Round 1 of Winterwatch Is Over – But Did You Watch?

This weekend saw the first round of the biggest Australian Overwatch tournament since the game’s release. Thirty-one teams went head-to-head on Saturday – diving into the relatively untested waters of competitive Overwatch – to separate the best from the rest. Due to the size of the tournament (and with some games not being streamed), this piece will focus on the semi-finals and the finals.

Semi-finals: B1G Gamers vs SHAFT

The first semi-final match was between B1G Gamers and SHAFT. SHAFT were somewhat unknown at this point due to their matches being off stream, but a surprising victory against the strong Nosebreathers, who were touted to be a strong team. B1G Gamers on the other hand had been mostly covered on the stream during the day, and managed to knock out Paragon OW who were looking incredibly good earlier in the tournament, acquiring solid wins against most their competition. The first match was to be played on Hollywood, with B1G Gamers on the offence. The first push by B1G Gamers looked promising – Ultra was quickly on fire with some early kills. SHAFT’s KS1 began his reign of terror on Reinhardt, pulling off some incredible charges, ending the first push. On the next push, Tongue survived a Zarya ultimate, after which he goes on to take out three of B1G’s members, halting that attempt. It wasn’t until McCree and Zarya’s impressive ultimates from Ultra and Mushhz that the first point is finally taken. KS1 went down swinging but the payload was secured and had started its advance. On the push through town, Qhat on McCree began to make his mark on the map with some key kills, allowing a steady push straight to the first payload checkpoint. The payload progressed through the movie set quickly, and it wasn’t until it was approaching the final point that it stopped due to an Earthshatter from KS1’s Reinhardt allowing Tongue and Ruuski to stop the push. SHAFT continue a solid defence for quite some time, with help from Ahren’s Mercy. Ultra and Qhat on double McCree go clutch with just over a minute to spare to secure the offensive round win.

With the teams switching sides, we reset and go for round two. SHAFT aren’t interested in a long push however, as Tongue and Taki rapidly crush the defenders and take the first point. Already pushing through town with nearly seven minutes on the clock, SHAFT are looking strong. Tongue lands an impressive Zarya ultimate and Wizard’s on McCree follows up with his own ultimate to wipe B1G Gamers. At this point the entire team SHAFT team is on fire. Taki on Widowmaker is an incredible menace, playing aggressively forward in front of the payload. SHAFT manage a final team kill to secure the final payload point and the offensive round win. They managed the win with nearly six minutes to spare.

With a tie on the first map, B1G Gamers and SHAFT head to the tie breaker king of the hill round. Taking place on Ilios, the initial capture goes to B1G Gamers, however the double McCree from Tongue and Wizard claim SHAFT the point soon after. SHAFT continues their hold on point, with Wizard on McCree being a stand out at this point. An attempt by B1G Gamers to retake the point ends in disaster as Taki’s Reaper gets a Death Blossom off, resulting in a team kill. SHAFT use this time to push up offensively to keep B1G Gamers off the point and the double McCree pair that started the game off so well end it in the same way, as Tongue and Wizard halt any attempt at a push, securing the round win 100-34.

A pattern emerges – similar to Hollywood, SHAFT decide to end the second round quickly. SHAFT get the initial capture and soon push off the point with a big Graviton Surge from KS1’s Zarya. The match becomes a complete shutout, with a second Graviton Surge and a Deadeye from Wizard as the final nail in the coffin. SHAFT take the win 100-0 and move on to the finals.

Semi-finals: The Chiefs vs Cy@ on LAN

On the other side of the bracket were the tournament favourites The Chiefs and relative underdogs Cy@ on LAN. The Chiefs looked unstoppable – especially on King of the Hill, using their double Winston, double Lucio, and double tracer composition. Unfortunately for Cy@ on LAN, the map was Lijiang tower – a king of the hill map. The Chiefs take their usual composition and make short work of Cy@ on LAN and gets the initial capture. HeyKatie scores themselves a triple kill and The Chiefs begin to lock Cy@ on LAN outside their spawn. As the capture percentage starts to reach 100, Termo uses Winston’s Primal Rage to knock anyone attempting to push past off the edge, and even Aporia on Lucio was scoring the same environmental kills using the Sonic Amplifier’s secondary attack. The first round goes to The Chiefs, 100-0.
The second round is another dominating performance by The Chiefs. HeyKatie on Tracer was dealing an incredible amount of damage straight out of the gate, securing the first capture to The Chiefs. Termo decided to put his tesla cannon to work, scoring a tonne of kills – much to the shock of Cy@ on LAN. HeyKatie and Termo continue to cause mayhem but the entire Chiefs line up are performing well, with the whole team being on fire. Dorkygn decides he needs to one up the other Winston on his team and pushes Cy@ on LAN right back into their spawn, launching any aggressors off the map. With an angry monkey outside their spawn, Cy@ on LAN have no choice but to let the capture point hit 100.

Finals: The Chiefs vs SHAFT

The end of a long day has arrived as both The Chiefs and SHAFT prepare for the final match. The Chiefs are still the favourites but SHAFT have proven they’ve earned this spot. The first map is Dorado, with The Chiefs starting on the offence. The initial team line ups are:

The Chiefs: Termo on Reinhardt; Heykatie on Widowmaker; Aproria on Lucio; Dorkygn on Pharah, Snowblind on McCree; Ory on Mercy.

SHAFT: Tongue on Soldier: 76; Ahren on Mercy; KS1 on Reinhardt; Taki on Widowmaker; Wizard on McCree; Ruuski on Junkrat.

