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Overwatch Contenders NA Preview: Big orgs, amateur squads clash in Group Stage

Can the amateur teams of North America continue to surprise the region’s biggest esports organizations?

Blizzard Entertainment

The Overwatch Contenders Season Zero Open Bracket held more than a few surprises for its North American leg. Some of the tournament favorites struggled to succeed against the stiff competition, while a couple teams that no one expected to performed turned out to be some of the best in the tournament.

Thanks to the unpredictability of the early parts of the tournament, North America’s Group Stage is shaping up to be surprisingly strong. A healthy mix of amateur and professional talent gracing each group means nothing is decided yet, with every team having a healthy chance to advance to the Season Zero Playoffs.

So, before the action begins on Sunday, let’s take a closer look at each group, and which teams might make it through:

Group A

Faze Clan, Selfless, Counter Logic Gaming, Team Liquid

Group A is an absolute murderers row of talent. Four of the region’s top teams and four of North America’s biggest esports organizations makes this a group where nothing should really come as a surprise. While CLG and Team Liquid have both Under-performed in Contenders so far, there will be no easy games for anyone in this group.

Faze Clan is the most likely team to make it out of this group on top thanks in large part to their strong individual play and mechanics. What’s more, Faze are likely the best team in the group at effectively playing the meta, something that few of the teams here are going to deviate from in any substantial way. However, the scrum for second place between Selfless, CLG and TL is likely going to be a difficult one that isn’t determined until late next weekend, possibly through tiebreakers.

Group B

LG Evil, You Guys Get Paid?, Toronto Esports, Envision

There’s no way to pretend that LG Evil isn’t the overwhelming favorite in this group. Not only do they have the most experience as a team, but they are the only established professional organization here. Their superior preparation and coordination should make fairly short work of the other teams here. But, that doesn’t mean this group won’t be exciting.

The fight for second place here is going to involve three teams that have no real dedication to the meta and should be more than happy to bring out a few surprise picks and tactics to their game. The teams themselves have little to no natural advantage over their opponents which means that innovation within the game will help them along the road to success. This may not make for the highest quality matches or the best Overwatch play of the entire tournament, but it very well could make for the most fun.

Group C

FNRGFE, Yikes, Immortals, Tempo Storm

Group C will be all about testing the teams in it. FNRRFE performed fantastically in the first day of North America’s Open Bracket and managed to earn the second seed going into Group Stages. With a roster full of pros recently departed from other teams, they were never really supposed to work out together the way they did. That being said, they have a lot to prove, and were more than happy to do so with some of the strongest coordination in the region coupled with great hitscan mechanics from their DPS players.

However, their strong play in the Open Bracket will mean nothing here as they have to face off against the likes of Immortals and Tempo Storm, two professional teams with ground to make up. For Immortals, the addition of two Korean players just the day before the tournament began means that they were working with a self-imposed communication handicap during the first week that they have had two full weeks to overcome.

Tempo Storm, on the other hand, are one of the region’s more storied teams, but simply under-performed horribly during the Open Bracket. Coming into week three of contenders, it’s likely that Tempo Store could be the team with the biggest chip on their collective shoulder.

Group D

Kungarna, Detroit Renegades, Cloud9, Hollywood Hammers

This group is absolutely wide open. Hammers and Cloud9 are both well established and internationally competitive teams, while Kungarna showed up in ways that no one could have expected at Contenders. Renegades, on the other hand, had a disappointing showing throughout Contenders, which betrays the team’s talent and potential. So, who’s gonna get out of this group?

The most likely answer is Cloud9, followed by Hollywood Hammers with a possible Kungarna upset looming, however, the truth is that any of the teams have a strong shot. With the group stage spread out over the course of two weekends, it’s likely that the team that performs best the first weekend could show up on the second and struggle as the other teams have adapted their strategy.