Some true variation from the ever-present GOATS came up this week. Veteran teams saw a rattling by some rookies, but all in all, the status quo didn’t get mixed up too much. We’re beyond halfway through Contenders Australia now, so while we might have a strong idea of the leaders going into playoffs (Sydney and Melbourne, that means you), it’s not yet too late for an upset for other qualifying teams.
Monday, Group A
Sydney Drop Bears vs. Athletico Esports (4-0)
Shocker: Sydney kept their strong game up. DPS Hus got some spotlight on Widowmaker and Sombra, giving a little variety to the otherwise tank-heavy matchup. By this point, it’s no surprise that Sydney is continuing to stomp every other team; they seem uniquely adapted to every meta thrown at them, from dive to GOATS. Tank player Punk also proved to be stunning this series, eating at least half a dozen ultimates with his Defense Matrix. Despite being plagued by pauses and connection issues, the Drop Bears kept on the offense all game long, playing with their signature coordination and aggression.
Athletico wasn’t much of a slouch though. They’re second in group standings (though it’s not exactly a close one, going seven map wins to Sydney’s twelve) and have had good performances against other teams. DPS Micro was consistently hassling the Drop Bears all match long, with a cracker of a shutdown onto Hus’ EMP that unfortunately didn’t see a map win. An incredible defense on Hanamura point A is especially worth noting – Sydney managed only around half the progress required before losing the round in overtime, once again in part thanks to Micro. Micro’s Pharah on later maps, and Athletico’s willingness to try out cheekier comps in general, made them a tough nut for the Drop Bears to crack.
Blank Esports vs. Legacy Esports (3-1)
Blank and Legacy were, on paper, a much fairer match than Sydney vs. anyone else, but paper isn’t everything. DPS Roro on Pharah led Blank to an early victory on Lijiang that took Legacy by complete surprise, and Blank kept the ball rolling on Hollywood with a simply incredible quadruple Barrage from Roro leading to a total team wipe and full hold for Blank. Blank showed a really strong game here, coordinating and moving as a unit. On the rare occasion that they lost a player, Legacy completely dropped the ball and failed to capitalise on it. Blank’s attack had a more restrained look to it in subsequent maps, which led to them dropping Horizon to Legacy, but between DPS Roro and tanks Cinderella and Nozz, they worked as a confident squad.
Legacy, on the other hand, felt oddly clumsy. As mentioned earlier, any picks they did manage to get (and those weren’t entirely uncommon) weren’t capitalised on. Lijiang Tower went alright, if not in their favour, but on Hollywood, they seemed to almost blindly tilt and run into the fire without any thought. Only on Horizon did they show up, tearing apart Blank’s defense with a GOATS comp. Unfortunately, that didn’t keep up in Route 66, although there were a few noteworthy attempts from Mini to recover. It’s getting late in the season for Legacy to pick it up. We’re now past the halfway point, and Legacy have only one game win on their hands.
Mindfreak vs. Kraken Esports Club (1-3)
Currently sitting at the bottom of their group ladder, Kraken and Mindfreak were competing to improve their differential and make playoffs qualification. Both teams were fairly matched, and control seemed to pass back and forth with regularity throughout the match. Kraken’s off-tank AGO in particular had a ton of hero plays, using his Self-Destruct to full effect. With that mini-Poko on their hands, Kraken got the match win. Mirror GOATS dominated all match long, and indeed there were plenty of mirror plays. Graviton/Self-Destruct combos (the hole in one combo) were coming up like clockwork.
— Path to Pro Community (@Contenders_OW) December 3, 2018
Mindfreak’s attacks were strange: they’d fumble a few times, get their footing and finally manage to pull things together. Their second attack on Hollywood is a prime example: the whole thing fell apart over and over. It looks to me like Kraken got cocky and assumed things were done, chasing down Mindfreak’s Lucio only to be killed by the rest of Mindfreak. Furthermore, their overall performance was hinged around Lazki’s Reinhardt. Whenever he fell, so did the rest of the team. Mindfreak can’t really be blamed for this because GOATS is so heavily built around a shield tank like Reinhardt. Other teams running similar comps have similar problems. However, Mindfreak can be blamed for a few rookie mistakes, CoolWhhip getting caught on scenery being the worst offender. With the loss, Mindfreak now sits at the bottom of the ladder, while Kraken has claimed fourth place.
