After four sets of qualifiers in four separate continents over a span of two months involving 32 of the best national Overwatch teams in the world, we finally have the final shape of the 2017 Overwatch World Cup playoff rounds set to take place at Blizzcon this November.
For the uninitiated, the final eight are as follows (initial seed in brackets):
- China (1) & France (8) via Shanghai Qualifiers;
- Sweden (4) & Australia (13) via Sydney Qualifiers;
- South Korea (2) & Canada (7) via Katowice Qualifiers
- The United States (3) & United Kingdom (6) via the Santa Monica Qualifiers
Save for surprise package Australia who capitalized on their advantage as hosts, defying the odds to qualify for the final eight, the other seven teams were expected to make their way to the Blizzcon stages. However, so tight was the competition for the 2017 Overwatch World Cup that despite these stellar lineups we stand to witness come November, a number of superstar players and teams were also missing.
Notable mentions include fifth-seeded Finland which is made up of the Rest in Pyjamas crew and Dallas Fuel’s superstar DPS Taimou, my new favourite team Japan who shined in the Sydney qualifiers led by rising DPS player Aktm and last year’s runners-up, Russia who have the likes of the world’s number one Genji, ShaDowBurn.
But enough about them. Let’s talk about those who earned their place in Anaheim. The qualified teams are paired against one another in a playoff table and will play in best-of-five rounds of Overwatch in search for the winner of the 2017 Overwatch World Cup. And boy, are we in for a treat. Check it out.
Quarters & Semis matches are Best-of-five, while Finals will be Best-of-seven
United Kingdom (6) vs Sweden (4): Will The Brits Be Able to Resist the Vikings? – 3:15AM Nov 4 2017 (KUL/ HK/ SG)
How They Got Here: The United Kingdom earned their Overwatch World Cup ticket in the best manner possible, without dropping a set during the Santa Monica qualifiers despite being pitted against the likes of Germany in the early round and Taiwan later in the playoff stage. The main strength of the Brits lies in the super effective offence, led by Kruise on Genji, who prior to this, have been training against and with the best Genji players in S̶o̶u̶t̶h̶ ̶K̶o̶r̶e̶a̶ the world. While the team is made up of players from different teams cobbled together to form a unit, they may face their truest test in the form of Sweden who is the anti-thesis of the UK team.
The majority of the Swedes consist of players from Misfits including hitscan legend ‘TviQ’ and the versatile ‘Zebbosai’, 123’s ‘snillo’ on DPS supported by Dallas Fuel’s resident support ‘Chipshajen’ are a very cohesive unit that relies heavily on teamwork and methodical approaches to teamfights. Save for the early hiccup against Portugal at the Sydney qualifiers where they drew 2-2, Sweden has had a relatively easy path to the final, even easily dispatching a resurgent Spain in the deciding match. They finished third in 2016 Overwatch World Cup after losing to eventual winners South Korea and may want to improve on that by going all the way this year.
Prediction: Sweden 3-0
While Kruise may find a way to get some early, flashy eliminations against the Swedes, a strong and adaptive Swedish backline coupled with team chemistry will prove to be a decisive factor in this match en route to a 3-1 win for the Swedes. I would not be surprised if the UK pulled off a surprise 1-0 lead before being brought down back to reality with a strong rally from the Swedes thanks to their superior experience, team cohesion and stronger backline.
Canada (7) vs Australia (13): Clash of the Commonwealth – 4:45AM Nov 4 2017 (KUL/ HK/ SG)
How They Got Here: Seventh-seed Canada is absolutely stacked with talent thanks to the likes of Cloud9’s ‘Surefour’ on DPS and ‘Roolf’ on Support, along with FaZe Clan’s ‘Joemeister’ backing them up as second support. Genji-main ‘Agilities’ who shined in the Katowice qualifier adds extra punch to the heavily favoured Canadians who cut their teeth in the highly competitive North American Overwatch circuit.
Judging by sheer individual talent alone, the Canadians would easily be amongst the top four teams at this year’s tournaments but doubts on how they fare as a cohesive unit was immediately erased following their performance against last year’s runners-up Russia. By beating Russia in their group tie decider, the Canadians avoided the dreaded South Koreans in the deciding playoff match; allowing a much more favourable match against the Netherlands and a passage to Anaheim.
Unlike Canada’s All-Star lineup, Australia is fully made up of players from Blank Esports who finished second in the 2017 Overwatch Pacific Championship after losing to Taiwan’s Flash Wolves. At the more recent APAC Premier 2017 tourney, they crashed out in the quarters to China’s Miraculous Youngsters. The lowest seed in the final eight teams, Australia face an uphill task to go beyond the quarter finals, and even if they somehow manage to beat the Canadians, the heavily favoured Swedes (or the Brits) stand in their way.
Nonetheless, being in the final eight this year is already an improvement than last year’s outing when the team which was led by YouTuber, Muselk were decimated by eventual champions South Korea.
Prediction: Canada 3-1. The Canadians are simply too strong for the Australians and we expect a clean sweep from ‘Surefour’ & Co. Sporadic stalls from the Australians are expected; perhaps a couple team fights won throughout the bout but ultimately aren’t enough to stop the Canadian juggernaut. Still, we expect a much better performance from the Blank esport boys who sadly will end up firing blanks in Anaheim. Ultimately, the superior individual talent on the Canadian side will prove to be decisive here.
