Overwatch World Cup qualifiers LA: it's Canada and USA all the way

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OWC 2018: Los Angeles Qualifier Preview (3:55)

The Overwatch World Cup 2018 qualifiers continue this weekend in Los Angeles, as six teams will duke it out for the right to join South Korea and Finland at the Main Event at BlizzCon 2018. (3:55)

Blizzard's annual Overwatch World Cup sets the stage for national pride and "dream team" rosters to create a pure competitive experience different from the Overwatch League. Rather than brands on the jerseys, there are flags; that is what will define the most anticipated matchup at the Los Angeles leg of the Overwatch World Cup qualifiers.

Coming into the World Cup qualifier for BlizzCon, Canada and United States stand out as easy favorites with an abundance of Overwatch League and Contenders talent. Qualifying for BlizzCon is the bare minimum for these teams, and both countries have a strong history at the OWWC.

Canada

  • Lane "Surefour" Roberts, DPS (Los Angeles Gladiators)

  • Brady "Agilities" Girardi, DPS (Los Angeles Valiant)

  • Liam "Mangachu" Campbell, DPS (XL2)

  • Felix "xQc" Lengyel, Tank (Former Dallas Fuel)

  • Lucas "NotE" Meissner, Flex (Boston Uprising)

  • Chris "Bani" Benell, Support (Houston Outlaws)

  • William "Crimzo" Hernandez, Support (Team EnVy)

  • Star player: Agilities

  • X-Factor: xQc

Looking at Team Canada, it is immediately clear that the team's greatest strength will be its incredible amount of flexibility from the DPS position. Surefour and Agilities were top performers in the Overwatch League for the Los Angeles Gladiators and Valiant respectively, showcasing great hero diversity. In that same DPS vein, Mangachu has long been entrenched in the competitive scene as a jack-of-all trades and is competing for the Season 2 Contenders title on the New York Excelsior's academy team, XL2. This will also be his second straight World Cup appearance for Team Canada.

On the other hand, Canada's tank situation appears to be more rigid and generally inconsistent, given xQc's absence from the competitive scene and NotE's propensity to focus almost solely on D.Va. Despite that, both tank players can still compete at the top ranks of their role and will be complemented by Mangachu's ability to flex onto the Zarya for the necessary Control and Assault maps.

Support isn't flashy for Team Canada, but Bani and Crimzo will form the stable backbone of the team as experienced healers. Crimzo has consistently performed on flex supports on both EnVision and Team EnVyin the past, while Bani has enjoyed similar success on main supports despite some struggles on the Houston Outlaws in OWL Season One. Given the names and star power attached to the DPS and Tank roles for Team Canada, steady supports like Bani and Crimzo should fit the team nicely.

United States of America

  • Zachary "ZachaREEE" Lombardo, DPS (Fusion University)

  • Jay "sinatraa" Won, DPS (San Francisco Shock)

  • Joao "Hydration" Pedro Goes Telles, DPS (Los Angeles Gladiators)

  • Austin "Muma" Wilmot, Tank (Houston Outlaws)

  • Indy "SPACE" Halpern, Flex (Los Angeles Valiant)

  • Shane "Rawkus" Flaherty, Support (Houston Outlaws)

  • Grant "Moth" Espe, Support (San Francisco Shock)

  • Star Player: SPACE

  • X-Factor: Hydration

Team Canada has the big guns at DPS, but Team United States is coming in with a more modest selection of players. ZachaREEE likely comes into to USA as the team's primary Widowmaker player given his steady performances over the course of Contenders Season 1 and 2. ZachaREEE isn't flashy, but USA doesn't lack for spark plugs, having selected sinatraa and Hydration. However, given Tracer's decline as a must-pick hero and Hydration's general inconsistency, the DPS lineup feels more based on potential than anything.

USA's star power truly comes in at the tank position with SPACE and Muma, who both dazzled as American talents in Overwatch League Season One. Given both players' aggressive mindsets and mechanical ability, the duo was a no-brainer selection for Team USA. Since Team USA harbors a less-experienced ZachaREEE and somewhat inconsistent Hydration, tank performance will define its success at the World Cup.

When it comes down to the support line, the amount of talent is obvious, but both players were overshadowed by their peers in Overwatch League Season One. Rawkus was a key cog in Team USA's run in the World Cup last year and his ability to flex to the Roadhog or Bastion will also give his team that little extra dimension. On the other side of support, Moth served as a steady support on Shock that should work well alongside someone as traditionally bloodthirsty as Rawkus. In a World Cup meta that will feature Ana, both players have also proven that the hero fits into their repertoire.

Battle for North America and Blizzcon

If the World Cup were an action role-playing game, Canada has selected a sword with its DPS duo of Surefour and Agilities, while the United States settled for a shield manned by Muma and SPACE. Canada has the stronger Widowmaker and Hanzo players and more flexible DPS duo in a sniper heavy meta, but United States has the dive-happy tanks that can ruin the best sniper's day on Winston and D.Va.

Generally speaking, United States should have more flexible compositions overall with its tank lineup and higher level support duo, but Canada has all the curveballs to throw from the DPS position. Both teams have kept strategies primarily under wraps, but Canada did show a willingness to run the Doomfist and every DPS character under the sun in an online scrimmage against Team Australia where it lost 3-2. xQc looked like the primary weakness in that matchup, but the DPS players proved their class regardless.

In the Battle for North America, United States will have the edge in switching from lightning-quick dive play to tank and healer-focused "slambulance" compositions, but Canada has the wide assortment of DPS tools to force constant change. Canada's primary goal will be to halt momentum, both figuratively and in terms of ultimate economy by forcing said compositional changes.

Team USA vs. Team Canada will be defined by the battle of a shield and a sword, with the winner taking bragging rights and a higher seed at Blizzcon as the spoils of war.