The first group stage of the Overwatch World Cup is officially over. Two of the eight teams advancing to BlizzCon have been decided with South Korea and Finland finishing atop the group.
The bottom half of the group was as uncompetitive as expected. However, the big three at the top, South Korea, Finland and Russia gave us plenty of fireworks, including a match of the year contender.
The first day of play began with a lackluster slate of matches, with 4-0 sweeps being the common theme. Hong Kong was easily exposed to be the weakest team in the group, getting dominated by both Russia and Finland. South Korea also had no troubles dispatching a clearly over matched Chinese Taipei roster.
Despite the slow start, the final two matches of the day gave us something to get excited about. Japan was looking to play spoiler after beating Russia 2-0 in the first map of their series, riding the momentum of their two DPS stars Kenji “AmeKen” Hisano and Yuma “Dep” Hisamoto. However, Russia adapted well, devoting the bulk of their healing and tank resources to protecting George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha and Stanislave “Mistakes” Danilov, which allowed their superior mechanical skill to shine through. The DPS duo then carried the Russians to sweep the rest of the series.
The highlight of the entire tournament came in the form of South Korea vs. Finland. The two teams treated us to a masterful performance that was everything you could hope for in an Overwatch game. You can read about the entire match here.
Finland and Russia treated us to yet another tightly contested match as the high point of an otherwise predictable day two. The stakes of this match up could not be overstated because the winner would likely be moving on to BlizzCon, barring a major upset later in the stage, while the loser would be stuck in third place.
Russia took the first map by a slim margin, largely thanks to the play of ShaDowBurn who was able to take advantage of Finland’s tanky compositions with his Pharah and Genji play. However, the Russians wouldn’t be able to duplicate that success for the rest of the series. Although they were able to tie the Finns on King’s Row, they dropped the next two maps and lost the series, effectively ruining their Top 8 chances.
No surprises were to be had on day three with all the matches ending in a 4-0 score line. Japan was on both ends of a perfect game as they lost to South Korea without picking up a single point on any map and also beat Hong Kong in the same fashion.
For Russia, it was make or break in their final match against South Korea. Pull off the upset and they still had a small chance of making the top two, but a loss would send them on a one way trip back to the frozen north. Unfortunately, just like all other teams before them not named Finland, they were dominated by the Korean powerhouse.
Finland closed out the first group stage with a 4-0 drubbing of Chinese Taipei, further cementing their status as a top contender in the tournament.