Overwatch World Cup Qualifiers: France talks tough, Finland impresses in nailbiter against South Korea

With the first installment of the OW World Cup qualifiers in the books, the prospects for a competitive tournament are higher than ever after Finland’s impressive showing over the South Korean juggernauts, pushing them to five games in the process. In preparation for their qualifiers, France’s flex tank Poko had some choice words for their opposition, making it clear that Finland and South Korea are in their crosshairs as they prepare for a possible sweep in their group.

One for the ages

In the past two years of its existence, the Overwatch World Cup hasn’t necessarily been the most competitively equal competition in comparison to APEX and the Overwatch League. Many fans have echoed this sentiment citing the lack of tense moments in game as an example of how the action can fluctuate when both teams aren’t evenly matched.

If the five map series between Finland and South Korea taught us anything this past weekend, it’s that high level action between National teams is extremely possible, even at the highest level. South Korea has made it a tradition to dominate the World Cup in the past two years and this latest roster showed similar signs of dominance with JjoNaK and Carpe featuring in the lineup.

Overwatch Opening Week

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Regardless of the intimidation factor, Finland proved that their ability as a team. The instinctual team fighting was there in a tough fifth game on Nepal, and both the healing unit and DPS duo of Finland pulled off major plays to keep their chances alive in overtime. Finland were already a fearsome team coming into qualifiers, ranking second on our Power Rankings, and their showing against the number one seed further solidified that spot.

Poko ups the ante

Even though qualifying for France and their group is just a month away, France’s starting flex tank Poko had a few words for teams in his group as well as teams abroad this past week. In an interview with French news outlet Zaroide, Poko let loose on the other teams in his group, insinuating that he and his teammates are ready to make an appetizer out of their opponents en route to tougher competition later in the tournament.

While Poko’s inflammatory rhetoric can be seen as disrespectful to opponents, it was quite clear with his gestures and mannerisms that he was only indulging in a bit of banter before the qualifiers. In his answers to the French news outlet, he didn’t fail to single out South Korea, Team USA, Finland and Team Canada as his biggest call outs, claiming both North American teams will be handled with relative ease due to their French superiority.

With Poko obviously spicing up the qualifiers with some much needed hype, there is a case to be made for France to come away with another surprising finish at this year’s World Cup given their fourth place finish last year. Of all the Western teams to give South Korea a hard time during the tournament, France came very close with their roster of unknown proportions. Now that the team has matured another year, and the talent in France has increased immensely with high profile players like Poko and uNKOE, the conditions may be right for a potent French generation to challenge for Overwatch silverware later this year.

This class of French professionals is a far cry from the dominant and magisterial French football National team, it’s obvious that Poko has adopted that elite winners mindset in order to motivate him and his teammates in their run for Overwatch World Cup glory.