The weirdest tournament no one ever talks about
A lot of the conversation surrounding pre-Overwatch League tournaments revolves around the four seasons of OGN’s APEX. Justifiably of course, as APEX is arguably the greatest tournament series in all of Overwatch. Outside of a good case for an OWL season, nothing touches APEX’s iconic storylines so far. That being said though, it doesn’t mean that nothing else is worth looking back on. In fact, if you’re feeling nostalgic for a time when Overwatch was… not as polished and the scene was full of fresh-faced hopefuls with big esports orgs sponsoring them, I would argue that the most fun you can have looking back on old Overwatch matches, is by watching the Overwatch Open.
The Overwatch Open was hosted by ELEAGUE, the broadcasting company that’s most famously known for their work in CS:GO and Rocket League. That’s what sums up the whole tournament actually, think CS:GO but make it Overwatch. After all, the game is a first-person shooter, and even famed Counter-Strike casters Semmler and Anders work the mic during the tournament, years before Semmler’s transition into the Overwatch League. On top of that, the observation crew basically only transition from the DPS-heroes and the top-down view, so if you’re looking for gameplay solely comprising of those classic McCree, Genji, and Reaper pop-offs, you’re in the right place.
If there’s nothing else that sells you on the experience, you have to at least want to see the old fabled team lineups of some of NA and Europe’s most popular players, play Overwatch in such a broken state. I’m talking classic NRG featuring the King of 2016 Overwatch, Brandon "Seagull" Larned, names like Jonathan "Reinforce" Larsson on Rogue, Team EnVyUs’ Talespin, and the superstar himself, FaZe Clan’s Eric "TwoEasy" van Hoorn. I mean, who doesn’t want to see a little TwoEasy action in 2020.
The meta is broken and exhilarating. There’s no role lock and it’s peak Beyblade where Ana’s nano-boost paired with Lucio’s ridiculous speed, made any hero a Jimmy Gibb’s Jr race car smashing through the competition. Ultimates charged in less than a minute, and Mercy mass-rezzes punished teams for even thinking of investing ultimates into a team fight. It is peak broken Overwatch, where every hero was played, and swaps mostly happened based on what the players felt like playing. In order to capture the absolute magic, here are three matches that encapsulate the best of this era of Overwatch in the Overwatch Open.
NA Upper Bracket Final – Cloud9 vs. Envyus
Cloud9 vs Envy is the ultimate NA matchup. Two teams that have been the most dominant in the region, match up as rivals with that original Envy squad going up against Surefour and the original Cloud9 lineup. What’s most interesting about this match is the switch Cloud9 play with, where they just completely shut off and it seems like someone unplugged their keyboards. How Envy run so rampant, it’s incredible to watch. On Numbani defence, Taimou shows yet again why he was one of the scariest DPS players in early Overwatch, his value on Roadhog, McCree, on whatever was just unmatched.
Cloud9 did show some fight on Hollywood though, especially with the surprising usage of Widowmaker (even though it wasn’t very good, it’s still nice to see her pre-buffs). Though Envy brings it back with just highlight reel after highlight reel of Talespin and Taimou running amuck on their signature heroes. The great thing about Envy is just how much they’ll swap roles and heroes. Talespin, Taimou, INTERNETHULK, they’re just playing whatever they feel will work and it’s ridiculous, but fun.
EU Upper Bracket Final – Rogue vs. FaZe Clan
Sit down friends because it’s time for the EU superstar matchup. On one side, you have classic Rogue, with the French core and Swedish round-outs, and FaZe clan, a split between American and European players who will later be household names. FaZe was home to the infamous Genji master ShaDowBurn, who basically made his name as a projectile freak on Genji and Pharrah, something he constantly busts out here. If you’re an old head of Overwatch esports, you’re going to definitely love watching some good ‘ol TwoEasy, a staple of FaZe’s roster for that early 2016 era.
This series is pretty cool because it looks like FaZe is going to take it early, but the Rogue team-play edges out in the final three maps. One of the best moments is where each team throws out about 10 ultimates in under 1-minute in an attempt to secure Point B Gibraltar. It’s just peak messy, old Overwatch, where teams don’t care about economy, they’re just gonna press Q and try to clutch it out no matter what. No discipline, just pure adrenaline, and isn’t what esports is all about?
Grand Final – Misfits vs. Envyus
The last match of the tournament and while it ends in four maps, you definitely have to check out the story of Envyus falling just short of claiming a tournament victory, only to later take the scene by storm by winning APEX Season 1 only a couple months later. Again, Taimou just puts on another impressive display on Roadhog and McCree, but he has to meet his match in Soon, running his now-legendary Tracer. What made Misfits special was just how impactful Soon was on Tracer, and he makes Talespin work to keep up with him. Soon’s performance made it very clear that he was leagues above anyone else on the hero.
One of the funnier moments is the crowd going absolutely wild for a mass-rez from Chipshajen on King’s Row. For an ultimate that ended up being immensely disliked by the overall competitive community, it’s hilarious to hear the crowd cheer for such a ridiculous team fight turn around. Oh, pre-rework Mercy, you will not be missed.
It’s so odd because its such a departure from what Overwatch is today, that it almost seems completely foreign. The difference in discipline from what we see now, the abundance of ultimates you see with less charge cost, and the absolute broken aspects that showered the game early on, makes the game exciting to revisit. It’s still pretty hype to watch, the Overwatch Open provides some unique moments you are just not going to see any more in live Overwatch. Which is great for any fan of Overwatch looking to learn to relive some past glories.
All Images Courtesy of ELEAGE|FACEIT