From October 29-31, the Overwatch World Cup kicks off proper with the 16 teams to make it this far into the exhibition tournament. 16 teams representing countries made up of a mix of pro players, streamers and community members were divided into 4 groups, with a round robin format to determine the top two teams from each group to advance to the quarter finals. The groups are interesting, with Group A having favourites Sweden, Spain, Canada and Brazil, Group B with a stacked team of USA, Russia, Germany and Chile, Group C with Finland and South Korea being grouped with Taiwan (a.k.a. Chinese Taipei) and Australia, and Group D with 3 Asian teams, China, Thailand, Singapore grouped with France.
What follows were almost a pretty predictable affair, the top 2 teams will have a significant margin against the lower two teams, but there were surprises throughout the three day group stages.
Sweden is stacked. They managed to get all six players who are already pros on the roster. And some are from the best teams out there. So the groups should be a walk in the park for them in theory. Unfortunately, they sort of did that, having some sloppy plays here and there, despite taking a convincing win against Brazil and Canada on the first two days. Spain and Canada are candidates for the number two spot, and Spain, the team with three pro players and three players who were pros on other games, took the win, despite some struggles between the two initially. Spain then over-performed by taking a win against Sweden in their last decider match for top seed. Surely this will be a wake-up call for the crowd favourites and a sign to play at their most optimal level. Brazil stood no chance against the three other teams unfortunately.
Match To Watch: Spain VS Sweden (Group A Match 5). Despite Sweden’s dominance on Dorado, Spain proved themselves to be a strong contender with a surprise win on Temple Of Anubis, and later through Lijiang Tower.
This group looks stacked on paper. USA has a great lineup of pros. Their only non-pro player, Ster, is decent enough in solo queue to reach top 500 and plays a mean Ana. Germany has a long list of stars, pros from various teams, and maybe one free agent. Russia is decent too. Despite Cypher, the talented Genji player had to be replaced, they still had ShadowBurn, an even more well known Genji player. And then we have Chile, the only team from Latin America that actually went through a qualifier to make it here. While USA and Russia definitely were on point and doing well, Germany seemed off. It looks like the team is a prime example of star teams not working out, as they were beaten out by both Russia and USA, only to secure a win against Chile. Russia and USA on the other hand, went down a long battle to determine top seed. The battle of two great Genjis, Seagull and ShadowBurn, did happen a few times, but Russia has proven that they are hard to contain, and could be a sleeper team to make it further in the top 8.
Match To Watch: USA VS Russia (Group B Match 5). A map finished in draw, then both teams take one map. The tiebreaker of a best-of-three in Nepal had to be brought out to determine which side is the winner. It’s a long match.
The Group Of Death. Well, to Australia and Taiwan at least, as they have to face both Finland and South Korea, two really strong teams that are favoured to emerge out of the groups. Taiwan had a glimmer of hope against Finland by taking one round, but the Finns took the game by winning the other two maps. Then, Taiwan was essentially bullied by South Korea, where South Korea successfully defended the first point of Eichenwalde with a Symmetra and a Torbjorn and kept Taiwan at bay. Same goes to Australia, no chance against South Korea. No luck against Finland either. The third place decider were a nail-biter, as both teams performed well, but Australia managed to get on top of Taiwan. As for the deciding match between South Korea and Finland, it was close, but no cigar. South Korea takes the win.
Match To Watch: Finland VS South Korea (Group C Match 5). This match showcases how great South Korea’s tank play is, and how Finland’s top player could’ve clutch it out. Taimou’s McCree and anything Miro plays is worth careful observation.
Probably the lamest group on paper, that turned out to be the most interesting. Just because it’s not a two nation race to the quarter finals, but a tight three. By the end of the groups, China, France and Thailand are all tied up with 2 wins each and a loss. (Singapore lost all their matches) With that highly unlikely situation happening, it triggered a tie-breaker match, where the three teams will face each other in a best of three in Nepal in a round-robin until one team gets 2 wins and another team gets 1 win and a loss. China VS Thailand were up first, with Thailand convincingly taking the first round. China then made some adjustments and grab the reverse sweep, winning two other rounds. The same thing happens with China versus France, hence getting them top seed. The last match of Thailand versus France determines which team gets out of the group, with France having enough knowledge of their opponent to take the win.
Shoutout to team Thailand for making the biggest impact so far in the World Cup despite not making out of the groups. This team managed to qualify by beating out Hong Kong and Japan (!). They are mostly jovial and smiling on camera, even when losing (outside of the tense tiebreakers) and had certainly made an impression. This group of players are mostly of the same team, the casters are saying it’s a full team even, and there’s a reason the name was not ever mentioned on-screen. This here is the said team’s Facebook page and this is caster MonteChristo’s tweet upon his discovery of the team name. That should explain all the smiling. Hopefully it is just implied.
Match To Watch: Thailand VS China and Thailand VS France (Group D Match 1 & 4). Both are close matches that played all three maps, and went all 5 rounds in Lijiang Tower. Thailand has enough mechanical skill as well as team coordination to challenge the best, which lead to the 3-way tie.
With the group stages done and dusted, the quarter finals, semi finals and grand finals will all be done during Blizzcon on 4-5 November. Here’s the brackets look like:
It will be a challenge for USA to stop the Korean horde, so is Sweden as they face China. Spain will butt heads against Finland while France will have to face Russia. Whatever the results from these matches, expect some interesting Overwatch plays to happen.
(All video archives are available for free over at the Blizzcon website, filter for Overwatch)