The Overwatch World Cup kicked off in Incheon, and it was a blast. Team South Korea vs. Team Finland was sneak peek of what’s to come in this year’s fierce competition. We are now heading towards the second group stages in Los Angeles. If you are excited about the group stages but don’t know who or which teams to look out for, then check out this quick preview of the two best teams, Team USA and Team Canada and their coaches, and the dark horse of the group, Team Brazil.
Teams to Beat - Team USA & Team Canada
The two favorites to win are expected to be Team USA and Team Canada. With so many top-tier talents from both Overwatch League and Overwatch Contenders, it will be very hard for the other four teams to come out on top and make it to Blizzcon.
● 2017 – Runner Up
● 2016 – 9th to 12th
Team Canada has had one of the strongest looking lineups for the past two years. They were able to make it to the finals to face against Team South Korea in 2017, and they are back again in 2018 with more upgrades to boot.
Judging by World Cup history, Team Canada may look like the strongest team in this group stages because of their silver medal in 2017, but that’s not the case. In fact, before the Overwatch World Cup last year, Team Canada faced Team USA in a showmatch, and they were absolutely obliterated, losing 4 against 0.
This match wasn’t a particularly good memory for Team Canada, and you can bet that they are thirsty for vengeance. By being on the same group as Team USA, Team Canada will finally have the chance to prove that they are true strong North.
The match between Team USA and Team Canada will be the highlight of the group stages, and you don’t want to miss this one.
Starting Seven - Team Canada
Team Canada opted for an open tryout to build an initial 18-man roster. After ten days, close to 60 Canadians applied for the tryout and few of them, such as Kellar from GGEA, would make it to the final 12.
The current starting seven is an upgrade from last year’s roster. Not only is Mangachu can play his original position again, but NotE from Boston Uprising will also take his place as the off-tank in 2018. Putting Mangachu as D.Va time to time in 2017 seemed like a suboptimal choice, as he excels in many of the DPS heroes of Overwatch. Having a dedicated and formidable off-tank, like NotE will be a huge upgrade for Canada. NotE has made significant improvements since he was the off-tank for Toronto Esports, and it will be nice to see how he will strengthen the frontline of the team.
Two new support players are Bani from Houston Outlaws and Crimzo from the North American Overwatch Contender’s team, Team Envy. Bani spent the last year grinding away at a high level by playing in the Overwatch League. Crimzo has been one of the deadliest supports in North American Overwatch Contenders, and I am almost certain they will give Team Canada a boost.
Last year’s T-Mobile MVP, xQc, will be back to lead the front line and Canada’s All-Stars DPS will be playing alongside xQc, and they will be carrying the team of the North. Surefour, our All-Star Widomaker Duel Champion, will team up with the starting DPS of Los Angeles Valiant, Agilities, and they will form to be one of the deadliest DPS duos of OWWC.
● 2017 – 5th to 8th
● 2016 – 5th to 8th
Historically, Team USA had one of the best and notable players in the scene but failed to bear any fruits due to unfortunate circumstances. They faced Team South Korea, the best team in both years, right from the quarterfinals and was eliminated before they had a chance to show what they got. They have never succeeded in winning any of the medals despite having some of the strongest lineups in the world.
And this was really unfortunate because last year’s lineup was particularly strong, and they, and possibly Team France, were the only true serious contenders of taking South Korea down. Despite a 4 – 2 loss against South Korea, each map was nail-bitingly close, and the draw in Hanamura has been one of the best matches in history of Overwatch.
2017 USA vs. South Korea - Quarterfinals Match
Now in 2018, they have made significant improvements as the team was rigorously tested by the Committee and the Head Coach, Aero. And, again Team USA is seeking another chance to finally bring the Gold home.
Starting Seven - Team USA
The starting seven for Team USA has gone through rigorously tryout procedures. On June 8th, Aero, the Head Coach of Team USA (and Dallas Fuel) have announced his plans to “represent our country honorably and, ultimately, take home the gold.” Their plan to invite 25 of the best American players and face them each other across a two-week period and pick the best 12 members (and ultimately the starting 7) based on “mechanical skill, team play, communication and attitude.”
