Last week concluded what has been a long journey for many of these teams, with the open qualifiers starting back in early June. As in Europe, four teams have moved on to the LAN finals and their chance for the lion’s share of $100,000. While roster swaps were more limited on the other side of the Atlantic, it did not prevent a flurry of upsets that left the table looking starkly different from what most expected.
The teams to beat
Unsurprisingly EnVyUs finished top of the North American region, and unsurprisingly they did it unbeaten. It has been said time and again, but it’s impressive how long EnVyUs have remained at the top of their game. With the addition of EFFECT they now have the strongest players in each role and look significantly better than everyone they have faced. They also haven’t lost to a Western team since April and will be firm favourites heading to LA.
Alongside them is a star-studded FaZe roster who have had similar fortune since adding a Korean Tracer in Carpe. They had a tougher start than most facing off against EnVy in Week 2 and edging past Immortals in Week 3 but since then they haven’t lost a map. Their semifinal opponents will be EnVision who they swiftly dismissed in Week 6 but their true test will be the likely final against EnVy. FaZe rosters have often done well in LANs but fallen short at the final hurdle, this newest incarnation will be looking to put an end to that.
The surprise arrivals
The first of the surprise finalists is EnVision, who took the tournament by storm early on beating both Rogue and Immortals. They then beat two of the easier opponents to find themselves on a 4-0 record. Their early upsets proved crucial as they lost their final three games and were able to finish in the third seed despite this. Worryingly for them, they lost to all three teams accompanying them to the playoffs.
The second of the surprise teams, FNRGFE, had the most entertaining journey, who fought back from a 0-2 record from their first two games. They then had a close 3-2 victory over Rogue in one of the most exciting games of the season. In the end, they finally secured qualification against the bottom team on the final day in another five map thriller. This rollercoaster journey has put the team and players firmly on the radar of Overwatch League suitors, with their tank line reportedly getting signed already. For a team many expected to finish near the bottom of the table they have already surpassed expectations, but their hard work is only just beginning as they have a semi-final tie against EnVy.
The fallen giants
Coming into the start of the season Rogue were one of the favourites, but crucial losses to both FNRGFE and EnVision, who finished above them, cost them their chances of qualification. Rogue recovered from their poor start and were playing much better towards the tail end of the season but they left themselves too much work to do. It’s a disappointing result for one of the strongest teams and while sub-optimal playing conditions certainly may have had a hand in their fate, to be champions you have to overcome misfortune. This time they were not able to. Regardless, this will not be the last we see of Rogue and their players, who will undoubtedly come back stronger whether that be in the Overwatch League or elsewhere.
Another fallen giant was Immortals, who came into Season 1 as champions of Season Zero but were given a quick reality check by EnVy in Week 1. They were then upset by EnVision followed by back-to-back 3-2 defeats in the third week, seeing a quick end to their playoff dreams. It wasn’t until Week 5 that they finally claimed their first win, but by then it was too late. The team looked like a shadow of its former self and while they won their final two games to save complete embarrassment, they will have a lot of work to do to make themselves Overwatch League ready by December.
The bottom of the pack
Rounding out the bottom of the pack were Kungarna and Renegades. The former started well claiming two wins, but internal struggles due to various players having trials with Overwatch League teams disrupted practice. This ended Kungarna’s good start with a five-game losing streak and the team separating. The latter, Renegades, started poorly and finished poorly. They lost every game they played as they struggled to settle on a lineup, composition and strategy that worked. The silver lining was improved performances in the later stages, but with no future tournaments coming up for non-Overwatch League teams the future may be uncertain.