The battle in Incheon: Overwatch World Cup Group Stages preview.

Overwatch World Cup is finally here and we’re going to kick off the tournament this weekend with the first group stage playing in the heart of esports, South Korea. This highly competitive group, consisting of top-tier players from both Overwatch League and Contenders, will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole weekend and this is an Overwatch weekend you do NOT want to miss.   

Be on the lookout for the favorites to win, Team South Korea and Team Finland; and the dark horse of the group, Team Japan.

Basic Information

●  Dates: August 16th 8:00 P.M.  to 19th 3:00 A.M.

●  Schedule: Check out the official page for the schedule.

●  Main Stream: https://www.twitch.tv/playoverwatch

Must-See Matchups

Day 1 (August 16th, 8:00 PM PDT to August 17th, 4:30 AM PDT)

- Russia vs. Japan – August 17th, 1:15 AM PDT

- Finland vs. South Korea – August 17th, 3:00 AM PDT

Day 2 (August 17th, 8:00 PM PDT to August 18th, 4:30 AM PDT)

- Russia vs. Finland – August 17th, 11:30 PM PDT

- South Korea vs. Japan – August 18th, 3:00 AM PDT

Day 3 (August 18th, 8:00 PM PDT to August 19th, 4:30 AM PDT)

- Finland vs. Japan – August 18th, 8:00 PM PDT

- Russia vs. South Korea – August 19th, 1:15 AM PDT

Favorites to Qualify

There are no questions about it. The two favorites of this group are Team South Korea and Team Finland. 13 out of 14 players from these two teams combined are from the Overwatch League, and they sport some of the best talents that Overwatch has to offer.  

The 2016 South Korean team set the stage for the Korean dominance of Overwatch for many years to come. However, as the non-Korean scene was quickly catching up to Korea, Team South Korea was struggling to keep their status quo in 2017, and 2018 will not be any different.  

South Korea will have to face some of the fiercest opponents starting right from the group stages. Both Team Finland and Team Russia is stacked with some of the best players from Overwatch League and Overwatch Contenders. And their Asian rivals, Team Japan, are aggressively catching up to them.

While the rest of the world is eager to take the crown away from the current kings, Team South Korea will set their eyes on their 3rd Overwatch World Cup Championships.

▲ Team South Korea

“South Korea will have to face some of the fiercest opponents starting right from the group stages. Both Team Finland and Team Russia is stacked with some of the best players from Overwatch League and Overwatch Contenders. And their Asian rivals, Team Japan, are aggressively catching up to them.”

Competition History

●  2017 – Overwatch World Cup Champions

●  2016 – Overwatch World Cup Champions

Roster

The roster consists of the core members of New York Excelsior along with Fate from Los Angeles Valiant and Carpe from Philadelphia Fusion. Every member of the South Korean roster is the best in their own role. Their support line is composed of the bloodthirsty Zenyatta god, JJoNak. who also happens to be Overwatch Season 1 MVP and Ark who is considered the best Mercy in the League and plays a mean Lucio.

Their DPS line consists of Carpe, Libero, and Saebyeolbe, and really there’s not much to say except that there is probably no better DPS line up than this. Saebyeolbe is the best Tracer in the League and Carpe is the deadliest Widomaker in the world. Libero is a flex specialist that excels with every hero that he lays his hands on.  

Their durable tank line consisting of Fate, a super aggressive Winston and Reinhardt player that lead Los Angeles Valiant to the semifinals, and Mek0, the one and only off-tank of the New York Excelsior, is one of the hardest D.Va to kill. With a (literal) all-star lineup, Team South Korea is set to destroy everything in its path.  

Tanks

●  Pan Seung “Fate” Koo (Los Angeles Valiant)

●  Tae Hong “Mek0” Kim (New York Excelsior)

Support

●  Yeon Jun “Ark” Hong (New York Excelsior)

●  Seong Hyun “JJoNak” Kim (New York Excelsior)

DPS

●  Jae Hyeok “Carpe” Lee (Philadelphia Fusion)

●  Hae Seong “Libero” Kim (New York Excelsior)

●  Jong Ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park (New York Excelsior)

Player(s) to Watch

Carpe and Fate, the non-NYXL factor.

