Before Overwatch Contenders Season One launched there were three teams that seemed destined to sit atop the league. Coming from Korea’s Apex League, the first two teams that were shoe-ins were Team EnVyUs and Rogue. While EnVyUs have breezed by everything the league has thrown at them, Rogue have struggled a little bit more, sitting at just 2-3 in the first four weeks of play, but they seem to be getting better each week they play. So, what happened to the third team?
Immortals were the champions of Overwatch Contenders Season Zero, and it wasn’t even close. The team flew through the open qualifier just days after changing their line-up, and did the same in the group stages and the playoffs. Just a week or so after winning the tournament, Immortals were announced as the representatives of Los Angeles in the Overwatch League, a location that was sure to be sought after by nearly every team in with interest in the League. Everything seemed to coming up Immortals.
Then they got to Contenders Season One and everything fell apart.
What seemed, at first, like a rough start, quickly grew into something truly worrying. Now, five weeks into the season, the team is sitting at the bottom of the standings second to last at 1-4.
So, what exactly happened? Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer for Immortals. The team just seems out of sync. From mis-timed ultimate abilities and staggered spawns, to simply being out-shot by the teams they play, the issues seem extremely uncharacteristic of a team whose talent was proven in Season Zero. And that might be the most important thing to remember for Immortals fans; this roster has won before, and looked good doing it.
But that may be exactly the problem for Immortals. During Contenders Season Zero, they were probably the most talented team at the tournament. The last minute additions of Korean players Kariv, Fate and Envy even worked out despite the players not being able to communicate with one another very well. In fact, today’s announcement of the addition of experienced Overwatch coach Henry “Cuddles” Coxall as the team’s new Assistant Coach could be exactly what the team need to help improve any communication issues they might have.
While it’s difficult to say for sure, it isn’t hard to image the team simply rolling by their opposition on talent alone during Season Zero, then, when their opponents had a chance to learn and grow and improve, those team’s ability to coordinate and communicate simply outpaced Immortals’ ability to do the same. Perhaps, the language barrier between their English and Korean speaking players is something they simply haven’t overcome yet, and it has put them behind the curve in North America.
Another possible issue could lie in the tournament itself. Overwatch Contenders Season One is something strange and nebulous for both fans and organizations alike. Sure, for now it’s playing the role of the Overwatch League’s precursor, but the results don’t matter much, outside of prize money, and for the teams that already have their League spot locked up, like Immortals, they will be kicked out of Contenders at the end of the season any way.
In truth, it’s not a hard case to make that Immortals as an organization is better off simply using the tournament as a practice grounds for their communication and ironing the wrinkles out of their roster than they would be if they were trying to win the tournament.
While the results of the tournament are sure to be a bit of a disappointment, if the losses in Season One are what they needed to discover the need for a new coach who can help turn their team around, they will have all been worth it to make the team stronger ahead of the launch of the Overwatch League.