Locke n’ Load: Rise Nation to rep the Americas in the World Championship

Locke n’ Load:  Rise Nation to rep the Americas in the World Championship 

Welcome to the West of the Atlantic, otherwise known as upset nation.

Rise Nation continued its road to prominence as they take top honors in the Overwatch MGA 2016 Championship Presented by MSI – The Americas Region and book their tickets to London, England for a shot at the $40,000 1st Place cut. 

Cloud9 and the FaZe Clan were supposed to be the shoe-ins for top 2 of the Americas Regional Final, but to everyone’s surprise it was actually Team Liquid and Rise Nation who fought it out at the Final.

Support/DPS player Samuel ‘Locke’ Latina, a top-tier Zenyatta player, seems to be doing it all for the boys in red as they prove the underdog spirit indomitable. That isn’t to say it was a one man show as Mike ‘Midnight’ Ryan and Rise Nation’s Spirit himself, Adam Willis were in fiery form as well. The team was in perfect harmony throughout the entire tournament, taking out overwhelming crowd favorites Cloud9 in convincing fashion with a 2-0 sweep in the semifinals, despite the latter’s revamped roster featuring young Swedish talent Lucas ‘Mendokusaii’ Hakansson and on-loan player Randal ‘Roolf’ Stark of Team Canada.

Rise Nation were not on many pundits’ radar to win it all at The Americas Region, yet their road to the Final was as straightforward as it could get as they swept both Cloud9 and Tempo Storm NA. They showed a perfect understanding of each other and when to use certain heroes to switch matches in their favor.

The whole Americas Regional Final was full of sweeps until the semifinal series between Team Liquid and FaZe Can. Much like Rise Nation,Team Liquid, led by one of the  best McCree and Reaper mains not just in the West but in the entire world, Kevin ‘AZK’ Laviere, had to best a more favored team in the form of FaZe Clan.

A mostly inconsistent team, Team Liquid always upped their game when pushed against the wall. In this tournament, they rose to the occasion each and every time they were threatened the boot. As early in the first round, where they nearly lost their first map against Denial eSports, they showed that they can come up clutch as they reversed the tone of the game before it was too late, unwittingly setting the tenor of the rest of their campaign. In their series against FaZe Clan, they went one map down before taking two straight classic Team Liquid style.

America’s Underdogs

Rise Nation took the first map of the series against Team Liquid’s favored map of Dorado in the Final. Locke, on his favorite Zenyatta, was just a beast in the match with on point Transcendences one after another to completely shut down AZK’s Death Blossoms.

In true Team Liquid fashion, they once more fought off the threat of elimination as they equalized the series on the back of MVP play from AZK, just sweeping the floor with Rise Nation as Locke opted for the Ana pick over Zenyatta which removed the Death Blossom’s natural counter from Rise Nation. He was just at the right place at the right time in the majority of the 2nd map. Dan ‘DaHang’ Fogarty had AZK’s back all the way on his Ana providing timely heals and crispy Nano Boosts.

In the deciding Game 3, Locke goes back to his Zenyatta to maximum effect. Also stepping up in the clutch was Keith ‘Desrolord’ Hospedales with several match swinging Earthshatters from his Reinhardt. Ultimately, it was the Rise Nation boys that triumphed, as they finally eliminated the boys in blue.

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Agent Diversity

The Americas RegionalQualifiers showed just how diverse Overwatch drafts can be. Almost all heroes were picked which included Widowmaker and even Bastion.

Controlling the skies has always been a key factor in any battle ever since aerial warfare was introduced. In Overwatch, this is no different. A well-placed Pharah in any match can rain death among the enemy ranks if not dealt with. A common pick in Reaper has to adjust as his shotguns can’t touch the flying Egyptian. A Pharah is normally paired up with a Mercy as the two can stay airborne. If teams stay stubborn and don’t pick to kill the Pharah, justice indeed rains down upon them. Teams who adapt quickly and pick McCree or even Widowmaker early make Pharah’s life a living hell.

The flying duo made an appearance from both sides in the Team Liquid and Rise Nation Final, further showing how mastery of this combo was key in making a good run in the qualifiers, and potentially in the upcoming Grand Final.  Furthermore, all the top 4 teams (Team Liquid, Rise Nation, FaZe Clan, and Cloud9) ran the Mercy-Pharah together at one point in the tournament. An unmarked Pharah can get her Ultimate off very often. In the match against Helix eSports, Cloud9’s Mendokusaii on the Pharah was just unmarked and caused fits of trouble for his opponents.

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It was also a game of tanks. Before, standard team compositions were stable at 2 Tanks, 2 DPS, and 2 Supports. But with the emergence of Ana in the competitive scene, teams have even gone for 3-4 tank compositions. Ana alongside Lucio, Reinhardt, and Zarya were the most common picks of the qualifiers, with the latter three even making a joint appearance in Rise Nation’s qualifier-clinching victory.

The burst heal provided by Ana’s Biotic Rifle coupled with her Nano Boost’s quick charge has won her the love of many teams. Many teams ran it to great effect but sometimes they should know when they should take a step back to the standard comp. Overdoing it like Tempo Storm, as seen in their match against Rise Nation below, could be fatal for your side but the right combination still brings victory.

The Americas Regional Final wrap up in explosive fashion but we aren’t done yet as we still have the Europe and Asia Regional Finals coming up. So make sure you stick around.

The Europe Regional Final is set to kick off on October 17, 2016, 18:00 BST / 17:00 GMT, so make sure to catch the action live on Twitch!

For more details check out the Overwatch MGA 2016 Championship Presented by MSI official website.

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