A core member from Atlanta Academy becomes eligible for the Overwatch League
NA Contenders champion and Gauntlet finalist Garrett "Saucy" Roland, celebrated his 18th birthday on Friday, July 10th, finally becoming the latest of one of North America’s young tier 2 prodigies to become eligible for the Overwatch League.
If you’ve been following Contenders in any region, you know that a good chunk of the top players in the competition are teenagers, players who are incredibly skilled and talented but who aren’t old enough yet to play in the big house that is the Overwatch League. Many fans are going to have to patiently wait for the time when these players around the world can finally make their entrances at the top of Overwatch’s food chain. In the meantime, avid Contenders supporters will have to be content with gradually watching as some of these talents finally reach eligibility one-by-one and where they can then make speculations as to where their careers might lead them.
Saucy, specifically, is a former member of the Atlanta Reign’s academy team, a dominant squad from North America that saw them consistently beat down on the competition in the GOATS meta, and who convincingly made the transition to practically untouchable with the introduction of 2-2-2 Role Lock.
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FORGED IN THE FIRES OF GOATS
At the start of his Contenders career, Saucy played for Second Wind, but after a month was brought on to the Atlanta Academy as a hitscan DPS, meaning he would be the dedicated Zarya player for Reign sister team in GOATS. A good Zarya during this time had to deal consistent high-charge damage, have good communication with their Reinhardt and team, and have a good general awareness for the flow of a team fight, and throughout his three seasons in Contenders, Saucy only got better at these traits as time went on.
What made ATL Academy such a force in the GOATS was their team synergy, and everyone had trust to give in order for their teammates to stand out. In an interview with Upcomer, former teammate Daniel "FunnyAstro" Hathaway gives mention to Saucy following their exit at the Atlantic Showdown.
“When asked who on the team deserves more credit for their success, he pointed to 16-year-old Zarya player, Garrett "Saucy" Roland.
‘If I have to pick out one player who shines the most though, it would have to be Saucy,’ FunnyAstro said. ‘It’s a shame he isn’t 18, so can’t play in Overwatch League or this year’s Overwatch World Cup.’”
By the end of the GOATS era, Saucy was one of the best Zarya’s in North America, but his ability to flex to Sombra and Mei is what helped ATL Academy last throughout their championship run in Contenders 2019 North America East Season 2, dropping only one map the entire season. Now, being one of the best teams in their region, Saucy and his teammates in the ATL Academy, would represent North America at the Contenders international tournament, The Gauntlet.
BRINGING IT IN SEOUL
At the Gauntlet, ATL Academy had to put their reputation to the test. Sure, they were able to farm the competition in North America, but how would they fare against the best Contenders teams in the world? Actually, they were pretty good at farming the South Korean teams as well. At the Gauntlet, Saucy would play as ATL’s Reaper/Bastion specialist in the double-shield meta that would define the latter half of 2019 and you have to give a guy credit when he can pull off a 5k clutch against Element Mystic of all teams.
While the team couldn’t win a series against Element Mystic in a 5-map series in the upper bracket and a 4-1 final score in the Grand Finals, they brought it against the other teams, not dropping a single map against XL2, Gen.G, and Runaway in the lower bracket, encapsulating themselves as one of the few North American teams to have such a dominant performance against international competition, practically being dwarfed only by Team Envy’s APEX win.
Saucy proved he had the talent to compete against some considerable foes, overall, he and his team faced off against twelve current Overwatch League players from the four different teams they faced. After The Gauntlet, it was undeniable that every member of Atlanta Academy was formidable and had earned their spot on a highly talented and successful roster.
GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER
As good as Saucy’s rap sheet is, it’s difficult to say where he could fit in the Overwatch League. Whether or not the league changed the age cutoff date due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to when it changed to is unclear, but even if Saucy were eligible to play this season, where would he go?
Well, the most obvious answer is the Atlanta Reign, of course. Former Academy teammates, Xander "Hawk" Domecq, Blake "Gator" Scott, Dusttin "Dogman" Bowerman and Steven "Kodak" Rosenberger were all promoted to the main team after their time spent in Contenders, so the Atlanta organization seems committed to keeping and utilizing their home-grown talent. It’s very possible we could see Saucy introduced to the league as a member of the Reign in 2021, but if this tweet by current starting hitscan DPS Andrej "babybay" Francisty is anything to go by, maybe Saucy can see an earlier debut on the squad.
Regardless, any team would be lucky to have a young and well-regarded player rounding out their roster. Even if he weren’t on a starting position, its safe to say Saucy would be a great teammate to have in the Overwatch League, if his versatility and trust from Atlanta Academy are anything to go by. Hopefully, Saucy can continue his career in Overwatch career in the league, reaching greater heights than he already has.
All images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment