It’s been a difficult month for Overwatch esports. From the Overwatch League’s 2019 MVP retiring to yet another organization (Team Envy) leaving the Contenders scene, there’s been a lot to be concerned about. However, Fran’s Overwatch Community Cup served to be a breath of much-needed air as the tournament put some of the top tier-2 and tier-3 Overwatch teams in the spotlight.
The tournament, which ran independently of Blizzard, invited sixteen various teams and a $6,000 prize pool. Francine “Fran” Vo, a streamer and content creator for the Atlanta Reign, explained in an interview with Dotesports that she wanted to support the minor scene by using her own assets to provide a playing ground for aspiring players. The event was produced by Monkey Bubble and hosted on Fran’s Twitch, and the stream even peaked at over five thousand viewers.
The stream featured both Contenders’ casting talent, as well as some newer faces. Gabriel “Swimmer” Levy, a previous Overwatch League player for the Boston Uprising, took to the microphone for the first time to cast the tournament alongside Olivier “TheOlimancer” Putz. Swimmer, a product of the ‘path to pro’ himself, found the tournament to be “a good spotlight for new and upcoming players to start to gain a following and get eyes on them.”
“I think I was worrying too much [about] what people thought,” Swimmer confessed about his time on the mic. “I had fun, but it was stressful.”
Early upsets were inevitable as the top-seeded Australian team Mindfreak exited the tournament in round 1. North American Contenders team Karasuno also quickly faltered to Odyssey in a 2-0 sweep in their first and only match. However, the spotlight of the tournament was largely upon Scion Esports, an up-and-coming tier-3 roster that was jokingly dubbed as the “Runaway of North America”.
Scion Esports, coming off of a 2nd-place finish in the Flash Ops: Echo Showdown and an undefeated run in the second season of the NA Open Division, continued to show strong performances in Fran’s Overwatch Community Cup. The team upset two European Contenders teams, Shu’s Money Crew and Young and Beautiful, to cement a spot in the finals.
“We actually had three days of scrimming with our new roster,” explains Scion Esports’ DPS player Mark “WannaB” Chao. “When we looked at the bracket, we saw that our bracket was hard. But we thought that if we just tried our best and just played our game, we would win.”
On the other side of the bracket, Triumph Gaming faced off against team Doge in the semifinals. Doge, consisting of the former Envy roster, continued their resurgence in the region and took a 2-0 victory to advance to the finals. Main support player Christian “Ojee” Han was a crucial component to team Doge’s success, even solo-flipping a control point against Triumph on Nepal to secure the map win.
Scion takes the spotlight, but gets #stomped in finals
The much-favored Doge faced off against underdogs Scion Esports in the grand finals, where the series turned out to be much more competitive than expected. The match consisted of highlight-worthy Reinhardt shatters between Doge’s Carter “Salieri” Harrison and Scion’s new addition, Nicholas “Nich” Taylor.
“We mainly picked up Nich because we needed someone who we could practice more dive with,” explains Scion’s off-tank player, Ian “Gummy” Crellin. “I was just trying to take off angles and pressure the enemy Rein as much as possible. And when your main tank is also doing that, it makes it way easier. So it was super easy to learn and play with him.”
Scion was able to win the first control map, but eventually faltered to the more-tenured Doge squad in a 3-1 series loss. Triumph defeated Young and Beautiful in the bronze match 2-0 to take third place in the tournament.
“I think for the fact that we went pretty close with the top Contenders teams that should be in the Overwatch League, we did pretty well,” WannaB laments. “Our egos kind of died down, especially because we lost to a team we shouldn’t have lost to. But we’ll grind even harder and 3-0 the next team we play against in Overwatch Contenders: Trials.”
‘One of the best days in Overwatch T2/T3 history’
Aside from the results of the FOCC, this tournament proved to unite the Overwatch Contenders community amidst a turbulent time. Not only did Fran’s Overwatch Community Cup provide a platform and decent funding, but it also came with player content that featured some of the aspiring talent. Production and caster talent from MonkeyBubble were top-notch as competitive Overwatch returned to Twitch for the first time since 2019; additionally, the event was widely favored and even promoted by Overwatch League teams.
“I think it was really helpful,” says WannaB. “Thanks to Fran for hosting it for us!”
“Keep an eye on Scion,” Gummy adds.
Regardless of the overall health of the scene, Fran’s Overwatch Community Cup was a massive success. Familiar organizations returned for yet another shot at glory while underdog teams simultaneously made a name for themselves. Hopefully, this serves as a precedent to future community-run tournaments and encourages third-party organizers to participate in the competitive Overwatch scene.