Both Carpe and Fate did not have a lot of success during APEX and finding a spot in APEX were difficult because there were just too many talented Korean players at the time. No spots were available to them and were forced to move to western teams that were willing to accept Korean players with open arms.  

A year later, they would join their Korean brethren proving that they always had what it took to play amongst the best. Carpe is probably the best Korean Widowmaker in the world right now, and it will be a joy to see what he can do with the best Korean tank and support line. Speaking tank line, Fate will now be able to be as aggressive as he can, because he now knows that the best support in the League will have his back.

Highlights


Team South Korea Overwatch World Cup 2018 Trailer by Akshon Esports

Team Finland is considered one of the very few teams that can take away the championship from South Korea. By having 6 Overwatch League players out of 7, they have one of the strongest talent pools in the tournament.

There’s no doubt that the team has been significantly upgraded since 2017 when they failed to qualify for the quarterfinals. Now, they are given proper training and support from their organizations (including nutritionists and psychologists) to improve their performances during the Overwatch League. However, they have not worked together for about 9 months, and since they were separated into different teams, there is a question whether the synergy is still there, and without synergy, they will not be able to assert dominance no matter how talented they are.

However, with daily 6-hour practices for the last two weeks, and countless hours of VOD reviewing. Team Finland is working to make sure they are molded back into their old form and have their vision set on achieving gold in 2018.

▲ Team Finland

“Since they were separated into different teams, there is a question whether the synergy is still there, and without synergy, they will not be able to assert dominance no matter how talented they are."

Competition History

●  2017 – Disqualified from Group Stages

●  2016 – Fourth Place.


Roster

The 2017 European Overwatch Contenders champions, Team Gigantti, is reunited again since their separation after the Overwatch League. This group of former teammates (plus Taimou) will be given the opportunity to play again as friends and hope to redeem themselves from last year’s disappointments.

The Finnish tank line consists of Fragi and Zappis. Fragi was severely criticized by the community for his overextension in fights. It wasn’t long until the team provided guidance on how to rebuild better habits. Newly improved Fragi is now a totally different tank and I would argue that he is probably the most improved player out of all the players in the League.

The DPS trio may seem a bit odd at first because all 3 of them are close to being hitscan specialists. However, they do complement each other. For example, Davin is the only player that can play both Tracer and Zarya at a high level, and Linkzr is phenomenal Genji. Taimou is known for his McCree and he could be subbed when he is needed.

However, the real MVPs of Team Finland is BigGoose and Shaz. This incredible support duo was able to be the strong foundation that allowed Los Angeles Gladiators to make it to the quarterfinals. They were able to beat all 3 Korean teams, and which wasn’t an easy feat. BigGoose is the shotcaller of the team and Shaz frags out with Zenyatta.

Tanks

●  Joona “Fragi” Laine (Philadelphia Fusion)

●  Joonas “Zappis” Alakurtti (Florida Mayhem)

Support

●  Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni (Los Angeles Gladiators)

●  Jonas “Shaz” Souvaara (Los Angeles Gladiators)

DPS

●  Tuomo “Davin” Leppänen (Contenders: Europe – Team Gigantti)

●  Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin (Houston Outlaws)

●  Timo “Taimou” kettunen (Dallas Fuel)

Player(s) to Watch

Davin, the last of the original Gigantti.

Davin has been quietly grinding his way into a player that he has become now. A phenomenal DPS flex that excels with Tracer and Zarya. Davin, being the unfortunate remaining player from the original Team Gigantti, will have a lot to prove in the 2018 OWWC. He will have to prove to the world that he still has what it takes to play with the big boys. However, with the way he has been playing in European Contenders, there is no doubt that he will show up.

Highlights


Team Finland Overwatch World Cup 2018 Hype Trailer by Akshon Esports


A Team to Watch

Choosing a dark horse from the Incheon Group was a tough choice between Team Russia and Team Japan. Team Russia is definitely a strong team to look out for, and probably a stronger team on paper. They have two OWL DPS players, Mistakes from Boston Uprising with incredible flexibility, and ShaDowBurn from Philadelphia Fusion, who is considered to be one of the best Genjis and Pharahs in the world.  They also have 3 players from Winstrike, formerly known as CIS Hope, a semi-finalist of European Overwatch Contenders.

