The first week of the Overwatch Contenders Group Stage has come to a close and with it we have more than a few surprising results. Online tournaments held over several weeks will always lead to a few upsets, but Contenders seems to have reached a new level.
With some of the best teams in both Europe and North America sitting at the bottom, or near it, in their respective groups, it’s time to take a look at what has shocked us the most from week one of the Overwatch Contenders Group Stage.
Coming into the Group Stage, this seemed like the easiest group to predict the first place finisher. In the Open Bracket there wasn’t a better team in Europe than eUnited. Their coordination and experienced decision making made short work of every team they went up against. However, as they enter the Group Stage it’s clear that a few counters have been found to their tactics and talent.
Hopefully next week we will get the chance to see them on-stream to see exactly how they are playing, but for now they are barely hanging on to their second place spot thanks to their two draws. Whatever the case may be, it seems that eUnited are going to need to bring another element to their game for the second week of Group Stages.
It doesn’t seem like EU’s Group A is actually going to end up with an upset that leaves eUnited out of the Playoffs, but it could be in a different seed than anyone may have expected.
While Group A may have been a story about one team under-performing, Group B is a story about two teams performing well. While we knew Misfits would be strong coming into the group it’s more than a little surprising to see Laser Kittenz push to the top of the group with a 3-0-0 record and a 4-0 sweep of their match against Misfits, a notable change of pace from the Open Bracket when they lost to Misfits 2-0.
Perhaps the most notable departure for them is their new found willingness to play the game with patience. During the Open Bracket Laser Kittenz seemed to feel overwhelming pressure that led them to a frantic style and more than a few poorly planned split spawns. However, so far in the Group Stage, Laser Kittenz have played patiently, trusting their team’s skill to carry their games.
After completely dominating the Open Bracket and earning the number one seed, Faze Clan ended up in the toughest of the possible NA Groups and it has shown so far in their results. Two draws isn’t the end of the world. But for Faze Clan to end the first week of the group stage sitting in last place of Group A with no wins at all, is a pretty shocking turn of events.
Meanwhile, Team Liquid — who dropped out of the Open Bracket fairly early — have earned an undefeated spot on the top of the Group A table. While Faze Clan is one of North America’s most talented Overwatch rosters, they also have an uphill battle on the road to the Overwatch Contenders Playoffs. On that road are both CLG and Selfless, two teams that have already proven themselves more than capable of taking the game to Faze.
If Faze are going to turn their Group Stage around it’s going to have to start with a ground up shift in the way they are playing. During their streamed match against Selfless, we saw them constantly make small, costly mistakes over and over again, the exact opposite of their performance in the Open Bracket. But, we’ve seen more than a few week to week turnarounds in this tournament so far, and three from the teams in Group A, which is still a long way from settled.