Oasis: It’s the 5th map, and the final game between Australia and Japan. The teams are tied 2-2. Japan have a well known affinity with control maps, and Australia’s domination from the previous two days is beginning to waver ever so slightly. This is easily the most exciting match of the weekend, and the entire audience is on the edge of its seat. The air is electric. There’s a collective sharp intake of breath as the Japanese team nullifies yet another push by the Australian team. A soft round of applause goes up from the crowd, then silence. Japan have 99% control on the point and we hit overtime as the Australian team go for one last push. The whole team hits the point hard. Kiki and IEatUup hit some really important kills, before Aetar spins around the corner to get himself a double (including a rocket to the face mid jump) to clear out the Japanese team.
Australia flips it.
The Japanese team regroups.
Trill puts himself in the window above the choke. The Japanese team poke a bit before charging, and Trill drops down, gets a quick kill, then pops his ultimate; and the crowd loses it as the screen fills with red text as Trill swings through the entire Japanese team.
Japan tries for another push, and Australia very quickly staggers the kills while chasing down the retreating players.
Japan have one more push left to flip the point. AKTM tries to flank as Genji, but IEatUup quickly cleans him up with a tracer ult. Australia gets to 99% and the Overtime countdown starts, but Japan are down a player. Knowing they have nothing to lose anyway, Japan hits the point. Aetar ults. Yoz ults. Kiki ults. Deartn ults. Pure carnage. Japan loses two. Australia loses one. Japan loses another. Australia starts to clean up, and Japan trickles in, trying to keep the point alive while they respawn. RQT, Kiki, and IEatUup finish it off, and the point lights up as capped.
The crowd loses it. The Australian team loses it. AUSTRALIA ADVANCE TO BLIZZCON!
Over the course of the weekend, Australia completely dominated its group. The team 4-0’d Italy and 4-0’d Portugal on the first two days, to lead the Group C pack coming into the final day, where they lost to Sweden (who were considered one of the top 5 teams in the entire competition and easy favourites for the event) in a nail-biting 3-1 match. This put Sweden and Australia tied first for Group C in numbers of games won; but since Sweden beat Australia in their match it put the Swedes into first place. Sweden then went on to play Group D’s Spain for their win-and-in while Australia played off against Japan. There was some smack-talk between the teams, smack-talk between the commentators, Aussie’s trolling the commentary booth with signs, and some amazing game play. I know I’m gushing, but this event was amazing! For a full breakdown of the weekend’s results, check the official channel here.
I also got the chance to spend a bit of time with the official cosplayers from the event, and take some photographs. You can see those here.
We all love video games – hell, that’s why you’re here reading this article. But let’s be real for a moment. Having Blizzard host a group stage of the Overwatch World Cup in Sydney was a massive and important step forward for E-Sports in the country. I can’t tell you how happy I was to walk into a sports bar in the middle of the city for lunch and look up at the TV screens to see Overwatch being played along with football and Rugby League. It was a pure “we made it” moment.
Sydney-siders were treated to competitive play from some of the best players in the world, and I can tell you from the reactions that came from that crowd over the course of the weekend that they loved every minute of it. Australians were incredibly grateful for the chance to have a Live E-Sport event held in their country, and they showed that over the three days. Aussies obviously love their own, but the amount of cheering for other teams – even when those teams were playing against the Australian team – was inspiring to see. And as you can see from the image above, the venue looked amazing. The fact that Australia also made it through to the Blizzcon top eight should hopefully show Blizzard and the rest of the world that we are a force to be reckoned with and deserve more chances to host group stages in the future. We can only hope! The next step for the scene has to be consistent competitive events, and luckily ESL Play has started its first competitive season for the Australia and New Zealand region.
I’m looking forward to Blizzcon more than ever now, and I can say with complete certainty that I’ll be watching the stream (at the very least) and screaming until my voice disappears for the Australian guys. They’ve done amazingly well so far, and there’s only one more tournament left for them. For now, we have two more Group Stages left to see who the final four teams to fill out the top eight will be.