Preview & Predictions: Overwatch World Cup Sydney Group Stage
In the lead up to the Overwatch World Cup at Blizzcon in November, the second qualifier is about to get underway in Sydney. The first qualifier in Shanghai saw China and France’s national team advance to the main stage, knocking out their competition in without either dropping a series.
This time round, group C especially is looking to offer a little more competition than Shanghai, as Sweden, Australia, Italy and Portugal go head to head. Group D consists of Finland, Spain, Japan and Vietnam. With some big names, some top four finishers from last year and a whole lot of new rosters, both groups should be quite the spectacle.
For Aussies, all eyes will be on this group. Blank Esports’ full roster is back from placing second in the Overwatch Pacific Championship, and they’re hoping to be our ticket to Blizzcon. With the core chemistry and skill to boot, they may just have what it takes as a unit to fell the 2016 World Cup third place team, Sweden.
The Swedish team comes in real strong this year, with most of its lineup being members of Misfits, a powerhouse in the international scene. A bunch of their players finished third overall in last years World Cup, so this sort of competition is nothing new for them. Italy and Portugal, on the other hand, failed to qualify for the main event last year and will be out to change that this time around.
Italy boasts some skilled players, with teams UB and Epok filling out half the roster each. Hopefully if they can come together on day two they may be able to score a confidence boost and take down the favourites, Sweden. Portugal is the big unknown here, with the lowest average rank in the group they may not seem a challenge, but we’ll see on the day if they perform on the tournament stage.
Call me biased but my prediction is Australia takes top spot here. Their biggest competition comes in Sweden, who’ll finish second if not first. With the home crowd behind them, Australia is set to pull off a major upset and keep Sweden from reaching Blizzcon.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room – Finland. After placing fourth overall in last year’s World Cup, they’re out for revenge this year against Sweden, the team who defeated them. They’re comprised of five Rest in Pyjamas players, a team founded out of the ashes of Ninjas in Pyjamas, alongside the ‘best DPS in the world’ Taimou. As long as Taimou can live up to his reputation and hit shots well, he should fit right in with the ex-Ninjas in Pyjamas players’ team synchronicity.
Spain is probably the best hope the group has at felling the giant, having actually defeated the Swedish team at the 2016 World Cup. They may not be the most well known players, but they’ll be looking to make a name for themselves for sure. Japan and Vietnam trail behind these top two teams with lineups packed with their country’s best. While Vietnam is sending a full pro team, Cyzone VN, Japan’s roster is a mix of players who haven’t even competed in the Overwatch Pacific Championship teams.
Time will tell if these two lesser known entities will be able to pull out any surprises and shake up the group. After the dominance of teams at Shanghai, some group upsets would make for a great World Cup narrative.
Finland has this one. I really hope the other teams can bring it on the days and give us an underdog to cheer for, but with Taimou looking particularly scary, they seem the pick. Spain will probably get second.
And there we go! These are my picks for how it’ll all unfold – got your own thoughts? Think I’m wrong? Make sure to drop them below or tweet me to tell me so.