This is the first in a series of articles hyping up teams that have made it to the finals of the Overwatch World Cup 2018. Each week, we’ll be posting two teams that are looking to fight it out at Blizzcon! This week is Team Canada and Team France.
Oh Canada, the great white North, NA’s 2017 Overwatch World Cup golden boys. Can 2018 be the year they repeat their incredible run through the brackets for another chance at the title? South Korea, last year’s champions, will start out on the other half of the final Eight, and very likely could prove to be Canada’s final hurdle once again. To reach the finals in November, Team Canada will have to advance past both France and the winner of the China vs. Finland match. Once there, Canada could likely face South Korea again, but may meet team USA, team UK, or the Aussies.
Teams qualified for the Round of Eight were matched up based on their finishing in their respective group stages at the conclusion of the matches in Paris. First seeded teams were matched at random against second seeded teams of another region. France and the UK advanced out of the games in Paris, while the USA and Canada advanced after finishing 1st and 2nd at the Los Angeles Stage. Finland and South Korea advanced out of the Incheon Stage, while Australia and China were our top seeded teams after the Bangkok stage.
Canada became the heroes of NA during the OWWC 2017. Team USA were knocked out in the Quarterfinals by eventual champions South Korea, who Korea proceeded through their half of the table with relative ease. On the other side, team Canada won two close 3-2 matches against Australia and Sweden to punch their ticket to the Finals Match.
Unfortunately for Team Canada, NA, and the OWWC T-Mobile MVP (recently controversy embroiled) xQc, South Korea had no mercy in the Finals. A pretty convincing 4-1 victory saw South Korea crowned champs, and all NA hopes dashed.
This year, Team Canada hope to repeat their successes and make a repeat appearance in the Finals. The seeding would recommend that Team Canada has received a pretty good lot, avoiding a rematch with South Korea until a possible Finals match, and effectively avoiding one or the other of South Korea and rivals Team USA.
Some faces return to Canada’s 2018 roster. Surefour, Agilities, xQc, and Mangachu were all part of team Canada’s 2017 near-miracle run. This year they’ll be joined by a new support duo of Bani and Crimzo, as well as a compliment at the Flex role in NotE. Perhaps the new blood is just what Canada needs to capture OWWC glory this year.
Possibly the most famous Canadian Overwatch Pro, Lane ‘Surefour’ Roberts is a DPS main who reached an 80 skill rating in Overwatch Competitive Play before any other player managed to do so. Surefour is hailed as one of the best hitscan hero players in Overwatch, and even won the Widowmaker 1v1 event at the Overwatch All-Stars Weekend 2018. Surefour makes up half of Canada’s DPS duo, one that could end up being hailed as one of, if not, the best at OWWC 2018.
Brady ‘Agilities’ Girardi is an 18 year old DPS player known for his high mobility and situational heroes. Agilities helped lead his OWL team, the Los Angeles Valiant, to a 2nd place finish in the inaugural season’s regular season, 1st place in Stage 4, but was unable to push the Valiant past eventual OWL Grand Finals Champions the London Spitfire. A perfect complement to Surefour’s hitscan abilities, Agilities is the second half of the Canadian DPS duo.
2017’s OWWC T-Mobile MVP, Félix ‘xQc’ Lengyel is a 22 year old who played for the Dallas Fuel in Stage 1 of the OWL Inaugural Season. xQc has had a rash of troubles however, finding himself in the crosshairs of Blizzard, OW fans, and the Dallas Fuel. In March of 2018, xQc received a 15 day ban from the OWL for making a homophobic comment. The Dallas Fuel subsequently released xQc two days later. xQc has always been a relatively controversial figure in the Overwatch community, but his skills can not be denied.
Chris ‘Bani’ Benell is a 25 year old, currently playing for the Houston Outlaws in the Overwatch League. Houston finished 7th in 2018’s Inaugural Season after starting the year out strong but hitting a lull in their play during stages 2 and 3. The support play for Houston was never really an issue though, and Bani’s Mercy is definitely one of the best in the OWL.
William ‘Crimzo’ Hernandez is an 18 year old, currently playing for Team Envy in the North American Contenders League. He’s a support main, known for his Zenyatta and Moira.
Liam ‘Mangachu’ Campbell plays professionally for the Excelsior 2, NYXL’s NA Contenders team. XL2 is a team made up of players from USA and South Korea, with Mangachu the only representative of Canada. XL2 managed a 2nd place finish, losing in the finals to Fusion University 0-4. Mangachu is XL2’s only representative at the OWWC.
Lucas ‘NotE’ Meissner is a 19 year old off-tank currently playing for the Boston Uprising in the Overwatch League. NotE was a large part of Boston’s Perfect Stage Three, and helped them to a berth in the Inaugural Season’s Playoff.
Justin ‘Jayne’ Conroy is a 25 year old Canadian coach and content creator. Currently sitting as the assistant coach for the Dallas Fuel, Jayne is credited with a large role in turning that teams season around, as they’ve gone from a relatively low seed to a middle of the table contender.
Road to the Finals
For Canada to make it through to the finals they’ll have to first get past both France and the winner of China vs Finland. France is always a favourite coming out of Europe, but haven’t finished above fourth so far when it comes to the final stage of the Overwatch World Cup. This year France has a pretty stacked team. Four members, SoOn, aKm, Poko, and uNKOE, all play for an OWL team. NiCO, their third DPS, plays for an EU Contenders team (Eagle Gaming) while their final two players BenBest and winz have both played professionally before, and are most likely preparing (hoping) to get an offer from one of the OWL expansion teams. Oh, and bonus, winz is aKm’s older brother, so the French have that possible connection going for them. Who could know how to synergize and communicate better than brothers? Can they emulate the success of France’s FIFA World Cup team and make it through to win? Or can Team Canada make it past the French?
I think this will be Team Canada’s biggest challenge in the lead up to the Finals match. The French have a dynamic team, with fast gameplay, and players with a known penchant for unorthodox in-game maneuvers. Team Canada will have to stay one step ahead of an incredibly hard-to-pin down French team. If they manage that, the winner of Finland/China will await them.
Attempting to foretell a winner between Finland and China for Team Canada to face would be incredibly hard. Six of Seven players on the Finnish team play in the OWL including the dynamic Los Angeles Gladiators Support duo of Shaz and BigGoose. Team China on the other hand, has none, but their off-support Sky did play for the 0-40 Shanghai Dragons. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Finland has the upper hand, but they may have an advantage at support. Support ultimates are quite possibly the most influential in Overwatch, so having two players who communicate well and have experience playing together could tip the scales in their favour.
Provided team Canada makes it past France and Finland/China, they will most likely face either team USA or South Korea. The two are clearly the favourites in their half of the bracket, and while this last year has proven that the South Korean gap may have narrowed, betting against a Korean team on stage is still not a solid investment strategy.
Team Canada has a chance to repeat their successes of last year, but it will be a hard journey for them to make it to the Finals, let alone win them this year. I know I’ll be cheering on team Canada, but I’ll not quite be surprised if they manage to push for the finals match and fall short of the title. Regardless #NorthStrong #WeGoAgane!