The team will sport one of the strongest tank lines in Overwatch League. Both Muma (from Houston Outlaws) and SPACE (from Los Angeles Valiant) have proven themselves to be one of the best in their roles throughout the League.
They also have superb DPS line. ZachaREEE, from Fusion University, a superstar from the North American Overwatch Contenders that dominated the tournament and have not a lost a single game in both seasons. He is one of the deadliest Widow in the scene, and he can play a pretty mean McCree. Hydration from Los Angeles Gladiators is a projectile specialist that is formidable with Pharah and Junkrat, and one of the few players that responsible for the current surge of popularity of Doomfist.
The two support players are Rawkus from Houston Outlaws and Moth from San Francisco Shock. Moth was recruited from Toronto Esports by the San Francisco Shock and is known to be a superb shot-caller. His entrance along with Architect and Crusty have made San Francisco Shock one of the most improved teams of Season 1, and you can be sure that Moth will be an upgrade for the American team. However, the news of Rawkus as one of the starting lineups has not been well received. Many of the social media’s response to the news has been met with skepticism over the committee’s decision to take Rawkus was over Sleepy. This prompted coach Aero to make a response to, hopefully, help fans understand that the committee ultimately made the right choice.
Battle of the Coaches – Aero vs. Jayne
Speaking of coaches...
Team USA’s Coach, Aaron “Aero” Atkins, is the Head Coach for Dallas Fuel, and Justin “Jayne” Conroy of Team Canada is the Assistant Coach for the same team, and they will go head-to-head in this week’s group stages.
Aero has an incredible track record. He started his coaching career by being a coach for Immortals before he moved to coach for FNRGFE. This is a team that rose to fame because they were composed of former players of Fnatic, NRG eSports, and Gale Force eSports, that had no sponsorships at the time unlike other notable teams in NA Contenders. His real success would come into light when he was the coach for Fusion University, a team that would brazenly go through the tournament in Season 1, without losing a single match.
When Dallas Fuel was struggling with their performances, it wouldn’t take long for the team to take notice of Aero and bring him onto the team. With his guidance, Dallas Fuel went from losing almost every single match to a team that would make it to the playoffs in Stage 4.
While Jayne does not have a substantial amount of experience coaching in the professional scene, he has a prominent member of the Overwatch community with his educational streams. He drew numerous crowds instantly with his in-depth analysis and his ability to pinpoint complicated concepts and unravel them to the audience with ease. He didn’t try very hard to hide that he wanted to be a coach/analyst for an Overwatch League team, and it was a matter of time he would get picked up by Dallas Fuel due to his commitment towards education and popularity.
These two friends and teammates will be forced to face each other. It will be a fun match, but at the same time will be a battle for pride for the two coaches of Dallas Fuel.
Dark Horse of Los Angeles
While, the two teams that will advance to Blizzcon will most likely be Team USA and Team Canada, there will be dark horse lurking below the surface, waiting for an opportunity to take their chance to prove that they have what it takes to play with the best, and that’s none other than Team Brazil.
● 2017 – Disqualified from Qualifiers
● 2016 – 13th to 16th
Team Brazil does not have a particularly good memory of World Cup. Not even being able to make it to the group stages and falling against Team USA and Team Chinese Taipei without winning a single map in 2017, the Overwatch World Cup was an embarrassing moment for the best team in South America.
A year later, things are different now.
Team Brazil, mostly Brasil Gaming House, is back with upgrades, such as Honorato, a new off-tank, and Liko switched from a Flex position to his natural and dominant position of damage dealer, BGH is looking more powerful than ever. By winning the first season of South American Overwatch Contenders, and only losing one map in Season 2, the team will most likely continue to dominate the South American region.
It is unfortunate that they are in a group of two of strongest teams in the World Cup, and ultimately will have a huge wall to climb, but these young and hungry group of players will do whatever it takes to show that South America is a region that people should not sleep on.
