NA Contenders Seeding – Predictions
Contenders 2020 is almost here, bringing along a changed identity for Overwatch’s Tier 2 scene. After listening to community feedback concerning the previous seasons of Contenders and Open Division, Blizzard announced in October that they will be changing how Contenders as a tournament runs. Most of the changes can be found on their blog post, but essentially Contenders will move from the former league format to a bi-weekly tournament model.
North America’s fourteen teams that participated in Contenders 2019 Season 2 will face off today in a double elimination bracket to determine the seeding of the first week of the 2020 season. The placings go like this:
• 1st - 4th place, Contenders 2020 Season 1: Week 1
• 5th-12th place, Contenders 2020 Season 1: Trials Week 1
• 13th and 14th place, Open Division Playoffs
While the predictions won’t be their exact numerical placing, they will be sorted by how likely they are to place in one of the three seeds above.
ATLANTA ACADEMY (Predicted Placing: Contenders)
Coming off the back of an incredible performance at the The Gauntlet, ATL Academy proved themselves to be the best team in North America last season, winning the NA East title and finishing 2nd at The Gauntlet. However, with tanks Gator and Hawk being promoted to the Atlanta Reign and support FunnyAstro signing to the Philadelphia Fusion, ATL Academy has big shoes to fill. They’ve decided to bring in tank players Pika and Daans from Phase 2, and support players Haku and Carcar of XL2 and Fusion University. Saucy, Sugarfree, and PERFACT remain on the roster and are all young and talented DPS players who compliment the team perfectly. Knowing how well ATL Academy has been able to cultivate talent so far, this roster still looks like it can reach close to, if not, the same heights as before.
TEAM ENVY (Predicted Placing: Contenders)
The 2019 Seasons 1 and 2 NA West champions, Team Envy, have been a namesake in Overwatch esports for a very long time. They’ve always been a staple of the scene, and their new roster for Contenders 2020 shows that they’re still capable of putting together stellar talent. This season will see the return of Taimou to Contenders after his time on the Dallas Fuel. Many fans will be craving for a chance to see the return of his legendary Widowmaker and a return to form for the Finnish player. Envy also added on interesting talents like DPS Onigod, support Ojee, and new-comer main tank Salieri. With a mixed roster of both young and veteran presence, Team Envy can certainly look to take the title of best in the West.
SKYFOXES (Predicted Placing: Contenders or Trials)
Skyfoxes are on a hot streak after winning Breakable Barriers 1,2, and the Mayhem Winter Classic. A team that has been plagued with roster troubles since its inception, (a whopping 44 players have spent time with Skyfoxes in the past year and a half) has finally seemed to find the team that they can win with. DPS Asking is a star in the making and a magician on Hanzo. Salty’s performance on Sigma at the MWC could have earned him an MVP award. There are so many pieces to this roster that work so well together, it would be hard to rank them any lower than 50% of the other teams in this tournament. This roster could take advantage of the fact that both Envy and Atlanta are working with new pieces, and Skyfoxes certainly has the firepower necessary to contend with the best.
THIRD IMPACT (Predicted Placing: Contenders or Trials)
Mayhem Winter Classic finalists, Third Impact, are looking incredibly promising. This roster has a lot of potential with its players, specifically standouts like DPS zYKK (The Freak) and main tank Decod. Their play in the Mayhem Winter Classic was substantial, even if the squad came up short in the finals. This season is looking hopeful for them. They earned top 4 in the previous Contenders season and overall, they seem to be a force to be reckoned with. Like Skyfoxes, Third Impact really seem as though they can pull off some upsets.
REVIVAL (Predicted Placing: Contenders or Trials)
Revival is coming in as one of the hottest teams from the Mayhem Winter Classic, finishing third and losing in a grueling 6-map best of 5 series against eventual winners Skyfoxes. Revival really impressed at the tournament, showcasing their new but fully capable roster of young players. Formerly, made up of ex-OWL members, Revival has transformed to being one of the best teams to watch for upcoming young talent. Streamer turned pro-player Aspen is one of the only female Overwatch pros in the Contenders scene, and she did exceedingly well alongside support partner Doggo at the MWC. DPS Reyzr and tank Bogur, also put on highlight reels at the tournament and really gave the team members to rally behind. Revival is, for sure, a team worth watching, following, and believing in.
SECOND WIND (Predicted Placing: Trials)
Second Wind is a long-time staple of the Contenders scene. They were a pretty successful squad, starting out coming from Open Division, fighting through Trials, and took impressive wins during their prime. Who can forget their valiant effort facing Fusion University in the playoffs of NA Contenders 2018 Season 3? Currently, they barely just missed out on top 4 at the Mayhem Winter Classic, so the team still has some work to put in, but they have talent to bring to the table. However, historically, this team has found it difficult to take on the top tier teams. With the competition getting better, it seems it will be more difficult for Second Wind to hit those same highs as before.
