Overwatch Contenders Season 1 Storylines (North America)
August 14th marks the start of the North American side to the Overwatch Contenders Season 1. Season 0 of the Overwatch Contenders was mildly successful and Season 1 is attempting to use that momentum as fuel to hit the ground running. Not only will every match be streamed, but we will get to witness some of the best Western Overwatch teams to compete for a $100,000 prize pool. This season, the level of competition has evolved with the arrival of Team EnVyUs and Rogue as they both will be in attendance and in prime form to compete.
That being said, these teams will all meet on a shifted battlefield. Doomfist will be available, Reaper has been changed, and Reinhardt could see more play. As the metagame slowly begins to loosen its business tie and relaxes with a smooth drink, standings and perception may change come August 14th. Not only is this something for teams to finally participate in, but with more and more news developing and being released over time about the ever elusive Overwatch League, the storylines and narratives that encompass the players and the teams are incredibly important. Let’s dive into some of the more interesting stories, notably on one team that has finally returned from their travels in the east.
If you are new to the competitive Overwatch scene, here is a small trivia fact for you: Team EnVyUs is the only team to travel to South Korea and defeat them on their home soil. I’ve written that before and I will keep writing that. They are the first, and they might be the only team to go to Korea and win a major event.
We’ve had teams come close in the past, but no one has ever brought home the win. With South Korea’s tyrant grip on other esports titles, having a western team take home a title is incredible. With their journey home to the States, they finally leave “Hotel Hell.” Their arrival back in the states will be met with fanfare from their diehard fans and supporters, but can they show the same performance as they have in Korea or could we see a refreshed and revitalized team EnVyUs?
Writer Roz Savage talks about how difficult it is being at the top of your class. “When you stand at the bottom of the mountain and look up at the mountaintop, the path looks hard and stony, and the top is obscured by clouds. But when you reach the top and look down, you realize that there were a thousand paths that could have brought you to the same place.” With EnVyUs sitting strong as one of the number one contenders, will they find it difficult to remain at the top of their game? With the reports trickling in about the rumored deal being finalized between EnVyUs and obtaining the Austin-Dallas slot for the Overwatch League, will this be the last time we see them in Overwatch Contenders?
Shattered glass and broken dreams are what team Kungarna eat for breakfast. They are the underdogs, they are the team that no one expects and yet they keep advancing towards you. Your doubt fuels their competitive fire and it fuels their mouths as well. Kungarna are the bad boy’s of Overwatch. Their cavalier-ish attitude towards their opponents shifts the pressure onto the enemy teams which can cause them to become a bit more emotionally invested into the game.
This is summed up perfectly on the broadcast from the Kungarna vs. Cloud 9 match from Season 0 by commentator and analyst Robert "hexagrams" Kirkbride: “What I like about the trash talk is [that] I think it’s great for the scene overall, as long as it's kept within certain boundaries. It puts all the pressure on Cloud 9, there is already more pressure on Cloud 9. If Kungarna doesn’t make it in, everyone's like ‘What? Kungarna? Fine. Those guys just talk trash, let’s just forget about them.’ But that then doubles the pressure for Cloud 9. ‘You’re Cloud 9; you're going to be sent home by ‘Kungarna’. We’re going to put you out.’ I love the mind games.”
Kungarna’s passion and hunger could be mistaken for overconfidence and hubris, but you have to respect them. That same confidence and passion could be their ticket into a deep and destructive run in Overwatch Contenders Season 1. The list of who they’ve beaten to sit where they sit is not only considerable long, but these teams are no slouches. Cloud 9, LG Evil, Risen Nation, the Detroit Renegades are just to name a few. Kungarna might not be your cup of tea, but they don’t mind.
Recently FNRGFE has had a pretty surprising surge into the professional scene. They qualified for Season 1 of Overwatch Contenders on short notice with little to no practice. This group of grizzled veterans from a myriad of games and esports scenes have proven that they have what it takes to become one of the more formidable teams in Overwatch. With their run during the BEAT Invitational Season 2, they may have taken an early loss to Arc6, but this leads them into quite the loser’s bracket run where they took down teams like Tempo Storm and Envision Esports. With their more recent acquisition of the former flex player for Fnatic, Matt "coolmatt69" Iorio, can FNRGFE still maintain their style come later this month? The Overwatch World Cup has been a stressor for many teams, but with FNRGFE not having the tenure of a team like Rogue, will coolmatt’s time away from the team hurt their chances at all?
With the lack of tournaments being run during the span of the Overwatch World cup, can FNRGFE continue with their momentum from the last few months? Austin "Muma" Wilmot certainly thinks they can perform and notes that the synergy and chemistry between the team is quite high. In a recent interview here at Esports Heaven he talks about this briefly, stating “Every player also has history with at least 1 other player on the team so despite being a team for about a month now, we've been able to gel super well. We're 6 people with a minimum amount of time spent together already turning this many heads with no plans on stopping.”
This will be a crucible for a lot of teams, but if FNRGFE can make it out or even just stabilize in this Season of Overwatch Contenders, this could be a large billboard for them reaching into the Overwatch League. A strong performance by this team who has performed under the some of the most unfavorable circumstances could be career defining.
Immortals are the “interim-champion”, so to speak, of the North American Overwatch scene. They’ve filled the void that Rogue and EnVyUs left as they traveled to Korea for APEX Season 3. It was almost as if a champion were removed from power due to injuries or illness hindered their ability to compete. Someone needed to fill in the gaps, there was an open throne and Immortals stepped up to the plate. Not only has the team been recently performing incredibly well, most notably with close sets with Rogue at the BEAT Invitational, but they’ve signed two new rising South Korean talents in; Young Seo "KariV" Park and Pan-Seung "Fate" Koo.
These former Mighty AOD players have been key additions to the team and have really unlocked some of the potentials in Immortal’s players. The only real question is if this team and hang with the likes of EnVyUs and Rogue once the game is shifted by the Doomfist patch being in place. Are they conditioned enough to quickly adapt and overcome some of Overwatch’s titans or will they hold second-fiddle to their dominance? How much will they have grown since the BEAT Invitational and how will they match against EnVyUs?
This is the only team that has currently been announced as an Overwatch League contracted team. Now, whether or not the roster changes, remains to be seen. But as the first team to find their geolocation and roster, this is going to be a big test for Immortals. Will they be able to weather the storm that lies in front of them? Can they remain the King’s of North America with such steep competition? “Maintain” is the name of the game for Immortals.
Joseph “Volamel” Franco has followed esports since the MLG’s of 2006. He started out primarily following Starcraft 2, Halo 3, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. He has transitioned from viewer to journalist and writes freelance primarily about Overwatch and League of Legends. If you would like to know more or follow his thoughts on esports you can follow him at @Volamel.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.