Today is the day! For the second time Blizzard hosts the Overwatch World Cup at BlizzCon. Last year boasted about many talented players and this year hasn’t been a disappointment either. Overwatch‘s seventh season has just begun and this World Cup is going to be a fitting introduction for what Blizzard has in store for its community.
The prize pool has increased considerably from $288,000 in 2016 to $366,000 this year. This sum is fairly high considering that the shooter was released in May 2016. In the meantime, the game has seen many changes that turned the meta around. New heroes such as Ana, Symmetra, Orisa and Doomfist had a huge impact on the game. In addition, we have new maps with Junkertown and Oasi. The meta shifted from 2 /2 /2 compositions in the early days to Triple Tank teams, and then to Dive-Comps with Winston when Ana entered the game. Of course, those have been countered as well.
It’s going to be very exciting to see, what the teams’ compositions are going to look like. Some of them are surely going to be adapted by casual players and find their way into competitive play next year. In any case, it’s safe to say that there will be much to be amazed at and learned, especially if we take into account that the title is only 1 1/2 years old.
The quarterfinals will take place offline and on stage at BlizzCon. The teams that will compete against each other for the World Championship in Overwatch are the USA, Sweden, the United Kingdom, China, South Korea, France, Australia and Canada. Last year South Korea dominated the tournament without dropping a single map. Even the other finalists from Russia conceded a painful 0-4. In this year’s Ro16, Russia and South Korea met again with the latter sending home their opponents with another crushing 0-3 defeat.
Apart from the highly anticipated World Cup matches, we expect Blizzard to grant us a sneak peek into Overwatch‘s future. Are they going to show us new characters, maps or even a campaign mode?
The Top 8
The Match-ups are the United Kingdom vs Sweden, Canada vs Australia, China vs France, South Korea vs the USA.
For the first match-up, I predict a Swedish victory. The Scandinavians finished fourth last year and had quite a run in the Sydney Qualifier. They emerged victorious against Spain 3-0 in the playoffs. Britain managed to qualify for the Top 8 for the first time. Although they failed in the qualifiers last year, they did very well in 2017. But have they improved sufficiently to win against Sweden?
Canada vs Australia might be a win for Down Under. Australia’s team is not just a Wold Cup outfit but consists of whe whole Blank Esports line-up. Their level of teamplay is going to be a huge advantage as they are used to each others style of play. Canada’s team features players from different teams. While the French-English language barrier of the Canadians might be a neglectable factor, the team spirit (or lack of it) will be the deciding issue in the match-up.
China vs France will surely be a win for the Europeans. SoOn and uNKOE are very strong players who will play for Los Angeles Valiant in the first Overwatch League season next year. China has had very much bad luck this year and had to exchange for out of six players due to visa issues. Why esport is still troubled with visa issues and not treated like any other sport is a different topic, but still this will be disadvantageous for the Asian team.
South Korea vs the USA is going to be a very emotional match-up, as the latter is of course playing as the home team. Although the USA have one of the top line-ups in this tournament, a South Korean victory is nearly inevitable. In 2016, the USA were sent home 0-2. While the second map was very close, the first one was purely dominated by the Koreans. They will certainly prove why they are the favorites in this tournament.
According to our prediction the semi-finals would be Sweden vs Australia and France vs South Korea.
Sweden has a long FPS tradition and seems to be very strong at these types of games. On top of that, the Scandinavian country has always been in the fore when it comes to esports in general. Their team will mostly certainly beat Australia and have the potential to repeat their run from 2016 and even to advance to the finals this time. I don’t want to call out France but I see their chances very limited to advance against South Korea. The victors from 2016 will probably win with flying colors and show us why they are the favorites. After all, they represent the country of esports and emerged victorious from the groupstage 12-0 and from the playoffs 3-0.
This would mean a Swedish-Korean Grand Final that will probably go to the South Koreans. However, I think that Sweden will put up a good fight and might surprise us all on a good day. It will be interesting to see if any team is on par with the reinging champion.
All this is speculation of course. BlizzCon tournaments have always the potential to turn things upside down. We’ve seen many talented players as yet, and it is not too far fetched to claim that we will see excellent matches. After the quarterfinals the current shapes of the teams, as well as their strengths and weaknesses will be more obvious. Like Dota2, League of Legends or Counterstrike Overwatch, too, is a game of skill and even more of strategy. Therefore, the teams advancing to the semifinals might adjust their tactics and playstyles to counter their opponents.
What is more is that the teams that have qualified for BlizzCon have shown every trick up their sleeves. There is huge potential that we see off-meta plays, As there is so much prestige and money on the line, we might expect very special strategies and tactics from the teams. After all, Overwatch is still young which means that the meta game is still developing and flexible.
Rumors for content at BlizzCon
There are many rumors that Blizzard has something in store for Overwatch fans at BlizzCon. Maybe they will announce a new hero or cinematics that tell and extend the background story of the game.
But who’s going to be the next hero? Several characters come into question. Looking at an older Overwatch poster „Spider Tank“ seems to be a realistic option. It would be great to expand on the Omnics, especially as we have seen more and more of them recently finding their way into the game. The potential new hero would be the fourth in-line with Orisa, Bastion and Zenyatta.
Another possible hero would be the Queen of Junkertown. She is to be found in a poster on the map “Junkertown” and has been much anticipated ever since by the Overwatch community. The style of such a character would most likely be similar to Roadhog’s or Junkrat’s and would add much potential for interesting interactions between these characters. It is almost safe to say that Blizzard is going to add a hero that is already popular and anticipated by the fans. Whoever is going to be the new hero, we are exited to see what will be revealed at BlizzCon.