Contenders North America Recap: Week 2

The second week of North American Contenders is complete, and we’re getting a good dose of holiday spice. If you missed out on some matches, never fear, we have you covered. Due to personal circumstances, I missed recapping Week 1 of Contenders, but don’t worry. The “theme” of Week 1 applies to this week’s matches as well: Academy teams can bleed, don’t underestimate the importance of a D.Va, and Second Wind creates miracles. Read on for recaps, match MVPs, and next week’s predictions!

Tuesday, December 4 – Group A

ATL Academy vs. Uprising Academy (4-0)

After a close loss against reigning champs Fusion University last week in a 2-3 showdown, Uprising Academy was expected to give ATL Academy some trouble. Unfortunately for them, the artists (mostly) formerly known as Last Night’s Leftovers still have a lot of fight left.

ATL took Ilios and Numbani in a dominant fashion, with superior ultimate usage and coordination allowing them to take advantage of Uprising’s mistakes. It took until the third map for the Boston boys to “wake up,” managing to drain a significant amount of time from Atlanta’s attack on Hanamura Point B. However, the combination of Hawk’s D.Va bombs and a well-timed right click from Ajax’s Lucio was too much; ATL took a 4k, and Boston’s hold was gone. Boston capped Point A, but couldn’t hold off ATL’s dominant attack, and ultimately lost the map. Dorado finished with similar results.

The end of Hanamura is a prime example of Uprising’s issues with coordination and ultimate usage. Within the last 30 seconds of defense on Point B, three ultimates were misused by Uprising Academy: crakinlakin’s D.Va Self Destruct had no backup, Asking’s Zarya Graviton ensnared no one, and main tank Fusions was shield-bashed out of his Earthshatter. While some of these overarching problems can be attributed to ping issues (Fusions is in the UK, for instance, and Klaus is in Argentina), their organization and cooperation will have to improve  in order for them to find success.

Match MVP: ATL Academy’s Hawk. Do you love consistent D.Va play with a bonus of multiple-kill bombs? He’s your guy.

First Generation vs. Mayhem Academy (4-0)

Oh, Mayhem Academy. At the start of the season, their lineup made NA Contenders fans excited that former Overwatch League talent (namely FCTFCTN and Manneten) could find a new home in Tier 2 competition. After stunning and, frankly, disappointing losses two weeks straight, I’m wondering if First Generation is the team we should start getting excited about instead.

Mayhem Academy had a habit this week of running a double main tank style of GOATS, which showed up on three maps this series and worked well on none of them. The tactic first appeared on Ilios, which was the most competitive map of this entire series. With FCTFCTN on Reinhardt and Manneten swapping from D.Va to Winston, the aim of the double main tank game was to take a point and then become impossible to displace. This worked well for a while…until First Generation got wise to the ruse and focused down one tank at a time. In Mayhem’s defense, Apply’s Hanzo play nearly won the match with key picks, but it just wasn’t enough.

Numbani and Hanamura were not nearly as balanced. Both maps were complete wipes for Mayhem Academy, who managed to get spawncamped by First Gen on Hanamura. On Dorado, we finally got to see some interesting DPS play with Widow and Pharah picks from both Mayhem and First Generation, which was the highlight for many fans. However, First Gen proved that they still had the superior tank line, with multiple key Earthshatters from Nomy and better usage of defensive ultimates. Mayhem perked up at the end of the round, managing to drag First Gen to overtime, but it wasn’t quite enough to avoid a clean sweep.

Match MVP: First Generation’s Nomy. His huge shatters and ability to coordinate with the rest of his team proved that he’s the better former OWL talent, at least in this match.

Fusion University vs. Kungarna (3-1)

Fusion University is proving on a weekly basis that they deserve their title of reigning champions. Kungarna, though, was a formidable opponent for the team, keeping them once again from achieving any clean sweeps during this season of Contenders.

Opening maps Ilios and Numbani quickly went the way of Fusion University. Supports Alarm and Elk played incredibly well on these maps, managing to create space and get kills while keeping their team alive. A 5k D.Va bomb from Kungarna’s Pika allowed his team to take a quick Point A on Numbani, but Fusion held them before point B, and took 2-0 before halftime. Hanamura was a wild ride, with Kungarna taking Point A…and 98% of Point B until finally completing the point over three minutes later. Despite what must have been incredibly frustrating circumstances, Kungarna managed to full hold Fusion University through stellar tank play, and won themselves a map.

While Fusion University ended up taking Route 66 with a brief foray into “attack Bastion” territory, the final map still showcased Kungarna’s standout talent. Offtank Pika and DPS Wub are two of these incredible players. Even when Wub was on Brigitte, he used his bash and flail to set up game-changing plays. With a little more coordination and focus, Kungarna may be able to stay competitive in Group A.

Match MVP: Alarm. Fusion University’s Zenyatta proves that flex support is there for more than clutch trances.  

Wednesday, December 5 – Group B

XL2 vs. NRG Esports (4-0)

An Academy smackdown started off Day 2 as XL2 and NRG played what was expected to be a competitive match. Last week, NRG took down Skyfoxes with a solid 4-0 while XL2 beat Team Envy with a 3-1 scoreline, so both teams arrived with a solid track record. NRG made it a competitive series, but XL2 had the coordination and three-steps-ahead planning needed to outsmart Shock’s Academy team.

On first map Ilios, both teams played an Orisa-based composition with a McCree. XL2 showed their strengths by playing the better Orisa composition on Well, thanks to Logix’s stellar McCree headshots. NRG made XL2 work for the map win, but better enabling of their DPS allowed XL2 to take the first match point. Hollywood worked out in a similar fashion. Standouts on NRG, such as Kevster’s Zarya, allowed them to push XL2’s attacks back, but in the end, huge shatters from Cloneman16 and questionable ult usage by NRG allowed XL2 to go 2-0 at the half.  

