In Overwatch's brief history, one team has been the clear dominant player in the competitive scene. For anyone familiar with high-level play in Blizzard's shiny new first-person shooter, the name of Team EnVyUs earned a reputation for near-invincibility, racking up win after win as spring turned to summer. EnVyUs's 57-match winning streak made winning look easy, but what fun is a streak if nobody ever breaks it? And that's just what happened last week.
Entering their semifinal match at ESL's Overwatch Atlantic Showdown, EnVyUs was slated the favorite, as usual. Initially forming during Overwatch's closed beta, a group of friends created a team then known as IDDQD, named after a cheat code from the original Doom (sadly, one I'm old enough to remember first-hand). Competing in weekly cups against more established esports organizations, IDDQD were the kings of the Overwatch beta and most of that team eventually became part of the new EnVy Overwatch team after an April acquisition. And after June, they never stopped winning.
Enter Team Rogue. The Atlantic Showdown's $100,000 pot is the largest yet for an Overwatch tournament, though soon-to-be eclipsed by the Overwatch Open's $300,000 prize pool. With well-established teams at the top and a fairly static map pool in competition, Rogue adopted a strategy of training hard on less popular maps in order to leverage their natural aggressive style and create imbalanced matchups by throwing the competition a curve. And what a curve it was.
"The biggest curve, I believe that we could've done and did was throwing the unusual maps towards them," said Kevyn "TviQ" Lindström to ESPN.com. "With their limited practice time leading up to the event, we felt like Assault would be our best shot towards winning as we felt pretty comfortable on it. The payloads in general were really close and could've gone either way, but we felt like we had the upper hand when we went into the Assault maps."
And that's just what happened last week. EnVyUs was just as dangerous as always, but Rogue took their aggressive playstyle right at EnVyUs, winning the first game in the little-played Anubis map, thanks in a large part to the Reinhardt play of Jonathan "Reinforce" Larsson. Jokingly called "Rhine-force," to his occasional chagrin, Reinforce's typical take-no-prisoners style of play along with TviQ's unconventional choice of using Junkrat for the entire round, gave them the big defensive stand needed to take Anubis over EnVyUs's more standard lineup.
In the end, the match against EnVyUs came down to a showdown in Lijiang, the rubber match taken by Rogue in large part due to the usual heroics from TviQ and and Dylan "aKm" Bignet. In a game in which the casters' attention tend to focus on the offense players, there were other unsung heroes here: Benjamin "uNKOE" Chevasson and Jean-Louis "KnOxXx" Boyer both playing aggressively in their support roles, getting enough kills on their own, which disrupted EnVyUs enough to prevent their offensive players, Ronnie "Talespin" DuPree and Timo "Taimou" Kettunen from getting much ground to work with. Not to mention the Zarya work of Michaël "winz" Bignet, running up kill streaks multiple times while clinging onto single-digit health.
With TviQ a member of the original IDDQD team, I asked what it meant to him to be part of the team that ended EnVyUs's streak and he told me that he "can't deny that it meant quite a bit for [him] to be part of the team ending their streak, especially on LAN."
Beating EnVyUs didn't end the weekend for Rogue as they still had to come back after that win to play the final against REUNITED, ranked second in the world at that time by Gosugamer's Elo-derived method. After a rough game two for Rogue, when REUNITED took advantage of Rogue's aggressiveness and took the point in Dorado, Rogue won two to win the match 3-1, closing it out with an overwhelming final push on King's Road to take home the $40,000 first-place prize.
What's next for Team Rogue? After a tough loss to FaZe in the winner's bracket of the Overwatch Open prelims on Friday that saw them lose on Anubis, one of their bread-and-butter maps, Rogue came back to easily defeat Tornado RoX and punch their ticket to Atlanta. As TviQ told me "of course we have to remake the epic matchup we had at Atlantic" against EnVyUs, which also qualified for their Regional Finals. However, to get to EnVyUs, they'll first have to beat the rest of the EU qualifiers. And anyone who has ever played king of the hill knows that once you've shoved off your friends and become the new king, you've got a big target on your back.