Helsinki Convention and Exhibition Centre in Finland will play host next weekend to the Overwatch Winter Assembly tournament. €5,000 is on the line and has attracted the four best Finnish teams, including the sleeping behemoths of Ninjas in Pyjamas.
Beginning on Friday, 3rd February and running until Saturday, 4th February, Winter Assembly's Overwatch tournament will feature a double-elimination invite bracket. Ninjas in Pyjamas begin by playing SkitLite Gaming, while over in the other arm of the bracket Helsinki REDS faces ENCE eSports.
For the lower level teams, including one Russian side, there are also two BYOC Overwatch tournaments with smaller prizepools of €1,640.
- 1st: €3000
- 2nd: €1400
- 3rd: €600
Friday 3rd February
- 07:00 EST / 13:00 CET / 21:00 KST - Upper Bracket Round 1: NiP vs. SkitLite
- 10:00 EST / 16:00 CET / 00:00+1 KST - Upper Bracket Round 1: Helsinki REDS vs. ENCE
- 13:00 EST / 19:00 CET / 03:00+1 KST - Upper Bracket Final
Saturday 4th February
- 05:00 EST / 11:00 CET / 19:00 KST - Lower Bracket Round 1
- 08:00 EST / 14:00 CET / 22:00 KST - Lower Bracket Final
- 12:00 EST / 18:00 CET / 02:00+1 KST - Grand Final
Finnish Overwatch duo Jokke "Puuppi" Saarinen and Tomi "Tombha" Rinne will be casting the action live from Assembly, while the ESL duo of Jason Kaplan and Mitch "Uber" Leslie will cater to the English speaking audience from their studio.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
- Joonas "zappis" Alakurtti (DPS)
- Lauri "mafu" Rasi (DPS)
- Kalle "hymzi" Honkala (Flex)
- Joona "fragi" Laine (Tank)
- Antti "kyynel" Kinnunen (Support)
- Aleksi "Zuppehw" Kuntsi (Support)
Ninjas in Pyjamas were the favourites to take DreamHack. They had been going from strength to strength within Europe since being denied at the Overwatch Open, but once again were halted in a fantastically close game before even making the finals. Since then they've been utterly silent, other than rumours of them plowing through the remaining European teams in scrims. This Finnish side is respected by their peers across the globe for their impeccable synergy and knowledge of how to get the best of their chosen compositions.
They have yet to get any LAN win under their belt, but they are monstrous favourites at Winter Assembly. For them to lose this tournament would be a catastrophe for the team, unparalleled in Overwatch so far. Although a win here may not mean much for a team that has shown the potential to be top-five in the world, it's a small opportunity to show that they are still alive, at the very least.
It will also be an interesting insight into how NiP have reacted to the new patch. The shifts appear to be less volatile than in previous patches and NiP are renowned for sticking to their strengths - occasionally to their detriment. At some point the tank masters will have to add a new chapter to their playbook; have they done so already?
- Roope "Ruape" Kurkela (DPS)
- Eemeli "Woomera" Ikonen (DPS)
- Ville "prettyWise" Mikkonen (Flex)
- Jani "Exceed" Kosonen (Tank)
- Miika "BBR" Tekoniemi (Support)
- Toni "Effix" Hurme (Support)
Much was made of the arrival of Helsinki REDS into Overwatch as they represent the esports arm of popular Finnish ice hockey club IFK Helsinki. The team was formed in November 2016 and has been slowly making improvements through the lower level cups around in Europe.
Since forming they have appeared in Coil Overdrive #1, beating a few teams before falling to Fragsters (now Grand Danois); they also played in Underdogs Season 4 in December where they were beaten up immediately by Tornado ROX and Vitality.
Helsinki REDS finally took their first tournament win in Coil Overdrive #13, beating a number of smaller European teams and overcoming rival Finnish side Drift Klubben in the final.
The Winter Assembly field appears fairly open between the three lower-tier Finnish sides to the outside eye. Much will come down to their initial game against ENCE eSports.
- Mikael "SKYTRiXSHA" Silvennoinen (DPS)
- Samuli "BAITO" Karppinen (DPS)
- Ville "Desperado" Palmu (Flex)
- Roni "lhcloudy" Tiihonen (Tank)
- Ville "Trickwide" Saastamoinen (Support)
- Riku "Ripa" Toivanen (Support)
ENCE announced that they were building an Overwatch roster last year and held open trials, concluding in early January. Having only been together for a month, this is the newest team of the four but their roster is not lacking experience or ambition individually.
ENCE said in an early statement that they are looking forward to Assembly as "it will be good to test where we have gone in a month and how much progress there has been". This is the first match that this Finnish side has played together and they're keeping their cards close to their chest.
With no record of prior games and some decent individual players, this team could come anywhere from last to second place.
- Kaapo "Kryma" Laine (DPS)
- Kalle "Cali" Puuska (DPS)
- Miikka "Dragonce" Kumpula (Flex)
- Julius "Julletin" Jokila (Tank)
- Veikka "Talisman" Laine (Support)
- Otto "Celne" Laine (Support)
SkitLite have been the most frequent participants in cups out of the teams present, but have placed consistently poorly in many throughout the last two months. They took wins over myRevenge and Beat Instinct, two lower European teams, but have lost to b0nkers, OW.QQ, mousesports (now Riders), xackers and more without taking a map.
To be fair this could still indicate a level capable of beating ENCE or REDS, if they step up at LAN and perform well against other comparable teams. The other two teams have not shown much but are unlikely to be on the level of tier-two European teams like Riders, b0nkers, etc.
There is almost no chance of SkitLite delivering an upset against NiP in the first match of the tournament, barring divine intervention, but the closest match of Winter Assembly could well be their next game in the first round of the lower bracket.