We’ve got everything you need to know going into the group stage of the Overwatch World Cup main event, starting later today.
One of the stronger groups in the event, Group A is Sweden, Spain, Canada, and Brazil. The two European teams came through online qualifiers, while Canada and Brazil were invited to the finals directly and have yet to play a game in public.
Many analysts, including a majority of the GosuGamers editorial team, consider Sweden the favorite to win the entire tournament. Every member of the squad is a member of an elite pro team, with the exception of iddqd, who stepped down from an elite pro team days before the event. They more than justified their status as favorites during the qualifiers, in which they won every game with ease. Against Slovakia, they won a best-of-three in an astonishingly fast ten minutes of clock time (two four minute first point full holds and two successful attacks).
Sweden are comprised of chipshajen and cocco (EnVyUs), zave (Luminosity), TviQ (Rogue), Zebbosai (Misfits), and iddqd (free agent, formerly fnatic). At one time cocco was considered the best Zarya in the world. When Zenyatta was in the meta, most people considered chipshajen the best Zenyatta in the world. TviQ and iddqd are both world class DPS players, and neither would be out of place in a world top-10 DPS list. If Sweden have one weakness, it’s that they didn’t bring along a main tank. Both zave and Zebbosai play Lucio for their pro teams, and the latter was moved to the off-tank role during qualifiers, with cocco moved to main tank.
The second spot in the group will be contested between Spain and Canada. Spain came through one of the toughest online qualifying groups, defeating Benelux and the Czech Republic among other. In the online finals, they fended off the strongest second placed team, CIS & Baltic States. Three of their players are elite pros: HarryHook (EnVyUs), Winghaven (REUNITED), and Bromas (Dignitas).
Canada haven’t been tested yet, but they also have a strong roster. Surefour (Cloud9) is one of the best DPS players in the game and has a very deep hero pool. He’s joined by Roolf (trialing for Cloud9) and iid (Liquid). Former StarCraft pro turned analyst desk personality HuK is also on the roster. HuK controversially heaped criticism on Rogue’s Reinhart player Reinforce during a LAN event, and will now be playing Reinhardt at a LAN where Reinforce is on the analyst desk.
Brazil round out the group. The only team in Group A without a player on an elite professional team, they’re not expected to move onto the quarterfinals. As they were invited to the finals and bypassed the qualifiers, there’s no public play from which we can judge their level of skill, but if leaked scrim records are to be believed, it’s not encouraging for Brazil.
Every tournament needs a group of death, and with the United States, Germany, and Russia fighting for only two spots in the quarterfinals, the Overwatch World Cup’s group of death is Group B. All three teams have talented pros and would expect to make it to the quarterfinals, and possibly the semifinals, but one won’t even make it out of the groups. Joining the three titans is Chile. The Americas region was given four spots at the World Cup, but three were handed to the USA, Canada, and Brazil, making Chile the only team from the Americas to come through a qualifier.
Germany look to be the strongest team in the group, with all six players members of elite teams. The team has gone through a few roster changes, but they’ve come out stronger for them. The lineup at BlizzCon will be INTERNETHULK (EnVyUs), art1er (ex-Dignitas), Skipjack (Misfits), Eissfeldt and Ruster (Luminosity), and kr4tosdigga (Ninjas With Attitude). Eissfeldt, who joined the team as a sub before the online qualifiers, is one of the best Tracer players in the world, and is one of the few pros willing to run Soldier: 76 in the current meta (which isn’t friendly to the grizzled soldier). kr4tosdigga was recently picked up by NWA, a team that’s been skyrocketing up the European pro rankings, and which I’ve repeatedly predicted to be the roster to be signed by a major org looking to get into Overwatch.
The United States has five pros in Talespin (EnVyUs), Seagull and Gods (NRG), mesr (Liqud), and Adam (Cloud9). They are joined by streaming personality (and Overwatch trivia legend) ster. Talespin is on many people’s shortlists for best DPS player in the game. Adam is one of the world’s best Lucio players. Seagull, in addition to being a professional player, is one of the most popular Overwatch streamers, with 360,000 followers. He and NRG are known for running innovative (and sometimes bizarre) strategies to take their opponents by surprise.
