Contenders in the future will serve as a development league in Overwatch, showcasing upcoming talent in the scene as they strive to get into the Overwatch League. For now though in Contenders Season One, before OWL kicks off, we will be treated to the highest level of Western competition in a year.
Contenders Season One pits the eight best teams in the region against each other, with parallel tournaments running in both Europe and North America. A round-robin group system with no group seeding ensures that the best will prevail and make playoffs - a goal that only four of the eight in each region can reach.
The match format sees a continuation of the four-map series popularised at TaKeOver 2 and the World Cup, with match wins determining teams’ standing in the leaderboard (and map difference as the tiebreaker).
Each week Europe and North America will see a minimum of four matches each, as every team takes on one other opponent in their group.
The action started on August 19th with some serious upsets, as Doomfist, practice schedules, and roster changes threw analyst predictions into disarray.
Misfits vs. Cloud9
Score: 4-0 Misfits
Many teams had made significant changes coming into Contenders Europe, but none were so exciting as the Misfits shuffle. Dismissing their former goal of a full Swedish roster, Misfits recruited Zuppehw to fit Zebbosai back on the Lucio, pairing up TviQ with carry Tracer Logix for a scary DPS duo. CWoosH was the only question mark, having transitioned from Genji to main tank, but his performance silences the doubters.
Cloud9 on the other hand felt off. Bringing Nevix in had shifted Kyb over to the Tracer and his performance was passive and lacked impact. Nevix attempted to make up for his lackluster partner with a solid performance but the rest of his team was battered.
Over the course of four maps, Misfits tore through the competition. mowzassa was punished for any aggressive dives while Logix ran wild, storming through Lijiang, Eichenwalde, Volskaya, and Dorado in just over an hour.
Misfits’ new roster has started out the season with a bang, and currently look to be one of the strongest teams in the competition.
eUnited vs. Team Gigantti
Score: 3-1 Team Gigantti
For months, eUnited have been the strongest team in Europe. They dominated their domestic competition at TaKeOver 2, finishing behind Rogue without losing a map to any other team. Their performance in Contenders Season Zero was likewise dominant, and they entered Season One as heavy favourites for a strong playoff spot.
Since they last played, however, Europe has been shaken up. Gigantti were one of the teams to make substantial changes during and after Contenders Season Zero, bringing in top players Davin, LiNkzr, BigG00se, and Shaz for their roster.
Gigantti went into this match fresh from a win at ASUS ROG, a Finnish LAN tournament, while eUnited were unpractised after player involvement in the World Cup. It made the world of difference.
eUnited and Gigantti both started off with triple DPS compositions on Nepal Sanctum, Gigantti feeling confident in the head-to-head with the triple DPS European giants after the upgrades to their roster. Gigantti came out on top in a close fight and opted to play Reinhardt Zarya for Shrine, rolling the momentum into a close but solid win on Nepal.
eUnited took the match to Numbani, a classic favourite of the team’s, attacking with uNFixed on Sombra to take the first point quickly. They got hung up in the rest of the map though as Gigantti wouldn’t give them room for free, getting held in the home stretch due to a lack of decisive engagement and clutch plays from Davin. A triple DPS defense for eUnited fell on the first point, snowballing as Gigantti continued to press and took the map.
eUnited opted for triple DPS again on Volskaya, pushing into Shaz’s Sombra with little success until overtime. On the second point eUnited again looked sloppy, only taking the point in overtime again. Both teams ran the Sombra on Gigantti’s offense, with only one drawn-out fight needed before Gigantti took the cap, despite Kruise’s best efforts, and B fell shortly afterwards to the same strategy.
Only after losing the match did eUnited come back to life. On their home map of Gibraltar, eUnited moved away from triple DPS and hammered home a quick offense, battering back BigG00se on Zenyatta before he had a chance to switch. LiNkzr went Widowmaker on their attack, picking off players and forcing eUnited again away from triple DPS, but the momentum was clogged up in the hangar and then dragged out in the home stretch.
eUnited had lost the series but recovered slightly towards the end of the match, indicating that the team was simply rusty rather than a relic.
123 vs. Team Singularity
Score: 4-0 123
123 finished in a surprise second place during Contenders Season Zero, rising from the unknown to make a name for themselves in Europe. After upgrading their D.Va player and then losing Mistakes, however, the team was in a seemingly awkward spot. Their previous best player was no longer on the team and his absence required role and player changes.
