Team Spain is back and they’re more determined than ever to advance in the OWWC. Spain has been unable to make it to the quarterfinals since the first year of competition in 2016. At that time, Overwatch was still in its infancy, released less than 6 months prior to the inaugural championship. Spain looked impressive, remarkably only dropping one map during the European qualifiers, and a mere two maps during group stages. They looked poised to go far, but that dream came to an abrupt end when they faced Team Finland and fell apart on Lijiang Tower.
Since that historic first run, Spain has been unable to find their footing. During last year’s 2018 qualifiers in Bangkok, Thailand, they were only able to secure three map wins total. But don’t count Furia Roja out just yet. They are looking to bring awareness to the secret pool of talent hiding in the Iberian Peninsula.
While most teams seem to hold onto the same talent year after year, Team Spain likes to add a healthy dose of raw talent, usually having just a few well known names mixed in with relatively unknown players. Therefore, it was no surprise to see Overwatch League veterans, Alberto “neptuNo” Molinillo González and Jonathan “Harryhook” Tejedor Rua, both returning for their fourth year.
Harryhook has the honor of being the only Spanish player to actually play in every World Cup for his country, after neptuNo’s withdrawal before last year’s qualifiers. He seamlessly made the transition to the Dallas Fuel after being a mainstay for legendary Team EnvyUs. Although there has been some speculation about the future of his career, there is no doubt that his insight and experience is still a huge asset to Team Spain.
The community was shocked to see neptuNo listed as a damage player instead of his usual main support role. According to Head Coach, Pablo José “Darkzero” Ramos Alonso, as soon as he was elected for the position he talked to both neptuNo and Harryhook about the possibility of playing DPS. Although they are now known for their support expertise, both players got their start in Overwatch playing damage roles.
“I wanted to know their opinion and intentions towards this edition of the World Cup. I brought up the fact that the hitscan role was getting a bit blurry. He was a keen player of certain heroes that would open a lot of strategies,” said Darkzero. A lack of DPS players in Spain left the position open, so neptuNo agreed to try out for both roles. “We tested it and it went really well, so we decided to go for it.”
As neptuNo was recently released from the Philadelphia Fusion, this year’s World Cup is the perfect chance for him to showcase his talents, outside of his classic battle Mercy, and attract a new team. But for fans of his sharp shooting McCree, he says, “I don’t want to play DPS in OWL. My best chance of playing with insane players is as support and also it’s my best role.”
Andromeda’s Rising Stars
With their two star players set in place, Spain looked to their domestic tournament, Andromeda, to fill out their ranks. Andromeda is run by Spain’s Titan Media ES and sponsored by Omen by HP, in a format very similar to the Overwatch League. Darkzero feels that, “The Spain competitive scene is pretty locked…” due to a language barrier and “lack of structure to promote players, etc…”. The 32 team tournament is a great place for local talent, but he hopes that World Cup will, “…help the Spanish scene open up a bit more to the world.”
Off tank Guillermo “SolmyR” Arenas and DPS player Alejandro “T3lle” Telleria have both found moderate success with Herbania Esports, placing in 2nd during Andromeda’s 1st season. The latter had gotten his start during Contenders Season Zero, while playing for eSporters Cyberathletes. After a poor showing from the team, he found opportunities scarce and retired for a short period of time. SolmyR, however, initially got his start in esports as a Dota 2 pro player for Team Play2Win but transitioned to Overwatch after his team’s 6 month sponsored contract expired.
Main support, Alex “Gavi” Gavilán, and main tank Ricardo “Jotum” López are another pair of teammates that made the final roster of seven. The pair have been teammates for years on the Barcelona Manticores, who placed 3rd in Andromeda Seasons 1 and 2. While it is currently unclear if Jotum will only serve as a substitute player, or if the team plans to switch between him and Esteban “Ejin” Calderón, his hero pool runs deep and could possibly be used to strategically double up on main tanks.
Ejin may be the youngest member on the team, but he says he doesn’t feel too much pressure from that because, “We all treat each other equally…there is a really good team environment.” The youthful main tank was initially a console player before making the switch to PC. He had played for Kawaii Kiwis, during Season 1 of Andromeda and placed in the top 3. Most recently he played for Team Qlash during their Open Division S3 2018 Playoff run. For him, representing his country is an honor and a great opportunity for his team to prove themselves. “I am excited to finally be able to show the work we have put into this tournament.”
Praised in the past for his ability to pick up tank heroes quickly, such as Sigma, Ejin would be a great addition to any team. However, that’s the furthest thing from his mind right now. “After the OWWC I will probably go LFT. But for now I am just focused on the tournament, so I haven’t thought about it that much.”
A Familial Bond
When asked about his selection of this year’s players, Darkzero said, “I think that this year’s team is a reflection of what the Spanish community can offer. Young, talented players, that have become slowly family.”
This sentiment was echoed by Spain’s General Manager, Thibaut “Tibix” Durand. “This year is quite a rookie team, but there are very good vibes between all the roster (committee and players). They have the attitude. They will fight for every game, so I think that they will surprise us all.”
The preliminary matches start in less than a week, but no match schedule has been released at this time. Games are tentatively scheduled from 12:30PM EST until about 1:15 AM EST on October 31.
Follow me on Twitter: @CapnOA . I’m always available to discuss anything I write on Discord @ Mand0lyn#1588!
Follow The Game Haus for the latest on all things sports and esports:
Want to show off how much you like TGH? Check out our merch shop here!