Season Zero drew to a close on Sunday night with the North American bracket. In addition to the $50,000 prize pool, 6 spots in Contenders NA Season 1 were also up for grabs. It had been announced the day before that Season 1 would have LAN finals and the purse would be doubled to $100,000, so the stakes were higher than ever as the final day of action kicked off.
Immortals started the day with a convincing victory over FaZe. The match was played off stream, but the crip 3-0 scoreline was indicative of an Immortals side continuing on their upward curve. This left FaZe with one final match to secure a spot in Season 1.
Meanwhile, Kungarna secured their place in Season 1 with a 3-1 win over LG Evil. While the scores suggest the maps were close, it was a big win for the Kings who were one of only two unsponsored teams left in Season Zero. LG Evil would have to face off against FaZe in the 5th-6th game for a spot in Season 1, a game neither could afford to lose.
The lower half of the bracket began with an incredible series from Renegades and FNRGFE. It started on Lijiang and FNRGFE had no answer to Mangachu’s Pharah. The Canadian was in fine form and went on to lead his team victory on the first map, but as the series progressed to less Pharah-favoured maps, Mangachu faded. Their ultimate usage was sloppy and allowed FNRGFE to gain the momentum, taking the next two maps in convincing fashion.
We moved on to Hollywood with FNRGFE on series point. In the end it boiled down to a single push for Renegades, attempting to cap a single tick with just over a minute remaining. The high damage duo of ZachaREEE on Reaper and Mangachu on Zarya allowed them to do so with ease. Renegades were building to a comeback, but that spark would be extinguished on Nepal where more sloppy ultimate usage would cost them dearly. There were simply too many mistakes from Renegades and they too found themselves cast down to loser's playoffs. FNRGFE climbed onward to the semifinals.
The last quarterfinal was off stream but led to a predictable result. Team Liquid rolled over EnVision 3-0. Certainly the result Renegades would have been hoping for, setting up a potentially easier route to Season 1 qualification.
There was a lot on the line but nothing on stream, as the losing four teams duked it out for the last two vital spots in Season 1. Renegades defeated EnVision despite a scare after losing the first map. A necessary result for Renegades, who hope to fare better in Season 1 with the addition of coach Aurace. Meanwhile EnVision were left with nothing but the uncertainty that comes with failure.
One of the most surprising outcomes from Sunday’s events was LG Evil scoring a second defeat and failing to qualify for Season 1 altogether. The meta hasn't been kind to the tank lovers but most expected them to make Season 1 in some fashion. Their fall from grace was a dramatic one, going down 0-3 to end their Contenders run. Shortly after the defeat Jake mentioned on stream that the team may be taking a break. With a ever-growing list of teams that missed out on Contenders and folded, many now wonder if death may be knocking on the door for LG Evil. After making a splash in the Open Qualifier, FaZe were barely able to maintain their momentum. Perhaps their roster was too new to make a deep run in playoffs, but qualifying for Season 1 has granted them ample time to come back stronger in August.
Kungarna were coming into this fixture off the back of some big wins, having denied Cloud9 a spot in playoffs before initiating LG Evil’s elimination. They were underdogs but they had form on their side. However, what followed next was nothing short of a masterclass; there was seemingly nothing Kungarna could do as Immortal’s obliterated them on every front. Devastating ultimate economy and relentless focus fire left Kungarna outplayed at every turn. It was a learning experience for all watching - Immortals were here to win.
The second semifinal was a different kind of treat for the viewers: five maps of big plays, comebacks and top tier action in what was surely the best match of the tournament. If you did not catch this live you should definitely check the VODs out.
It began with FNRGFE storming to a quick 2-0 lead, looking dominant on Oasis and Watchpoint: Gibraltar. Muma and coolmatt69 repeatedly got away with murder, creating vast expanses of space for clockwork and buds to run wild. Then came Hanamura, and the wind was taken out of the corndog’s sails. Team Liquid capped both points in their first attack in rapid succession. FNRGFE then struggled on Point B until they were gifted an opening by Liquid. More blunt attacks followed from FNRGFE on the second round and it fell to Liquid to take their first map of the series.
