Incheon, South Korea—Saturday mornings are universally easier for people to attend than Friday mornings. As such, the amount of people who arrived early for day two of the Incheon Overwatch World Cup Group Stage was significantly higher. It wasn’t as hot out as the day before, but some tents were set up outside for people to stand under as they queued up. After a day of matches for teams to study and the thrilling finish from the night before, fans and players alike were eager to get inside the venue.
On the Boar
Yesterday, Team Japan DPS Yuma “Dep” Hisamoto made a statement to the world about his hitscan abilities, but in his team’s match against Chinese Taipei today, he took awhile to warm up. No matter, though, as his teammates Kenji “Ameken” Hisano on Pharah and Ryoma “Sabagod” Tsuji on Zenyatta helped pick up what he put down.
As Japan pushed the advantage on Ilios Ruins, we even got a taste of Ameken on Hammond. At the beginning of the tournament, Team Japan had insisted Ameken was one of the best Hammonds in the world. “Hammyken,” Takahiro “Claire” Watanabe had insisted—and we got a taste of that as Hammyken himself did a bit of spawn-camping.
Chinese Taipei did adapt, though, and going into King’s Row they were doing a much better job at handling Japan’s aggressive style. As the second map went into an extra round, Team Japan tried some cheeky play with Sombra and managed one tick, but Chinese Taipei’s Keng-Yu “ShaiuLin” Lin came in hot on Pharah for their attack, quickly building his ultimate, which he used to full effect to help his team win the map and tie up the match.
After halftime, ShaiuLin again showed off how fast he could charge his ultimates on Temple of Anubis, this time on Junkrat as his quick RIP-Tire held Japan’s attack back initially. But Ameken was up to his old tricks, sneaking into the backline of Chinese Taipei to dismantle their defense. Team Japan came to life in the second half, showing off the aggressive, creative, pre-existing roster synergy of CYCLOPS Athlete Gaming and eventually taking the match 3-1.
Looking at Team Finland’s faces during their post-match press conference, you wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell just how grueling their 2-1 win over Russia was. The players were in a jovial mood, but that's just how Finns are—intense and resilient in competition, but relaxed offstage.
There was some relief, as well, after a tense, closely fought comeback. Finland got off to a slow start on Oasis, a byproduct of yesterday’s tough loss to South Korea, followed by a hard-fought tie on King’s Row, putting them against the ropes going into halftime. They had to win both maps after the break, or risk falling outside the top eight for the second year in a row.
What happened next, in a word: epic.
The Volskaya pick for assault was risky, as it guaranteed a double-sniper showdown against Russia’s formidable DPS duo of George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha and Stanislav “Mistakes” Danilov. Sure enough, ShaDowBurn popped off on Hanzo on Russia’s first attack, and the team snowballed through Point B with 5:00 in the time bank. Finland, on the other hand, were in danger of being full-held on Point A before pushing through for a modest 2:45 going into the second round.
Enter Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin, who one-upped his Hanzo counterpart with an incredible individual round to help Finland capture both points once more. Russia came close to matching the double cap once more, but a crucial Transcendence from support Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara kept his team alive just long enough to complete the hold.
On Dorado, effectively a tiebreaker map, Finland swapped their sniper roles. What happened next was a familiar script to Overwatch League fans: LiNkzr see head, LiNkzr click head. (And sometimes, he didn’t even need to see head.) Again, the map came down to a second attack round, and between the two quick opening snipes to eliminate Russia’s DPS and the successful flanks to delete Russia’s backline, LiNkzr’s Widowmaker was instrumental in helping Finland escort the payload nearly to Point B with just a one-minute time bank.
Timo “Taimou” Kettunen explained afterward that the Widowmaker swap was mostly due to the fact that LiNkzr was “feeling it.” Overall, it took awhile for Finland to feel it, which they attributed partly to the fact that their two most difficult opponents were scheduled essentially back-to-back.
“It was a very, very tough match,” Taimou said. “I think we gave our all yesterday, so we were pretty drained for today. We prepared really hard for Russia, but unfortunately we didn’t get any warmup for the game, so our basic game plan didn’t go as it was supposed to. Also, Russia played very well and gave us a hard time.”
Currently, Finland trails Russia in map score but the win has put them in the pole position to advance out of the Incheon Group Stage. They’ll be keeping an eye on the match between South Korea and Russia, which is fourth on the schedule for day three, but they like their odds—as long as they take care of business against Japan and Chinese Taipei.
If South Korea’s first match of the day—a 4-0 sweep of winless Hong Kong—was one-sided, it was nothing compared to the way they dismantled Japan to close out day two. The host team completely shut out their opponents in just over 45 minuteswithout yielding a single map point. They even added some style points, showing off their synergy on King’s Row:
No, Overwatch doesn’t have a speed run mode. But maybe South Korea were simply rushing things along so they could get to their fanmeet, the line for which snaked around the venue, an impressive reminder of just how passionate the Korean Overwatch faithful are.
The other five teams are feeling the love, as well, even when they’re technically the enemy.
“We could hear the crowd cheering for us even in our game against Korea, which was super awesome,” Finland flex tank Joonas “Zappis” Alakurtti said. “Even meeting the fans outside, saying hello or taking a picture with us, it’s always really nice to meet them. We have gotten so much support as Team Finland this year.”
Plus, LiNkzr added: “Korean fans give the best gifts.”
The best gift of all is another full day of Overwatch World Cup action, and we’ve got that coming right at you at 8 p.m. PDT. Click herefor schedules, rosters, live-streaming locations, and more. All Overwatch World Cup matches will be broadcast live on ESPN3. Check your local listings for select broadcasts on Disney XD.