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Overwatch Contenders Week 1 recap: North American Open Bracket

The region’s best teams advance to the Group Stage along with a few surprises!

Blizzard Entertainment

The first week of Overwatch Contenders: Season Zero has come to a close and with it, the Open Bracket stage for North America. What started as over 600 teams has been whittled down to the final 16 who will advance to the Group Stage to compete for a spot in the tournament's Playoffs.

While most of the results from the Open Bracket weren’t shocking, most of the amateur teams never stood a chance against their professional counterparts, what was a surprise was the seeding that the weekend ended with.

Blizzard Entertainment

Four of the top eight seeds going into the tournament’s group stage are unsigned teams with no sponsors. Some of these rosters are made up of professional players who left other teams and simply decided to play together, while others have a few amateur players on them who are making quite a name for themselves at the tournament.

Each of the 16 teams that made it through this stage did so with a combination of talented mechanics and strong decision making, but with North America’s Open Bracket coming to a close here are the three teams in particular from the weekend that you should keep an eye on in the Group Stage:

Immortals

The fact that immortals succeeded in this tournament is remarkable. The fact that they looked good, and coordinated, doing it may be a legitimate miracle. In an unexpected moved, Immortals replaced two of their players with new Korean imports -- Young Seo “KariV” Bak and Pan Seung “Fate” Koo formerly of team Might AOD -- who arrived the night before they had to play in Overwatch Contenders.

On top of their arrival mere hours before the tournament started, the players themselves, apparently, didn’t know English very well coming in making shotcalling very difficult with only a few hours to overcome the language barrier.

Despite all this, the team performed incredibly well in the first weekend of Contenders winning the second day handily, thanks in large part to Brady “Agilities” Girardi’s incredible Genji play. As a whole, the team’s coordination surprisingly strong, rarely wasting ultimates and almost never over committing or holding ultimates at the wrong time.

If this is what the Immortals roster can do with just a few hours of practice, it’s not hard to imagine how good they could be after a few weeks as they head into the Group Stage of the tournament.

FNRGFE

A combination of former Fnatic, NRG, and GFE players, FNRGFE were never really supposed to work out as a team. No one put them together. There was no scouting or deciding, they found each other and decided to make a team for Overwatch Contenders. So, why did it work out so well?

The first reason for FNRGFE’s success is simple: they are incredibly talented. While some of these players have underperformed on other rosters in the past, you wouldn’t have known it from watching their performance in Contenders week one. Almost every player on the team was mechanically excellent with the one possible issue being their decision making on ultimate usage.

An even bigger standout for FNRGFE is their style of play which plays fast and loose with the meta preferring underplayed heroes like Reaper or using Widowmaker at surprising angles making their offensive pushes in particular incredibly strong and difficult for other teams to deal with.

This combination of strong mechanics and individual skill and creative and unpredictable strategy make FNRGFE a total wildcard coming into the Group Stage and could give some of the tournament favorites a run for their money. Plus the more they succeed the more likely they are to change their name and that would be better for everyone.

Faze Clan

It may seem a little obvious to pick the team that earned the tournament’s number one seed coming out of the tournament’s first week but there’s a good reason for it; they’re really good.

Coming into the opening weekend of Overwatch Contenders Faze was one of, if not the, favorite to get the first seed despite coming in with several trial members on their roster.

This is due in large part to the play of star DPS player George “Shadowburn” Gushcha. Gushcha first made a name for himself at the Overwatch World cup where, on Team Russian, his Genji play helped them make it all the way to the Finals where they fell to South Korea. In the time he has come to be known as one of the world’s best Genji players, however many have questioned Gushcha’s ability to play other heroes at a similar level.

But, I’m not entirely sure that’s a problem. Genji has been one of Overwatch’s best heroes since release and in professional play is viable with nearly every composition on every map and as long as that’s true every team is going to need someone who can play the hero one way or another. And if you are a great Genji, it seems to me you can get away with just being good on every other hero.

What’s more, it’s hard to complain about any kind of gap in the Faze lineup since each and everyone of the other players is so versatile. With players like Lui Olivares and Alexandre “Spree” Vanhomwegen nimbly switching between other DPS characters, and tanks in the case of Vanhomwegen, there is really nothing to stop Gushcha from returning to the hero he has become synonymous with.

With all of their trials working out well and helping to push Gushcha’s Genji in a place to succeed, Faze Clan has been put in a fantastic position going into the Group Stage of the tournament. Their roster’s surprising depth and strong strategic play make them one of the most conventional and strong teams to watch in North America right now.