Overwatch Contenders Atlantic Showdown entered and exited with a bang. Where the Pacific Showdown was a little more predictable, Atlantic had much more presumed parity as we entered day one. While it didn’t end up as close as people may have expected, the middle of the pack was very close in general. All in all, Fusion University returned to their dominant form and cruised through the event relatively unscathed. With that in mind, a slew of incredible players and stories have begun to bear fruit. Here are some of the most important narratives from the Atlantic Showdown.
Hurricane Miss The Mark
The power was there. The individual performances were apparent. But British Hurricane just missed the mark at Atlantic Showdown. Samir "Tsuna" Ikram didn’t have the most amazing ultimate efficiency, but his volume was actually insane. In multiple fights where he’d use Graviton Surge and within a matter of seconds, it felt like he was half-way done with charging another one.Seb "numlocked" Barton was a monster the entire event, specifically on Junkertown against Team Envy. Jakob "bock1" Kleveland had a handful of impressive performances throughout the Showdown that should solidify him as one of Europe’s best flex supports. Each player played well. The issue came down to teamwork and coordination, not individual skill--the Hurricane have that in strides.The team didn’t play well, the players did.Things seemed to nosedive after the Hurricane’s narrow loss to Team Envy, 2-3. Coming that close to beating such a strong opponent had to have messed with the team’s overall mentality.I think Europe, in general, didn’t show what they really had to offer. Experiences like this really force players to grow. LANs like this are where real player growth happens and for the Hurricane and our next team, I think the Atlantic Showdown will be watershed moments for them.
The Angry Titans’ Rollercoaster
Day one of the Atlantic Showdown saw Angry Titans look more like frustrated dwarfs in their first match against the top seed from North America and eventual champions; Fusion University. However, things took a positive change going into day two, with convincing wins over Lowkey Esports and ATL Academy. It’s difficult to quantify exactly what changed, but the Titans seemed to be taking more proactive fights to allow Fabio "AFoxx" Veigas the space to play for more aggressive angles in team-fights. With success in their eyes and the will of the European crowd at their backs, the Titans advanced forward into day three.However, coming into day three, the Titans seem deflated in their opening maps against Team Envy. Lukas "LullSiSH" Wiklund uncharacteristically charging into angles that threaten a potential environmental kill and the Angry Titan’s supports layering support ultimates on more than one occasion seemed to paint a very panicked picture.Momentum seemed turned around on their defense of Hanamura with their spectacular bunker composition. With Stefan "Spectr9l" Fiskerstrand forcing out key support ultimates with Torbjorn on Point B and Erik "Erki" Nolander playing out of his mind on Mei and Brigitte, things looked up for the Titans, but map five was to be the final nail in Angry Titans’ coffin.With their defense being solid on Rialto, one of the Titans last fights on offense ended up being a disaster. In a clumsy rush, one the team's last fights ended with some key blunders which put them back significantly. This would ultimately end with Titans being held before finishing the first point. Like one last sad gasp for air, the Titans slowly approached the cart to trigger overtime, they get hit with a Graviton Surge and then they layer their support ultimates again. And in one final wild rollercoaster ride, the hopes and dreams of Europe regaining their lost Gauntlet seed were squashed like grapes in a winery. Overall the team had bright moments and sparks of brilliance, but it felt like the pressure got to them and we never got to see the “real” Angry Titans. Again, I think Europe didn’t show what they truely had to offer. Sadly, for such a young team in a cutthroat environment like Overwatch Contenders, I don’t see them continuing without making some form of roster change.
Envy Stands Out
While Team Envy didn’t win the entire event, their performance should give some semblance of hope to Western fans. It seemed like nearly every player on this roster had a standout performance in one map or another.The understandable questions that seemed to orbit Seo "Stand1" Ji-won’s entry into the team were put to rest. It’s hard to put too much faith into a team when they have to find a last minute substitute, but somehow Envy always finds a way. This was highlighted during their upper bracket finals match against Fusion University, specifically on King’s Row. Stand1 has an impeccable understanding of how much damage he can take, what cooldowns are available and what the team is looking to do. Throughout the map, he was constantly flirting with death and managed to retreat successfully and as much as I can praise Stand1 for knowing his limits, Team Envy in general needs applause as well for covering him when he was exiting neutral fights.This success while playing with a substitute hints at a strong system undoubted led by coaches Ash "Chu" Long and Ronnie "Talespin" DuPree. This also leads me to believe that Team Envy’s main support Anthony "Fire" King is the brains of the operation in-game and helps to lead the team and guide them at every turn. This is exemplified by one play on Hanamura against the British Hurricane. Down in numbers, Fire leads a re-engage to defend the first point of Hanamura which ends up being a strange marriage between bravery and genius. And last but certainly not least, Elliot "ELLIVOTE" Vaneryd had an absolute all-star performance the entire event. The number of ultimates he denies, his flexibility, his understanding of when and when not to position aggressively and having that consistency across the entire three-day event is something that separates him from the pack. ELLIVOTE is a stand out talent that deserves every single offer he’s going to get in the next few weeks.
Fusion University Yearns For a Challenge
Fusion University sits on top of the world at the moment. The next generation of teams will struggle to replicate their dynastic run through multiple Contenders seasons. And after their run through Atlantic Showdown, teams now have to measure their success internationally. That said, there is not much left for Fusion University in Overwatch Contenders North America.What impressed me at Atlantic Showdown was their improvements. During the regular season, Fusion University didn’t strike me as the powerhouse we once saw. Ultimate timings were off, their main tanks were on a merry-go-round, and things just didn’t look as clean as they had previously. Well, funnily enough, when you’ve got all your players on a low ping environment and they aren’t up until the wee hours of the morning, they tend to play better.One thing that stood out was how well Kim "Alarm" Kyungbo and Simon "snillo" Ekström worked together. Alarm is a generational talent that is going to crack the Overwatch League wide open next season and snillo is highly underrated. Their coordination in timing Brigitte’s stun with a volley from Zenyatta was eye-catching and surprising. A near eureka moment. And you can’t forget how well Shin "BERNAR" Se-won played at the event as well. While he feels more passive compared to his peers, the number of ultimates he denies is terrifying. And to bookend their fantastic season, Fusion University has now announced that the team would be taking on a new challenge in South Korea and would be competing for a seed in Overwatch Contenders Korea through Contenders Trials. The exodus is equal parts interesting and exciting, but I’m just thankful we might actually see both winners from each showdown play against each other within a similar metagame.Joseph “Volamel” Franco has followed esports since the MLGs 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.