2019 marks Team Sweden’s fourth appearance in the Overwatch World Cup, and they have plenty to prove coming into it. After historically performing well at the event, the 2018 Swedish squad surprised fans by failing to make it to Blizzcon. Between Teams China and Australia, they faced some underrated talents in Bangkok, but people couldn’t help but wonder if it was time to see some new faces on the tried and true Swedish roster.
This year, Team Sweden appears to agree. They’ve brought in a roster full of fresh talent, nearly all who have never competed in the World Cup. In an event that has so often given younger players a chance to stand out, a strong performance could shine a spotlight on several of the roster’s members. If Team Sweden can make it to the group stage this year, they’ll have a much-needed chance to stand out once again.
A Brief History
Sweden has fielded a World Cup team since the event’s inception in 2016. The competitive scene was still fairly new, but the first Swedish roster and their teams had both become well-known – André “iddqd” Dahlström from Fnatic, Kalle “Zave” Haag Nilsson and Sebastian “Zebbosai” Olsson from Misfits, Sebastian “chipshajen” Widlund and Christian “cocco” Jonsson from Team EnVyUs and Kevyn “TviQ” Lindström from Rogue. The team proved a powerhouse, breezing through European qualifiers to a third-place finish at Blizzcon.
Understandably, the 2017 roster looked fairly similar, with TviQ, chipshajen and Zebbosai all returning to the team. This time, the squad includes Tim “Manneten” Bylund, Johan “CWoosH” Klingestedt and Jonathan “Reinforce” Larsson (who is later replaced by Simon “snillo” Ekström at Blizzcon). After tying with Team Australia for a first-place finish at the Sydney qualifiers, they locked in their spot in Los Angeles. Once again, the team finished third overall, just behind South Korea and Canada.
Team Sweden brought back mostly familiar faces for their 2018 roster. Of the seven-man roster, only two players have not competed for the team before – Hugo “SharP” Sahlberg and Ludvig “Luddee” Håkansson. After two strong years, the team is a favorite to move through the Bangkok qualifiers on to Blizzcon. However, rising stars on Teams China and Australia catch plenty of people off guard. Sweden finishes fourth overall, dashing their hopes before they can even get to Los Angeles.
Faces Old and New
This year, Team Sweden looks drastically different for the first time since the World Cup began. Of the seven-man roster, only snillo has competed for the team before. Former roster member CWoosH, however, will serve as the team’s head coach this year. Both snillo and CWoosH provide experience with the World Cup and the Overwatch League that can serve as anchors for the newer players. The team’s general manager, Lisa “LIZLIN” Lingvall, also boasts Overwatch League experience of her own, as she previously worked as the Paris Eternal’s team manager.
Joining snillo in the DPS line are hitscan specialist Rat and projectile specialist Erik “Erki” Nolander. Erki has competed with Angry Titans since the end of 2017, giving him ample experience in European Contenders. Rat, meanwhile, competes in Maryville University’s nationally-renowned esports program. Maryville has gained a reputation for building one of the strongest collegiate esports programs in the United States, and having one of their players represented at Blizzcon is a testament to that success.
Elliot “ELLIVOTE” Vaneryd and Lukas “LullSiSH” Wiklund make up the Swedish tank line. The two have competed as a pair for nearly their entire professional career, giving them plenty of time to develop incredible synergy. Though they joined the Washington Justice roster in July, visa issues prevented them from seeing the stage this season. However, the two have years of experience on Angry Titans and Team Envy. They’re sure to be a highly anticipated part of Team Sweden’s roster.
In the support line, Team Sweden has Gustav “Gustav” Garpenståhl and Andreas “Epzz” Vallvingskog. Both have years of competitive experience and familiarity with the Contenders scene under their belts. At the moment, main support Gustav competes with Shu’s Money Crew EU in European Contenders. Flex support Epzz, meanwhile, plays on the Revival roster, which formed out of the disbanded Mayhem Academy.
The Journey to the Top
With a new roster looking for better results than the roster before, Team Sweden could have a solid run this year. In order to do so, however, they need to get through preliminaries. The Overwatch World Cup follows a vastly different structure this year, doing away altogether with the LAN qualifiers. Of the thirty-six teams who secured funding to get to California, only the top five also secured a place in group stages. All the others, Team Sweden included, will first compete in a single-elimination tournament to lock in one of the other five spots.
Between plenty of Contenders experience and a strong coaching staff, Team Sweden finds themselves in a good place to nab their place in group stages. However, they’re not alone in that regard. The national teams for Finland, Australia and the United Kingdom all also play in preliminaries, and all three have proven themselves as worthy opponents. Both Finland and the United Kingdom have plenty of Overwatch League talent on their roster, with many of them returning after strong showings in 2018. Australia, meanwhile, has also brought in some newer names, but four of their players have competed in the event before. If Sweden can take down one of those three teams in particular, they’ll find themselves in a prime position to make it to groups.
If Sweden reaches group stages, they face a steep uphill climb. This years top five teams include South Korea, Canada, the United States, China and France – a daunting group of opponents, for sure. Depending on the preliminary results, teams can either compete in Group A with South Korea, France and the United States, or in Group B with Canada and China.
Despite the opposition, Team Sweden has offered up a roster of rising stars and given them a chance to show what they can do. The World Cup may look very different this year, but if it gives these players a chance in the limelight, then it’ll have done what it does best.
Preliminary matches are slated to begin on October 31, but no schedule has been released at this time. Games will tentatively run from 9:30AM PST to 10:15PM PST.
For more, follow me on Twitter @soundchecck! You can also get in touch with me on Discord (soundchecck#7242).
Featured image courtesy of Team Sweden on Twitter.
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