Here we are again, the start of another tournament cycle, the Countdown Cup qualifiers. This one is going to be the last of these tournaments for the season before the season playoffs begin. This also means that we have two teams that have qualified for the season playoffs already, the Dallas Fuel and the Shanghai Dragons.
The first week of tournament cycles always means a great degree of uncertainty when it comes to match results and this one was no different.
Let’s get into it.
Hero Pools In Effect Again
Unlike the Summer Showdown that just ended, there is a new set of out-of-rotation heroes for teams to adapt to.
This tournament’s out of rotation heroes are:
As always, these hero restrictions mean that teams will have to adapt to different compositions and strategies. The absence of Lucio means that for example Moira/Lucio rush compositions and strategies are off the table entirely. No Lucio also means just slower compositions in general so we get to see Orisa make more of an appearance.
The lack of Echo also means that we don’t get to see the wild Duplicate fights with multiple main tanks on the field using their ultimates. Probably for the best to be quite honest.
This first week had a bunch of five map series as teams struggled to close out series in the face of meta uncertainty. We had five five map series this week!
As a Shanghai fan, it was disappointing to see Shanghai play so badly in this first week, I hope this is not going to be representative of their performance going forward in the Countdown Cup.
The tragedy that is the Hangzhou Spark continued this week with one heartbreaking loss to a strong Seoul Dynasty and a 3-1 stomping by the resurgent Philadelphia Fusion. The boys in pink just can’t catch a break.
Philadelphia Fusion fans on the other hand saw some light at the end of the tunnel with their two victories this week. Watch out though, it might be a mirage.
Shanghai Dragons vs New York Excelsior
This series in my opinion best demonstrates the first week meta uncertainty. Is New York Excelsior good now? Is Shanghai sandbagging? Who knows? It is too early to tell either way. Just enjoy the chaos for now.
A week filled with bad predictions from everyone as teams tried to adapt to the new hero pools with varying degrees of success. I expect next week will be slightly less chaotic and more predictable as coaches figure out strategies and compositions.
See y’all next week!