The match begins and Taki gets the first kill onto HeyKatie, establishing Widowmaker dominance. This was soon replied with HeyKatie respawning and taking down two of SHAFT’s defenders, and following up with a revenge kill onto Taki. Snowblind gets two kills of his own and the payload reaches the first point quickly. As the payload was moving towards the bank, SHAFT finally halt the push, thanks to Wizard, Taki and a great flank by Tongue. The reprieve didn’t last long as the regroup from The Chiefs proved too much for SHAFT. HeyKatie scores three kills while a great Barrage by Dorkygn claims two and putting enough damage on the rest for The Chiefs to push to the second point. Nothing stopped the Chiefs train after that (thanks to a four man Resurrect by Ori), claiming the final point with 5:30 left on the clock.

Round two initial team line ups:

The Chiefs: Termo on Reinhardt; Heykatie on Widowmaker; Aproria on Lucio; Dorkygn on Junkrat, Snowblind on McCree; Ory on Mercy.

SHAFT: Tongue on Pharah; Ahren on Mercy; KS1 on Reinhardt; Taki on Widowmaker; Wizard on McCree; Ruuski on Lucio.

The previous round started with a Widowmaker duel – this one starts with a Reinhardt one! KS1 charges Termo in what appears to be a great move. However, Termo has the support of Ori on Mercy, and counters with a charge of his own, claiming the kill. SHAFT manage a similar push to what The Chiefs had accomplished on their offence. The Chiefs, however, stop the payload just before the first point at the fountain. Heykatie at this point is causing problems for SHAFT, and the payload is pushed back under the arch. SHAFT regroup, with KS1 taking the lead with an Earthshatter, which is countered by a clutch Sound Barrier from Aporia. KS1 and Ahren go down and it looks like The Chiefs are about to hold off another push until Tongue reacts with a great Barrage, taking out HeyKatie and Snowblind. Taki on Genji takes out Dorkygn and SHAFT break The Chief’s defence and push to the first point. Just short of the bridge and the second point a huge team fight breaks out that initially looks great for SHAFT but The Chiefs turn it around and stop the push. The regroup is also shut down with the damage dealers of The Chiefs cleaning up – HeyKatie claiming three with a cheeky flank on Widowmaker, Snowblind also claiming three and Dorkygn claiming one (the extra kill was a re-kill onto Taki after they respawned). There is now only one minute left on the clock and SHAFT have to make a big move soon with the payload still short of the bridge. SHAFT go for a flank Earthshatter from KS1 and HeyKatie, Aporia, Ory and Dorkygn all go down (it’s worth noting that Ahren got a kill on Ori in some Mercy v Mercy action). This secures the point with only nineteen seconds left, leaving two minutes to reach the final point. Wizard would ensure they’d get the payload there with a triple kill as well as a great Ressurect to send the match into a tie-breaker.

Illios is the map for the tie-breaker – a king of the hill map, The Chief’s apparent specialty. The initial line ups are:

The Chiefs: Termo on Winston; Heykatie on Tracer; Aproria on Lucio; Dorkygn on Winston, Snowblind on Tracer; Ory on Lucio.

SHAFT: Tongue on McCree; Ahren on Lucio; KS1 on Zarya; Taki on Reaper; Wizard on McCree; Ruuski on Lucio.

Uncharacteristically from The Chiefs, SHAFT get the first capture. Big kills go to Taki on Reaper Tongue scores a double kill. Despite a solid hold to 46% (and an admirable delay from Ahren), Chiefs take the point. What would normally be a shut out from this point turned into a close match. KS1 lands a great Graviton Surge and SHAFT are able to reclaim the point with Chiefs at 41%. The Chiefs decide to switch it up from their normal composition and Termo switches to Zarya. It looked to be the right move as not long after, Termo, Ori and HeyKatie go on fire and recapture the point, leaving SHAFT at 81%. Termo and Snowblind team up for a wombo combo Graviton Surge into Pulse Bomb for a team kill and The Chiefs remain strong on the point. Despite overtime being forced, Termo holds the point and secures the round, 100-81.

Round two initial team line ups:

The Chiefs: Termo on Zarya; Heykatie on Tracer; Aproria on Lucio; Dorkygn on Winston, Snowblind on Tracer; Ory on Lucio.

SHAFT: Tongue on McCree; Ahren on Lucio; KS1 on RoadHog; Taki on Tracer; Wizard on Reaper; Ruuski on Lucio.

The double tracers go to work early and secure the point first for The Chiefs in round two. SHAFT struggle to find the right answers to the team composition of The Chiefs, and go through multiple hero changes. They eventually land on a composition that lets them retake the point when The Chiefs are at 55%. KS1 attempts to hold onto the point with a Graviton Surge but Aporia is quick to react with a Sound Barrier, saving the team and claiming the point. The Chiefs surge ahead and don’t relinquish the point again, claiming the match 100-45, and winning the entire tournament.

Final Thoughts

Although the result of the tournament was mostly expected, Winterwatch showed that there are some great teams already at this early stage of the game. The Chiefs look to be the undisputed best in Australia at the moment, but SHAFT, B1G Gamers, Cy@ on LAN all deserved their finals spots. There were some good performances put on by Paragon OW and Flying Bogans as well and it will be interesting to see where these players go on to from here.

The meta is taking shape, as The Chief’s double Winston, Lucio and Tracer composition on king of the hill is terrifying and it won’t be long before other teams integrate their strategy The tournament MVP in terms of heroes would have to go to Zarya, who appears to be the most underrated character at the moment. There were many game changing Graviton Surges, and the powerful shielding she provides is just the cherry on top.

Special thanks to Overwatch ANZ for running the tournament, both casters – Maynarde and Zepph, who did a wonderful job (particularly Zepph on the solo cast towards the end of the day), and to all those who tuned in and competed!

See you for round two!