From then onward the FNRGFE dream would continue to unravel, with Liquid taking Hollywood - a map FNRGFE also lost to Renegades. FNRGFE had the final map pick and chose Nepal, one of their stronger maps. Whilst Team Liquid's record on Control had been less than impressive, that was largely due to a high volume of Oasis games. Nepal, however, had remained one of their strongest. The stage was set for an epic conclusion to the series. Rounds were traded back and forth as FNRGFE found themselves up 2-1. Team Liquid then took a dramatic win on Village, a stage they had lost earlier. The RNG gods refused to smile on FNRGFE as Sanctum was selected as the series defining stage. They had lost Sanctum once already and they would come up short again here. The FNRGFE bubble was burst and Team Liquid had completed the reverse sweep.
One match remained to decide who got the lion's share of the $50,000 and the Season Zero title. Immortals had established themselves as front runners with impressive performances throughout playoffs. Team Liquid had recovered from their earlier struggles in qualification to rise to the top. Many expected the Immortals stomp to continue, but Team Liquid weren't going down without a fight.
The series began with Nepal, the map Team Liquid had just clutched to secure their place in the final. The difference in opponents was like night and day though, as a quick 3-0 beatdown was issued by Immortals. The map choice followed for Team Liquid and gave them the opportunity to take Immortals to one of their best maps, Watchpoint: Gibraltar. Here Liquid proved they could play on the same level as Immortals, clinching it with a strong hangar phase defence to tie it up.
Alas, the fight back ended there. On Hanamura DaHanG looked uncomfortable on the Sombra and Immortals were quick to capitalise. Hollywood would follow, Team Liquid pushing Immortals to the brink, but ultimately it was not enough to turn back the tide. Team Liquid now had to win every map to stay alive in the finals, beginning with one of their worst, Oasis. Despite a spirited fight, it was not to be and they would be outclassed by Immortals to fall 4-1 in the series.
We were blessed with some phenomenal Overwatch throughout the day. It ended in heartbreak for LG Evil and EnVision who will have to carefully consider their next steps as the realities of a life outside of Contenders Season 1 loom large. Of the remaining six teams that did qualify for Season 1, FaZe, Kungarna and Renegades have all shown promise and now have just over a month to up their game. When you consider that these are the "worst" teams in Season 1, we really are looking at a stacked season.
FNRGFE could have quite easily gone all the way to the final. How they develop from this initial success will be one of the most exciting storylines to follow. They certainly have the players to compete and should only get better with more time together. Similarly, Team Liquid have improved dramatically with the combination of INTERNETHULK's coaching, Fury's arrival and a well-timed bootcamp. They’ve shown they can run with the big boys, but the next step is to take the crown.
With this win Immortals now have everyone's attention again. After their display on Sunday fans are pining to see them take on Rogue and EnVyUs next season. Whether they will be the team to finally take away Europe’s stranglehold on North American Overwatch is yet to be seen. However, the discipline and organisation they have demonstrated in such a short time frame following the changes to their roster inspires hope. We may well get a preview of this next weekend in the BEAT Invitational. North America has always been a ferociously competitive region and it shows no signs of slowing down.
The top 6 have all qualified for the $100,000 Contenders NA Season 1, starting August 14th.
- 1st: Immortals ($25,000)
- 2nd: Team Liquid ($10,000)
- 3rd-4th: FNRGFE ($4,000)
- 3rd-4th: Kungarna ($4,000)
- 5th-6th: FaZe Clan ($2,500)
- 5th-6th: Renegades ($2,500)
- 7th-8th: EnVision ($1,000)
- 7th-8th: LG Evil ($1,000)
- 9th-12th: ARC 6
- 9th-12th: Cloud9
- 9th-12th: Counter Logic Gaming
- 9th-12th: Toronto Esports
- 13th-16th: Hollywood Hammers
- 13th-16th: Selfless Gaming
- 13th-16th: Tempo Storm
- 13th-16th: You Guys Get Paid?
The stage has been set for Season 1 and despite a lot of notable names missing the competition will be as fierce as ever. Only one team can come out on top and these six contenders will have to work hard to match the Western giants of Rogue and EnVyUs.