The 2018 Overwatch World Cup kicks off this weekend as six teams converge in Incheon, South Korea to battle it out for the two top spots that will guarantee them a place in the playoff stages at Blizzcon.

Hosts and two-time defending champions, South Korea which is made up mostly of the boys from NYXL are favorites to fill in one of the slots, leaving the five other teams to duke it out for that one remaining slot. Who are the favorites and who are the outsiders? Before we go any further, here’s a quick summary of the competition format:

When: August 17-19 12 pm. KST / 11am Malaysia/ Singapore

Where: Studio Paradise, Paradise City Incheon

Format: Best of four (first to win 3 maps) – fifth map as tie breaker

Round Robin; Each team plays five times. Top two qualifies for Overwatch World Cup 2018 playoff stage

Map Pool: All.

Map 1: Predetermined Control Map: Nepal, Lijiang Tower, Ilios, or Oasis.

From the second map onwards, the losing team will get to pick the next map from the following types:

  • Second map: Hybrid
  • Third map: Assault
  • Fourth map: Escort
  • Fifth map (tiebreaker): Control, but must be different than the first map

Teams

South Korea; Champions Elect (Again)

  • Pan-Seung “Fate” Koo (LA Valiant)
  • Tae-Hong “Meko” Kim (NYXL)
  • Jong-Ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park (NYXL)
  • Hae-Seong “Libero” Kim (NYXL)
  • Seong-Hyun “Jjonak” Kim (NYXL)
  • Yeon-Jun “Ark” Hong (NYXL)
  • Sub: Jae-Hyeok “Carpe” Lee (Philadelphia Fusion)

Projected finish: First 

With five of the seven players made up of the Overwatch League’s most dominant team, NYXL, the South Koreans are easily the most-feared team for this stage. Backed by the home crowd, we struggle to see them even dropping a map against the likes of Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong. They may drop one each to the Fins, Japanese and Russians but defeat is definitely not on the cards.

Projected Results: vs TPE (4-0); vs FIN (3-1); vs HKG (4-0); vs JPN (3-1); vs RUS (3-1)


Finland; Runners-Up Favorites 

  • Joona “Fragi” Laine (Philadelphia Fusion)
  • Joonas “Zappis” Alakurtti (Florida Mayhem)
  • Jonas “Shaz” Souvaara (LA Gladiators)
  • Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni (LA Gladiators)
  • Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin (Houston Outlaws)
  • Timo “Taimou” Kettunen (Dallas Fuel)
  • Sub: Tuomo “Davin” Leppänen (Contenders EU: Team Gigantti)

Estimated Finish: Second

Just like Team South Korea which has NYXL as its core, Team Finland has the original Team Gigantti forming the backbone of this year’s World Cup team. Fragi, Zappis Shaz, BigGoose and LiNkzr all played together for Gigantti prior to joining the Overwatch League. They are joined by Dallas Fuel’s DPS specialist Taimou and Davin of the current Gigantti team. Each player has got chemistry playing with one another in the past, topped with experience competing at the highest stages. They may give the Koreans a fight but will have to settle for second place after edging past the Russians.

Projected Results: vs HKG (4-0); vs KOR (1-3); vs RUS (3-2); vs JPN (3-1); vs TPE (4-0)


Russia; Feel the (Shadow) Burn 

  • Denis “Tonic” Rulev (Contenders EU: Bazooka Puppies)
  • Ilia “Txao” Makarov (Contenders EU: CIS Hope)
  • Stanislav “Mistakes” Danilov (Boston Uprising)
  • Aleksandr “MayN” Katarskii (Contenders EU: CIS Hope)
  • Andrey “Engh” Sholokhov (Contenders EU: CIS Hope)
  • George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha (Philadelphia Fusion)
  • Sub: Andrei “uNFixed” Leonov (Contenders EU: CIS Hope)

Estimated Finish: Third/ Fourth

The Russians will be relying on Overwatch League stars – Mistakes and ShaDowBurn to lead the way while the rest of the team which is mostly made up of CIS Hope play catchup. This Russian team is probably the weakest World Cup team we’ve seen in years and it’d be a surprise to everyone if they managed more than three wins this weekend.

