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Back in November 2017, Blizzcon hosted the second Overwatch World cup finals. The eight countries who did well enough to play on the stage at Blizzcon were the USA, China, France, Canada, Australia, Sweden, the UK, and 2016's world champions, South Korea.
Now, I'd never really taken any interest in esports and I was rather new to Overwatch by the time that Blizzcon came around, but my friends wanted me to watch the World Cup with them and I did, rooting for the UK all the way and now, thanks to the World Cup, I'm rather invested in Overwatch esports and watch the league almost religiously (come on, London Spitfire!). Come the end of the World Cup, South Korea was crowned the champions for the second time in a row which didn't really seem to come as a surprise to anyone. Over the next few days, the internet seemed to be taken over by fans of some of the losing teams complaining and claiming that they could have performed better than the pro teams. Usually, this irritates me because 9 times out of 10 it's just some salty person sat at home claiming that they have godlike skills that they don't really have, but I gave it a little thought and decided to investigate whether I could have done better than the pros. If I could then maybe some of these claims had a small element of truth behind them; if I couldn't, then, well, I'll let you decide that. I've always been gold in competitive Overwatch so I am in the "middle rank" of Overwatch competitive. So essentially I'm going to say what I feel worked well for South Korea and what worked not quite as well for some of the other teams.
As the World Cup finals took place, we were only about two months into a huge patch, which was the beginning of what came to be known as the "Mercy Meta," the most notable change having been to Mercy where her ultimate ability was swapped from resurrect to Valkyrie. Many other heroes had changes too, such as D.va's defence matrix being nerfed in exchange for the micro missiles ability. Many of the teams, (such as South Korea), had enough time to practice in the new meta but some teams didn't. Take the UK for example; most of the members of team UK had other commitments as well as the Overwatch World Cup so their practice time was severely limited. They even stated that they had only really had about two weeks of practice time in the new meta and it showed. They went from being undefeated during their fight to get to Blizzcon, but then in their first match in the new meta against Sweden they lost 0-3. The UK team were running heroes and team comps that would have been far more effective pre-Valkyrie. South Korea, on the other hand, seemed to have had enough time to get to grips with the new meta and were running team comps which complimented it.
2. Playing on Point
When you're playing Overwatch, each map has an objective a team must complete in order to win, these objectives come in the forms of payloads, which must be escorted from one end of the map to the other, points which must be claimed from the enemy team or points which both teams must fight over a single objective and even a mixture of two in the case of hybrid maps, in order to grow closer to completing the objective for that map or to stop the enemy team from progressing. However, some teams lost valuable progress on a map due to simply forgetting about the objective. In Overwatch, even a single second on the objective can give a team the tick on a point or the few metres on a payload that can change the course of the game. The example of this that came to mind from the World Cup was in the South Korea vs USA match. Overall, the USA gave South Korea a good match. They started off strong, winning Nepal which was the first map of the match and despite losing the second map, which was Eichenwalde, they managed to tie the third map, Hanamura. However, come the fourth map, Gibraltar, the USA made the mistake that may have cost them the match. On their attack round, as the timer started to tick down to zero there was a team fight between the USA and South Korea and the USA seemed to be so focused on hunting down the members of the South Korean team that by the time they'd noticed that no one was on the payload, it was just too late and they were just too slow to trigger overtime, which could have given the USA the time they needed to get the next point and possibly even to win the match.
All of the South Korean players played exceptionally, as did all of the players across all of the teams, however, one man really stepped up to the challenge. Fl0w3R played amazingly on all heroes that he played throughout the World Cup, but from the moment he first stepped out of the spawn room as Widowmaker, he really showed just how much of a force to be reckoned with he is. Not only did the pick come as a surprise, but he can play Widowmaker like no one else; it was just pick after pick after pick. He's currently an inactive member of New York Excelsior's Overwatch League roster and will be old enough to play as of his 18th birthday on the 14th of May this year which could spell disaster for all other Overwatch League teams should Fl0w3R be able to repeat his World Cup performance.
Fl0w3R's Widowmaker World Cup Highlights
Now before I properly get into this, I am, in no way, trying to say that any of the players on any of the losing teams can be defined as "low level" players. All of the players in the competitive scene have exceptional skills and deserve to be where they are because they are very good at the game. That being said, some players are still better than others. The members of the South Korean team just had the edge in the World Cup, be it because they had loads of time to practice or just because they're naturally slightly better at the game. South Korea is dominating most of the competitive gaming scene at the moment and the rest of the world just needs to step up a tiny bit to be able to truly compete. That being said, the Korean teams in the Overwatch League aren't dominating as much as it was predicted they would.
Out of all of the points I've made I think that this is possibly the most important when it comes to Overwatch. Overwatch is, at its core, a team based first person shooter, which means that each and every person on a team has to work together in order to get a good result. The biggest obstacle that the World Cup teams had to overcome was the fact that some of them had never played with or even met their teammates before the World Cup began, making it much harder to understand each other in a way that teams who've been playing together for a long length of time would. In my opinion, there was one key difference between the top teams, such as South Korea, and the teams on the lower end of the leaderboard in the World Cup, and that one thing is the synergy that the teams had. The teams who didn't do so well did work very well as a team, much more so than you can expect from us competitive players who solo queue and have to try and form a connection with people we've never met but it wasn't quite good enough, whereas the lower teams performed really well as a team. The teams who were closer to the top of the leaderboard performed not as a team, but as a unit, as if a single person were controlling all of the heroes at the same time or as if the players had some sort of telepathic link with each other.
So, that's why I feel South Korea managed to take the World Cup for the second year in a row and maintain their title as the only country to ever win the World Cup. But the question I asked myself at the beginning of all this was, "could I have done better than some of the losing teams in the World Cup?" and the answer is, no. Sure, if I managed to get a team who could bear to play with me regularly and we did that we could probably create an amazing team and be able to predict each other's moves with an amazing degree of accuracy. Yes, I know to stick to the payload as if it were a magnet and I was completely made of metal and yes, I can adapt to a meta given enough time. However, at this point, I have nowhere near the skill that's needed to compete at that level and I'm not getting better anytime soon; also, I'm a PS4 player so my PC skills are currently awful. The point stands, the pros are pros because they are the best in the game at this point in time. Plus, don't worry I'm sure someone will be able to dethrone South Korea one day.
Hello, everyone, I know that you probably don't care but I like to give a bit of a personal touch to things I make so I'm just going to introduce myself a bit before leaving.
My name is Geozaki; I am a 19-year-old (trans) girl and I live in Wales in the UK. I am an avid gamer and, in case you couldn't tell, I'm a D.Va main in Overwatch. I love to be creative and the thing I love to do the most is work on a small YouTube channel that I work on, sometimes with the help of some friends. This is the first thing I've ever done on Vocal, so I hope it's OK. Anyways, thanks for reading. Hopefully, see you soon!