Starting Seven - Team Brazil
The roster is mostly made of Brasil Gaming House’s core. They have BGH’s tank line Neil and Honorato at the front, who will play alongside their DPS duo superstars, Liko and Dudu. They will be supported by their main support, Alemão along with another support from Black Dragons e-Sports, Ole. Ole is mostly known as one of the fraggiest Zenyatta in South American Overwatch Contenders and may be considered a slight upgrade over BGH’s current Zenyatta player, Kolero. Their seventh will be another off-tank, Wetter, from Black Dragons e-Sports.
There are few players you want to look out for.
You probably have heard of Liko before. He is a projectile specialist that excels in Pharah, Genji, and Hanzo. However, the other DPS, Dudu, is often neglected despite being the solid carry of the team. Being the hitscan specialist, he often pops off and eliminates enemies as much or more often than Liko.
However, my two personal favorites have been Honorato and Ole. Honorato is the off-tank for BGH, while he has been a decent D.Va, his Zarya has been an absolute joy to watch. He makes big impacts play by pumping a lot of damage onto the enemy team with high energy and also keeps his main tank, Neil, well protected. Ole is the JJonak of South America. You’ll be surprised to see his name show up on the kill feed again after again often beating out duels against Tracers and sometimes Doomfists.
Don't forget about Contenders Finals
Also, in this week’s Group Stages, we are in a for a special treat. Two of the strongest team from the North American region, Fusion University, and XL2 Academy will face-off against each other for the crowning kings of the second season of North American Overwatch Contenders.
What to Expect
The North American tend to lean mostly towards on using dive with a bit of Sombra in the mix. It’s a fast-paced playstyle with a lot of incredible talent with amazing mechanical skills. The region as a whole depend on coordinated combos, such as dive with Sombra’s EMP or Nanoblade to the face of their enemies.
APEX Veterans: Nanohana (A.K.A. Flow3r) and WhoRU
And it is no surprise that NA has opted to go for a bit old school dive compositions. Some of the hottest household names of the second season of APEX, WhoRU, and Nanohana, will be playing this weekend along with their NA Contenders team.
You will expect to see WhoRU and Alarm, from Fusion University, coordinating a lot of Nanoblades in the finals and Nanohana, from XL2 Academy, will have to hope that he has what it takes to fight back. Nanohana may have fallen off for the first few weeks of Season 2, but he has been training hard to get back to his old form, and this match should be a treat for those APEX fans who miss a bit of old school Nanoblade action.
5 Kills with Nanoblade by WhoRU of Fusion University
Who will be the Widow king? Nenne vs. ZachaREEE
Nanoblades aren’t the only thing that is on the plate of NA Overwatch Contenders finals. Two of the best Widomakers, Nenne from XL2 Academy, and ZachaREEE from Fusion University, will finally be able to face-off against each other to rightfully claim the King of Widowmakers. Expect intense Widowmaker duels in the finals.
Nenne casually kills6 other Widomakers in Widowmaker-only Headshot custom games
The Zenyatta Titan: Alarm from Fusion University
Alarm is an incredible Zenyatta player that has been recognized and respected by the Overwatch League MVP, JJonak of New York Excelsior. In a recent interview, JJonak has stated that he does not know many of Overwatch Contenders players, but if there is one player that deserves to go Overwatch League from Contenders, it would be Alarm from Fusion University. He is one of the deadliest Zenyattas in the scene, with a massive amount of damage done to his enemies and his reaction time to counter EMP is insane.
Insane reaction time to counter EMP by Alarm of Fusion University
Fusion University 3 : 1 XL2 Academy
XL2 has a lot of incredible talent. I haven’t even talked about their other star players like Mangachu and, probably the best tank lineups in NA Contenders, Tizi and Woohyal. However, Fusion University is just way ahead of anyone else. Not only they are good, mechanically, but their coordination is on another level. Expect a 3:1 victory for FUN.
The battle between Team USA and Team Canada will be the highlight of the group stages, as both teams are stacked with top-tier Overwatch League and Overwatch Contenders players. However, the real battle will be between their two coaches, Aero and Jayne.
And don’t miss out on the North American Overwatch Contenders Finals -- see you in the Group Stages!