Tuesday, Group B
Heist Gaming Club vs. Melbourne Mavericks (2-3)
The two ladder leaders for group B promised a great opening match. The Mavericks have mostly been in charge this season, with Heist coming out of their matches after narrow 3-2 victories. We nearly saw a threepeat of that glory, but sadly for Heist, Melbourne came out on top. The Mavericks took the fight to Heist, charging into team fights with all cylinders firing. Heist tank Bus was continually focused down, the Mavericks showing awareness of that key pick for GOATS. Melbourne’s comps later in the game felt flimsy, however, especially Dewboy’s Doomfist (a pick-centric hero getting no picks is never fun). In such a tank-heavy meta, traditional DPS just aren’t flying, so Dewboy’s hero pick was a strange one.
— Jungle (@junglejazz_ow) December 4, 2018
Heist are always great for a good show – they’ve gone to tiebreakers in every match so far, and just as importantly, their playstyle has a certain showmanship to it. Support JungleJazz was a strong part of their near-victory here, with a critical double boop helping to secure Lijiang Tower and some fantastically timed Sound Barriers giving his team the push required to stabilise. Tank Bus was playing some odd heroes, such as Winston in an otherwise traditional GOATS comp. This was a big problem for Heist in the early game, but when Bus switched, he still made plenty of hero plays like this one. Melbourne counterpart Minny saw strong performances too. It’s a tough job playing main tank in this meta, so props to both of them.
Order Army vs. Kanga Esports (4-0)
Oh, Kanga Esports. They’re trying their hardest and aren’t afraid to sometimes try some stranger comps, but it’s just not working out for them. They tried a Mei-centric GOATS comp sometimes called SNOATS…that totally failed to work out. A switch to standard GOATS gave them a single round win, but the next two rounds the same thing happened – clumsy SNOATS, panic GOATS. They seemed totally dedicated to not changing up even when required, refusing to run a hitscan to counter Pharah. When we finally saw some true non-GOATS on Horizon – a Junkrat/Orisa/Torbjörn bunker composition from Kanga and modified dive from Order – Kanga just completely fumbled it. With this loss, they now sit firmly at the bottom of the group ladder, below even newbies Freshman Class.
Order, meanwhile, looked as good as ever. Yuki’s Pharah on Numbani absolutely stole the show (it’s no surprise that he’s a former Team Fortress 2 player), so it was mostly business as usual for one of the finer teams in Contenders Australia.
Freshman Class vs. Breakaway Esports (2-3)
As two more lower-end teams that were well-matched, Freshman Class and Breakaway have been consistently great to watch. Breakaway showed great coordination early on, wiping FMC out with nothing but a single Graviton at one point. SNOATS got some solid use too, with SlidZorJ on Mei to take control. SlidZorJ in general did great today, with Freshman not showing him nearly enough respect as a dangerous player, along with fellow DPS Dfield and flex JJJJ.
— Path to Pro Community (@Contenders_OW) December 4, 2018
Freshman Class seemed a little sleepy at first, but the new squad got things into ignition very quickly. Tanks Virginya and Badd were doing great work in FLOATS comp, and had opposing Zarya SlidZorJ not managed to get a strong Graviton off in the final moments of Numbani, they may have had a better shot at winning this match. They’ve got luck when it comes to risky plays, and patience for slower ones. They’re not without their mistakes (positioning especially), but they’re a strong team. If Freshman Class can tighten their game in the next two weeks and keep up that lucky streak, they might have a good shot for quarterfinals.
What to Expect in Week 4
Expect to see Sydney continue the streak next week. Legacy just won’t be a challenge to them. Athletico will have a chance to redeem themselves against lower-tier Kraken, while Blank Esports will no doubt wipe Mindfreak with ease to solidify their standing on the ladder. Expect the same from Heist vs. Kanga (sorry, Kanga!). Mavericks will have a tough job with Breakaway, but should continue their victory streak. Order, meanwhile, will need to bring their best game against Freshman Class, who will be looking to secure as many map wins as possible.
Week four of Contenders Australia opens with Sydney Drop Bears vs. Legacy Esports on Monday, December 9th at 12pm AEDT/11am AEST. For Americans, that’s Sunday, December 8th at 5pm PST or 8pm EST.