Australian Contenders kicked off with a fun set of matchups that gave teams new and old a chance to flex their strength. A startling amount of GOATS composition was run; almost every team, it seemed, either started out on it or hurriedly switched to mirror their opponent’s GOATS. Even so, the first week of Contenders Season 3 proved to be an exciting one.
Monday, Group A
Sydney Drop Bears vs. Mindfreak (4-0)
The newly restructured Drop Bears kept the ball rolling from last season, taking all four maps. After shaking off their 2-0 loss on Busan, Mindfreak grabbed 2 points to the Drop Bears’ 3 on Hollywood and finally lost the series 2-1 on Hanamura. Route 66 went 1-0 in favour of the Drop Bears. I can’t fault Mindfreak for this loss – they’re a scrappy team from Trials and this was always going the way of Sydney.
Kraken Esports Club vs. Blank Esports (0-3)
Though technically a pair of Trials teams, Blank Esports were playing in the Pacific region the last two seasons and are just going through the motions of requalifying for Australia. Kraken stumbled early on with a 2-0 loss, and Blank capitalised on that to go 3-2 on Hollywood. Kraken found their feet on Horizon Lunar Colony and led Blank to a 2-2, but Blank came out on top with 4-3 on Dorado. A surprising result from Kraken, and a sign that perhaps Blank Esports won’t be as dominant as I expected.
Legacy Esports vs. Athletico Esports (0-4)
Continuing the trend, Athletico took an effortless four maps from Legacy. 2-0 on Busan and Hollywood went in Athletico’s favour. Hanamura saw a brief comeback from Legacy, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough and the map went 4-3 to Athletico. A final match on Route 66 went a tilt-inducing 3-0 for Athletico. A very rough first match for Legacy to say the least, but a fantastic start for Athletico.
Tuesday, Group B
HEIST Gaming vs. Freshman Class (3-2)
HEIST and Freshman Class were well-matched in their skills. Built out of Contenders veterans, HEIST warmed up with a 2-0 win on Busan. Freshman Class took offense. The Trials team fought HEIST for every last inch of payload during overtime and took Numbani 6-5, with a 4-3 on Hanamura for good measure. Route 66 narrowly went in favour of HEIST despite an amazing self-destruct from tank duo Bus and Guzto. Tiebreaker Nepal went to 99/99 on the final stage and was eventually claimed 2-1 by HEIST. HEIST and Freshman proved themselves as teams to watch this season.
Breakaway Esports vs. ORDER (0-4)
Breakaway and ORDER saw a slightly more relaxed, if predictable, series. ORDER is even more than the sum of its already impressive parts, playing like a well-oiled machine. Busan again went 2-0 (notice a pattern here?) followed by 2-1 on Numbani and 2-1 on Horizon in favour of ORDER. Breakaway finally managed to pull themselves together to hold ORDER just past Point A on Route 66, but failed to capitalise on it and were full held.
Kanga Esports vs. Melbourne Mavericks (0-3)
The final match of the day saw the Mavericks (formerly SereNity) consistently just barely scrape ahead of Kanga. Busan went to the Mavericks 2-1. Numbani went 5-4 thanks to some modified dive comps and strong Soldier: 76/Ana combos (a welcome change from the excessive GOATS comps seen all day). Horizon again saw a draw with both teams going 4-4, and Route 66 left Kanga full held and Melbourne claiming victory with just one point.
All in all, a strong opening week for Contenders Australia. Reigning champions Drop Bears have strong competition with Athletico, currently tied for first in the group ladder with Blank Esports behind by one map. ORDER, meanwhile, sits at the top of group B but will need to watch for Melbourne. Trials team Freshman Class have proven their mettle after their strong opening against HEIST. Match of the week of course goes to Freshman Class vs. HEIST for their riveting match
Week two of Contenders Australia starts 10am AEDT/11am AEST Monday, November 26th. That’s 3pm PST/6pm EST Sunday, November 25th for Americans!