However, there’s no doubt the real dark horse of Incheon group is Team Japan. If you were a fan of Team Japan in 2017, I have some good news for you. Team Japan is back! And they are coming back with a couple of original members like ta1yo and CLAIRE, and they brought with them a whole new set of reinforcements that are stacked with some major upgrades.  

In 2017, Team Japan was hands down, the fan favorites. They were a group of players that were virtually unknown outside of the Japanese scene and were criminally underrated. On their debut match against Spain, the analysts were sure that Team Japan was going to get swept as Team Spain had some all-star names like HarryHook. However, Team Japan utterly destroyed Spain. They continued their dominance in the group stages until they were finally stopped by Team Australia.

Now, they are back in 2018 and they are stronger than ever with the Japanese team CYCLOPS athlete gaming representing Japan. If you have never heard of this team before, let me tell you a couple of things. First, they are currently Pacific Overwatch Contenders finalists and every single player has the potential to be top-tier in their role. They are also a team that is rapidly growing and improving.

They are currently on fire as they just finished their semi-final match a few days ago. They have been playing the latest patch for the past week for the Contenders, and there’s a chance that they have the best understanding of the current meta. If they are looking to create an upset in 2018, this year might be their best chance.

▲ Team Japan


“They are currently on fire as they just finished their semi-finals match a few days ago. They have been playing the latest patch for the past week for the Contenders, and there’s a chance that they have the best understanding of the current meta. If they are looking to create an upset in 2018, this year might be their best chance.”

Competition History

●  2017 – Disqualified from Group Stages

●  2016 – Did Not Participate

Roster

Team Japan’s strength comes from their DPS trio superstars: Dep, AmeKen, and ta1yo. Prior to the second season of Overwatch Contenders, Dep was not known outside the close-knit Japanese Overwatch community. What was he known for amongst Japanese players?

Being an absolute beast of a DPS player that was notably known for being the best Widowmaker in Japan, and now probably the best in the Pacific region. He is often seen carrying the team with multiple kills, and not many players in the Pacific can outduel him as Widowmaker. AmeKen and ta1yo rotate between maps as they play similar heroes, such as Junkrat or Hanzo. However, AmeKen is a monster with Pharah and probably the best Pharah in the Pacific, and ta1yo is notorious for his Tracer.

However, Team Japan’s DPS would not be able to perform without the support of their tanks and healers. Their tank line, SamuraiD, and kenmohororo are solid. I would consider kenmohororo to be the most impressive player from CYCLOPS. CLAIRE is an Overwatch World Cup veteran and SABAGOD can pop off as Zenyatta time to time who can also flex into Roadhog.


Tanks

●  Kazuki “SamuraiD” Nouno (Contenders Pacific – CYCLOPS athlete gaming)

●  Kaito “kenmohororo” Yoshida (Contenders Pacific – CYCLOPS athlete gaming)

Support

●  Takahiro “CLAIRE” Watanbe (Contenders Pacific – CYCLOPS athlete gaming)

●  Ryoma “SABAGOD” Tsuji (Contenders Pacific – CYCLOPS athlete gaming)

DPS

●  Kenji “AmeKen” Hisano (Contenders Pacific – CYCLOPS athlete gaming)

●  Yuuma “Dep” Hashimoto (Contenders Pacific – CYCLOPS athlete gaming)

●  Sean “ta1yo” Henderson (Contenders Pacific – CYCLOPS athlete gaming)

Player(s) to Watch

kenmohororo, the rising star of Japan.

Choosing one specific player to watch from Team Japan was extremely difficult because I believe that every single player is extremely talented. Right now, everyone is talking about their DPS, AmeKen, Dep, and ta1yo. However, if I had to choose one player, I would say kenmohororo is the player that everyone should look out for.  

kenmohororo was formerly a DPS player that used to play for Nora-Rengo until its disbandment. CYCLOPS athlete gaming picked him up soon after and played off-tank since. He has been improving steadily and now is one of the most solid off-tanks in the Pacific region. He is there to peel for their support, but also in the frontline securing kills or assisting his teammates to get kills, and he plays a mean Zarya.

Final Words

As we are seeing that the gap between the Korean scene and the non-Korean scene is steadily closing, the World Cup is set to be more exciting every year. The match between South Korea and Finland is basically an Overwatch League all-stars match. Contenders have been aggressively improving the competitive nature of all the regions and seeing how they fare against Overwatch League teams would be one of the highlights of this weekend.  

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