Eternal’s victory during the Summer Showdown could be the birth of a new era
With their win at the Summer Showdown, the Paris Eternal has to be the next team tapped to become the best team in the west. With their magical performance and the difficult road they overcame to reach the top, this begs the question; could the Eternal head the next great era in Overwatch?
The short answer is yes, the Paris Eternal could easily become the next great team. However, the long answer is a bit more measured. The Paris Eternal, like many other era owning teams, have a talented roster without much in the way of weakness. The biggest critique you could levy against the Eternal is their inconsistency of circumstance. Hero Pools has been a chaotic time and Paris hasn’t necessarily been the strongest team as the metagame has rotated. This is shown in the Eternals Week 11 3-0 loss to the Florida Mayhem. While you can dismiss many of their losses with the team finding the roster that we associate with them currently.
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Heading into the season one big point of attack positioned against the Eternal was their tank line, but with the growth that Benjamin "BenBest" Dieulafait has shown, that weakness has completely erased itself. While missing at the beginning of the season Choi "Hanbin" Han-been has been a fantastic addition to the team and quickly climbed the ranks of top flex tanks within his rookie season. On top of taking assumed weaknesses and making them positive points, the Eternal not only banked on growing into 2020 but also added members partway through.
The obvious nod here goes to the masterplan of having Kim "SP9RK1E" Yeong-han and “level up” the team, or so we thought at the start of the season. SP9RK1E was the ace up the Eternal’s sleeves and the first half of the season was merely a waiting game for them. However, that wasn’t the case at all and Paris managed to exceed expectations, which allowed SP9RK1E to improve the depth and punching power of the roster, capping with the team’s dramatic victories of the Shock and the Fusion.
However, sitting in the background, waking up at absurd times to play his official matches, online and on ping, the Eternal has Kwon "Fielder" Joon. It is a crying shame that it took the Eternal’s victory for Fielder to begin to see some recognition. If this story has not been documented for content heading into the 2020 postseason, it would easily be the travesty of the year. How does he walk into the team mid-season, outperform many names we all touted as champions and elite level players while operating on bizarre and fluctuating sleep schedules? Fielder’s journey on the Paris Eternal is easily one of the best stories in Overwatch.
A massive amount of credit needs to be given to the coaching staff, which should only compound on the argument that this specific roster is something special. That said, the Eternal check all the boxes of an era-defining team, but what would need to happen to further the discussion?
While the road to the top of the Summer Showdown was nearly too impossible for the Eternal to top, the road to becoming the sixth great era in Overwatch begs comprehension. You could wave this whole argument off if Paris was to somehow coast over some bottom to mid-level teams in their victory at the Summer Showdown, but the teams they had to beat, namely the Philadelphia Fusion and the San Francisco Shock, make up some of the best Overwatch teams in the world, it doesn’t get more difficult then that. That said, one impressive finish doesn’t craft an era, rather a few things would need to happen to see this venture from a friendly thought experiment to a serious contender to pen the next chapter in Overwatch League history.
First, the San Francisco Shock and the Shanghai Dragons have to fall considerably, creating a power vacuum in terms of global rankings within the league which the Eternal could easily slot into. Next, Paris is going to need one to two more top finishes in succession, one of which has got to be another win.
Let’s say for instance that the Paris Eternal wins the Countdown Cup, and finishes out their season with a top-three finish while the Shock, for whatever reason, blunders next month’s tournament and bottoms out during the playoffs. While this ignores the competitiveness of said matches and the strength of schedule for either team, you can begin to better see the picture. With a vacancy at the top, the Paris Eternal would have the right to become the best overall team in the west, with the upside of becoming the best team in the world if they were to capture the 2020 title.
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However loud our brains want to rationalize things, there is one thing that adds a bit of wonder, a bit of wishful thinking; we did think the Eternal was not going to live up to the hype and look what they’ve done. Is it that farfetched to think that they might continue to impress? The team that fused European and South Korean members together, a team full of incredibly talented players matched with equally talented support staff, the team that managed to prove so many people wrong this season, could they not continue to do so and forge a path of dominance?
The problem here is that there is a giant fork in the road. Is it more likely that the San Francisco Shock, the defending 2019 champions and current era owners, and the Shanghai Dragons, the rightful heir to the throne and champions of Asia, will underperform so much that they fall out of the top spot or that the Paris Eternal, the team that has grown so much this season and shown so much promise, had a good metagame with Genji but will course-correct back to just being a top team? As boring and as safe as it is, the latter feels like it has stronger legs to stand on.
Again, one amazing performance doesn’t earn you era-hood and it is magnitudes more likely that Paris had a good showing at the Summer Showdown and has certainly re-cemented themselves as a title contender from the west, but will fall short in the playoffs. That said, that is not a slight against them or their progress this season, it is just that difficult to find repeat success in this game and more so in the league. Eras in Overwatch are special and designated for the fraction of teams that go beyond special. COVID-19 and the Hero Pool format could usher in a period where there isn’t a top team that dominates the world, the sixth great era could be one of confusion and chaos. While the Paris Eternal holds the makings of an era-defining team, more needs to be done before hope can turn into truth.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment