The penultimate week of Contenders Australia season 3 was about as one-sided as it can get. Group A saw overwhelming victories to the strongest teams – 4-0’s to Sydney, Athletico and Blank all took their wins with decisive force. Heist, Melbourne, and Order all took similarly strong wins, leaving the lower tier teams in quite the predicament. At this point in the season, we’re seeing teams confirm their positions for playoffs. The top four from each group will qualify for quarterfinals, while the remaining two teams from each group will be forced to return to Trials and qualify for next season all over again.
Monday, Group A
Sydney Drop Bears vs. Legacy (4-0)
With yet another 4-0 under their belts, Sydney is looking as dominant as ever and have confirmed their position as number one going into playoffs. The match against Legacy brings to mind a vastly powerful supervillain swatting away well-intentioned but underpowered heroes. Though not exactly a clean sweep – Legacy took charge on occasion – the Drop Bears took their victory. They felt a little off today, a bad omen with playoffs coming up, but don’t hedge your bets on it.
That’s not to write off Legacy at all. There were plenty of good plays here, mixed in with bad ones. Hollywood especially was very strong, with off-tank Mini really showing up with some critical Self-Destructs. Indeed, this was probably the closest Sydney has come to dropping a map all season. DPS Sleepeasy was an essential part of their defense, getting picks as Junkrat that unfortunately didn’t result in a map win. Even a good fight against the Drop Bears is good enough, so props to Legacy for the battle today.
Athletico Esports vs. Kraken Esports Club (4-0)
Athletico’s strength as a team isn’t really questionable at this point, having won decisive victories against every opponent except Sydney. That trend continued against Kraken Esports, and it wasn’t too difficult for them. It’s hard to pick some standouts from this match but supports Eevee and Muni were definitely doing well. Cycling support ultimates in team fights can be difficult, and I’m continually impressed with their timing. Apart from that, Muni has skill as aim DPS.
Kraken did burn brightly in the early stages, but the brightest flames burn the quickest. They seem to have poured too much energy into opening map Busan and lost it all in subsequent maps. The team has been playing some more unusual comps (a very welcome sight in this meta), putting tank player Legabril on Wrecking Ball during Busan to some success. Caramelkoala also did fairly well today, landing good rockets as Pharah. The defense from Kraken on Horizon point A is notable for some success with Soho’s Doomfist and Legabril on Wrecking Ball, too.
Blank Esports vs. Mindfreak (4-0)
Three top tier teams against three lower tier teams – did you expect anything but a triple 4-0? Mindfreak didn’t get the memo, apparently, unafraid of their former Pacific Contenders opponents. Blank dropped the ball on their initial attacks, main tank Knellery focused down repeatedly. Mindfreak repeatedly flipped control back into their favour and never really made it easy for Blank. Prime example: Horizon Lunar Colony going 6-4 in favour of Blank, a long match in a map that traditionally gets drawn out.
Blank was constantly on the back foot here, reacting rather than acting in most fights. It was clutch plays from Roro and Nozz that saved the day for them. Hollywood was another story, with Blank at their peak and dominating Mindfreak. The games tilted in Blank’s favour towards the end of the series, sweeping Route 66 3-0. A strong showing from Mindfreak that’s sadly just too late for them. Good omens for Blank, however, at the tail end of the season.
Tuesday, Group B
Heist Gaming Club vs. Kanga Esports (3-1)
This was Kanga’s last real shot at claiming any sort of victory, and at first there was a glimmer of hope. Busan, though not in their favour, wasn’t a bad showing. Heist, though, managed to get themselves together. Kanga dropped following map Numbani after being held just past the beginning of the payload, with Heist’s JungleJazz and Guzto getting a fantastic boop to wipe. Horizon seemed destined to go to a tiebreaker, with Kanga failing to get a tick on their second attack.
Big play in our official match, saving team from earthshatter and confirming the team wipe from our bomb with clutch boop on rein as we couldnt bash or charge. GGs @KangaEsports @Contenders_OW @owpathtopro pic.twitter.com/QubJ2cQQbj
— Jungle (@junglejazz_ow) December 11, 2018
Kanga’s defense was shockingly good. Heist continually had clumsy attacks marked by tank Bus falling early in the fights. Kanga carefully coordinated their ultimates, holding that single tick until overtime. Heist finally overtook the defenders and took Horizon and with it the series. A final on Dorado surprisingly went in Kanga’s favour, allowing the bottom team to finally get a second map win. It’s nice to see Kanga finally manage to step up, but it’s too little too late for them unfortunately. Even a 4-0 next week won’t be enough for them. Heist should be very happy with that 3-1 and even Kanga should take some pride for their map win.
Melbourne Mavericks vs. Breakaway Esports (3-1)
Ladder leader Melbourne Mavericks (say that five times fast) have been on top of the group all season, but Breakaway has had a strong rise from the last rung in the last three weeks. Opener Busan saw Breakaway bust out Mei to unexpectedly take the lead. The coordination that Breakaway has been refining all season overtook a struggling Melbourne. Hollywood showed that that was just a warmup, with Melbourne getting a grip and tying things up 1-1.
Hanamura was a rapid-fire round, with Mavericks shattering Breakaway’s bunker defense on point A and rolling on through their panic switch to Sombra/Doomfist to take the map with five minutes. Breakaway did just the same, though an extra fight on point dragged things out by a minute longer and with a subsequent tiebreaker the Mavericks took Hanamura.
I’ll give Breakaway props for really coming up from the bottom this season. At least at first, they gave the Mavericks a run for their money. Hero plays from SlidzorJ were part of that, including a fantastic shutdown onto Mavericks support Fluro.
Order vs. Freshman Class (4-0)
Freshman Class are getting old, it seems – the rookie team from Trials simply couldn’t handle Order in this match. They took all of a single point off their opponents, unlocking the payload on Numbani and actually pushing it fairly far in overtime, but that’s all they got. Coordination just wasn’t happening. There was the odd flash of solo brilliance, especially from support BasedGod and DPS Exirst, but this isn’t a solo game. Overall, the Freshmen remain firmly at the bottom of the ladder and will likely return to Trials for season 4.
Order, meanwhile, brought their best game to take the reins. Busan and Numbani fell to them in excellent time. One thing I’d like to note is Order’s great skill at predicting enemy team compositions and just as importantly react to them. Numbani is a great example – Order exited spawn perfectly prepared for the Ana/Mercy/Pharah build that Freshman Class was running. Their knowledge of the meta is incredibly thorough, even on the map-dependant heroes and varieties of metas required this season. As usual we saw great showings from Quatz and Jordation, the latter’s Sombra especially. Order really demonstrated their strengths today, in preparation for their likely playoffs matchup with Sydney.
What to Expect in Week 5
Week five is the final week of the regular season. Teams will be confirming their positions for playoffs, though Sydney have already confirmed their position on the top of the ladder and will no doubt clap on Kraken. Legacy and Mindfreak will be a fun match, with both teams looking to restore some pride. Athletico vs. Blank will be intense and one to watch – they’ll be competing for second place in the regular season and have been two of the strongest teams thus far.
Heist vs. Breakaway will probably go to Heist, but Breakaway will be looking for every map win they can get. Lowest tier teams Kanga and Freshman Class are effectively out of playoffs contention but will, like Legacy and Mindfreak, be chasing some restoration of glory. Last but not least will be Melbourne Mavericks vs. Order, a match sure to be a fun one.
The final week of Contenders Australia opens with Sydney Drop Bears vs. Kraken Esports on Monday, December 17th at 11am AEDT. For Americans, that’s Sunday, December 16th at 4pm PST or 7pm EST.