Projected Results: vs HKG (4-0); vs JPN (2-3); vs FIN(2-3); vs TPE (3-1); vs KOR (1-3)


Japan; Surely Lightning Strike Twice, Yes?

  • Sean “ta1yo” Henderson (Contenders PAC: CYCLOPS)
  • Kazuki “SamuraiD” Nouno (Contenders PAC: CYCLOPS)
  • Kaito “kenmohororo” Yoshida (Contenders PAC: CYCLOPS)
  • Ryoma “Sabagod” Tsuji (Contenders PAC: CYCLOPS)
  • Takahiro “CLAIRE” Watanabe (Contenders PAC: CYCLOPS)
  • Kenji “AmeKen” Hisano (Contenders PAC: CYCLOPS)
  • Sub: Yuuma “dep” Hashimoto (Contenders PAC: CYCLOPS)

Estimated Finish: Third/ Fourth

Made up entirely of the Cyclops squad which finished third in the Overwatch Contenders Pacific Trials, the Japanese are crowd favorites after punching well above their weight last year, outplaying the Spain team (3-1) and drawing with a stacked Finnish lineup. While they failed to make it through to the playoff after being beaten by the Australians, the Japanese made everyone notice that they aren’t to be trifled with and are the dark horses this time around.

Our only concern would be their unfavorable schedule; where they have to cram five matches within back-to-back days.

Projected Results: vs RUS (3-2); vs TPE (4-0); vs KOR (1-3); vs FIN (1-3); vs HKG (4-0)


Hong Kong; It’s Gonna Be A Long Weekend 

  • Kin-Long “ManGoJai” Wong (Contenders PAC: Hong Kong Attitude)
  • Ka-Chung “GZQQ” Wong
  • Chi-Yeung “Moowe” Yip (Contenders PAC: Hong Kong Attitude)
  • Tsz-Kit “Mikouw” Wan (Contenders PAC: Hong Kong Attitude)
  • Chung-Ching “JazZy” Pak (Contenders China: LGD Gaming)
  • Chan-Yuan “YiWind” Ho
  • Sub: Cheuk-Pang “AmCrazy” Lai

Whipping boys? Free win ticket? You name it. Hong Kong is it. While we’d love to see the islanders pull off an upset this weekend, it’s gonna be a tall order as they are nowhere near the level of their opponents, save for one. In their recent friendly against Team Australia, the Hong Kong team were absolutely destroyed and by comparing the Australians’ relative team strength to the teams participating in the Incheon qualifiers, it’s gonna be a long weekend for the Hong Kong players. A consolation win against the Chinese Taipei team is on the cards though.

Projected Results: vs RUS (0-4); vs FIN (0-4); vs KOR (0-4); vs TPE (3-1); vs JPN (0-4)


Chinese Taipei; Making Up the Numbers  

  • Wei-Teng “kant” Kao
  • Chao-Hua “ATing” Chen (Contenders PAC: Hong Kong Attitude)
  • Jing-Han “TenTen” Liao (Contenders PAC: Hong Kong Attitude)
  • Keng-Yu “ShaiuLin” Lin (Contenders PAC: Hong Kong Attitude)
  • Shiao-Chin “Craz1S” Wei (Contenders PAC: Nova Esports)
  • Ruei-jhou “OYO” Gao (Contenders PAC: Nova Esports)
  • Sub: Erh-Fu “BLUE” Kao (Contenders PAC: Nova Esports)

The weakest of the bunch, we’d be super surprised if they are able to steal even a map from any of the teams above. The match against Hong Kong provides them with the best option to salvage some pride but just like their Asian islanders, we don’t expect much fight coming from the team which is made up of players from mid-tier Pacific Contenders teams in HK Attitude and Nova Esports.

Projected Results: vs KOR (0-4); vs JPN (0-4); vs HKG (1-3); vs RUS (1-3); vs FIN (0-4)


You can catch all the action live starting tomorrow at 11am (Malaysia, HK, Singapore) 17th August on Twitch.

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