket. There would be a random draw that would place the remaining countries in a new bracket altogether. This spares the US the possibility of being matched up with and quickly losing to South Korea. Or does it? It is random so there’s still a possibility, however incredibly low, that this whole thing after the draw looks exactly as it did before.
That having been said, it felt hollow, much like the tournament itself has. The South Korean squad a week ago didn’t just look dominant. They looked bored at the competition they faced. That might not remain the case as the difficulty of its opponent’s ramps up. On the flipside, they handed Russia a devastating loss and they were the other team to make it to the OWC finals just a year ago. The final surprise was a trophy and plans to etch the names of the winners into the cup every year. While meritorious, there’s a distinct chance this cup never leaves Korea barring a miracle.
This leaves the question of what’s the point of a World Cup when the best team is so good there’s no chance for the remaining fifteen to compete?
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