The final day of Swiss Stage is behind us! Fortunately for you, there will be more matches to watch and play, as the season of playoffs is approaching.
Our first featured teams are the University of Hertfordshire Hertfordshire Blue versus the University of Exeter .exe terminated.
The teams start off on King’s Row, a tried and true hybrid map with Hertfordshire on defense and .exe terminated on offense. Hertfordshire opens with a triple tank doomfist composition, while .exe go for a double sniper opening, but rapidly swap the Widow and Hanzo for a GOATS composition. Following an overextension on the defensive side, .exe swoop in and cleanly sweep Hertfordshire to start the series of with a quick and decisive first point cap. A switch to GOATS on the defensive side is supposed to even up the score and halt the momentum generated by .exe, but no such luck. The second teamfight goes eerily similar to the first one and the payload gets close to the next point. A last stand with some great defensive ultimate usage from Hertfordshire means that they will be able to hold the payload. It only provides them with some temporary joy, because the next few teamfights gets won by .exe. However, the final point is an elusive target, and a spirited hold from Hertfordshire means that the full push is denied.
On defense, .exe go for a double projectile composition with a Hanzo and Pharah. Again we see: when .exe look good, they look incredible with another decisive first teamfight. When Pleb gets taken down by Jbeans’ Widow, the resurrection comes in quickly. With that cooldown gone, Hertfordshire smell blood and they move in aggressively, capturing the first point. As if the threat of a Widowmaker isn’t enough, Grimbark hits a huge Self Destruct leading to a second point capture. While the first round looked fairly close, it feels like Hertfordshire just took some time to find their stride: they get halted for a while, but on the back of another great Self Destruct Hertfordshire take King’s Row, with the play of the game going to a beautiful Coalescence from MrMechanics.
We move on to Lijiang Tower: Night Market, where .exe come back with a vengeance and are the first to obtain control of the point with strong, Hammond-featuring, GOATS play. However, Hertfordshire take the lead after the second push with their own standard GOATS. Rob on Lucio makes all the difference, speedboosting and thus allowing his team to engage and disengage at will. A continuous struggle surfaces, with two tanky lineups smashing against one another repeatedly. After losing the point at 80%, .exe is unable to fight through and once again, a Self Destruct from Grimbark seals the deal.
Both teams keep it interesting on Garden, by switching to a Pharah-Tracer dive composition (Hertfordshire) and a Sombra-Trace dive composition (.exe). Again, we see .exe start off strong by getting the initial capture and once again we see Hertfordshire pay them back in kind by aggressively pushing on and sweeping the next teamfight. Like the first map, it is a constant back and forth brawl. Unlike the first map, .exe is able to hold their opponents off meaning we will see the final round of Lijiang: Control Center.
This time, the tables are turned as Hertfordshire wins the first fight. JBeans on Mei doesn’t initially seem to have the impact that they’d like, as the point is swiftly retaken by .exe. The survivability of Mei, using Iceblock and her wall to great efficiency, proves to be valuable in the back and forth fight between the two teams. All looks lost when Jbeans throws down the Blizzard at 80%, but an incredible Riptire from Librothers on Junkrat gives .exe another shot. With a huge EMP and Earthshatter combo, it looks like Hertfordshire will fall short on Lijiang. When all looks lost, a last-ditch flank using Rob’s Speedboost, a denial of the Riptire and a successful Blizzard from Jbeans means that in the end, Hertfordshire take Lijiang Tower and lead the series 2-0.
A final opportunity for .exe to still grab a win is provided on the final map between these two teams, Dorado. Both teams switch it up one final time, with Hertfordshire on defense bringing a Junkrat-Widowmaker composition, versus the Sombra-Doomfist Dive from .exe. Hertfordshire run into some difficulties properly responding to the dive threats from .exe and the first point gets taken without too much of a hitch. Just shy of the second point they get halted, as Grimbarks Graviton Surge combined with a pinpoint Bionic Grenade from MrMechanics mean that the offense gets pushed back. Eventually .exe captures the second point, and the third point follows eventually following back and forth counterpicks between these two teams, with ATRXingd’s Winston proving instrumental.
On the final round, it is another edition of HAMSTER – I mean GOATS from Hertfordshire. While facing some initial difficulties, they are able to aggresively snowball their initial teamfight win into an ultimate-economy advantage. Pleb’s Hack halts the momentum and the subsequent fight looks like it is going .exe’s way. When the dust settles, JBeans’ Hammond is simply too much to handle, and he keeps trading favorably and the second point falls as well. When the hamster doesn’t do the job, Zarya will: JBeans swaps on the final point and .exe, despite some cool flex picks such as Librothers Reaper, fall short of defending the point, meaning the battle is not over yet!
