Fnatic entered this winners match having been proven mortal yesterday when blood was drawn in their 2-1 backstage victory over mousesports in which they were forced to play a Lijiang tiebreaker after neither side could win out on Temple of Anubis. A stark reminder of their aversion to Control / KOTH maps.
Misfits entered the final day unscathed but still surrounded by questions about their reshuffled roster and newly democratised free-for-all calling style - could they gel together to deliver against top tier opponents over the coming hours? This Group B Winners' Match would be their first test.
- Fnatic pick Dorado and ban Nepal, Lijiang, Anubis, Volskaya Industries and Eichenwalde
- Misfits pick Ilios and ban Hollywood, Route 66, Hanamura, Numbani and King's Row
- Watchpoint: Gibraltar remains and will be played first
True to form, Fnatic ban out as many Control maps as possible, but actually having a real map draft for once means they will have to face their fears on Ilios.
We are transported back to May 2016 as we see a Widowmaker defence coming out on Gibraltar from Zebbosai. Nevix opting for the hero of the moment Soldier 76 and SoOn with his pocket pick, Tracer.
Things start off shakily for the defenders as buds' Roadhog lands a juicy hook on Nevix for first blood. The payload moves forward uncontested with Grandpa 76 out of the picture, but at the top of the ramp coolmatt69 and Custa break off from the pack and race through server room for the defenders gantry.
However, when Stoop and Vonethil follow suit no one is left on the payload and buds finds himself exposed by the respawning Nevix. Misfits look to draw the fight out with guerrilla tactics despite being heavily out-positioned, blocking the payload progress and forcing Fnatic to come back and deal with the threat behind.
The shenanigans are soon dealt with though and coolmatt69 is perfectly positioned to rain down hot death from above with a Tactical Visor from the gantry. The fallout is devastating for Misfits who endure casualties far beyond losing the first capture. They find themselves with severely staggered spawns and completely devoid of high ground control in the hangar phase. Yet, they still feel compelled to contest the payload! Fnatic massacre them without putting a foot wrong and it's peddle to the metal on the payload.
The synergy of the Misfits composition seems completing lacking with Widowmaker, Tracer and Soldier 76 looking like disparate DPS islands in comparison to the tank deathball of Fnatic knocking on their door, which seems evermore unassailable with the vigilant coolmatt69 dominating the high ground of the home stretch. Misfits are ground to a pulp by the slow march forward, capped out with a whimper on the first round.
Misfits turn to attack and what looked like a questionable defensive lineup now becomes a refreshing dive composition as Nevix switches to Genji and skipjack to Winston. Fnatic, traditionally a team that tend not to deviate, favour something a little closer to the meta currently crystallizing around Roadhog, D. Va and Soldier 76.
There should be a lifeguard on duty, but Misfits are clearly heeding the big warning sign that says "No Diving" as Fnatic fortify the server room. Zebbosai skirts the perimeter as Widowmaker occasionally finding angles but not frags.
Hafficool delivers a strong showing on D. Va constantly hounding the threats, whether it be Widowmaker, Tracer of Genji. Misfits are genuinely struggling to find the chink in the armour with buds chain hooks looking prolific as coolmatt69 continues to pump out the damage on Custa's discorded targets.
Recognising when they are beat, Nevix throws in the towel and dons his Soldier 76 leathers and Zebbosai moves to Zarya as they scramble to find something that works. It really is the Overwatch cliche, but big things tend to happen when time is running short...
After Nevix guns down buds' Roadhog, it falls to COOLLER to initiate with Sound Barrier before finding the crucial pick on to Custa's Ana. With the main source of healing eradicated Stoop finds himself over-committed on what would normally be a huge Earthshatter and the Fnatic hold unravels. Misfits capture first point in overtime.
coolmatt69 gets caught out in the transition and the attackers earn vital metres uncontested. Blitzkrieg high ground control from Misfits sees the defenders dominated throughout the hangar phase. When Fnatic do contest Zebbosai's Graviton snares them on the payload and frags flood in, fuelling Misfits' newfound momentum.
By the time the red mist clears it's Misfits themselves who are getting bogged down on the final corner - completion in sight, but Fnatic fast regaining composure. The fireworks erupt with 1:15 remaining as both sides unload their ult arsenal, but the defenders hold strong at the expense of the ult advantage.
