Overwatch World Cup Qualifiers Los Angeles: preview and predictions
With the next six teams of Group B squaring off this weekend, Team USA and Team Canada look to jostle for first place as Norway, Brazil, Austria and Switzerland are all in the lottery for an upset run. At the end of it all, only two teams will qualify from this group in order to enter the World Cup Knockout Stages, and the competition level may be the highest it’s ever been now that smaller countries like Brazil and Norway have developed better leagues.
Since the announcement of their roster in early July, Canada and the United States have been having more than enough healthy banter between the two. The multiple shots back and forth via social media have been a nice appetizer before the Qualifiers, but the tough talk will finally come to a head this weekend as both countries will push each other for the coveted first place slot. In all cases, not making it out of the group for either team would be a complete disaster, so their run of perfection culminating up to Day 3 will be huge for their momentum as the skill level between both countries is closest given the talent competing in the Overwatch League.
When it comes to the head-to-head, there’s a chance Team USA have the upperhand this year with the new additions to their roster. sinatraa is coming off a record year for the San Francisco Shock, and the core roster of what made Team USA so potent last year is well intact, with the additions of SPACE and muma on Flex and Main Tank respectively, the DPS component of Team USA has a lot of new tools to work with now that the level has improved. Synergy between Main Tanks and DPS is always a winning formula, and under the tutelage of Head Coach Aaron Atkins, Team USA have every reason to finish out Group B on top.
On the other side of the frontier, Team Canada have been brewing a lethal counterattack that will be built on the back of DPS standouts like Surefour and Agilities. There is no denying the star power that Surefour brings to the table as the certified best Widowmaker in the Overwatch League also enjoyed a season of fortune over the course of 2018. After seemingly being out of his wits in Stage One of the OWL, the resurgence for Surefour has been a great sight to see and his trajectory is only going upward with the Qualifiers right around the corner.
For the rest of Team Canada, the onus to succeed will be on the Tank core and Healers to pull their DPS players out of sticky situations. Apart from Boston Uprising’s NotE, Canada don’t have many solid options to pull out team comps that can rival the heavyweights of South Korea and Finland, but the game of Overwatch is won and lost off of team synergy and that is one of Canada’s biggest strengths. In many respects, the team is more like a family with the longevity of each player succeeding and maintaining each role, but a repeat of their second place finish last year will be a tough expectation to live up to.
A scramble for the upset
As the Group B heavyweights remained focused on each other en route to Day 3, there’s an open field of contenders for 3rd through 6th. Just in the last year, countries like Brazil have made huge strides in their regional esports scene as fans have flocked to Overwatch Contenders: South America.
Winning the crown this past season was none other than Brasil Gaming House, where 75% of the players of Team Brazil hail from. The regional fans of BGH will surely keep their eyes locked on their region in a hope they can take maps off the bigger competition. This run of games will be a great test for South American Overwatch as a whole as Brazil head into this qualifying bracket with a full head of steam.
Across the pond in Europe; Austria, Switzerland and Norway are all looking to scalp off any free games that come their way this Group Stage. In recent years, the competitive scene has developed nicely for the Norwegians as they now have half of their roster regularly competing in the Contenders scene in EU. For a small region that seemingly would have little interest in the eSport, Norway continues to impress and this qualifiers might just be their opportunity to gain a bigger foothold on the international scene.
Standing in their way of third, Team Switzerland hopes to make up for their 2017 debacle and at the very least put out a proud performance for their fans in this Qualifying stage. In order to succeed, star Flex DPS Luux will have to lead his team to glory with his signature Widowmaker and Roadhog at his disposal. Opposite to his sniping strength, Sk0rpi0n on his patented Ana will do well to balance the threat of their star DPS as Switzerland try to overwhelm their opponents. Even though Switzerland have high ranked players in key roles, the team cohesion hasn’t always been there and this Group Stage will be an excellent opportunity to change the narrative.
On the outside looking in, Austria have a tough road to climb as their small player base will have to duel with the experience and depth of established opponents in their groups. With only one player in Overwatch Contenders on Team Austria in Mcdragonlol — plenty of fans are overlooking Austria’s chance but the majority of their players have sat firmly in the Top 500 of Solo Queue in Europe for the entire year, and that alone says alot about player mechanics. Time will tell if Austria have more than meets the eye this weekend.
Esports.net Official Group Stage Predictions
- Team USA (5-0)
- Team Canada (4-1)
- Team Norway (3-2)
- Team Brazil (2-3)
- Team Switzerland (1-4)
- Team Austria (0-5)