Legends are not born overnight, but instead they are forged through fire. Of the eight teams that entered Friday for the Overwatch tournament at Major League Gaming Vegas, four have been eliminated from the running for the $40,000 grand prize as of Saturday’s action. Even amongst the teams that have been eliminated, however, their performances hint at compelling new storylines and meta innovations to watch.
NRG Esports is a team that is known to be historically strong, especially with star player Brandon “Seagull” Larned amongst the players. However, the team has recently had a huge slump. After a serious roster change, they were knocked out of APEX in November, and failed to qualify for NGE earlier this week. Friday, they were crushed and sent to the losers bracket in Group B, and many expected them to flop out of MLG Vegas as well.
However, NRG proved on Saturday that they can be a strong team again by sending Team Liquid out of the tournament. Now, NRG didn’t end up advancing due to two losses to Cloud9, but they shouldn’t take the loss to heart. After a month of disappointing performances, the fact that they are finally coming together is the fruit of their training. Soon, hopefully, the world will not be able to deny that the roster change was worth having.
CompLexity in Group A is the other important narrative to pay attention to post-MLG Vegas. They exited the tournament after losing to Fnatic in what ended up as one of the most exciting and closest best-of-threes to take place at MLG Vegas thus far, as it ended with an incredibly tense overtime on Numbani that lasted for almost an entire minute. CompLexity had just spent every day from last Sunday to last Tuesday, a span of four days, practicing a composition that involved Sombra. Not a single team thus far had really found a way to make her work, but through hard work, determination, and a little bit of hacking health packs, Jake “torkTJO” Lepoff became possibly the best Sombra player in competitive Overwatch.
In Hollywood, against Rise Nation, torkTJO stealthed past the entire field of vision to flank the side with the sole purpose of shooting down the Symmetra turrets that the rest of compLexity wouldn’t be able to reach without walking through a death zone. After taking out the turrets, he emptied his ammo and then teleported back to safety. That 10 seconds of Sombra play propelled his ultimate charge up to 85% while everyone else had only about 15%. That led to a very early EMP that torkTJO used to eliminate any resistance that Rise Nation wanted to use. If that doesn’t compel other teams to start learning Sombra, then who knows what will?
Still remaining in the tournament of course, are Fnatic and Cloud9, which knocked out compLexity and NRG respectively to advance to the semifinal bracket. Fnatic’s Hafthor “Hafficool” Hakonarson soared to the sky on Pharah, even playing her in a way that most would not dare to — right in his opponents’ faces instead of from safely afar. Cloud9’s Lane “Surefour” Roberts also showed up big Saturday by ending NRG’s road with both his stellar Soldier 76 and McCree with several quick headshots back to back.
The two top seed teams in the playoff bracket are FaZe Clan and EnVyUs. While FaZe Clan made it through without losing so far, they are historically known to drop sets to teams they normally shouldn’t, and upsetting teams that have proven to be better. Will this unpredictable team make it to the end?
Standing in their way alongside Fnatic and Cloud9 is tournament favorite EnVyUs who had to go through fire just to even make it to Vegas. EnVyUs had almost no time to practice the new patch together due to Timo “Taimou” Kettunen’s visa issues, and it showed when they were facing off against compLexity, but they pulled it together and destroyed the rest of their matches, even going so far as to play the new reworked Symmetra despite having no practice with her. The bump in the road was only just that– a bump.
On the last day of games starting at 2pm ET, the victors will make themselves known by winning a semifinals match and a finals, making a case for being the Overwatch kings of North America.