The Overwatch World Cup holds infinite possibilities, especially for teams and players that don’t normally enjoy the spotlight. This is a tournament that has not only jumpstarted careers, but planted the seeds of inspiration, spurring players to work harder and find their own path to pro. Los Angeles was the perfect stage for this, showcasing budding talent from smaller European countries while allowing established stars to show off their best stuff. The result, no matter what the final records or results were, was optimism for the future of competitive Overwatch.
Below, we highlight the standouts from each country that didn’t make it to BlizzCon (based on in-game performance and peer review), a Contenders player who made a name for himself with Team Canada, and one of Team USA’s returning stars who is turning heads for a different reason.
Stefan “Onigod” Fiskerstrand—Norway, DPS
Norway’s contingent at the Overwatch World Cup was small but tight-knit, and despite finishing with a 2-3 record, many members of the team showed that they were worthy of being picked up by an Academy team, which could offer them the kind of infrastructure that will allow them to develop into stars. Onigod, Norway’s hitscan DPS, showed why he’s found success in multiple regions throughout his long career and why his current team, Angry Titans (which also features Norway teammate Kha “iPN” Nguyen), is in the Contenders Europe final.
“He was the one who carried them through a lot of team fights against us,” Canadian support Chris “Bani” Benell said at the end of the tournament. “He’s got a really good Widow and a really good Tracer as well. He’s someone to look out for.”
Mateus “Neil” Kroeber—Brazil, Main Tank
With Reinhardt back in the meta, so are the show-stopping Earthshatter combos, Nano-Boosted mayhem, and timely pins—plenty of which were on display last weekend at the OWWC. Brazil’s main tank Neil drew rave reviews for his aggressive Reinhardt play, which was a perfect fit for his country’s skirmishing, never-say-die playstyle. The Brazilians were one of two teams to take a map off Team USA during the Group Stage, and Neil’s performance was a big reason why.
Oliver “Eclipse” Nguyen—Austria, Support
One of the best things about the OWWC is watching the emergence of the next generation of Overwatch stars, and one young player whose stock rose significantly after the LA Group Stage was Eclipse. Austria’s 15-year-old Ana specialist displayed impressive accuracy with Sleep Darts, timely Nano-Boosts, and his survivability helped his country stay competitive. On top of his game skills, Eclipse’s charming on-camera interviews earned him plenty of new fans. Should he land on a Contenders team next season, and continue to develop his support hero pool, we could be looking at a future staple of the pro scene.
Esteban “Helv” Fernandez—Switzerland, Main Tank
The second entry into the “youth are the future” category is this 16-year-old Swiss main tank, whose Reinhardt capabilities are far beyond his age. He earned praise from his Team USA counterpart, Austin “Muma” Wilmot, among others, and after performing well on a big stage in a LAN setting, he—like Eclipse—could be on the radar for Contenders squads who are looking to cultivate young talent for the future.
Renan “Alemao” Moretto—Brazil, Support
The entire Brazilian squad performed admirably at the LA Group Stage, so it’s difficult to single out just a couple players from the roster, but Alemao is more than deserving, having earned a ton of praise from his peers while playing a less flashy role. On Lúcio, his timely Sound Barriers often helped save his team in dire situations, and overall, his movement kept opponents on their toes. Alemao’s USA counterpart Grant “Moth” Espe—no slouch on Lúcio himself—was impressed, as was Team Canada tank Felix “xQc” Lengyel, who said, “His position was really hard to predict for [Reinhardt’s] Firestrikes and stuff. He was all around the place.”
William “Crimzo” Hernandez—Canada, Support
While Team Canada was mostly made up of Overwatch League talent, two Contenders players did get plenty of time onstage to prove that they’re ready for the next level. The one who turned the most heads was Crimzo, whose Zenyatta play ranged from steady to clutch. The 18-year-old, who has slowly been making himself known at the Contenders level with EnVision and Team Envy (Dallas Fuel’s Academy team), certainly proved that sometimes a chance is all it takes.
I want to thank everyone in the community for the crazy amount of support and love I'm getting, I'ts pretty crazy. I also want to thank @AskJayne for giving me a chance since day 1 and giving me a platform to prove myself. This has all been amazing and im excited for the future.- Crimzo (@iCrimzo) September 10, 2018
Jay “Sinatraa” Won—USA, DPS
What a difference a year makes. In 2017, Sinatraa was the wonderkid, and his inclusion on a list like this would have been largely on the back of his monstrous Tracer play, which drove top-tier teams—including eventual champion South Korea—crazy. This year, though, Sinatraa is showing that he can bring that same aggressive mindset to just about every other hero. Last weekend we saw him dominate on Zarya, Wrecking Ball, Doomfist, and—once, memorably—even Reinhardt. At only 18, Sinatraa’s Overwatch career has only barely started, but if he can continue on this tear during the Top 8, it’s no exaggeration to say that he’s already well on his way to becoming an OWWC legend.