The World Cup Group Stages have concluded, which means the eight qualified teams will go to Blizzcon and fight it out to win for their country and become World Champions. With such a long event (The first Qualifier began in mid-August and the last finished last week), there are naturally going to be many patches, many changes, and new ways for high-stakes plays and great action to occur in the games of Overwatch. So I’m here to help break it all down for you.
We started the World Cup in Incheon, South Korea. This qualifier used Patch 1.26, commonly known for the introduction of Wrecking Ball into the game. Patch 1.26 had been introduced into the competitive scene for the Contenders Season 2: Korea Playoffs. With it, the Contenders players had been experimenting with both Wrecking Ball and the newly reworked Sombra. Among the changes, Doomfist found his way back into the professional scene, and he was seen a fair amount in the qualifier, as opposed to the past where he was rarely used. The other interesting change is in supports where Mercy, at the time the queen of healing, was slowly dropping in popularity. Although Patch 1.27 is when Ana really made her comeback into the professional scene, she was already beginning to appear during Patch 1.26. Why is that? The main reason was the prevalence of the GOATS composition (that is, a triple tank, triple support composition typically consisting of Reinhardt, Zarya, D.Va, Brigitte, Moira, and Lucio.) The GOATS composition relies on the area of effect healing that the Supports provide. Ana, using her Biotic Grenade, can prevent healing onto targets it hits, thereby giving a method for a team to dismantle the GOATS composition. Along with the rise in popularity of the GOATS composition, the dive composition was also returning to professional Overwatch.e
The other three qualifiers of the Overwatch World Cup were run on Patch 1.27. This patch introduced balance changes to most of the Support heroes, with buffs for Ana, Lucio, and Moira, and nerfs for Mercy and Brigitte. Also in this patch were small nerfs to Hanzo and Widowmaker, and balance changes to Zarya. The World Cup Qualifiers marked the first appearance of this patch in professional play, and with it, there are changes to the meta to explore. The balance changes to the Support heroes led to an extremely diverse Support meta, and with it, a diverse tank and DPS meta as well, although some DPS heroes were for the most part unused. The GOATS composition, discussed earlier, was still in use, although not nearly as much as it was during the Incheon Qualifier, instead teams commonly used a dive composition. As mentioned prior, Ana’s return was in full swing, with both her and Lucio climbing in playtime from the Incheon Qualifier to the Los Angeles, and Mercy and Zenyatta lost playtime in return. For tanks, Winston and D.Va are still the most popular of them all, and Sombra and Doomfist climbed to be the USA’s top DPS picks.
The first major question to ask about the World Cup finals held at Blizzcon is “What patch will be played?” We can answer this by looking to the current PTR patch, Patch 1.29. The patch was put on the PTR two weeks ago, meaning it will likely move onto live servers within the next week or two. That timeframe gives teams about a month to study and practice on the new patch, which I think is a fair amount of time to give the teams. With this, and the fact that timing would be extremely tight to try to get a Patch 1.30 out before Blizzcon, I feel it’s safe to say 1.29 will be the Patch used for the Overwatch World Cup Finals.
So what changes are coming on Patch 1.29? For starters, there is the rework for Torbjorn, changing how his turret works as well as giving him a new ultimate. There are a few more balance changes included in this patch, notably a slight nerf to Pharah, and small buffs to Orisa and McCree. As for what to expect, it’s hard to really say what without watching professional games played on a patch, but I would be surprised if none of the teams tried out the reworked Torbjorn.
At the Blizzcon Finals, eight teams will face each other. These teams came first and second in one of the four qualifiers to earn their spot at the Blizzcon stage. The teams are as follows:
The South Korean team were the winners of the Incheon Qualifier. The members are Saebyeolbe, Libero, Meko, Jjonak, and Ark from the New York Excelsior, Fate from the Los Angeles Valiant, and Carpe from the Philadelphia Fusion. Finland was the runner-up in Incheon, and the team is comprised of Fragi from the Philadelphia Fusion, Taimou from the Dallas Fuel, Linkzr from the Houston Outlaws, BigGoose, and Shaz from the Los Angeles Gladiators, Davin from Team Gigantti, and Zappis, who last played for the Florida Mayhem.
The United States team won the Los Angeles Qualifier, and is made of Muma and Rawkus from the Houston Outlaws, sinatraa and Moth from the San Francisco Shock, Space from the Los Angeles Valiant, Hydration from the Los Angeles Gladiators, and ZachaREEE from Fusion University. The Canada World Cup team placed second in the Los Angeles Qualifier, and has Surefour from the Los Angeles Gladiators, Agilities from the Los Angeles Valiant, Mangachu from XL2 Academy, Note from the Boston Uprising, Bani from the Houston Outlaws, Crimzo from Team Envy, and xQc, who formerly played for the Dallas Fuel.
China won the Bangkok Qualifier. On the Chinese team is guxue and Shy from LGD Gaming, Krystal from T1w Esports Club, Lateyoung from Team CC, Yveltal from LinGan e-Sports, Sky who used to play for the Shanghai Dragons, and leave who played for Miraculous Youngsters in the past. The Australian team came in second in the Bangkok Qualifier. The team is made up of Trill, Hus and ckm from Blank Esports, Yuki and Punk, former players for Dark-Sided, and Akraken from the Sydney Drop Bears.
The French team won the Paris Qualifier. Their members are Akm and Unkoe from the Dallas Fuel, Soon from the Los Angeles Valiant, Poko from the Philadelphia Fusion, NiCOgdh from Eagle Gaming, BenBest, a former member of the Young and Beautiful, and winz, who last played for Rogue. The United Kingdom was the runner-up in the Paris Qualifier. The players for the United Kingdom team are Kyb and MikeyA from the British Hurricane, Smex from NRG Esports, Kruise from Toronto Esports, KSP from the Young and Beautiful, and ChrisTFer, who last played for 6nakes.
The World Cup Finals at Blizzcon will be run as a single elimination bracket, with the teams chosen for each place on the bracket by random draw. The Quarterfinals will be France vs Canada, USA vs United Kingdom, China vs Finland, and South Korea vs Australia.
Now you know the changes that happened during the World Cup, and the triumphant teams moving on to the Finals. All that’s left for us, fans of Overwatch and the World Cup, is to prepare for Blizzcon, cheer for our country, and watch our teams battle it out for the Championship.