It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Blizzcon is upon us once again, and on November 2-3, the eight teams who have passed regional Qualifiers will fight it out for the Overwatch World Cup title. The question on everyone’s mind: can reigning champions South Korea continue their winning streak? Or will they be dethroned by a scrappy competitor? Before we hold our breath for finals, we go to quarterfinal matches. All quarterfinal matches are a best-of-five and will be held on Friday, November 2.
Not sure which teams to pick for your bracket or what to argue with your friends about? I’ve got you covered. Each match below includes a numerical prediction, justification and background, as well as a “Spiciness Rating” of one to five stars. One star means it’s better to catch the VOD later; five stars means you’d better sit down and watch this match, because it’s all anyone will be talking about. May the odds be ever in your team’s favor.
Team United States vs. Team United Kingdom
12:15pm PST Friday, November 2
Prediction: United States 3 – United Kingdom 0
For a rivalry that’s spanned actual centuries, you’d assume this matchup would cause fireworks. It might not be the case this year. To be blunt, this is Team USA’s year to take the World Cup by storm, and they’re planning for much bigger challenges than Team UK. Team USA’s tank line of Muma and Space has demolished every team they’ve come across, and Team UK will be an unfortunately-placed stepping stone on their way to face South Korea.
Team UK talked a lot of trash at the Paris Qualifiers, with support player Boombox forecasting an “EZ clap” 4-0 when they faced France. Unfortunately for them, the opposite happened, and France went home with the 4-0. It wasn’t an easy slam dunk for the French, but it wasn’t the fierce fight Britain promised. My question is, if the second strongest team at the Paris Qualifiers couldn’t take one map off of the top dogs, what will they do against the USA powerhouse?
There are certainly standouts on Team UK, such as supports Kruise and Boombox, as well as Kyb, who has a large and useful hero pool. The team has also swapped in Fusions as main tank, who has built-in synchronicity with his numerous British Hurricane teammates who are also representing the United Kingdom. However, Team UK put up a sometimes-disappointing defense against France’s triple-triple compositions and often seemed overwhelmed. When faced with such a strong tank line and intimidating supports, I can’t help but think the same will happen against Team USA.
Team France vs. Team Canada
2:15pm PST Friday, November 2
Prediction: France 3 – Canada 2
Contrary to popular belief, the loser of this match does not get Quebec. Supporters of both teams are calling this an easy win for their chosen side; however, this matchup isn’t as clear cut as some may think. France dominated the Paris Qualifiers and runs, arguably, the best triple-triple composition in EU. Canada has shown excellence in the qualifiers, only losing a game (and any maps whatsoever) to Team USA. These are two very similar teams who will have to outskill their opponents in order to make it to the semifinals. Due to previous performances, I think France will have the edge.
The thing about these teams being similar is that, on certain maps, they may well be running mirror compositions. On other maps, it could quickly turn into a battle of the GOATS – or who can swap to a counter-composition faster. For example, Agilities or Mangachu’s Pharah will rip through France’s triple-triple comps…unless they swap SoOn to a hitscan, in which it’s over. Rinse and repeat with swaps, and we’ll likely see the full spectrum of heroes played in this matchup. France has the coordination and long-term team history (with most members having formerly been a part of Rogue) to outmaneuver even Canada’s clutch plays.
The DPS battles will be the real focus between France and Canada. Agilities has shown skill on a variety of heroes; we’ve even seen him flex onto Lucio and get a 4k on Rialto. France’s aKm and Nico share the same hero pool and will likely go head to head against Agilities. Meanwhile, SoOn and Surefour have both shown their Widowmaker and Sombra skills in previous qualifiers. Watching them try to out-smart and out-snipe each other will be a real treat.
However, the difference-maker here will be which team’s tanks can create more space. Poko is almost on permanent space-making duty, pocketing SoOn or aKm to give them range. Canada’s NotE is almost as clutch of a D.Va bomb slinger as Poko, and works to aid his DPS. The main tank battle may be less interesting, but just as important. France’s BenBest showed both amazing and lackluster Earthshatters as Reinhardt, often in the same game. Against XQC, his goals should be to get into XQC’s head and force him to focus attention on tanks, giving France’s DPS a chance to eliminate supports and their own counterparts.
