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The first day of finals action at the Overwatch Contenders Gauntlet has wrapped up in Seoul and two more teams have been eliminated. Only six squads remain, even though it seems like one team is head and shoulders above the rest.
Three of the four matches today were sweeps. The top-seeded teams were each able to handily dismiss the lower-ranked squads from the opposite pool. Two North American teams, Envy and Gladiators Legion, exited the competition after today’s play. The Legion were always going to struggle considering how poorly they’ve played all tournament. But Envy, the second seed out of NA, looked surprisingly lost against a team they had recently beaten on home soil.
Envy are a team of veterans in comparison to most of the roster of XL2 and they were heavily favored to take the series. The greatest compliment of XL2’s performance today was just how cohesively they played for a relatively inexperienced, young, and lowly-seeded team. British import Kai “ksp” Collins was sharp all match on Reaper, but it was a disappointing day for Envy. Despite being the second seed from America, they’re the third team to get sent home from the Overwatch Contenders Gauntlet.
Both Talon Esports and Runaway also cleaned up shop today. Talon crushed the last seed out of NA, the Gladiators Academy team. Young DPS star Patiphan Chaiwong has a knack for outperforming the opposing Doomfist player in the mirror match, and today’s match was no exception. On multiple occasions, Patiphan used his more defensive style of play to conserve his cooldowns before launching into a calculated attack. After the match, Patiphan said that the enemy’s Doomfist player was “bad” and relied heavily on the character’s punching ability.
In perhaps the most one-sided series of the day, the top seed out of Korea, RunAway, dismissed fellow Korean squad Gen.G. There was no competition present in this match whatsoever. It seemed as if the lower-seeded Korean squad needed an ultimate advantage just to be able to clutch on to the hope of winning a teamfight. Even then, they struggled to capitalize on their chances. RunAway were already favored to take the Gauntlet by fans and pundits alike, but the domination displayed in this win over a team that went undefeated in the group stage was quite impressive.
The final series of the day saw the top seed from America play their first match against the second seed from Korea. Element Mystic pulled out a 3-2 win against Atlanta Academy in what was the match of the day because a Western team finally showed they could compete against the Korean overlords of Overwatch.
The projectile DPS battle between EM’s Kim “SP9RK1E” Young-han and Atlanta’s Kamden “Sugarfree” Hijada was one for the ages. Whether it was on Doomfist or Pharah, the tug of war between these players began to feel personal toward the end of the series, like it was a separate battle to the overarching one between the two teams. The 14-year-old Hijada should be proud of the way he performed on this international stage.
Envy and Gladiators Legion are the third and fourth teams to be eliminated. Gauntlet action continues later today with the finals bracket starting at 10pm CT on the Overwatch Contenders Twitch channel, where the final six teams will drop to four.