The long-awaited Overwatch World Cup Top 8 is finally upon us once again, and we were blessed with an assortment of exciting strategies and mechanical outplays. The games kicked off with the United Kingdom vs Sweden, and it became quickly clear that the UK was woefully underprepared and not up to the standard they demonstrated in the Group Stage.
The United Kingdom vs. Sweden
Playing in a Mercy-dominated meta was a harsh punishment for the UK lineup, despite their initial promising start on the first map. Valiant efforts from Smex and MikeyA attempted to stem the bleeding as the games progressed, but the combination of Tviq’s hailstorm of damage on Soldier and Sweden’s excellent coordination left the UK with no options and no hope to progress.
Sweden staggers Mercy to lock in the series win
Australia vs. Canada
The community may have been expecting a relatively even match for the United Kingdom vs Sweden, but Australia were definitely the underdogs coming into this series against Canada’s star-studded roster. Oasis was the first map, with Canada picking up an early lead after seizing control of the point and managing a convincing hold. A déjà vu start saw Canada once again claiming the first capture after an extended fight, although Australia managed to wrestle back control and hold the point all the way up to 99%.
With overtime tensions high, Mangachu began to dominate the point with his impressive Pharah play. Although Canada seemed set to claim the game, they left the point resulting in the trademark ‘C9’ point loss as Australia ticked over the final 1% to win.
Canada win the point but leave before capturing, losing the map
After gaining momentum from their first map win, Australia proceeded to dominate the rest of Oasis and continued their efforts to quickly claim King’s Row for their second point in the series, on the back of the talented Aetar and flanker-dueling prowess of Gunba’s Zenyatta. Although things got off to a strong start on the match point map Hanamura, Canada switched gears and unleashed xQc to great effect, giving Surefour all the space he needed to lock down the game.
Australia answered with hometown advantage by selecting Junkertown as the next match, but they were inadequately prepared for the Pirate Ship Bastion comp that equalized the score to 2-2. With the sleeping giants awoken, Surefour continued to dominate the games with his impressive Soldier play, backed up by Agilities’ Genji and the Pharah/Junkrat play of Mangachu to complete the reverse sweep for a 3-2 win to Canada.
China vs. France
Riding high on the excitement of the previous game, expectations were high for China vs France. Both teams feature excellent players, although France held the advantage coming into the series thanks to the players sharing an origin team—Rogue. aKm got off to a flying start with a dominant Soldier performance to earn France an early map lead, but Eileen’s Genji became a force of nature that gave the rest of China the time they needed to counter-attack and control the tempo.
After losing Nepal, the French team showed their tenacity on Numbani, leading to some incredibly grindy games. Eileen’s Genji once again began to shine before being foiled by aKm’s practiced hand on McCree. With spectators on the edge of their seats, the map came to a poetic close as Soon took advantage of the distracted China with a stealthy capture of the first point tie-breaker.
Soon sneaks the capture to equalize the scores
France continued their dominance on Hanamura, with the fairly even start being shattered by the return of aKm’s Soldier which proved too much for China to deal with, forcing them to use everything they had left in an attempt to repel the attackers. With nothing left for the following fight, France picked up a clean win. Once again, a change of gears and the return of Junkertown saw the series take an unexpected turn, as the Bastion meta proved once again to be the key to success.
China opened things up with an exceptional push through with Bastion, leading France to reply with a Bastion of their own. Unsurprised, after the first point China once again broke out their own Bastion, only this time on Defense to give themselves a way to break the enemy shields and punish their opponents. However, France eventually succeeded to push all the way through to the end, although with only a minute and a half to spare. By switching to a second shield tank, France managed to once again use Bastion to surge forward through the entire map, managing to take all three points in the small amount of time they had available for an extremely impressive round.
With 5 minutes remaining for the Chinese team to make their attempt, there was still only a small glimmer of hope left for France, but after regaining control in the second half of the map, France began to burn them out of time. A phenomenal performance by Leave’s Tracer seemed to be opening the floodgates once again, but the calm and collected ex-Rogue players proved that it takes more than mechanical skill to best a coordinated team.