It’ll be a close match, but due to France’s previous talents on control maps, that’s already one and a tiebreaker in the bag for them. Canada has managed to take an assault map off of Team USA, and should do so here. But if they aren’t careful, their attempts could go the way of Netherlands’ Anubis attack. Escort and hybrid are a toss-up, but France’s communication should swing it in their favor.
Team China vs. Team Finland
4:15 pm PST – Friday, November 2
Prediction: China 3 – Finland 2
Despite not taking first seed in the Incheon group stage, Finland emerged proud after taking not one, but two maps off of South Korea, something unheard of in qualifiers before that point. DPS duo Linkzr and Taimou, in addition to main tank Fragi and clutch offtank Zappis, managed to capitalize on miniscule mistakes by South Korea’s tank line to make them sweat. But there are cracks in Finland’s facade, and I believe that the stellar and almost too-deep hero pools coming out of China’s DPS will outdo them.
Team China’s Leave is, quite simply, a god. His Mccree was able to nearly single handedly take out the entirety of Team Australia on Nepal. As Junkrat, his tires demolish entire backlines. Combined with the talents of Shy’s sniper heroes and official “second half Genji clutch player” Krystal, Finland should be concerned. Finland relies heavily on triple-triple compositions, which may be able to outlast China’s aggressive DPS in most instances, especially on Control maps.
However, Finland’s loss will come from the lack of consistency within their team. Fragi is known for being an aggressive main tank, especially as Reinhardt. He plays a high-risk, high-reward style and often reaps the benefits because his team plays around it. Guxue plays a slower style and will likely win the main tank “mind games” when it matters. Taimou’s Widowmaker is unstoppable when he’s on form…but questionable when he’s aggravated, tilted, or simply not feeling it.
China’s hope comes from Leave’s Pharah demolishing Finland’s tank-heavy compositions and Shy’s Widowmaker winning the sniper battles. Finland could easily swing this in their favor with clutch plays, such as Zappis’ high-caliber D.Va bombs or Linkzr’s consistent DPS skill. While China does often have problems communicating and staying cognizant as a team (their C9 against Australia shows this best), if they can take advantage of Finland’s weaknesses, they’ll be on their way to the semifinals.
Team South Korea vs. Team Australia
6:15 pm PST – Friday, November 2
Prediction: South Korea 3 – Australia 1
Overwatch fans like to make a lot of comparisons when underdogs face established teams. David versus Goliath. Man against a mountain. But if there was ever truly a match that deserved those comparisons, it’s this one. South Korea is last year’s winning team and comes into this World Cup dropping only two maps to Finland. Australia has two losses to both Denmark and China.
I’ll admit my bias: nobody wants Australia to upset the kings more than I do, except probably the team themselves and their parents. It would be the most delicious, catastrophic upset in the history of Overwatch esports. The thing is, South Korea is a championship team for a reason. They have a methodical, almost eerily accurate way of sussing out opponents and adapting to get the win. The longer you play South Korea, the more easily they are able to predict your choices and swap within their Olympic-sized hero pool to outplay you.
What are the win conditions for Australia? I’ll be honest: probably a miracle. Australia’s choices, especially on DPS, have been effective but predictable: ckm runs a mean Pharah and Genji, Hus pops off on Sombra or Widowmaker. This round, ckm’s reliable Pharah is out of the question with Carpe or Fleta on sniper duty. However, if Hus can hack or snipe key supports (like JJonak, basically a permanent third DPS) or South Korea’s DPS powerhouses, he can give Australia a chance.
The same can be said for Trill, the main tank hero who was one of the few players at the Bangkok Qualifiers who could outplay Guxue more than once. Ana specialist Akraken sends a Nano Dart into Trill, and he takes out an entire backline. While South Korea’s Fate is stellar on Winston, his Rein is often lacking, and Trill may be able to outsmart him. However, in the end, South Korea is likely to wise up to any tricks. I have full faith Australia can take a map – especially their Escort specialty, Junkertown – but that South Korea will quickly stop any other assaults to their throne.
According to these win conditions, the semifinals will be USA vs. South Korea and France vs. China.
Stay tuned tomorrow night, when our Semifinal and Final prediction article will be up and based on live Quarterfinal results!