Horizon Lunar Colony was the most competitive map of the series…for a while. On their initial attack, XL2 was overconfident with map rotations and kept losing supports early. However, even with NRG’s impressive dive GOATS defense, XL2 took both points. On attack, NRG ran a standard GOATS composition to quickly take Point A. NRG’s Ezire on Brigitte is terrifying; he nearly took out the entirety of XL2’s trickling defense squad to give his team Point B. During Round 2, the XL squad began their defense with a surprise upper hallway wipe and managed to hold NRG from Point A; XL2 took the map. Dorado was disappointing in comparison, as Logix’s Zarya melted the entire NRG roster and held them before first. While NRG is far from being the least competitive team in this group, they’ll have to work hard to stand up to goliaths like XL2.

Match MVP: Cloneman16. XL2’s main tank had a stellar game as Reinhardt, hitting 5-man shatters left and right to help secure his team’s win.   

Gladiators Legion vs. Team Envy (2-1)

As two of the most competitive teams in Group B, Gladiators Legion and Team Envy did not disappoint this week. They duked it out with high-caliber tank battles map after map. Gladiators Legion was looking to redeem themselves after falling to Second Wind last week, and Team Envy, true to form, didn’t go down without a fight.

A key point to the Legion’s win was how well they managed to play a double main tank setup, with Panker on Reinhardt and Gods on Winston. In comparison to other teams (like Mayhem Academy, not to name names) they manage to make use of Winston’s ability to dive in the backline and eliminate supports, all while the rest of the team is distracted by Reinhardt. This tactic allowed them to take a quick win on first map Ilios, with a repeat performance on Hanamura.

Hollywood was the truly fun map in this series. Both teams managed to take all three points, expertly utilizing GOATS to its full potential. Huge Earthshatters from Trill and well-timed shield-bashes from Jaru’s Brigitte gave Team Envy an advantage in the time bank. However, on attack, SharP brought out the Reaper. While it was fun to watch (a real DPS!), the expert juking from Gods’ Winston was too much, and it lead to a draw. Final map Dorado was also entertaining, if only for Trill going for the world’s least sneaky shatter. It did, however, distract Gladiators Legion enough for Envy to take another point.

Match MVP: Gladiators Legion tank Gods. His Winston was the bane of Team Envy’s backline, and his D.Va bombs managed to ruin their day.

Second Wind vs. Skyfoxes (4-0)

Another week, another heartbreaking match for Skyfoxes. With a roster built around former Overwatch League players, the team fostered great expectations and high hopes. Unfortunately, they’ve been unable to coordinate their team fights well and avoid making major mistakes. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Second Wind continues their upward trajectory after beating out Gladiators Legion last week. If Skyfoxes is a tragedy, Second Wind is the Group B success story.

To be blunt, Second Wind showed clear mastery of many of the maps in this match. First map Ilios and last map Route 66 were nearly effortless for them; Numbani went their way with some minor resistance from Skyfoxes. Repeated ult misses and DPS missteps ended up being Skyfoxes’ downfall.  

However, if you watch any map this week, watch the insanity that was Horizon Lunar Colony. Skyfoxes took both points of the moon base with a 7-minute time bank thanks to Snow’s Zenyatta right clicks and Second Wind’s missteps. They also managed to defend against Second Wind by running a Bastion on defense Point B, long enough to take Second Wind to overtime. Seven minutes to attack versus one minute: easy to call, right? You’d think.

You’d be wrong.

On their incredibly short attack, Second Wind hustled to focus down the tanks of Skyfoxes, letting them take a quick point A. Then, with 30 seconds remaining, Second Wind swept Point B in a single fight. This was mainly thanks to Frill stunning Xretzi’s Sombra out of an EMP, concurrently stunning Skyfoxes out of whatever coordination they had left. On defense, Second Wind relied on well-coordinated tank ultimate combinations (Frill’s Brigitte and Mirror’s Zarya seemed to have the same mind) and continual mistakes by Skyfoxes to hold the latter team off for the full timebank. Yes, you read that right. Second Wind completed a 7-minute full hold. If nothing else proves that they have the dedication and coordination to compete in the big leagues, I hope this does.

Match MVP: Second Wind’s FRDWNR, Mirror, and Frill. The coordination of this trio, on D.Va, Zarya, and Brigitte respectively, is a nightmare wrecking crew for any team they face.

Week 3 Predictions

Group A

First Generation vs. Fusion University (2-3)

Match of the day for Group A. First Gen is good, but Fusion U is on fire.  

ATL Academy vs. Kungarna (4-0)

Reign’s academy stays supreme with better coordination.

Mayhem Academy vs. Uprising Academy (1-3)

With both teams logging 4-0 losses in Week 2, it may come down to who rallies harder – and plays what the meta requires.

Group B

Gladiators Legion vs. NRG Esports (3-1)

The Legion is on top, but NRG has a chance to step up. Off-tank battles should be fun.

Skyfoxes vs. XL2 (0-4)

XL2 are the kings of Group B for a reason. Skyfoxes need a miracle.

Second Wind vs. Team Envy (3-2)

Match of the day for Group B. Should be a competitive match between two stacked teams.

 

Liz
Liz is an educator and huge nerd from Chicago, IL who specializes in humor writing and personal essays. Her favorite thing is Overwatch esports; her second favorite thing is pretending iced coffee is a meal. She can be commonly found banning people on Twitch, running Discords, and making bad life choices at Target. Follow her on Twitter!
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