United States vs. South Korea
As Blizzard made the decision to postpone the semi-final games till the next day, the highly anticipated United States of America vs South Korea game took over as the closing match. With the South Koreans as the previous year's winners and the US as arguably the strongest contenders, the foundations had been laid for a brilliant series. A few things pushed the odds in the USA’s favor; the Mercy meta is particularly unkind towards the South Koreans who prefer to play Ryujehong on more mechanical champions like Ana and Zenyatta, and their versatile DPS player Flow3r was playing with an injured hand as a result of his apparently unhealthy aiming technique. Nevertheless, it would take an exceptionally strong team to phase the South Korean side, and America was up for the challenge.
Nepal was once again the map of choice for Control, with both teams demonstrating their prowess, but the United States’ Mercy play eventually proved too much for South Korea’s Mercy-less compositions. After each team claimed one map each, South Korea eventually conceded to the pressure and switched Tobi to Mercy, but he was not able to gain sufficient value from his Resurrections to counter Sinatraa’s Tracer rampage, and the United States claimed their first map.
Sinatraa proves his worth with a legendary Tracer killing spree
With both teams poised to claim the advantage in the series, the US seemed favored to abuse the Mercy pick on Eichenwalde. Despite a remarkable performance from Coolmatt’s D.VA and Jake on Junkrat, South Korea managed to push through to the second point, although with significant damage down to their timer.
For a second it almost seemed like the US would successfully hold the final section, but a clutch Transcendence from Ryujehong guided Tobi’s Mercy back into the fight, giving him the protection to return two more teammates back to the fight. The resulting fight win gave South Korea the advantage they needed to finish their push in Overtime.
Jamerson breaks down Ryujehong’s 200 IQ Transcendence
The masterful pressure applied by D.VA and Winston gave Jake’s Junkrat enough space to consistently isolate key picks on the US’s attack, powering them through to the home straight with minutes left to spare. As the USA chants began to echo through the arena, the South Koreans managed to pull off a desperate stall despite losing their Mercy, forcing the US off the payload before they could close out the fight. Flow3r’s switch to Junkrat begins to result in too many members lost for the US, and South Korea somehow orchestrated their first map win.
With the score at 1-1, the teams switched on to Hanamura with the US to attack first. Jake once again proved his mettle with some ferocious Junkrat play, leading the way for the US to claim both points with over 5 minutes left to spare. Not one to be shown up by anyone, South Korea responded with Flow3r’s Widowmaker, who casually put on one of the most impressive Widowmaker performances ever for such a high-level competition.
Flow3r dominates on Hanamura with Widowmaker despite his injuries
Coupled with the strategic plays of Mano’s Winston and untouchable Tracer of Saebyeolbe, South Korea also managed to snag the second point, although with less time to spare. A few scrappy fights later would eventually see both teams continuing to trade back and forth, desperately attempted to claim the win. It all came down to each team having one final minute to attempt to break the first point, with the Koreans going first and unable to siege the point. Things initially looked highly promised for the US, but Tobi’s Mercy managed to pull off a clutch Valkyrie to force the draw.
A similar struggle was present for the following game on Watchpoint: Gibraltar, with USA once again using the majority of their time attempting to capture the first point. A solid push saw them through towards the end of the second phase, but the stockpiled Korean ultimates proved too much to overcome. South Korea began their attack once again with Flow3r on Widowmaker, who once again proved too much for the American side who quickly conceded the first point. With the momentum from their initial push, Korean took the rest of the map and advanced to match point.
Flow3r crushes Team USA and opens up the first point
For the final time today, Flow3r aimed to write his name into the history books as one of the most versatile Overwatch players in the world, this time controlling the game through his incredibly precise Pharah play. Team USA’s Jake made an impressive stand against him, but the South Koreans once again endured and claimed victory on the first map. As the second map unfolded, some exceptional play from the rest of the Korean squad saw them claim the first capture and hold on to it for the entire game, resulting in their final win of the day, and their place in the semi-final.