Fri, Jul 28, 8:23am by Staff Writer
During the weekend of July 21-23, the Star Sydney transformed from an elegant casino into an exciting eSports extravaganza – due in large part to the success of a few hometown heroes.
As representatives of Australia in the recent Overwatch World Cup Qualifiers, six members of the Blank eSports team came together for a rousing series of upsets over favored squads.
The Australian team was formed by eSports stars Marcus “Kiki” Jacob, Andrew “Rqt” Haws, Ajay “Aetar” Umasankar, Jason “ieatuup” Ho, and Jordan “Gnb” Graham.
Eight teams came together for a round-robin stage featuring two groups, with Australia joining the vaunted Swedish team, along with Portugal and Italy in Group C. Group D was comprised of teams from Japan, Spain, Finland, and Vietnam.
The combatants competed within a set of Overwatch maps that included King’s Row, Numbani, and Hollywood for the Hybrid format, Ilios, Lijiang Tower, and Nepal in Control, Horizon and Volskaya in Assault, and Dorado and Route 66 in Escort.
Within the group stage, Australia started off in fine style, dispatching the Italians in a 4-0 sweep, before subjecting the Portuguese to a similar 4-0 rout. This rampage through the group promoted the hometown audience, which included over 2,000 live attendees, to break out in chants of “Oi, oi, oi!”
Aussie professional gamer Mitch “Uber” Leslie, who served as a ‘shoutcaster’ for the Twitch live stream, told Kotaku.com.au that seeing his countrymen turn out with such vocal support:
“Aussies make a point of going the extra mile to show their support.”
“(Just) look at the Australia vs Portugal game, not only were they getting raucous when Australia won, even when Portugal were doing well or when they won a round on a control map, the crowd was still getting around them.”
“Generally, the people in Australia are fun to have at events. I’d like to think that tournament organisers will see that reaction and see what that adds as an atmosphere to their games.”
Team Australia’s final group stage opponent was the heavily favored Swedish team, and Channel Seven even saw fit to broadcast Sunday morning’s proceedings on local television.
The six from Blank eSports played well, but fell short against the more experienced Sweden by a 3-1 margin.
Still, the Australians earned six points in the group stage to earn a trip to the semifinals. There, they faced off against Group D winner Japan, while the Swedish team took on Spain.
The Swedes easily dispatched the Spaniards in a 3-0 romp, but for Australia and Japan, sudden death overtime was required to settle the score.
The semifinal was a close affair from the start, as Australia took the King’s Row map 2-1, before dropping the Lijang Tower map by the same score. Another 2-1 nail-biter on the Volskaya map went the way of Australia, before Japan evened the match with a 4-3 win on the Dorado map.
That left the Oasis map to decide which team would stamp their ticket to Overwatch World Cup at Blizzcon this November.
Australia took the game 2-0, winning their semifinal match 3-2 to finish off an improbable run.
Despite lacking a competitive Overwatch scene on par with those in Asia or North America, Jason “SereNity” Wang – who coaches the Blank eSports team – told Kotaku.com.au that his team took a tangled path to even reach the Qualifiers:
“In December, I was in Taiwan and I found out about the Taiwanese tournament and I could get the team in, and we played there.”
“And it was only after we got decent results in Asia that we got invited to the Korean scrimming Discord [channel], which allowed us to [scrim] Korean teams.”
“From there, we started getting other Australian teams in there, otherwise there was no way we could have gotten into it without knowing anyone.”
Each of the six players on Team Australia earned USD$1,500 for their performance, along with a coveted entry to the Overwatch World Cup.
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