If there is a group in the World Cup with two favorites to win their group, it would be Group F. The world's two largest countries, Canada and Russia, will likely be playing each other on the final day for the group victory, and the right to avoid Korea in the Round of 16.
Last year's World Cup runners-up are bringing a very different roster this year to Katowice. DPS ShaDowBurn and support Rubikon are the only members from last year's Russia that will be representing the country again this year. Originally, uNFixed was also going to be a returning starter, but with visa problems blocking him and main tank NORGAC from heading to Poland, there have been last minute changes to the Russian squad.
uNFixed went to Reddit to talk about what exactly happened to prevent him and NORGAC from getting to Katowice. uNFixed says that the World Cup travel team didn't send him and NORGAC the documents required for their visa, their invitational letters and flight tickets, until a week ago, leaving them with too little time to get their visas. While he notes that they could have applied for visas on their own, they didn't expect to get the documents so late. It remains to be seen whether or not this will end up working for or against Russia in the long run, and whether or not they will return for BlizzCon should Russia qualify.
The roster for Russia now includes Mistakes and sharyk filling in their shoes. While it certainly helps that Mistakes is a stand-out Tracer and sharyk is a seasoned Winston, Rubikon says that neither needed visas, making them instant picks to replace their comrades.
Russia's roster is well-equipped to play the current meta. ShaDowBurn became known for his Genji very early on in the game's existence, and is often included in conversations for best Genji in the west. Rubikon and sharyk both played together on eUnited until recently, where they regularly played as Zenyatta and Winston for one of Europe's best teams. Mistakes has proven himself to be one of the top Tracers in Europe and is a key part to the Contenders success of 123. Txao, who was practicing to play Tracer for the team before Mistakes was added, has had experience playing D.Va for top level teams.
While there could be an opportunity for ShaDowBurn and Rubikon to get revenge against South Korea in Katowice this weekend, the squad is not necessarily hoping to get that opportunity so soon. Rubikon would rather not play South Korea yet, but says he and ShaDowBurn will put a lot of thought and dedication into the matchup should it occur.
Russia will be taking the World Cup one step at a time. Rubikon says Russia's current focus is on Team Canada, their rivals in Group F, rather than looking ahead at the Round of 16 or Blizzcon. However, Rubikon also added that he thinks (or at least hopes) there is a high-chance that his team returns to the finals this year. When asked if there was anything else he wanted to add, Rubikon finished with, "Thanks to both our Russian and foreign fans, we're gonna put up a damn good show!"
Team Russia have landed in Poland with:
- George "ShaDowBurn" Gushcha (DPS)
- Stanislav "Mistakes" Danilov (DPS)
- Ilya "Txao" Makarov (Flex)
- Normund "sharyk" Faterins (Tank)
- Viktors "Forsak3n" Bernevs (Support)
- Ruben "Rubikon" Zurabyan (Support)