Believe The Hype: Team Australia, Underdogs Supreme

The Underdogs, The Kangaroos / Photo Courtesy Robert Paul, Blizzard Entertainment

We only made it thanks to Sweden. Even though they failed to qualify, the Swedes took enough maps off Denmark to tighten the map differential. All Australia needed was one map off of China and we’d make it to Blizzcon, but if it went 4-0 to China the Danes would punch their ticket. It was a white-knuckle match, the first two maps going in favor of China. Half-time rolls around, and the Australian World Cup Discord was fermenting in a mix of panic and hype. Someone dropped in to call Australia a “meme team” before leaving again.

People were analysing every move, every glance, worried that the team wouldn’t shake off the nerves. But then they did – Australia took Temple of Anubis and the Discord lost its collective mind. “KOALA-FIED” was spammed, viewers rose their koalas (ヽʕ •ᴥ•ʔノ Raise your koalas ヽʕ •ᴥ•ʔノ) in celebration. A few people wouldn’t stop thanking Sweden for losing. There’s only around two hundred people in the Discord at any given time, but it’s their roaring passion sets them apart.

Aussie Attitude

It’s strange for me to watch Australians play esports. Traditionally, the scene here has always struggled: a combination of middling interest, small population, lack of talented players and poor internet. When I heard there was an Australian in the Overwatch League, I kept an eye

Australia fans in Bangkok / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

out. I was not disappointed. Custa, all confidence and big smiles with a competitive streak, seemed to be the perfect representation of Australia on the esports stage. Where Australian competitors had previously failed, Custa soared.

This year’s World Cup team seems to have taken a leaf from his book – confident and ready to rumble, but here for a good time too. In my interview with Akraken, he painted Team Australia as unafraid of the reigning champion South Korea but fully aware of the difficult fight in the quarterfinals – Australia has been matched against Korea. Even if the scene is small, quality over quantity is the mindset behind Australian esports. We’ve a growing scene fueled by a few dedicated fans cheering on our players – players like Team Australia. Built almost from scratch with fresh talent, Australia is ready to prove they’re no meme team. They’re a dream team.

DPS

Australia’s DPS players are maybe the weakest of the team but they’re far from forgettable. Ckm (no relation to France’s aKm) and Hus

Hus at the Bangkok Stage / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

shined like stars in the Bangkok group stage. Though they’re not big names, they’ve proved their mettle in Contenders Pacific, playing on Blank Esports together. Ckm typically plays Genji, while Hus is known for his McCree and sometimes Roadhog. Blank struggled in Contenders after changes to format led to them playing online games, often at 200 ping or higher. They came 3rd in the previous season though, so Ckm and Hus are far from write-offs. Projectile DPS and sub Yuki, who didn’t play in Bangkok but was in the 2016 team, is a bit of a wild card and not to be underestimated.

TANKS

Main tank Trill and flex-tank Punk seemed to have absolutely lost their minds in Bangkok. Trill’s talent on Wrecking Ball has practically defined how the hero is played in Australian servers, his Winston is just as powerful, and his synergy with his D.va playing partner is off the charts. Trill even received a shoutout from the OWL’s other Australian, UberShouts.

Trill played in the 2017 World Cup and will have his fellow Blank teammates to work with, and former Dark Sided player Punk has Yuki (if he’s even subbed in). Punk has played fairly evenly across his career, never especially popping off but never proving a detriment to the team either. Dark Sided made it to finals in Contenders this season, disbanding after a 1-4 loss to Sydney Drop Bears. Despite the loss, Dark Sided was a strong team, so expect Punk to step up.

SUPPORT

It’d be easy to do something boring about Australia’s support, but that wouldn’t be at all fair. Custa and Akraken have absolutely dominated

Custa at the Bangkok Stage / Photo courtesy Robert Paul, Blizzard Entertainment

the support game. Custa is a talented support with history in competitive Overwatch. He was part of one of the only Western teams in APEX, playing support for Fnatic. He’s got a natural ability on Mercy, and his shotcalling is generally credited with restoring the Valiant’s hopes of victory. It’ll be his attitude, too, a cheery devil-may-care confidence, that’ll set Australia apart.

Akraken has unparalleled talent on Ana, continuously landing game-changing sleep darts. Akraken quietly worked away in the amateur scene before eventually getting signed to Contenders team Sydney Drop Bears. Shortly after signing him, the Drop Bears went on to an almost effortless victory and took season champions for the second time. It’s not at all surprising to see him carry that talent to the big stage.

MAKE YOUR MARK

It’s strange to see Australians in esports. It’s stranger still to see them succeed, to prove they can handle juggernaut players from South Korea, the USA, or Canada. I’ve never had an Australian team I can really pour my love into (LA Valiant, in traditional Aussie colours green and gold, don’t count) so to see Australia not only succeed but believe they can exceed everyone is incredible. The west-east skill gap is tightening, and Australia has the talent to cross it. Taking a map from the Koreans would be glorious. Two would be mind-boggling. Taking the series? It’s a slim chance, but Australians are underdogs. They thrive on slim chances.

Billy
Billy "Korjubzot" Walker is a journalism student with a newfound passion for esports, based in Queensland, Australia. He spends most of his time playing RPGs, competitive shooters and platformers, and he always thanks his healers.
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