The shifts formed a large contrast to Singularity who kept their roster together, building around the DPS duo of Kragie and Mande. While those two players held their own throughout the series, it was 123 who looked startlingly coordinated and talented given their recent upheaval.
Nepal started slowly, as both teams circled each other and looked for the superior positioning on Shrine. Big plays from snillo and Finnsi secured early picks and 123 rolled it into a stage win. Sanctum was also closely fought, with Hafficool switching off to Zarya as they attempted to chain ultimates together. Mande brought it back for his team multiple times as his Tactical Visor went unchecked and Singularity tied it up.
On Village, 123 demonstrated one of the best reads of the week. Predicting Kragie’s trademark Bastion, they ran a triple tank strategy with D.Va, Zarya, and Winston to take space and neutralise his damage before taking him out. With the point and ultimate advantage, 123 were again able to take the stage and the map.
From triple tank to triple DPS, 123 demonstrated that their roster changes had unlocked rather than constrained their potential. Nerfdd was punished hard by 123 when he tried to engage, often giving up and failing to make space for his supports. They in turn were often destroyed by dives or Dragonblades, letting 123 take quick wins on Eichenwalde and Dorado.
Bazooka Puppiez vs. GamersOrigin
Score: 3-1 GamersOrigin
GamersOrigin were beaten emphatically at ASUS ROG by Gigantti, but roster changes to bring back Leaf and integrate PiPou appear to have rejuvenated the team. With Reinhardt and Zarya back in the meta as potential picks, BenBest and Poko could play to their strengths while the DPS duo of Leaf and Hqrdest were on strong individual heroes as well.
Bazooka Puppiez stuck with their double hitscan dive for the majority of the match but appeared not to have an answer for the Doomfist composition, running into difficulty time and again.
Oasis though was a break from the trend as both teams experimented more with PharMercy compositions. Bazooka Puppiez looked great as they opened with Pharah on City Center into a GamersOrigin dive, winning with ease. GamersOrigin switched it up for University to run the Doomfist, already causing problems and taking the stage. With the score even on Gardens, both teams decided to run the Pharah Mercy; Ube did not expect the threat from the air in the first fight and died early - his team never recovered and despite many convincing fights they failed to flip the point. GamersOrigin began with an interesting win on Oasis that saw Leaf take control.
He continued with Doomfist on Numbani, breaking apart and stunning the defenders to secure quick kills and a cap in 48 seconds. They finally lost a fight on the final stretch, but a quick shift to Reinhardt Zarya McCree alongside Leaf let them break through and capture. BP answered with Pharah Mercy, taking A and the streets with momentum before swapping off to crack the final checkpoint in a slower time. With PiPou on Torbjorn along with the Doomfist and McCree, GamersOrigin full held and then cracked the attack to take Numbani.
Hanamura was a different story as GamersOrigin struggled to take B. A decision to run Reinhardt backfired as the team telegraphed their moves and were destroyed by the mobility and ult synergy of Bazooka Puppiez. They eventually captured in overtime, leaving no margin for error.
Bazooka Puppiez triple DPS attack was clean, securing the first checkpoint in two fights and bleeding out both support ults from GamersOrigin. With a huge advantage they went into the fight and almost took it, before Hqrdest clutched two picks onto BP’s DPS players to reset. Running the Zenyatta into Hyp’s Ana, it didn’t take BP long to generate an extra defensive ultimate, gather Ube’s Dragonblade, and go to town. They rolled into the second round with kensi on Widowmaker to open a pick and win the map.
Dorado was a playground for GamersOrigin, who attacked with Reinhardt Zarya Doomfist again to snowball the payload forwards, finding first blood on a Junkrat from Ube. Leaf put on a clinic throughout the fountain and streets phases, finding picks everywhere on Doomfist and hitting a great Space Jam combo to gain highground control. The same composition allowed them to play off the ultimates and stall Bazooka Puppiez out before checkpoint two, winning the series 3-1.
Week 1 Standings
- 1 Misfits
- 1 123
- 3 Team Gigantti
- 3 GamersOrigin
- 5 eUnited
- 5 Bazooka Puppiez
- 7 Cloud9
- 7 Team Singularity
Our match to look forward to in Contenders Season One Europe Week 2 is Misfits vs. Team Gigantti, a closely fought and intriguing battle between two teams who have made serious improvements to their rosters. Both teams have shot from mediocrity into potential stardom after their week one wins and will look for an early entrance into pole position.