This year’s Overwatch World Cup featured teams from all across the world, stacked with talented players and coaches. Before Blizzcon, a math equation developed in the minds of many viewers: more Overwatch League players + World Cup = an easy win. But by the time Team USA, Team France, and Team Finland were unceremoniously knocked out of competition on Day 1, it became obvious that wasn’t true. If three of the most OWL-player-heavy teams couldn’t do it, who could?
The underdogs, that’s who. I’ve decided to highlight a few players who showed their mettle, helped their teams, and gave game-winning performances at the World Cup…and who aren’t in the Overwatch League.* Yet.
*Or were signed prior to writing.
Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth (United Kingdom)
This year was arguably the World Cup of main tanks. Blame and praise, in equal amounts, were placed on Reinhardts and Winstons for failures or successes. These players are operating at a serious disadvantage due to the current meta (Brigette stuns, Doomfist stuns, etc.) and their performances were make or break for their teams.
Fusions is an example of someone whose performance not only made his team, but brought his team further than anyone expected. Team UK was projected to be eliminated by Team USA in the first round; however, they eliminated the Americans and went on to put up a double-draw fight against South Korea in the semifinals. While they went home with no medals, they nearly stole the bronze from Team Canada.
Fusions, a former EU Contenders player for British Hurricane, was subbed in after the Paris Qualifiers. In addition to being a shatter master, Fusions is a historically proficient shotcaller and strategic leader. It wasn’t solely his contributions that brought Team UK so much success, but the flow of games and team fights that made them a fighting force could be attributed to Fusions. Any team would be lucky to have that level of talent.**
**Yes, I know, Fusions is technically now an OWL player: he was signed to a two-way contract with Boston Uprising and Toronto Esports as of 11/5.
Xu “guxue” Qiulin (China)
If you watched any of this year’s World Cup, there was nowhere you could escape hearing Guxue’s name – pronounced correctly or not. Team China’s main tank has been making a name for himself since the Bangkok Qualifiers, in which he juked and shattered his way out of danger more times than should be allowed. Currently a player for LGD Gaming, a part of China Contenders Season 2, Guxue showed the true depth of main tank play during his time on stage.
His Reinhardt manages to complete shatters and block bombs that were expected to decimate teams; his Winston play is an example of constant movement and main tank mind games. Guxue showed incredible prowess winning the main tank battles against his many talented counterparts, including Canada’s XQC and South Korea’s Fate. While Team China did not manage to take a map on South Korea, it was Guxue’s tank play that allowed them to make it a competitive series.
In my opinion, Guxue is the true World Cup MVP. He’s the standout player most people didn’t already know was a standout player before the World Cup started. With three new China-based expansion teams coming to the Overwatch League, signing Guxue should be a stone-cold obvious decision for one of them. With a level of performance that garnered thousands of new fans, if there isn’t a bidding war going on for him right now, I’d consider it a complete travesty. Luckily, there have been multiple rumors of Guxue being signed to a team, so we hope to see him on the OWL stage soon.
Ashley “Trill” Powell (Australia)
As much as I’d like nothing more than to write in caps for three paragraphs about the trials that Trill and Team Australia have faced, I’ll let their performance speak for itself. At the Bangkok qualifiers, Team Australia was able to secure a ticket to Blizzcon partially on the back of Trill’s main tank plays. His Wrecking Ball is largely considered one of the best in the game right now, or at least the most disruptive. During Team Australia’s match with South Korea at Blizzcon, Trill went head-to-head with main tank Fate multiple times and got the best of him. No fear from the smasher of good ults.
Trill was recently signed to the Sydney Drop Bears, who will participate in Contenders Australia; all of his non-Custa teammates from Team Australia will be joining him. However, many of these players deserve a spot in North American Contenders, a more competitive and thriving scene. Trill, especially, deserved an NA team that would take a chance on him.
There’s something inherently unfair about the opportunities given to potential esports superstars located in Australia or other far-reaching parts of the globe. Their ping is often at 200 to 300 and travel is expensive, leaving NA teams to pursue local talent instead. Trill, to me, was the most unfortunate of these situations. While I fully expect Sydney Drop Bears to slay the game in Australia, next year they’d better be invited stateside for a chance to prove themselves.
Huang “leave” Xin (China)
Another standout player from Team China, Leave told pretty much everyone he faced to get out. Very few DPS players can be considered scary, especially on more than one hero, but Leave absolutely fills that void. Over the course of both Blizzcon and Bangkok, he played nearly the entire DPS hero roster by himself. He even went DPS Zenyatta for China’s match against South Korea to compete with Jjonak.
While Leave seems to be able to play just about anything with ease, his McCree (which annihilated Canada) and Doomfist plays have been on nearly every World Cup highlight reel. Leave is a former player for Miraculous Youngster, a storied Overwatch team. When none of the team got signed to OWL, many players went elsewhere or took an absence. This World Cup was Leave’s return after an extended 9-month absence in the competitive scene. If this is the man’s performance after nine months off, what could he do with consistent LAN time? Scary things, I bet.
Finley “Kyb” Adisi (United Kingdom)
Many on the UK roster showed up and played the best games of their lives during this World Cup. Kyb was absolutely one of them. One of the members of EU Contenders team British Hurricane, Kyb is both a DPS player and an offtank specialist. It’s kind of a strange mix — his favorites include Genji and Roadhog — but as they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. His unique play feeds into the current triple-triple meta and aids his team.
When it really mattered, Kyb proved that not all clutch heroes are DPS or main tank. During the UK’s match against South Korea, Kyb hit a map-saving Roadhog hook onto Fleta’s ulting Pharah. This singular play was so good, I actually jumped out of my seat and clapped so hard I bruised my hand. If that’s not talent, I don’t know what is. I’m not sure if Kyb is OWL-ready, but he helped bring British Hurricane back from Contenders Trials relegation, and we’ll see more of him in the EU scene.
Bonus: Harrison “Kruise” Pond (United Kingdom)
Kruise is an additional player here because, technically, he doesn’t fit within the description: he’s already been signed to the Paris OWL expansion team. However, I believed his performance as a support for Team United Kingdom was so mind-blowingly clutch that he deserved some limelight. Even in this triple-triple meta, supports often don’t receive the recognition they deserve as the backbone of many team fights. Luckily, the OWWC Viewer has enabled viewers, players, and analysts to see, close-up, the kinds of small acts that add up to big changes.
As Lucio on King’s Row, Kruise repeatedly shut down attacks and strategies from South Korea with a single boop. Take this right-click analyzed by caster Harry “Legday” Pollitt. Kruise has the game sense and fight intelligence to know that Fate is trying to use Wrecking Ball to disrupt Team UK, and puts an end to it. At another point near the end of the map, Kruise manages to knock multiple players off the edge AND win a 1v1 fight against Jjonak. His actions flipped the tide of the fight into a winnable one for Team UK. As a former member of Toronto Esports, he has experience and game sense that’s now been proven at the highest level. Paris is lucky to have him.