20 seconds to go. Misfits surge forward with a four-strong ult warchest as the map is reaching its climax, blowing the lot to wipe Fnatic and push the payload to the cusp of completion, but the defenders have left themselves wiggle room for a last ditch respawn engagement.
Tag-teaming the payload, buds' Tracer with Stoop and Vonethil halt proceedings long enough for Hafficool to re-emerge as D. Va, punch in the Self Destruct code and detonate on the payload. It's checkmate as Misfits are forced to watch the overtime rapidly decay from a safe distance. Fnatic take the map.
Well: Fnatic open once again with the meta standard whilst Misfits go for Zarya over D. Va, Zenyatta over Ana with the SoOn Tracer / Nevix Soldier 76 pairing. Rampaging Roadhog play from buds in the first fight creates two picks that allow Fnatic to take control. The immediate response is flanking Tac Visor from Nevix, but it's SoOn who shreds the supports to flip control at 30%.
Fight number three sees ults traded willy-nilly in a sparkling slugfest, but it is an eventual random Self Destruct from Hafficool that breaks the deadlock to flip things back at 74%. However, Fnatic are playing poorly when in control and once Misfits take it back they prove to be the masters of picking apart the attacking waves. SoOn's Tracer play has been instrumental in wrestling the round back. 1-0 Misfits
Lighthouse: No compositional changes for second round; these are two teams locked in an ideological dance of death. Fnatic gain control after another prolonged fight, but they have the rug pulled from under them on 13% as SoOn continues going HAM despite Nevix taking a cliff dive with his Tactical Visor.
An optimistic coolmatt69 Nano Visor from the balcony is completely denied by skipjack's shield before Nevix sends him cartwheeling through the air with a fat direct Helix Rocket. Fnatic appear to be tilting, falling for the SoOn distraction every time and unable to string together a coherent play. 2-0 Misfits
Ruins: Fnatic wisely opt to mix it up; Hafficool to Genji, coolmatt69 to Zarya, Stoop to D. Va and buds to McCree. A healthy roll of the dice. Misfits hero selections remain unchanged and they sneak the first capture despite a compliment of Fnatic players contesting from the periphery. SoOn continues doing SoOn things. Chaos rules supreme; Misfits seem to be in their element, but Fnatic look increasingly shellshocked.
After several minutes of all out warfare Hafficool has still been unable to build his Dragon Blade in timely fashion. When he finally combos it with coolmatt69's Graviton, Hidan is on point with the Transcendence. Opportunity missed for Fnatic and Misfits continue to slam - it's the SoOn and Nevix show. 3-0 Misfits.
Hexagrams mentions on stream that Custa would actually prefer to play Zenyatta on Control maps, but plays Ana due to a difference of opinions within the team. One can't help but wonder.
I'm getting flashbacks to the Atlantic Showdown groups where Misfits tied the series on Nepal before losing on Dorado. What can they do here to avoid history repeating?
Misfits open on attack with Zebbosai Widowmaker; it's clear by this point that he believes Widow could be a potential key to unlocking the developing meta. A deep dive is on the cards with Tracer, Genji and Winston lining up at the gates, but plans for a speedy engagement are put on hold when Hidan's robot monk engages in some assisted self-immolation, catching a Firestrike no sooner had the doors opened.
The initial attack appears to rest on shaky foundations as SoOn loses a 1v1 with coolmatt69 deep in the backline, shortly after Hidan is hooked in from the patio, but when they do finally regroup and execute it's nothing but green lights for the offence. Zebbosai peeking from the archway window puts a hole in Ana's eyepatch with his first shot just as the Misfits rushdown squad touches down around the fountain.
Hafficool decides to deal with the Widow threat, but in doing so removes a vital member of the D. Va / Roadhog / Soldier 76 power trio. Without Ana and D. Va on hand the Fnatic backline is simply overwhelmed. Zebbosai even goes on to win the duel with Hafficool in duel, before grappling forward for a lofty angle toward the bank vault spawn and domes Vonethil as the first point capture completes.
