Overwatch World Cup Day 1 recap: heated preliminaries
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This year, Halloween began not only with costumes and candy, but with Overwatch World Cup preliminaries. With the first day of the World Cup, teams who didn’t automatically qualify for the group stages were put up in their own elimination bracket to get the last five spots. This preliminary knockout stage consisted of five brackets for the five remaining spots. In those brackets, teams like Finland, Sweden, Japan, and more fought for staying in the running for the trophy.

Bracket A: The Great Danes push through

Bracket A of the Overwatch World Cup consisted of five teams: Denmark, New Zealand, Austria, Australia, and Chinese Taipei. Most fans recognized that the top teams were Australia and Denmark, with Chinese Taipei being an underrated team. However, the bracket went a bit differently. Austria got eliminated by New Zealand first, and that led to a bonkers five-map game between Australia and New Zealand. Australia did win (barely), getting to the bracket finals.

On the other side of the bracket, Denmark and Chinese Taipei were the semi-finals. Denmark won the series 3-1, facing off against Australia in the Bracket A finals. However, unfortunately for Australia, Denmark came to play and swept them to win that coveted spot in the group stage. Some impressive players were Johannes “Shax” Nielsen for Denmark, Ashley “Trill” Powell for Australia, and Kelsey “Colourhex” Birse for New Zealand.

Bracket B: United Kingdom returns

Bracket B’s teams were Ireland, Iceland, United Kingdom, Norway, and Spain. The two top teams from previous years were Norway and the United Kingdom, with Spain being an underrated team. But unlike Bracket A, this one only contained sweeps, from the first match to the last one. Iceland swept Ireland but proceeded to get swept by the United Kingdom, leading them to the bracket finals.

On the other side, the semi finals was Spain versus Norway, which Norway dominated. This meant the bracket finals was the United Kingdom versus Norway. This led to yet another sweep, with the United Kingdom being the victors and returning to the Overwatch World Cup main stage. Some standout players in the bracket were Eoghan “Smex” O’Neill for the UK, Stefan “Onigod” Fiskerstrand for Norway, and Hafþór “Hafficool” Hákonarson for Iceland.

Bracket C: Sweden come back for redemption

Bracket C consisted of Sweden, Colombia, the Philippines, Japan, Italy, and India. This is the first bracket of six teams, meaning that there was an extra quarterfinal. The top two teams expected to fight for the spot were Sweden and Japan, with Italy being a dark house. The series started as expected, with Colombia beating the Philippines and Italy sweeping India. While Columbia proceeded to get swept by Sweden, Italy faced Japan in one of the best games of the preliminaries. Italy completed the upset, going to the bracket finals to face Sweden.

While it was closer than most people predicted, Sweden wanted to make up for their 2018 Overwatch World Cup play and it showed. They won the series 3-1, booking their spot in day two. The standout players in this bracket were Simon “snillo” Ekström for Sweden, Edmondo “DragonEddy” Cerini for Italy, and Robert “HaKu” Blohm for Japan.

Bracket D: Russia fights back into group stages

Bracket D of the Overwatch World Cup consisted of Russia, Latvia, Mexico, Germany, Hong Kong, and Paraguay. This is another six-team bracket, with some big teams. The top two teams were Russia and Germany, with Mexico as an underrated team. The first game was Latvia versus Mexico, which ended with Mexico sweeping them 3-0. The next quarterfinal was Hong Kong versus Paraguay, with Hong Kong sweeping Paraguay 3-0. The first semi-final was Russia versus Mexico, with Russia showing their dominance in another sweep. This meant that Russia was in their brackets final.

The other semi-final was Germany versus Hong Kong. Germany won with a 3-0 victory, as they were aimed to face Russia for the final spot. But Russia was too strong, showing their strength in another sweep, making this the second bracket with only sweep victories. The standout players for this bracket were Ilya “NLaaeR” Koppalov for Russia, Max “Moose” Kießling for Germany, and Kin-Long “ManGoJai” Wong for Hong Kong.

Bracket E: Netherlands complete massive upset

In conclusion, Bracket E consisted of Finland, Singapore, South Africa, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Saudi Arabia. The top two teams were Finland and the Netherlands, with Portugal as an underrated team. The first game was Singapore versus South Africa, with Singapore winning convincingly 3-0. On the other quarterfinal, Saudi Arabia beat Portugal 3-1 in a small upset. This led to the first semi-final of Finland versus Singapore, which led to an expected Finland beat down. They got their chance to make it to day two.

However, on the other side of the bracket, the semi-final was Saudi Arabia versus the Netherlands. Saudi Arabia got a map, but the Netherlands pulled through to the finals for the bracket. This meant that the two best teams in the bracket would face off, with Finland being the heavy favorite. However, the Netherlands dominated and won the series with a 3-0 sweep. The standout players for this bracket were Thomas “brussen” Brussen for the Netherlands, Jeffrey “Vizility” de Vries for the Netherlands, and Richard “rCk” Kanerva for Finland.

Setting the groups for Overwatch World Cup day 2

The two groups are set. Group A consists of the United States, South Korea, France, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. Group B now consists of Canada, China, Denmark, Russia, and the Netherlands. On first look, Group A looks insanely stacked in terms of talent, with champions South Korea mixed with a lot of very good teams. Group B looks a little easier but is filled with underrated talent. China surprised everyone on their run to the finals last year. Canada have been medalists for the past two years.

In the end, the Netherlands were the only true surprise to make it this far. Because of that, it might mean teams in Group B could have an easier path to the finals than Group A teams. But on the other side, the teams that come out of Group A will have beat the best teams in the world to get there. We’ll just have to wait and see on day two who makes it out of the groups and to the finals of the Overwatch World Cup.

Keep your eyes posted on the Overwatch Twitch channel and Daily Esports for more action on the Overwatch World Cup.

Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming for as long as I can remember, with my first game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played games being Borderlands 2 and Overwatch. I have a degree in Film Studies, but writing about esports just makes my job all the better.