BlizzCon took place this past weekend, and with it came the annual Overwatch World Cup. As a Canadian, I was pumped to see our 2018 bronze medal team return to the stage. As a Defiant fan, I watched Toronto DPS players Mangachu and the newly-signed Agilities with cautious optimism to assess the OWL season to come. Now that BlizzCon is over, I can definitively say…well, that was a thing that happened.
In one long day that began with Mangachu locking Horse and ended with a whimper, Canada didn’t even make playoffs. Their past performances had let them skip the preliminaries, but perhaps this ruling was a mistake. The group stages saw them exiting the competition in a defeated manner. The entire tournament, they won only a single pity map to close out their game with the Netherlands.
So what does this mean for the Defiant moving forward into 2020? Has Toronto made a mistake in signing for nationality and popularity over objective skill? Are the Canadian DPS still forces to be reckoned with, just hindered by a lack of focus and team synergy? Or, despite being nowhere near either Team Canada or the Defiant, is Elk somehow still the problem? Okay, maybe not that last one, but let’s break down the weekend’s events and see how the Defiant look from here.
Main Tankachu: The Hero We Needed, but Not the One We Wanted
Listen, I don’t blame xQc for choosing to stream Overwatch 2 during the first match. He’s a streamer first, and at one point he had about twice the viewers of the five World Cup streams combined. That’s big money. I respect it. The problem I have is this:
“The team was aware of this conflict long in advance and has prepared accordingly.” Yeah. About that.
I understand that the game against Russia was an expected win. The team probably decided it wasn’t worth bringing Chayne to the seven-man roster for the entire tournament to accommodate one game against a supposedly weaker opponent. A coordinated Canada should have been able to take them, with or without xQc.
However, this didn’t stop a boop/halt combo from Russia’s ShaDowBurn and Tonic from sending Mangachu’s Orisa and our country’s collective hopes and dreams directly into the Ilios well.
Moving forward to the next two maps, Mangachu was, in all likelihood, banned from touching main tank ever again. Agilities did his best to cover for his Defiant teammate, but he didn’t fare much better. Fortunately, Toronto recently announced the signing of Beast (formerly Beasthalo of Fusion University), so this obviously isn’t an issue for OWL 2020.
If It Ain’t Broke…It Actually Might Be Broke
Unfortunately, xQc’s heralded return did nothing to improve the team’s results. So if bringing in an actual main tank player couldn’t save us, then what was the problem for Team Canada?
There has been a lot of fan finger pointing at various parties:
- The DPS are washed up;
- xQc hasn’t played professionally since the last World Cup;
- Bani and NotE were competing to see who could charge their ultimates the slowest;
- Dallas Fuel staff LUL;
- Etc., etc., etc.
The only one who managed to escape the wrath of Reddit was Crimzo, whom fans praise pretty much universally for his stellar flex support play. The man is doing his best. Please, someone sign him to OWL already.
Overall, it’s impossible to pinpoint one person or turn of events that doomed the squad singlehandedly. I think that maybe the team fell victim to the overconfidence similar to that that struck down the United States last year. Canada stormed in with a powerful seven-man roster – identical to the one that reached the podium in 2019 – and expected more of the same.
Maybe they were busy with preparation for 2020. Agilities and Valiant teammate/bestie Kariv recently signed to Toronto together, with Surefour rumoured to possibly join them, and Bani and Crimzo’s OWL moves, if existent, are unknown. Maybe they are busy preparing for bigger and better things and just didn’t take the competition all that seriously this year.
Or maybe, while Canada fielded more of the same (#JusticeForMouffin), the rest of the world just worked harder and got better. Regardless of the reasons, their team play looked very disjointed, and they surely didn’t expect to leave the competition so early. That outcome’s got to hurt them even more than it does the fans.
We Go Again – This Time in OWL
What does this mean for the 2020 Defiant roster? Many expressed excitement at the prospect of a Canadian DPS lineup, but now “stonks” are decidedly down. However, all hope is not lost. Surefour in particular has been a standout player for the Gladiators this year. If Toronto confirms his move to the Defiant, I won’t be disappointed. With a talented coaching staff, a better supporting cast, and a humble attitude, another bottom-of-the-table finish should be avoided.
Let’s look at the rest of the roster with World Cup Connections:
- Kariv: This year’s backup flex support for Team South Korea, he’s no slouch. With unbreakable Gamer Snacks energy between him and Agilities, Kariv will sleep dart his way to victory.
- Nevix (rumoured): We haven’t seen him play on stage in a while, but he did make Team Sweden’s final 12 this year. (Justice’s ELLIVOTE beat him out for the starting spot.) We have to assume Nevix has still got it.
- Kellex (rumoured): There have been a few recent whispers that Team Denmark’s main support might be joining Toronto. After a disappointing year with Boston, it’s encouraging that we saw him pop-off at the World Cup on a roster that far surpassed Canada’s performance. They made it all the way to the Quarterfinals before going out to South Korea.
It’s too soon to say how strong Defiant will be, but I can’t imagine things getting much worse than 2019. Here’s hoping that rough results on the world stage will light a fire under the DPS when they play next. The team is shaping up to look pretty decent – not superstar level, but they could really accomplish something to be proud of with the right guidance and attitude. To borrow a phrase from LemonKiwi, “Keep your booties in your seats.” You won’t want to miss it.
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“By the common OWL fan, for the common OWL fan.”
Featured image courtesy of @TeamCanadaOW on Twitter.