The first group stage of North America's $100,000 NGE Overwatch Winter Premiere concluded its halfway point this week with the establishment of the Renegades' dominance over the other seven teams in the league.
They have yet to drop a map to any of their opponents, and for the most part none of these matches were close. Instead, all adversaries were met with the harsh reality of defeat, as each member of Renegades (formerly the roster of Kingdom Esports) outclassed them in almost every way.
In the first match, Renegades destroyed compLexity in a one-sided 2-0, in brute force fashion. While other teams have attempted to use their cunning wit to subvert compLexity's Jake "torkTJO" Lepoff's Sombra, Renegades did something simple to minimize the effects of the area-of-effect EMP. They spread out.
On the first point of Watchpoint: Gibraltar, torkTJO used EMP twice. The first time, he got the majority of Renegades, but with proper aim and focus targeting members of compLexity, Renegades were able to eliminate more of compLexity than they lost and held the point. The second EMP was ineffective as it hit only some, as they had spread out beforehand knowing that a second EMP would be coming.
Immortals picked up a free win off Citizen7, who has yet to impress anyone with their play so far, but with four days until the next half of the first group stage, hopefully they can recollect themselves and enter the second half with a fresh mindset. George "ShaDowBurn" Gushcha, like torkTJO, was toppled as one of the star players this week. While he had picked up new heroes to add to his arsenal, Team Liquid took advantage and would save the Roadhog Hook and Bionic Grenade for ShaDowBurn's Genji, effective even if he got the Nano Boost from his own team.
The final matches of the day solidified Luminosity's position in the higher part of the rankings, as they certainly belong in the top four, although not the top of the pack. They took down Kungarna in a close 2-1 set but then were decimated by Renegades on the fifth and last match of the day. While most teams are being "figured out" by the competition, allowing opponents to come up with strategies tailored to specific teams, Liam "Mangachu" Campbell stays ahead of the curve for Renegades, as he adds Hanzo to his pool of heroes for this tournament. His handiwork on Watchpoint: Gibraltar against Luminosity indicated that he had clearly been practicing Hanzo lately and expected people to eventually come up with a counter for his brand of Pharah play.
Renegades is the team to beat, being undefeated, and are the favorites to win the whole thing. However, there are four days until the next half of the round-robin, and with sufficient preparation, everyone will be aiming to yank the throne from under their feet. The group stages will resume on Jan. 10, and Renegades now need to stay sharp and determined, lest they fly too close to the sun and crash back down to earth.
- Steven Nguyen