After a week off with Xander Torres at the League of Legends All Stars Event and Emily Rand off snowboarding for a rare vacation, Overwatch Weekly is back to discuss the Chinese Contenders bracket, the playoff outlook for some of South Korea’s Contenders teams, and all things in the Asian Contenders leagues.
Emily: I know we said two weeks ago that quad DPS is not the answer, and I still don’t think it’s the answer but, how about StormQuake? One of the original quad DPS challengers in Contenders Korea — because O2 Team fumbled their execution — we’ve talked about StormQuake in a previous column when they unexpectedly took a map off of one of Group B’s best in GC Busan Wave. This week they upset Kongdoo Panthera 3-1, putting Kongdoo’s playoff hopes at risk. Kongdoo will likely be fine — although they face a tough opponent in GC Busan Wave, StormQuake should be able to eliminate Gen.G Esports, cementing the playoff teams from Group B — but how about StormQuake?
Xander: I was super happy about StormQuake’s performance this week. I loved them for the quad DPS comp, but it also showcased just how much talent is present on the roster. Most importantly though, Ryu “Kaiser” Sang-hoon showed up in great form. I doubt they prevail over Kongdoo without him returning to that “Eye of the Kaiser” status. Considering their last match is against Gen.G Esports, they look to be a lock for the playoffs and a potential dark horse. Unfortunately, their rise this week is accompanied by the death of Meta Athena, who looked worse with Lee “WhoRU” Seung-jun in the lineup.
Emily: Yeah getting Kaiser in sync with the rest of the team was key, especially in this meta which relies so much on backline communication. Not-so-coincidentally, Meta Athena’s demise was related to this as well. I can’t help but feel a bit badly for WhoRU, whose play certainly wasn’t the the only problem for Meta Athena. If anything, WhoRU is one of those players who has fallen through the cracks due to the Overwatch League age limit. He was a beast in APEX, but continues to be stuck in Contenders (either Fusion University or on loan with Meta Athena). His trajectory thus far is what I really hope doesn’t happen to players like Xavier Esports’ Patiphan “Patiphan” Chaiwong, who show immense talent at comparatively young ages. The gap between the level of play in the Overwatch League and Contenders leagues is still present, so I hope some of these younger players don’t fall through the cracks. Sorry, I know that’s a bit of a tangent, but watching WhoRU return to the South Korean Overwatch stage like this was a bit surreal. WhoRU didn’t look great with Meta Athena, but a large cause of that was Gen.G’s latest signing, former Goin Water S and Rhino Gaming main tank Um “Umtae” Tae-hyeong. It’s difficult to do much when Umtae is in your face the entire game.
Xander: Umtae is actually a beast. Kim “LUKE” Hyun-jun was a steady tank for Gen.G, but it feels like he always lost the Reinhardt mind games when Brigitte wasn’t involved. Also, whether it was Umtae’s doing or Gen.G’s, their actual approach to the game is more streamlined. There is a lot less meandering and a lot more “doing” from the lineup with Umtae’s addition. I find it funny that not matter what meta it is, the main tank largely decides how a team plays. Umtae’s performances also show just how much talent depth there is in Contenders Korea. People talk about top 500 a lot, but realistically it’s like a top 1500. Even Blossom — arguably the worst team in Contenders Korea — put up a significant fight against RunAway with some pretty fun strategy. That being said, we have playoff brackets pretty wrapped up. What’s going on in China? Those brackets are actually set in stone.
Emily: FLAG GAMING. I mean, what? I’ll depart from my new favorite contenders team (and a favorite to take it all) for a bit and talk about the final week in China. Unlike South Korea where StormQuake has been the main team at the forefront of composition innovation, Chinese teams have played a lot more fast and loose with their comps, sometimes to their detriment (sorry, Lab, I’m talking about you) and more often to if not success then some really interesting counter compositions. The rise of Pharah has been of particular note in China, and before StormQuake were running quad DPS, Chinese teams were willing to dabble in a variety of DPS counter-compositions trying to break the GOATs stranglehold. This week, LGD Gaming even pulled out an odd Bastion for Liu “Eternal” Nian on Hanamura. It wasn’t executed as well as it could have been, but it was interesting.
This week, the big story to me was LGD, who unexpectedly beat a slumping Big Time Regal Gaming. BTRG lost to Flag Gaming in last week’s highlight matchup, and now are looking sluggish and disorganized going into playoffs. Meanwhile, LGD have piqued my interest. Wang “Rook1e” Jundong has been performing really well, which probably takes away the sting that could have accompanied Dongjian “MG” Wu’s departure and subsequent success on Flag Gaming after LGD had picked him up again, this time for a matter of days. For LGD, Rook1e has been the standout that has allowed the team to pull out whatever they want for DPS heroes. I pointed out the Bastion because it stood out, but Route 66, as always, was a breeding ground for interesting hero choices both from LGD and BTRG. With the bracket set, LGD are a team to watch out for in playoffs, especially with Team CC showing holes in their play this week in an 0-4 loss to T1w Esports. But I’ve rambled enough, any opinion on the Chinese playoff bracket?
Xander: LGD has been one of the best teams in Chinese Overwatch since the very beginning and it’s no surprise they’ve developed another good team, even after selling Genji star Ou “Eileen” Yiliang. You’re definitely right that Rook1e’s amazing success will probably make fans forget that star tank MG was also once on the team. LGD have generally been pretty solid this split, but their current trajectory feels like Stormquake’s in Korea — they might just poke in and win it all again. After losing to Korean teams twice in Contenders Finals, it would be a nice a change of pace to finally win it all.
LGD aside, I still have faith in Team CC when it comes to this bracket. BTRG is off their game and they have pacific talent Jason “Ieatuup” Ho on deck. Australians have more wins in the Overwatch League than Chinese players so I think we all know the end result here. Actually though, I still favor Team CC’s pace of play against a struggling BTRG. GOATs continues to bend and I have faith that Team CC will force their will on it with Wei “Jiqiren” Yan-song still being one of the best main tanks in the business. Most importantly though, again, they have Ieatuuup.
Emily: It’s no wonder that Team CC have stuck to standard GOATs compositions for a large part of the season, unlike a lot of other Chinese Contenders teams which have been more experimental. They have Jiqiren and one of the strongest support lines in China right now with Chen “SIO” Zhaoyu and Zhao “Orchid” Tangyang. I know a lot of people are probably down on SIO once they hear the name “Fiveking” of Shanghai Dragons, but it’s important to note that his signature Lucio is back in meta. He and Orchid have been really strong this season, especially in the more meta compositions that Team CC has favored. I also expect Team CC to best BTRG, especially if BTRG are looking like they have in the past two weeks.
The first round of playoffs looks fairly straightforward to me, and since everyone loves predictions, we can end it here. I’m thinking Team CC over BTRG, LGD over LinGan e-Sports, T1w over Lucky Future, and of course, my boys Flag Gaming over Triple Six Legend.
Xander: I’m glad that you also buy into Team CC and my boy Ieatuup. As Shanghai Dragons’ farm team, they have the support and talent to really press the league, season in and season out. BTRG has been great, but their recent form is hard to ignore. And for the record, I’m in full agreement with these predictions and look forward to the upcoming Contenders China playoffs. A Chinese champion will finally rise and that’s exciting enough.
We’re nearing the end of the calendar year and so is Overwatch. Contenders playoffs in China will end by the start of the new year, but Korea and Pacific will pick up and finish in the middle of January. By then, there will only be a month before the glorious return of the glitz and glam of the Overwatch League, complete with pink skins and angry Pandas.
Disclaimer: VPEsports is a Washington State based esports news media company funded by VPGame.