Overwatch World Cup preview: 16 countries battle for the first ever global championship

The Overwatch World Cup is just around the corner. 16 national teams will battle it out between October 29 and November 5 at Blizzcon, and one team will be crowned the first ever Overwatch world champion.

What players get to represent their respective countries was decided by a fan vote in which the four players receiving the highest number of votes were invited to the team. The last two slots were left open for the captain (player receiving most votes) to fill with their own picks.

It’s almost impossible to predict how the tournament will play out (but I’ll do my best) as all the national teams consist of players who come from different teams and in some cases even play in different regions. Then there’s always the fact that tournaments with national teams have a history within esports of not being taken that seriously. Hopefully that won’t be the case this time as the 16 teams have all gathered in Anaheim, California to play in the Blizzcon 2016 spotlight.

This tournament is a great opportunity for Blizzard to introduce new fans to the world of competitive Overwatch. I both hope and think we’ll get to see a great production. Some of the best on camera talent will be present, including Rogue player Jonathan ‘Reinforce’ Larsson as an analyst. This is a side note, but if you haven’t heard Duncan ‘Thorin’ Shields tell the story of when he first met Reinforce I strongly recommend you to do so. It’s worth it.

Favorites to win

As I see it there are three teams that could end up being the World Cup: Sweden, Finland, and South Korea.

Sweden has the most stacked team in the entire tournament. Just like a lot of teams they have two very strong damage dealers in André ‘iddqd’ Dahlström and Kevyn ‘TviQ’ Lindström but more importantly they have a really solid core of tanks and support players, including Misfits shotcaller Sebastian ‘Zebbosai’ Olsson. If we look at esports history Swedish players have a tradition of always putting the team before themselves. I don’t see that being any different in this case. They’re my number one favorites to win the tournament.

Close after Sweden I have Finland. They have a core consisting of three players from NiP; one of the best teams in the world. On top of that they have the hitscan DPS phenom Timo ‘Taimou’ Kettunen from EnVyUs.

I think the key to Finland’s success will be NiP player Kalle ‘hymzi’ Honkala. I wouldn’t go as far as saying he’s the best player in the world but he’s definitely one of the most annoying ones to play against. He mainly plays Roadhog, a hero that we don’t get to see that much. And he’s so good at it that he forces the opposing team to play around him. If you can get your opponent to play a style they’re not used to play you’ve come a long way. Just take a look at some of these hooks:

My third favorite to win is South Korea. Korean team Lunatic-Hai looked really strong when they finished second to Rogue in the APAC Premier: the first big international tournament to feature Asian teams. Worth mentioning is that before the grand final they actually beat Rogue twice in the group stage (2-1, 2-0). After that they’ve also won against EnVyUs (3-1) in the Overwatch Apex.

South Korea brings three of the Lunatic-Hai players to the Overwatch World Cup including EscA:

Look for him to be a constant threat with his incredibly strong McCree play.

Group stage preview

Group A: Sweden, Spain, Canada, Brazil

Sweden will win this group. Anything else would be a huge upset. Both Canada and Spain look fairly strong with a couple of experienced players each. I haven’t seen enough of the Brazilian players to say anything about them. The battle for second place will be an interesting one. Spain plays Canada in their first match and I think the result will decide who gets out of the group.

Group B: USA, Russia, Germany, Chile

This is a tough one. Germany should be able to advance to the playoffs but it won’t be easy. USA doesn’t have the same level of experience but they do have some talented players on their roster. Russia is a bit of a wildcard team. If George ‘ShaDowBurn’ Gushcha shows up they have a chance to win. If not then I don’t see them reaching second place. I think the match between USA and Russia will decide if the home crowd gets to see their team in the playoffs or not.

Group C: South Korea, Finland, Australia, Taiwan

Two of the best teams in the tournament (South Korea and Finland) are in the same group. Fortunately for them Australia nor Taiwan have enough experience to challenge them. The most interesting match in this group will be South Korea - Finland. We’ll get to see what team looks stronger going into the playoffs.

Group D: China, France, Singapore, Thailand

I must admit that I’m not familiar with any of the names on either Singapore or Thailand’s teams. China on the other hand brings a bit more experience. All of their players played in the APAC Premier and has had the chance to play against some really good teams. France doesn’t look too strong but both Jonathan ‘Kryw’ Nobre and Jean-Louis ‘KnOxXx’ Boyer are top tier players from Misfits and Rogue respectively. Based on the information I have I’d say that China and France should advance.

I’m really looking forward to the Overwatch World Cup. Even if the result doesn’t mean too much, it’ll be interesting to see how the players do on teams they’re not used to playing with.