Contenders Season Three is over, and with the Overwatch League drawing closer, fans are getting ready to rally to their teams’ side to support them during the season. But while the time is slowly ticking away for some, others are spending it by enjoying the NetEase Esports X Tournament – Winter, and here is what went down during the semi-finals matches.
NEXT Winter Semi-Finals Match 1
The main event of NEXT Winter kicked off with the first match between LGD Gaming and T1w Esports Club. Coming into this match, some fans might have expected T1w Esports Club to take the victory and progress onto the finals, given that they were recently crowned the champions of Contenders Season 3 China. But as it turned out, LGD Gaming bested them in this matchup, taking down the Contenders China champions 3-2 to move onto the grand finals.
And this match was one you didn’t want to miss. Both teams gave their all in this match, going the full distance with all five maps in the best of five series. LGD Gaming proved themselves worthy of moving up to the finals though, as the team demonstrated incredible flexibility on Volskaya Industries. The match began with LGD Gaming on the attack, and for some reason, they had support player, Secret, playing as Widowmaker. However, if T1w Esports Club underestimated this, they most certainly shouldn’t have, as Secret managed to land two crisp, clean headshots onto the enemy team, including the Bastion that T1w had brought out. These two kills dismantled the defense that T1w Esports Club had set up on the high ground surrounding the capture point, and they were forced to reposition to hold back LGD Gaming.
Though they lost the match, T1w Esports Club gave it their all during this matchup, as they too also joined with the mystery heroes theme that took place on Volskaya Industries. T1w’s tank player, Highbee, took it upon himself to play as Genji for the round. When LGD’s own Genji, played by ShowCheng, activated his Dragonblade, Highbee did the same and took out the enemy Sombra, as well as outsmarting ShowCheng and successfully taking him down. While all this was happening, T1w were still holding down the point and keeping LGD Gaming at bay.
NEXT Winter Semi-Finals Match 2
This match wasn’t as close as the last one. Flag Gaming was pitted against the back to back champions of Contenders Korea, Runaway, and the latter team was able to defeat Flag Gaming in a staggering 3-0 victory to move the squad in pink onto the finals against LGD Gaming.
This comes as no surprise either when you look at how well Runaway performed during the matchup. DPS player for Runaway, Heesu, landed a massive Graviton surge onto Flag Gaming while Runaway held the point on Busan. Main tank, Mag, used that opportunity to land two Firestrike kills onto the opposing team before swinging his hammer through a third member of Flag Gaming. This allowed Runaway to build up more capture percentage, and by the time Flag Gaming had regrouped, Mag had already built up another Earthshatter, having previously used the last one to stun Flag Gaming and disorient them.
However, Flag Gaming did prove to have a very strong start to the match, as they were the first to capture the point on the first round of Busan, quickly taking down RunAway’s members one by one to allow them to capture the point swiftly, and then continue to hold it for a considerable amount of time by getting the crucial picks they needed to force RunAway back to regroup.
NEXT Winter Grand Finals
To wrap up the NEXT Winter event, the grand finals took place between LGD Gaming and RunAway. Fans had hope for LGD Gaming, as they were looking strong to have been able to beat the grand champions of Contenders China Season 3; however, they were pitted against the two-time winners of Contenders Korea. LGD Gaming started strong by taking the first map, but fell four times to RunAway, with the latter team taking the victory 4-1.
RunAway have won the NEXT Grand Finals before. They won it previously in the summer of last year, taking down T1w Esports Club 4-0 in the championship match after they had just won Contenders Korea Season 2. Their performance during this matchup against LGD Gaming was splendid, but it was main support player for RunAway, LeeJaeGon, that stole the show on Lijiang Tower. As LGD Gaming’s Doomfist, being played by ShowCheng, was beginning to take out members of RunAway, LeeJaeGon skated around as Lucio and proceeded to boop half of LGD Gaming over the edge, sending them to their deaths. With half of LGD Gaming down, the other members of RunAway set about taking down the rest of the team so they could capture the point and build up capture percentage.
Though they may have lost the match, LGD Gaming had a strong start to the match, with a well-earned victory on Busan as they demonstrated exemplary teamwork and proper coordination with their takedown of RunAway on the first point of Busan, eliminating each member of RunAway together before successfully taking control of the point.
The days are counting down as we draw closer to the second season of the Overwatch League, so be sure to check back for regular updates on the most recent matches that will take place over the entirety of the league!