Last weekend the Overwatch Pacific Championship kicked off in Taipei. The shiny new Blizzard Estadium was open to the public for the first time, packed with fans excited to see teams old and new dive into Overwatch.
With eight teams from the Asia Pacific region competing twice a week for the top price of $3 million NTD, there’s no shortage of action. Each week all teams play two best of fives for points, and after eleven weeks the top three teams advance to playoffs.
During the season a home and away team ruleset means that the home team picks maps 1, 3 and 5 (before the games start). Every team will get that advantage equal amounts, but it’s a surefire way to keep the map selection interesting as teams’ preferences and personality show.
Interestingly enough, every match-up this week ended in a three nil victory. That doesn’t mean there weren’t hard fights, but as the weeks roll on there’s plenty of time for shake ups. To get you up to speed, here’s an introduction to the teams of the OPC, how they went in week one and what to expect in the coming weeks.
The Flash Wolves opened the event by showing off their prowess in front of the home crowd. Cited as the dream team of Taiwanese Overwatch players, the team’s first competitive match was a close but commanding bout against AHQ. Flash Wolves’ BaconJack was a particularly notable player in the best of five, getting a huge amount of value out of Sombra to break strong holds.
After the first king of the hill map went the way of Flash Wolves 4 to 1, the next two fell into place without as much resistance as AHQ probably wanted. It was much the same story when it came to DeToNator.Gold’s match up on day two, barely making a dent in the Flash Wolves’ play. They walked out of week one with evidence to prove the worry of many teams – these guys are the ones to beat.
The Australian team formerly known as Fusion Girl entered the Overwatch Pacific Championship quite late, but this didn’t stop them from owning their spot in week one. With back to back wins as a squad in every tournament they’ve entered since November makes them the perfect team to represent Australia in the OPC.
On day one they went up against DeToNator.Gold. While the first match jitters kept them a little shaky, they were quick to snap up a 3 to 0 win on the day. I’m gonna come back to this a lot in the recap, but their second match up went a lot like day ones – a pretty straightforward point boost. Machi Esports fell in a similar match up, with king of the hill map Lijiang Tower being the closest of the series.
Of all the games over the weekend, Taiwanese team AHQ was probably the closest to taking a 3 to 0 win to 4 of 5 matches. They’re quite a strong team for the region, taking out Thailand’s team Fireball to ensure they’ve got a few points on the board for the future.
A common theme for map picks from the OPC is the king of the hill map type for match one. It gives you a chance to feel out the competition, and on Oasis vs Flash Wolves, AHQ’s Cowman almost matched BaconJack’s DPS performance quite impressively. This is a team to watch in the coming weeks, and should be quite a challenging team to beat.
Thailand’s Overwatch team has as much to prove as the Australians. You probably wouldn’t think of the country as having a large esports presence but here we are with a shiny new team at the OPC. Sadly for them, they found themselves up against AHQ and Hong Kong Attitude in week one, two teams that started the competition strongly.
While 3 to 0 wins don’t reflect super well, there’s a lot more too it than just the final numbers. Given scrim time, more LAN experience and practice, these guys might pull some surprises out of their hat. Next week they go up against Blank and SunSister, with their final match up looking like a possible way to put some points on the board.
Hong Kong Attitude
Hong Kong Attitude join top two teams Blank and Flash Wolves as the early leaders after commanding wins in week one. While yes, these match ups were against two of probably the weaker teams in the championship, it doesn’t detract from their skill.
They didn’t drop a single round of Lijiang tower when versing SunSister, a rare occurrence even in week one. There hasn’t been as much buzz about this team as there has been for Blank and Flash Wolves, but fans should watch out for this one. They may pull out an upset in the coming weeks.
The third taiwanese team in the competition, Machi esports had a hit and miss first week. They took a big win over SunSister on day one, but when it came to their battle with Blank they didn’t have what it took to stop them nabbing the full 3 points.
The tough start doesn’t give them a lot of space looking ahead at next week where they’ll be facing Flash Wolves. Hopefully for them they can take atleast a game off these guys, making the ladder just a little closer than it looks right now.
During the OPC press conference the manager for DeToNator.Gold said this week would be ‘difficult’. He was not wrong, drawing probably the shortest straw for week one with match ups against Blank and Flash Wolves.
There’s little more to be said here than despite giving it their best fight, the team is going to have to put a lot of practice in to get a leg up in week 2. There’s a lot of valuable experience in fighting these teams so early on when there’s room for the ladder to shift dramatically – hopefully they can put this experience into practice as the season rolls on.
Unfortunately Japan’s second entry had about as much success as their first in launch week. Unable to make much of a foothold against HKA and Machi, their losses put them in a shaky spot for the start of the week.
In both opening king of the hills they missed the chance to get even a single round on the board. I assume there’s a lot being worked on behind the scenes as a team, and hopefully for their fans they can begin to turn their matches around for the coming weeks.
At the end of the week Blank Esports, Flash Wolves and Hong Kong Attitude are tied for the top spot with six points each. AHQ e-Sports Club & Machi Esports are sat in the middle, with three points and DeToNator.Gold, Fireball and SunSister are yet to get a point on the board.
These standings are little more than a confidence boost for the top three with all the three-nil wins – by the end of the next week the standings should look quite a bit different. In what’ll probably be the match of the week, Flash Wolves are set to take on Blank – meaning one of these teams is going to get a leg up from the pack – and I’m excited to see just how that match unfolds.
You can catch all the action every Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the english broadcast by Full Circle Esports at www.twitch.tv/fullcircle.