Highlights from the Mayhem Winter Classic
This weekend Overwatch fans were treated to the Mayhem Winter Classic, a collaborative tournament between the Florida Mayhem and Elo Hell that saw sixteen aspiring Overwatch teams face off in a Double Elimination bracket. This is only one of the few tournaments that exists outside of Overwatch’s Path to Pro ecosystem and was a breath of fresh air for any fan who felt as though this off-season has been far too uneventful. If you missed the action, you missed a lot of exciting upstart teams facing off with an extreme hunger to prove themselves. Even veteran teams of NA Contenders entered the Classic with new faces and new personalities.
As one of the first tournaments in Patch 1.43, many fans were anxious to see what the meta could possibly shape up to be. After a total of 30 matches played, it seems safe to say the meta has shifted but not too drastically. Heroes like Doomfist, Reaper, and Moira are no longer the must picks they used to be, but Orisa and Sigma are still the most dominant tanks in the game. We did see a considerable amount of Wrecking Ball as well, but it seemed more prevalent as a pocket pick for certain players than a staple of the meta. Specifically, players like Skyfoxes’ mikeyy and Third Impact’s Decod showed how ruthless the hamster can be when put into the right hands.
DPS players shined in this tournament as we got to see a lot of Hanzo, Pharrah, and even some Widowmaker when the maps allowed it. Mei still provides the best crowd control out of most of Overwatch’s roster, so she saw a lot of play in maps with closer quarters. Third Impact players Carter and zYKK did bring out an amusingly successful Soldier: 76/Tracer duo on Busan in their game against Tea Party. It’s interesting to see the close combat oriented meta of the previous patch being traded out for more poke-heavy compositions, and if the heroes we see are the ones that will be played in the Overwatch League.
For supports it was essentially the Baptiste show, as the newest support hero clearly has been made a must pick for the current meta. Many teams elected to have a rotation of heroes to accompany Baptiste. We saw Mercy, Ana, Zenyatta, and Lucio all being played to a certain degree of success. However, Baptiste’s Immortality Field, his insane healing output, and his Amplification Matrix are all just too strong to consider not fielding him. It was incredibly exciting to see the amount of flexibility coming from the support players of these teams most notably, the support lines of Revival, Third Impact, and Skyfoxes.
While the competition was great, things really began to heat up during the upper bracket semi-finals, where Skyfoxes and Revival pitted their new rosters against each other. The first two maps had dominant performances from both teams, Skyfoxes taking Busan 2-0 with a wipeout on Sanctuary and Revival taking Rialto 3-0, full holding on defense. It was on King’s Row where Revival was able to hold Skyfoxes just outside of the final point before pushing all the way on their own attack.
A rough start on Busan, but we come back to take the series 2-1! Well played @SkyfoxesOW. Truly one of our toughest competitors.— Revival (@TheRevivalGG) January 5, 2020
We move on to the Semifinal round of the Mayhem Winter Classic where we’ll face off against @ThirdImpactGG.#OnceMore pic.twitter.com/OvZmwqcdQn
In the second semi-final match, Third Impact went up against Old Man Strength, a team made of unknowns that got surprisingly far in the upper bracket and ending their tournament run in 4th place. However, their match in the semi-finals went quickly, as Third Impact was able to take Busan and full hold them on Rialto for a 2-0 victory.
Double Elimination brackets create great opportunities for stories in esports. While Third Impact was putting the pressure on Revival in the winner’s finals, Skyfoxes took the time to 3-1 Old Man’s Strength in the lower bracket. Outstanding and consistent play allowed the team to take over the match and take full advantage of that second chance.
After Revival was defeated by Third Impact 0-3, teal and yellow faced off in a nail-biting 6-map best of 5 series. In the rematch, many would have expected Revival to be able to recreate their success from their first match against the Foxes. To make matters even more difficult, Skyfoxes needed to use a replacement for their DPS Speedily and brought in stand-in Hydron to help them stay in the tournament.
First map Ilios went in favor of Revival, as Skyfoxes could not break through the Tracer/Pharmercy/Ball composition that Revival deployed on Well. Junkertown and Eichenwalde went to Skyfoxes, however, as we got to see stellar Widowmaker play from Asking and oppressive movement from Salty’s Sigma. Behind 1-2 and Skyfoxes on match point, Revival needed to pull through to stay alive in the tournament. Hero play from Aspen’s Baptiste and Doggo’s Zenyatta, kept their team from falling and drawed on Hanamura. To tie-break the teams faced off on Busan, where it was Reyzr’s Mei and new-comer Cowman711’s Sigma that secured the map for their team.
But it all came down to Oasis, and it was hectic to say the least. Both teams played so frantically and desperately, that there were so many clutch moments from both sides that it was hard to see who would take it. Revival’s Tracer/Pharmercy secured Gardens, but it was the Hanzo/Doomfist of Skyfoxes and Salty’s incredible Sigma that took University. It was an eclectic battle of Wrecking Balls, Pharmercies, and Tracers that roared through the skies on City Center. It was some of the craziest compositions seen in a while but in the end, it was Skyfoxes who took the map and punched their ticket to the grand finals.
In the final match, it was close but Skyfoxes proved to be too much, as they ended victorious in a 3-1 end score. They took convincing wins on Busan and Rialto, Hydron being able to bring out his Pharrah and show his dominance on the hero. Third Impact did retaliate on King’s Row where it was Carter’s Hanzo that took point and shut down Skyfoxes’ overtime defense. But the teal team’s point B Anubis defense was unbreakable. Between Asking’s Hanzo, Mikeyy’s halt set-ups, and Crusade’s high value matrixes, they completely shut down Third Impact.
After a weekend of intense competition, @SkyfoxesOW are your inaugural Mayhem Winter Classic champions!— Florida Mayhem (@FLMayhem) January 6, 2020
Congratulations, Skyfoxes! You've just won $4500 and the title - for now - of the best T2 team in the west. #FoxesTakeFlight🦊 #BringTheMayhem pic.twitter.com/BcIz5dCXy6
A lot of praise must be given to the Florida Mayhem and Elo Hell staff for their dedication and ability to pull this tournament off. They put on great show and did their part in showcasing the incredible upcoming talent in tier 2 Overwatch. Contenders shouldn’t be the only place we get to see these players! These teams should have more of an opportunity to show their rosters and their prowess in Overwatch. Hopefully, we’ll be treated to more tournaments like this in the future, taking place around the Overwatch League schedule.