Despite the Lucio pick, by the time the payload is rolling Fnatic have position on the courthouse balcony, but Misfits still have an ideal composition to contest. As they unleash the hounds SoOn blinks through to the backline, dividing the defenders and effortlessly trading out with a huge double kill Pulse Bomb that takes down Stoop and coolmatt69 mid-Visor.
Big Hafficool D. Va plays allow Fnatic to stabilise in the jaws of the ziggurat, but they are caught flat footed by the next attack wave. Misfits only spending Sound Barrier to turn SoOn's Tracer in to a battering ram before mauling the defence en masse for a straightforward capture.
Clearly aware that he has activated godmode SoOn is seen hiding on the medpack top right as the oblivious defenders mill around him, he goes for the Pulse Bomb support snipe - it whiffs - but he survives anyway, and in the resulting chaos Hidan catches Ana with balls to the face. Misfits are knocking on the spawn door; it's a home invasion and Fnatic can only cower behind the sofa as the payload rolls to completion.
Misfits now defend with Nevix on Junkrat, alongside Tracer, Zarya and Reinhardt. Custa opens on Zenyatta. The defenders setup is looking like a glass cannon, but the high damage potential is denied by Defence Matrix and Barrier Field as Fnatic glide up the ramp and break left behind the market stalls. It looks grim for Misfits who are haemorrhaging players as the noose tightens, but Nevix digs deep to find a big brace late in the fight just off camera that may have been a delayed Rip Tire.
It's only temporary though as they are overwhelmed next fight and Nevix switches off to the ever-reliable Soldier 76. Misfits are well positioned on top of the courthouse but can't resist the urge to dive down for a brawl on the payload, but their classic aggressive defence may have been slightly telegraphed and comes up short when Hafficool pacmans Zebbosai's Graviton.
Fnatic proceed to dumpster the over-committed defenders, turning the payload in to a garbage truck and they cruise to the courtyard laden with corpses. Unabashed, Misfits return to the fight only to get brutalised and bodybagged again with Fnatic's street sweepers in complete control of the high ground.
Eventually Misfits reassert themselves with three minutes on the clock and a healthy ultimate advantage to boot. A slow push from Fnatic turns in to a lucrative high ground land grab with picks on skipjack and then Nevix, but SoOn dons his miner's helmet to unearth a pristine Graviton Bomb that digs them out of a hole just as the payload reaches the final bridge.
Although the previous push could have ended the round if not for SoOn, the damage to Misfit's ult economy proves irreparable and Stoop goes nuts in the next push, cleaving a path for the payload as coolmatt69 dominates the central platform. Misfits simply can't scramble to hold as the game enters timebank territory.
1:02 plays 2:11 and so it falls to Misfits to defend first. Overwatch fans around the world collectively hold their breath as Nevix goes back to Junkrat. His hero loyalty seems to have been misplaced as he gets hooked almost immediately in the first fight, but all is not lost.
The camera falls to SoOn's Tracer who is running absolute rings around buds Roadhog in hilarious Benny Hill theme fashion, zipping around the payload before completing the humiliation with a Pulse Bomb assassination. Half of Fnatic have been trying to swat Tracer away whilst the other half have actually committed to the fight only to lose their duels with Misfits in the backline. As the calamitous 62 seconds expire it's Misfits who stand tall.
The golden box of victory is marked out just at the crest of the market ramp and Misfits have a luxurious 2:11 to complete. They stick with the Widowmaker rush comp, whilst Fnatic wheel Mei out of cold storage. A SoOn Pulse Bomb gets two, but no follow up is forthcoming as Misfits struggle to find traction, but a Zebbosai headshot puts Roadhog on life support just as the offensive dive launches. In the pandemonium of turned backs Zebbosai is free to rifle off shot after shot. The capture is an inevitability. Misfits take the map and take the series.
Credit to Misfits for formulating a unique approach, but Hidan has been an unsung hero throughout these frenetic engagements, constantly shelling the opposition and finding frags whilst his teammates are abusing the flanks. His contribution to the turn around on Ilios and Dorado really cannot be under emphasised.
Misfits have come back from the brink to top Group B on their own terms. Fnatic must now prove themselves worthy against Team LDLC in the Decider Match.