After fierce competition, Team USA triumphantly won the 2019 Overwatch World Cup.
During Blizzcon 2019 the fourth annual Overwatch World Cup took place and it came with more than a few surprises. Team South Korea was unable to clinch their fourth consecutive gold medal, Canada and Team United Kingdom failed to make it to the top six, and Team USA put the icing on the cake for American esports. Despite the former titans' fall, a bevy of new underdogs and hidden talent arose from the competition.
The Group Stage
During the Group Stages on Friday, November 1st the unexpected took place and most brackets were discarded completely. In Group A, the day started out with Team South Korea wiping the stage with Team United Kingdom, 3-0. To follow up that showing, Team USA took down Team France 3-0 as well and it was clear what the trend was going to be this year. Team USA delivered a 3-0 to Team Sweden in Round 2 of the group stages, a 3-0 to Team UK in Round 3, and a 3-0 to Korea in Round 5, right before the big stage. In Round 2 France came back from their loss and took down Team South Korea, in Round 3 they defeated Team UK, and in Round 4 they beat Team Sweden, all of these matches ended in a score of 2-1. Team South Korea was able to claim their second win of the Group Stage against Team Sweden, wiping them 3-0 in Round 3, only to have Team USA swat them down again. It is worth mentioning that Team UK could not catch a break in the Group Stages and ended 0-4 sending them home before they could even see the big stage.
GG @TeamRussiaOW! 💪
This was the most intense groupstage ever. We actually made history! 🇳🇱
Thank you all for supporting and believing in us! We couldnt have done this without you guys ❤
— OWranje (@OWranje) November 2, 2019
Group B was the underdog group this year as shoo-in Team Canada followed suit of Team UK and ended the Group Stage 0-4. In Round 1 Team Russia delivered Canada their first loss of the day, but unfortunately for the northern team, they could not keep steam. Russia’s fire faded with each map, and while their bout began with intense back and forth on Oasis, it was clear that Denmark was not to be underestimated. Team Denmark went on to defeat Team Netherlands 2-1, and Team Canada 3-0 earning themselves second place in Group B, and a spot on the big stage. Team Netherlands had a far more impressive preliminary round than Group stage, but they still pulled off exceptional wins against Team Canada and Team Russia, both of which did not make it into the Playoffs.
In Round 1 of the Playoffs, Denmark had the unlucky draw of facing Team South Korea in an elimination match. For as much spunk Team Denmark had in the group stage, it was no match for the pure skill of South Korea. Team South Korea won 3-0 but it was not due to cooperation, but rather individual skill and being able to simply outplay the EU team. In their match against the United States in the Semifinals, we saw this disorganized chaos become their Achilles' heel. Immediately following the Team Denmark vs. Team South Korea match, Team France and Team Netherlands went head to head for the chance to stay in the competition. Despite the 3-1 score with France coming out on top, Team Netherlands performed exceptionally well for a team with no Overwatch league players. Jonathan "Jona" Stelma and Jeffrey "Vizility" de Vries were top-tier, and Vizility even got a mention from Team South Korea in a post-match press conference. Team France absolutely popped off this match with the help of Lucas "Leaf" Loison's insane Pharah Barrages and legendary Terence "SoOn" Tarlier swapping in and out with Hqrdest.
The Semifinals filled the Blizzcon esports arena with roars, boos, and cheers throughout both matches. Team USA versus Team Korea was gripping, and it was clear that Team USA was not taking anything less than Gold. Team Korea started the series fierce and aggressive as they normally do but rapidly lost momentum as the maps went on. Jay "Sinatraa" Won and the rest of the U.S. squad pulled off some insane plays and often chose off-meta picks such as Reinhardt, Genji, and Symmetra. Throughout five high stakes maps, Team USA came out on top 3-1 sending Team South Korea to the losers’ bracket to fight for Bronze. Team China versus Team France was nearly identical to the previous Semifinals match ending in 3-1. Team France started off hot against the mainly Chengdu Hunters roster but failed to secure a map after Busan. The fire that we saw in France was gone, and Team China walked through them as if they were nothing.
The Grand Finals
In the Losers’ Bracket, Team South Korea swiftly took down Team France despite So0n’s best efforts. While Team Korea may not have performed at the top of their game this year, they weren’t leaving without a medal. The team that spent most of the Overwatch World Cup scattered was finally able to come together and secure a trophy for their country. In a post-match interview, the team discussed the troubles they faced before the World Cup such as travel weariness and not being able to secure a training facility in California. These setbacks may have been their downfall in the end, but two more teams rose to the top.
In a one-sided affair, Team China struggled in their Grand Finals match against Team USA. Once again, the American team was able to send another team home 3-0. After a long series and only dropping one map to Team Korea in the Group Stage, Team USA finally made it past the Quarterfinals and into the limelight. Consistently throughout the Overwatch World Cup, Team USA blazed a path of redemption, one that will be talked about for years to come. Young superstar Sinatraa received the T-Mobile MVP award despite the crowd's deafening chants for Corey "Corey" Nigra throughout the weekend. The tides are shifting in esports, and slowly the rest of the world has built up esports programs to rival that of South Korea.