Hertfordshire starts off, again on GOATS, and their initial performance looks very convincing, netting them an easy first point capture. On their way to the second point Ludacris and Pleb perfectly time the Self-Destruct and EMP respectively, and the payload won’t be traveling any further for Hertfordshire.
The final push from .exe starts off similarly strong, but due to some level headed decision making they have an ultimate economy advantage going into the final stretches of the map. They are able to leverage their EMP and Primal Rage into a win here, on Dorado.
In the end, Hertfordshire Blue takes the win 2-1 over .exe terminated.
Favorite Play of the Night: Crude managed to pull off a number of great Barrages – any of them will qualify.
Player to Watch: Although his team did not win, Barwuke’s D.Va looked quite deadly.
The second series is between the 2:2 Crew from University of Surrey versus the Beckett Black Bears from Leeds Beckett University.
The battle begins on Lijiang Tower: Garden, where 2:2 Crew starts of with a Widowmaker/Pharmercy composition versus GOATS from the Bears. The Bears start off strong, winning the initial fight on the back of some frightening damage from Barwuke’s D.Va and an early pick on AFunkyFajitas Mercy. However, on the next fight 2:2 Crew retake the point fairly convincingly, and this trend continues throughout the rest of the map. Crude and Genjisbutt on Pharah and Zarya respectively showcase some great synergy, wiping out the Bears with a Barrage/Graviton Surge combination. Following a sequence of headshots from Warden’s Widowmaker, the Bears are able to capture the point back at 94%. Unfortunately for them, the next fight they get absolutely decimated and Garden goes in favour of the 2:2 crew.
On Command Center, 2:2 Crew switches to a double projectile 2:2:2 composition while the Bears opt into a Tracer/Mccree 2:2:2. The rocket and grenade splash is too much for the Bears, and the initial capture goes the way of 2:2 Crew. This continues throughout the next fight, where Crude and Warpath rain down death and destruction as the Pharah and Junkrat, keeping the chokes closed of and denying the Bears any room to make a play. Even when 2:2 Crew pushes beyond the chokes, they can’t be matched. Eventually they overextend, which the Bears gladly punish. They retake the point, preventing a 100-0 win – but then they make a similar mistake as their opponent did before, overextending leading to a 2-0 win on Lijiang Tower for the 2:2 Crew.
Following its success on Lijiang Tower, we see the 2:2 Crew go for a Widowmaker and Pharmercy composition again on King’s Row. They defend against the initial onslaught, but some instrumental picks from IndexHTML on the Hanzo provide the Bears with an opportunity to capture the first point. They get immediately shut down trying to push through the initial archway, as their opponents use their significant ultimate economy advantage to win a blow out teamfight. Even though 2:2 Crew is behind in ultimates following this, they give the Bears no opportunity whatsoever to come back. Every ultimate is matched appropriately, and if no ultimates are available they get their picks through sheer mechanical outplay – Crude’s Barrages are the stuff of nightmares. The archway never gets passed, and the Bears have their work cut out for them on the second round.
Realizing the danger that they are in, the Bears pull out the pocket picks. We see a Mei and Roadhog coming out from IndexHTML and Warden. The Roadhog proves to be especially effective and the defense looks to hold. When Warden overextends, he gets immediately punished by 2:2 Crew who were looking for a moment of weakness. Following this, the defense finally crumbles and a sizeable timebank is still available for 2:2 Crew – not that they need it, because their first push following their capture is enough to get the payload to its end. With that, they take the win on Kings Row, which puts them up 2-0 in mapscore.
The final map of the night is Dorado, where 2:2 Crew gets the opportunity to finish 3:0 in mapscore when they start of on defense. They use, for the first time in the series, the Sombra. The Bears need to make this offense work, but it isn’t looking good in the opening minutes. AtomicTurtle just never seems to go down, and the Bears can, again, not push through an archway. We see some compositional switches coming out from them, but to no avail. The synergy on the side of 2:2 Crew seems unbeatable. Any mistake made by the Bears gets punished heavily and they seem unable to find any opening. In the end, it looks like they are almost able to make it as they get incredibly close to capping the first point in overtime, but the reinforcements arrive just in time and it is a full hold for the 2:2 Crew on Dorado.
WIth that, the Bears face the monumental task to match this hold to win a map in this series.
It doesn’t start of great for them, with 2:2 Crew again finding the picks and pushing right through the archway in the first minute. Warpath flexes his Roadhog, the ultimate economy advantage following that first fight is too much, and the Bears are unable to realise the hold as 2:2 Crew take a very decisive win on Dorado, closing out the series 3-0.
And with that, we have reached the end of the Swiss Stage! Make sure to catch the quarterfinals next monday (the 26th) and let us know who you think is going to make it to the semis.