As predicted, the Katowice leg of the Overwatch World Cup was the most exciting yet. South Korea, Canada and Russia dominated the competition last weekend, August 4 through 6, leaving most of the other teams without a single map win. Once it was all over, the two teams advancing to Blizzcon would be South Korea and Canada, much like everyone thought. While no one doubted that South Korea was going to be fantastic, the superstar team didn’t even drop a single round to anyone they were up against. Canada struggled a little against Russia, having to settle for a split set at two maps a piece. Let’s take a look at some of the best plays from the Katowice qualifiers.
Canada vs. Russia
The Hollywood battle between these two teams was one of the most intense of the tournament. Russia surprised the North American powerhouse with some quick picks and solid teamwork, pushing the match into overtime. Many of Russia’s pushes came from the skill and determination of George “ShaDowBurn” Guscha, FaZe Clan’s star Genji player. Whether it was through relentless harassment or clutch Dragonblades, ShaDowBurn had Canada on their heels when it counted. He would go up against Canada’s own Brady “Agilities” Girardi, the 17-year-old DPS monster who also has a world class Genji. It’s hard to really say who came out on top in most engagements, but ShaDowBurn seemed to carry the Russian team a bit more, like in this play:
Down to no time remaining in a tie, overtime match, it was looking like the point could go either way. That’s when ShaDowBurn stepped it up with a crushing ultimate that helped Russia secure the point. The timing of this attack is just ridiculous. Not only did his own team have no followups in the event that it failed, but he picked off four targets right before their own ultimates were charged. It’s so important to keep tabs on the enemy’s ult economy. Though it’s impossible to know who has what at any given moment, having an idea of when you might be facing something devastating could be the difference between failure and success.
South Korea vs. Netherlands
Some fans found this match to be a little surprising. It wasn’t so much that the Netherlands lost, but that they were dominated without so much as a whimper. They managed to win all of zero rounds, which shouldn’t have been the case considering the talent they had. Alas, it is South Korea, and they once again seem to be operating on a different level than everyone else. With members from Lunatic-Hai, LW Blue, and Afreeca Freecs Blue, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where they wouldn’t have an advantage over the opposition, even if it was just a mental one. To make things even more demoralizing, they played off-meta compositions that made short work of those opting for more traditional builds. This one play pretty much sums up the South Korean team in a nutshell:
What’s not going on in this play? There’s a Graviton/Pulse Bomb combo for a couple of kills, Reinhardt knocks Pharah out of the sky with a Fire Strike, Zarya’s melting people with a full charge, and Junkrat bombs are flying around out of control. All this while the other team has absolutely no response. They followed up this full hold with an attack involving Orisa that you would’ve missed if you blinked. It seems as though it doesn’t matter what this team does, because they’ll be on the winning side one way or another.
If there’s one takeaway from this match, it’s that anything can work if you’re coordinated. It’s more useful to work within everyone’s comfort level than to force people into a meta build. Have some patience and let your teammates blow some people up.
Poland vs. Austria
The hometown squad didn’t fare too well against South Korea or the Netherlands, but they did manage to blank Austria four maps to zero. It felt like watching a match from 2016 with the way Poland was rolling out with a triple-tank composition sometimes, but it worked out for them okay. Point A of King’s Row can go either way, and it usually comes down to timely kills. Well, Poland was nothing if not precise with their initial assault, opting for three tanks and a Pharmercy battery to whittle down Austria’s defenses. Watch here as Mateusz “Matth” Prymas makes some the defenders rethink their Pharah counters:
He takes out Soldier and D.Va right away, initiating the snowball that the Austrian defenses would be unable to stop. This might be the one downfall of sustained DPS against Pharah, if there is one. She can end things much more quickly than can Soldier or D.Va, so good aim can sometimes tip the odds in your favor. Just be aware of Widowmaker or McCree switches on King’s Row, as the narrow corridors and low ceiling can often work against you.
This weekend’s Overwatch World Cup qualifiers
The Overwatch World Cup’s last round of qualifiers will take place from August 11th through August 13th in Santa Monica, California, and will feature the USA, the UK, Israel, Belgium, Germany, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Brazil. The early favorites to win are the USA, Germany, and the UK, with Belgium being the wild card.
Team USA will be fielding esports royalty such as Jake Lyon from LG Evil, Matt “coolmatt69” Iorio from FNRGFE, and Russell “FCTFCTN” Campbell from FaZe Clan. All of them are seasoned veterans that have experience playing against each other, so we’ll see if they have what it takes to win for the home crowd, and earn at trip to the Blizzcon finals.
Something to be aware of is the abundance of free agents playing in the Overwatch World Cup. Many players that were dropped by their organizations are hoping to make a splash at the Cup in hopes of earning a spot on an Overwatch League roster. Non-endemic teams in the Overwatch League, such as The Kraft Group’s Boston team, are well aware of where the talent is, so we’ll see if any of them get lucky enough to earn a roster spot.