MONTREAL REBELLION (Predicted Placing: Trials)
Montreal Rebellion might be the dark horse for this seeding tournament. DPS Mangachu and support Roky join as two-way players from the Toronto Defiant. Both players are talented and can certainly do great in the right conditions (Mangachu’s proficiency on Pharrah for example). With the meta leaning towards Hanzo/Pharmercy/Mei, this team could be seen doing well off the back of their DPS and tank play. The team is further supported with the presence of long-time EU fan favorite Leaf and Team Canada tank Chayne, two players who have had a long history of competing in Overwatch. Montreal Rebellion have had some lows as a squad, but this new look could certainly make them an unavoidable force.
TRIUMPH (Predicted Placing: Trials)
Triumph comes in with a brand-new roster, with only DPS Samito and support player awkward staying from the previous iteration. They may have had a decent finish in the previous season, but with new players it’ll be tough to say where they fall among the competition. Their two new tank players Txao and Milkyman, have had reasonable success in Contenders Europe, the latter being a part of European powerhouse Team Giganti. It’s difficult to judge where they lie, but it’s obvious they do have established talent on the roster.
PHASE 2 (Predicted Placing: Trials)
Phase 2 is another Open Division success story, one that evolved from a team of upstarts to an established brand. They’re quite a charming team, with a history of players that have gone on to do well later in their careers. They’ve recently made some huge changes to the team, including the addition of former LA Gladiators two-way player Panker. Panker has spent a lot of time being a core member of Gladiator’s Legion, and while they never have broken into that upper echelon of NA teams, Panker has always been a bright spot. Pairing this with the consistency of DPS players A10 and Socks, and Phase 2 shouldn’t have a problem escaping the bottom of the rankings.
UPRISING ACADEMY (Predicted Placing: Trials or Open Division)
Uprising Academy didn’t fair too well in the previous seasons of Contenders, never making it past 5th and even being relegated to Trials in NA East 2019 Season 1. That is not a comforting look from the Academy team of an Overwatch League franchise. Their recent performance at the Mayhem Winter Classic left them placing barely above the collegiate teams. Their loss to Simplicity could be a sign that the roster just isn’t coming together. Not many of their players have had too much success to celebrate outside of support player Phatt, an EU Contenders winner. Hopefully, things can shape out for UA, because right now their Contenders season does not look too promising.
SQUARE ONE (Predicted Placing: Trials or Open Division)
Square One is another team that has only ever experienced the lower side of the Contenders standings. This season, they’re joined by former Season 1 San Francisco Shock member Nomy as Head Coach, which could indicate a new identity for the team. It will be his first time in the coaching position and as a former OWL player who knows what he can bring to the table. Whether that can translate into success for the team is uncertain but expecting them to place into Trials or Open Division is a safe bet.
SIMPLICITY (Predicted Placing: Trials or Open Division)
Simplicity is an organization that was around for some part of 2017-2018 Overwatch but stepped back from the game in middle 2018. With their return, they bring a roster of players who have some competitive experience, but are relative unknowns compared to other players. Most of their players have been on a plethora of Tier 2 teams, so it’d be unfair to say they lack the experience. However, whether they can bring the fight to tougher teams is a different story. With two loses against both Revival and Skyfoxes at the MWC, signs point to them being unable to meet that same level.
TEA PARTY (Predicted Placing: Open Division or Trials)
Tea Party has never been a team that really broke out amongst the competition. They always placed poorly amongst other Contenders teams, and even with the new additions there are not too many high hopes for this squad other than avoiding being in the bottom two of the tournament. The bright spots on this team are the incoming former Phase 2 players, support Lep and tank SaltShaker, but those seem to be the only considerable highlights.
NOBLE (Predicted Placing: Open Division or Trials)
Multi-game esports organization, Noble, acquired the Contenders team Bermuda and added notable players like support Tensa from Montreal Rebellion and main tank Moopey from XL2. Bermuda was not a team that found a lot of success in Contenders, never making out of their respective group stages. Right now, they do have good players, but the biggest worry is the support around those players. No support staff are listed for Noble, and it doesn’t seem as any of the Bermuda staff followed the players to the new team. These players feel that they can be successful, but it seems Noble lacks the support that other teams do.
With all teams being covered, it’ll be exciting to see what new stories and players really shine throughout this season of Contenders. The seeding tournament will be able to show us the strengths of these new rosters, and hopefully, these predictions have helped you better understand the relative competition amongst the NA Contenders teams.
Images courtesy Blizz Ent