China (1) vs France (8): A Wall Too High for The French Connection – 6:15AM Nov 4 2017 (KUL/ HK/ SG)
How They Got Here: In the short history of the Overwatch World Cup, France and China surprisingly have quite a history together, having played against each other in the 2016 group stages which saw both teams winning one game apiece – France winning 2-1 in the scheduled match while China picking up a 1-0 win in the tie-breaker match. They were again within striking distance with one another after being drawn into the same qualifier batch – the Shanghai Qualifiers and were only separated by winning their respective groups.
However, the Chinese lineup we will see at the World Cup Final Rounds will be different from the one fielded during the qualifying stages in Shanghai. Save for LGD’s ‘Eileen’ and Oh My God’s YaoYao, the rest of the squad are made of brand new players following visa application issues for the original Shanghai squad. New additions include Miraculous Youngsters duo ‘leave’ and ‘zhufanjun’, ‘YuanFang2’ from Miracle Team One and YaoYao’s teammate from Oh My God, ‘Time’.
Even-though fielding a tourney-untested sextet, the main strength of this Chinese team lies on tactics flexibility and individual players’ reliability, as each of the members are able to pull off clutch plays that swing the fight to their favour at any given moment. We’ve seen how effective the boys from Miraculous Youngsters are this season, as they pushed Lunatic-Hai to the brink at the OGN Supermatch – and China didn’t get the #1 seed by chance. For all we know, this new lineup is probably even scarier than the one we saw in Shanghai.
On paper, it read ‘France’ but in actuality, it’s French pro-outfit Rogue in national colours who pose the biggest threat to us fans of witnessing a potential mouth-watering duel between the first (China) and second (South Korea) seeds in the 2017 Overwatch World Cup semis. Familiarity is the keyword for the French team as the sextet are possibly the best-gelled team in the 2017 Overwatch World Cup having competed as a team in major tourneys together including the recently-concluded Overwatch Contenders Season 1: North America where they finished fifth in the regular season.
In the Shanghai Qualifiers, ‘aKm’ & Co showed great promise but were exposed several times notably against flexible outfits, Thailand and Denmark. They will undoubtedly use their participation in Contenders S1 as valuable training ground leading up to the meet against China. Additional trivia – this may also be the very last match we will see this group play together following the disbanding of Rogue after failing to secure a spot in Overwatch League Season 1. This may prove to be extra motivation for them to push the Chinese so we are definitely in for a treat.
Prediction: China 3-2. While France will pose the biggest challenge to China up to this stage, the highly adaptable Chinese team will be far superior – tactically and mechanically – compared to the French to win this match by a comfortable margin. The Rogue setup has become too predictable as seen in their early losses to EnVision and FNRGFE in Contenders Season 1, and unless they come up with something extraordinary out of their bag of tricks it is hard to not see China emerge as winners.
South Korea (2) vs USA (3): Who Says Kimchi and Hamburgers Don’t Look Good Together? – 7:45AM Nov 4 2017 (KUL/ HK/ SG)
How They Got Here: Heading into the Katowice Qualifiers, South Korea pledged to not drop a set en route to defending their title. That goal may be in jeopardy as early as the quarter finals, as it does not get any harder than the United States. While on paper China carries a higher seed than the Americans, the US team comprising of North American Overwatch superstars backed by the home crowd pose the biggest threat to the Koreans’ defence. Fielding four Overwatch League-calibre players in San Francisco Shock’s ‘sinatraa’ and the Houston Outlaws trio in ‘JAKE’, ‘coolmatt69’ and ‘Rawkus’, United States are surely aiming for a surprise results early on.
But this is South Korea we are talking about. Any of these South Korean players would easily walk into ANY North American and European pro teams – and why wouldn’t they? Consisting of juggernauts from APEX S3 Champions, Lunatic-Hai (now Seoul Dynasty); ‘ryujehong’, ‘zunba’ and ‘tobi’ and New York Excelsior duo ‘Saebyeolbe’ and ‘Mano’ along with LW Blue’s ‘Fl0w3R’ they’re akin to the 1970 Brazil or the 95-95 Bulls. They’re in a league of their own and also feature the most stacked lineup at this year’s World Cup, with five starters set to feature in the Overwatch League.
South Korea kicked off their title defence in style with three 4-0 wins in the group stages before capping off their impressive run in Katowice with a 3-0 win against last year’s runners-up Russia. Can anyone stop them?
Prediction: South Korea 3-0. “Three – zero? But Kenn! Weren’t you just talking up the American team just a while ago?” True. But hear me out. As impressive as the American lineup is, none of the teams they play for come even close to the strongest team in North America right now: EnVyUs (now Dallas Fuel) who recently breezed their way en route to winning Overwatch Contenders Season 1: North America.
And get this – EnVyUs were made to look like chumps during their most recent foray into the Asian Overwatch circuit via APEX Season 3. Despite winning Season 1, they were clearly outmatched once the bigger teams come out to play and only managed fourth overall. If not for ‘F10w3R’ failing to agree terms with New York Excelsior for the Overwatch League, we’d have a Korean team made entirely of Overwatch League-calibre players.
San Francisco Shock’s Mr.150K ‘Sinatraa’ may pull off some cheeky kills on ‘Ryujehong’ but they won’t be enough to swing the final outcome. Possibly the must-not-miss match in the early stages of the 2017 Overwatch World Cup but also, Team USA’s only appearance at Blizzcon this year.
So there you have it. The previews and predictions for all four quarter final matches of the 2017 Overwatch World Cup, set to kick off in the wee hours of 4th of November 2017. Semi-final matches will be played later that day at 9:15AM and 10:45AM while the third-placing and Grand Finals are to take place at 1AM and 3AM on the 5th of November 2017. All matches will be streamed live on Twitch via PlayOverwatch channel.
Do you agree with our predictions or do you have your own as well? Fell free to share them in the comments section below!