Russia had the strongest team in the online qualifiers by average Competitive Season 1 skill rating. To get here they topped a group that included Italy, and then beat fan-favorites Norway in the online finals. They have four pros on top tier teams in ShaDowBurn (FaZe), Rubikon and cYpheR (ANOX), and uNFixed (REUNITED). They are joined by Khaelgaar and Redzzzz, two relative unknowns. No discussion of Russia would be complete without highlighting ShaDowBurn. He’s the world’s best Genji player, any there’s no one that’s remotely close.
Chile have no professional players on their team, but can’t be easily written off. They went through an online qualifier without dropping a single map, defeating Peru and Argentina in a three-team group, then besting Colombia in the online final.
Group C is South Korea, Finland, Taiwan, and Australia+New Zealand. South Korea and Finland are both contenders to win the tournament. Taiwan and Australia+New Zealand are both considered non-threats. The group winner will most likely get to avoid Sweden in the round of eight, so just because South Korea and Finland are relatively assured of progressing to the quarterfinals doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to play for.
Both South Korea and Taiwan have a core of players from a single professional team. In Korea’s case, that team is Lunatic Hai. Ryujehong, EscA, and Miro all play for Lunatic Hai, which is currently considered the strongest team not just in Korea, but in Asia. The trio are joined by ArHaN and Dayfly (Afreeca Freecs Blue) and zunba (CONBOX T6). South Korea has as good a DPS duo as any team at BlizzCon, and Miro is one of the best Zarya Players in the world. We haven’t seen the team in action because they were invited directly to the finals, but anything short of a semifinals appearance would be a shock considering the talent on the roster.
Finland are built with a core of Ninjas in Pyjamas players. The team, which counts hymzi, Mafu, and Zappis as members, is best known for developing the three tank, three support composition, which spent weeks as the dominant meta before being displaced at the Overwatch Open. Joining those three are Tseini (free agent), LiNkzr (Dignitas), and Taimou (EnVyUs). Taimou is one of the world’s best DPS players, and the standout in a team stacked with elite players. One thing this Finnish team does not have, though, is support players. Hymzi and Mafu are tanks, Zappis is a flex DPS, and the rest are DPS players.
Taiwan came through Asia’s online qualifiers, defeating Vietnam and Indonesia. Four members of their squad play for the pro team ahq S: Lilgho, Zonda, LazyTitan, and Danny. They are joined by EDIBOSS and 聶寶 (Nie Bao). During qualifiers, the team struggled with inconsistent DPS play and poor decision making, at one point unsuccessfully running the same composition down the same route for five minutes straight on Anubis. However they’ve apparently been crushing it at scrims since getting to California, and UberShouts, who watched them play, called them impressive.
Australia+New Zeland (ANZ) is in reality just the Australia team, as it features no New Zealanders. What it does have is four members of Tempo Storm, the region’s best team. Those four, HeyKatie, yuki, Refz, and termo, are joined by Kura (Alter Ego) and Muselk, a streamer with 1.2 million YouTube subscribers and 100,000 Twitch followers. Tempo has a long history but limited experience against teams from other regions, so they could be a surprise package.
Rounding out the groups is Group D, comprised of China, France, Thailand, and Singapore. While neither France nor China are favorites to win the tournament, they both look well positioned to get out of the group stages. There’s a clear talent gap in the group, as neither Thailand nor Singapore have players in elite professional teams.
France has three players on elite professional teams, however the demise of Melty eSports will take that number down to two, potentially before BlizzCon is up. KnOxXx (Rogue), Kryw (Misfits), and DeGuN (Melty) are joined by Mickalow, Kitty, and AlphaCast, who works for ESL as a caster. During qualifiers, Kryw was the team’s standout player, and formed a formidable tank duo with KnOxXx (who plays Lucio for Rogue).
China has the potential to be one of the strongest teams in the tournament or one of the weakest. This is because five of their players are part of the pro team Invictus Gaming Fire, which itself alternates between spectacular and purely average play. IG Fire crashed out of the recent APAC Premier before the quarterfinals, despite going into the event as one of the stronger Chinese teams. Roy, Yuan7, Tresor, Nai8, and Linkin are the IG Fire members, and the sixth member is Jamlee. China, like Korea, ANZ, USA, Canada, and Brazil, was invited directly to the event and did not go through qualifiers.
Unfortunately, there’s not much to say about Thailand or Singapore. Thailand defeated Hong Kong and Japan in the qualifiers, while Singapore defeated Malaysia and the Philippines. At one point there were Twitch streams that would have shed light on their skill levels, but they’ve since been removed.
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