The second season of the Pacific Championship concluded almost two weeks ago, bringing the 8,300,000 TWD ($274,785 USD) event to a close. Both seasons of the tournament have featured prize pools rivalled only by the Overwatch Open, with teams from across the Asia-Pacific region gathering in Taiwan to compete for their share of the hefty prize pots.
Flash Wolves, Blank Esports and ahq eSports Club are the Pacific Championship’s representatives in the APAC Premier. The teams have competed in both seasons of the OPC, placing second, third and fifth respectively in Season 2. Overwatch fans will also recognise Flash Wolves and Blank from this year's World Cup qualifiers, with Flash Wolves representing Team Taiwan and Blank representing Team Australia in the Sydney and Burbank qualifers (although Blank now fields two players that are not on the Australian World Cup squad).
Despite having such a hefty prize pool, the Pacific Championship has been criticized by some for a perceived lack of talent, emphasised by the failings of Japanese teams across both seasons. Whilst these criticisms are valid to an extent, especially when comparing the skill level of teams in the tournament to those competing in APEX, the Pacific Championship has still been the host of some talented squads.
- Lu "Zonda" Zhongda(DPS)
- Luo "Baconjack" Zihuan (DPS)
- JI "Jongie" Zicheng (Flex)
- Syu "KMoMo" Maojyun (Tank)
- Huang "Realment" Huang (Support)
- Li "S1nkler" Jiahao (Support)
Flash Wolves garnered worldwide praise from the Overwatch scene earlier this year after claiming the inaugural season of the Pacific Championship, capping of a dominant twenty game win-streak and claiming the 3,000,000 TWD ($98,400~ USD) first place prize. However, the team’s reputation has taken a hit since this victory.
This can largely be attributed to the Wolves' disastrous World Cup run as Team Taiwan. The Taiwanese squad entered the Burbank qualifiers as hot favourites to make it out of their group and qualify for Blizzcon, despite being matched against the similarly hyped USA and Brazil teams. However, the USA squad proved to be stronger than many had expected, proving doubters wrong and defeating the Flash Wolves roster 3-1 in a relatively close match. This led to Taiwan being matched against the United Kingdom in the round of 16. Perhaps shaken after their failure against Team USA, Taiwan turned in a disappointing performance as the United Kingdom cruised to a 3-0 sweep. Thus, Taiwan were sent home empty handed, with their star players Baconjack and Jongie failing to provide their usual impact whilst Zonda and Realment appeared to be serious liabilities.
Flash Wolves’ play somewhat stabilized after their return to Taiwan for Season 2 of the Pacific Championship. The Wolves secured the second seed in the regular season, dropping only a single match to teams other than Ardeont across the two round robins. This trend continued in the playoffs, as Flash Wolves handled their semifinals opponent, Hong Kong Attitude, but fell short in the grand final when matched against the Koreans.
The team’s performance on paper in the second season of the Pacific Championship appears to indicate that the Wolves have returned to form after their disappointing World Cup campaign. This is misleading however, as Flash Wolves displayed serious vulnerabilities on multiple occasions during the event. While these weaknesses didn’t manifest themselves in many losses, Flash Wolves appeared to struggle to changes in the meta. The Wolves also failed to provide any serious challenge to Ardeont at any time.
On the flipside, Flash Wolves have the potential to be one of the better teams attending APAC. The event will provide the team with the opportunity to redeem themselves on the global stage. The Wolves could dominate their group if they manage to consistently meet this elusive potential, especially with strong performances from their star players Jongie and Baconjack. The doubts will still remain until this occurs, especially given the unknown effect of the new patch on their inflexible lineup. However, don’t count out these hungry beasts who have everything to prove in their return to the global stage.
- Jason "ieatuup" Ho (DPS)
- Huseyin "Hus" Sahin (DPS)
- Daniel "HooWoo" McIntosh (Flex)
- Ashley "Trill" Powell (Tank)
- Jordan "Gnb" Graham (Support)
- Andrew "Rqt" Haws (Support)
- Jason "SereNity" Wang (Coach/Substitute)
- Daniel "Doctor" Russell (Coach)
Blank Esport’s showing at APAC may be the hardest to predict of any squad, given their ever-developing team chemistry after making roster changes before the commencement of Season 2 of the Pacific Championship, alongside the effects of a new patch.
Blank made roster moves after they claimed second place in the inaugural season of the Pacific Championship, with Kiki and Aetar replaced by Masterminds Gaming Club players Hus and HooWoo. The timing of these changes had an impact on the team's play in Season 2 of the Pacific Championship, especially in the early stages of the regular season, as Blank had limited time to practice as a squad before their first match.
Growing team chemistry was evident across the regular season of the tournament, as errors in teamplay occurred less often in the latter weeks. Whilst new addition Hus was criticised often by fans in the early weeks of the regular season, his flex-DPS play ended up being crucial during Blank’s clutch Week 6 performance which saw them secure the last available playoffs spot. Blank then went on to turn in a mixed performance in the playoffs, claiming third place against Hong Kong Attitude after failing to challenge the eventual victors, Ardeont, in the semifinals.
Thus, it appeared that not much had changed for Blank in the end. Despite replacing two players, the team still failed to outperform their rivals Flash Wolves. However, things could change under the new patch APAC is played on. Blank’s roster moves arguably sacrificed raw star power and team chemistry for much needed flexibility. Hus showcased his competency on a wide breadth of heroes in the Pacific Championship, effectively complementing ieatuup’s world class hitscan talent. HooWoo also rounded into form as the team developed chemistry, resulting in him being named the best tank player in the competition after the conclusion of the regular season. With Mercy and D.Va undergoing major changes, Blank are arguably the team that is most capable of adapting to the fluctuating meta due to their now increased flexibility.
The Australians, plus one New Zealander, also play in the weakest group. Afreeca Freecs, ahq, and Miracle Team One are all arguably the weakest teams representing their perspective competitions. Despite this, Blank will need to continue their improvement if they wish to compete in the playoffs. A level of play under that of Flash Wolves’ could see the team sent home earlier then they would like.
- Chung "Rapid" Min-Chi (DPS)
- Lin "DizZy" Ruo-Hao (DPS)
- Wan " HeHe" Wei-Kai (Flex)
- Tsai "EricEn" En-Wei (Tank)
- Liao "Krapy" Hsien-Ting (Support)
- Yang "Keres" Jun-Yi (Support)
Ahq are the weakest Pacific Championship team that will be attending APAC, failing to qualify for the Pacific Championship Season 2 playoffs after stumbling in the final two weeks of the regular season. After losing a close playoffs race against Blank and Hong Kong Attitude, ahq will need a major turnaround in their play if they wish to make it out of the APAC group stage.
The team’s performance in the most recent season of the Pacific Championship was marred by inconsistency. It appeared ahq had found a competent tracer player to pair with star DPS DizZy after the departing c0wman was replaced by the up-and-coming player Rapid before the commencement of the season. At times this was the case, especially during ahq’s Week 4 victory over their Taiwanese rivals, Flash Wolves.
However, the team’s performance was hindered too often by failures in teamplay. Losses against MEGA Thunder and Blank in final weeks of the regular season ultimately sealed ahq’s fate, knocking them down to the fifth seed. Thus, ahq had failed to return to the playoffs after placing third in the first season of the competition, overtaken by the ever improving Hong Kong Attiude.
As such, ahq shouldn’t be expected to make a serious challenge for one of the top two spots in their group. At times the team can play to the level of their peers, adequately providing enough space for DizZy to go to work. However, with quality opponents blocking their path, ahq's struggles will likely continue during the APAC Premier.
Image credit: Blizzard Taiwan