After back to back entertaining games that saw Canada reverse sweep Australia and France battle back against China, it was time for the game everybody had been waiting for. Reigning champions South Korea took on the star-studded team United States on their home turf. The crowd was at fever pitch as USA got off to a strong start, but they could not contain the Korean titans for the full length of the series as they were eliminated across a five map thriller.
Shrine: It was a timid start from team USA that allowed South Korea to gain an early lead, with Adam’s Valkyrie eventually allowing USA to retake 79% down. South Korea then battled back with an early pick on Adam, but couldn’t turn the point. On South Korea’s final attempt, Mano died early, allowing USA to clean up the rest of the Koreans and secure the first stage.
Village: Fl0w3R started on Bastion and USA tried to position around it with JAKE’s Pharah, but he couldn’t do enough damage as South Korea took first control. The Bastion could not be dislodged and a Graviton from zunba clinched the round.
Sanctum: FCTFCTN got an early environmental kill as Orisa to help win the first fight. From there it was all USA, as South Korea could not contain sinatraa’s aggression, and the red, white, and blue took the first map.
USA started with a solid defence, forcing South Korea to expend most of their time taking first point. With a reduced timebank, South Korea wasted no time making their way through the second stage. A switch to triple tank looked like it had given USA enough meat to hold, but a double resurrect from tobi allowed the Koreans to capture in overtime.
A series of great resurrects from Adam swung fights for the USA, allowing them to take the first two stages, alongside a Junkrat masterclass from JAKE that continued into the final third leg. But a last-ditch hold from South Korea forced them back, and with barely a minute remaining, a series of unforced errors from the USA ate up their remaining time, allowing South Korea to tie the series.
A quick Point A take from USA was followed by picks on both tanks on Point B, leading to a straightforward completion with 5:33 left on the clock. South Korea unlocked Point A thanks to a spree of fantastic shots from Fl0w3R on Widowmaker. Despite some valiant stalling from USA, the sniper devastation continued on Point B, forcing another round of attacks.
With a slightly smaller timebank, South Korea attacked for the second time; this time USA was much more adept at playing the sightlines, forcing Fl0w3R to switch to Genji. South Korea eventually broke the hold in overtime, leaving only 30 seconds to take Point B. But it was all they needed as Saebyeolbe opened it up with a good Pulse Bomb to cap the point.
A patient attack from USA allowed them to take Point A on their first try. Point B, however, was not so easy; despite finding openings, South Korea dug their heels in and hung on throughout a continuous three-minute assault to finally stabilise. With a minute and a half left, USA had one final chance and they took it, with both teams now having one minute to decide the map.
South Korea went first, but were unable to take a single tick. With a clear win condition in their sights, USA moved to attack, facing a Fl0w3R Pharah on defence. It was a scrappy fight and it looked like USA had done enough, but South Korea refused to give up, and tobi’s Valkyrie was enough to turn the tides and force the draw.
USA would struggle on first point, using most of their timebank to eventually secure it on their final push. While USA made good progress on the second stage, a final flurry of ultimates from South Korea stopped them just before second point.
As South Korea took to offence, it was the Fl0w3R show on Widowmaker once again, opening up the first point for his team. The sniper maestro wasn’t needed for the second stage, as South Korea continued to roll through to take the fourth map.
City Center: Fl0w3R continued his dominance on Pharah this time, giving South Korea a strong lead. JAKE switched to Pharah to match the Korean, and he managed to help his team regain control 99% down. USA fought as hard as they could, but eventually South Korea retook the point and dislodged the American’s just long enough to take the first round.
University: JAKE started on Pharah to go toe-to-toe with Fl0w3R again, but the battle was won on the ground this time thanks to some great tank play from Mano. From there, South Korea’s defence could not be broken and they took the final map of the series in emphatic fashion to move on to the semifinals.