With Katowice firmly in the rearview, we can recap exactly what happened. It’s not a surprise to anyone who spoiled themselves on the match results that this weekend lacked a certain parity that former events carried. Katowice, however, featured incredible premiere players and showed exactly the type of high-level play we’ll be seeing in the coming months once these teams are at Blizzcon.
Day One: Break out the Brooms
Sweeps were the name of the games. South Korea, Russia, The Netherlands and Canada single-handedly crushed every opponent they faced in their first matches. Owing primarily to a much stronger pedigree of talent to pull from, it’s not a surprise when the results are this lopsided.
South Korea’s Flow3r looked nearly bored handing out several play of the games on heroes like Junkrat. This begs the question of just how seriously the team itself was taking their matches. That didn’t discount that is it was entertaining, to say the least, to see some heroes come in from out of the cold. We saw Zunba from South Korea play Zarya, shutting down both D.Va and Winston’s like it was old times once again. In contrast, Russia’s near brutal dive efficiency powered them to victory time and again, riding high on ShaDowBurn and Mistakes. Mistakes has especially come into his own as a player since his performances in Contenders with upstart 123 just a month ago.
The matches themselves were not thrilling but they did showcase incredible talent. None of the players on either team should be discounted based solely on the results of the matches. Turkey, Poland, Austria and Singapore all played as well as could be expected. The truth lies essentially in the players’ locations. Nations like South Korea, Russia, Canada and the Netherlands have a lot broader access to games and thus it’s easier to find players for a truly powerful roster.
Day two: Just keep mashing sweep
To the surprise of everyone, South Korea looked vaguely human against Poland on Horizon Lunar Colony. Poland took a point off of them to the surprise of everyone, even South Korea. Maybe it was the carefree nature of their players. It could be that Poland refused to give Korea any respect what so ever. Austria put a greater fight against the Netherlands, taking them to the wire in Numbani and showed a sign of life on Horizon Lunar Colony as well. In Group F however, Canada looked all but dominate, upstaging Russia’s grisly determination from the day before. Agilities’ plays only grew larger in scope as they faced off against Singapore and bewildered them point after point, round after round. Mangachu grew comfortable enough to bust out the Pharah-Mercy combo and proceed to break down Singapore’s backline. Canada seemed to take the momentum and fire on all cylinders afterwords.
Finally, the match between Turkey and Russia requires a bit of a blurb by itself. It looked incredibly bleak for Turkey after two rounds. Russia was showing dominance once again in its dive comp. Turkey finally uncorked the bottle, however, proving silently that it too belonged at the table. The remaining two matches in Lunar Colony and Route 66 looked way cleaner and very telling of Turkey’s skill. Against a lesser team, Turkey would have a much better showing. Russia, however, won out overall, taking the match four to nothing.
Day Three: Face to Face
This whole weekend puréed into this defining Sunday. South Korea was finally playing the Netherlands. Russia and Canada were going to punch each other out. Yet the balloon popped before the kid had a chance to take it. South Korea shredded the Netherlands as quickly as they had every other team. So much in fact that the Netherlands never won a single point in the four rounds they played. South Korea looked beyond overpowered. Flow3r switched to random heroes seemingly at will just to entertain whatever fancy entered his mind. The Netherlands looks hapless to stop the onslaught. It became very clear that whoever won the Russia versus Canada game would likely be seeing a quick exit from the tournament. That having been said, the Russia/Canada match showed exactly what happens when two teams of equal skill slam their fists into each other’s face at the same time.
Surefour and Mistakes dueled on every map like a western. There was never a single moment however where Surefour looked less skilled. Mistakes is arguably in the top ten current Tracer players but there are the intangibles that have to be cited. Surefour worked harder on the flank, played smarter with his ults. In the meantime, Mangachu shed the D.Va armor long enough to show why his Pharah is still the stuff of nightmares. Mix in that Russia unleashed ShaDowBurn with nano boost and it became eerily like watching Contenders matches all over again. The only difference now is that these teams were playing solely for the chance to not be forced to play against Korea. The added element of playing to keep on playing seemingly spurred both teams to throw desperation into the ring. The inevitable and almost hand wringing tie that happened as the only answer. Of course they would tie, would be a lot of people’s thoughts.
The bracket games, however, played out like the weekend itself. More sweeps with South Korea in a rematch of last years World Cup finals, beating Russia in a three to nothing drive by. Canada answered right back by sending the Netherlands packing as well in similar fashion.
Summary: Press F to pay respects
It’s a single elimination tournament after group stages. Win and keep playing, lose and go home. This weekend felt like a dud in comparison to Sydney and the shocking heights of the unknown. Anyone who had their finger on the pulse of the scene knew South Korea was walking back to Blizzcon over the corpses of everyone this weekend. Things like this happen and in the chaotic news cycle of Overwatch’s current state, at least it’s consistent.