Together with the conclusion of the Contenders S1 tournament, many storylines will also conclude and a new era will start for Overwatch esports, with the disbanding of some very prominent rosters in order for the players to join their Overwatch League teams. One of these storylines I am the most interested about is the possible reunion of Faze Clan vs Team EnvyUs in the finals of Contenders S1 NA, with them having met again in the grand finals of the MLG Vegas Overwatch Tournament back in December of 2016.
When Star Players were born
The MLG Vegas tournament was a very special one. It was the first tournament that Team EnvyUs participated in the West after taking the champion title in APEX S1 and being absent in Korea for approximately 2 months. All teams were invited, meaning that Faze Clan, who struggled to pass the online qualifying phases of other competitions, having their DPS stars playing with a ping disadvantage, could get a chance to prove themselves on LAN. We were officially in the Tank Meta era, with Team EnvyUs showing the way how to combo Tank heroes’ ultimates and decimating their opposition, Afreeca Freecs Blue, in the Grand Finals of APEX S1. Complexity almost managed to upset Team EnvyUs in the first game of the tournament with their clever usage of Sombra (a hero introduced only a month ago in Overwatch at that time) and Fnatic were in good shape after having a Top 2 finish in DreamHack Winter 2016. That tournament was stacked with the best teams in the West at that time.
For the trio of players that remain on Faze Clan’s roster (FCTFCTN, Shadowburn & Rawkus) that tournament was even more memorable, because they were struggling a lot to find a playstyle in that new meta. Shadowburn, the monster Genji player that everyone recognized from his performance in the Overwatch World Cup of 2016 playing for Russia, was forced to stay on D.Va for most of the tournament, while TwoEasy, a great hitscan player was stuck playing Roadhog. And in the end, it was yet another spectacular performance of Shadowburn’s on Genji that pushed Faze Clan all the way to the Grand Finals in that thriller of a match against Fnatic, that ended 3-2 in favor of Faze Clan. The Grand Finals, however, was a stomp for them and it showed that Team EnvyUs were the better team.
Still, the tale of Shadowburn as a star player was cemented that day after a funny conversation on the analyst desk following FCTFCTN’s interview before the match against Fnatic, where he stated that there are no star players in Overwatch and everyone has to do their part. MonteCristo disagreed with the sentiment and after (or during) the match against Fnatic he tweeted that “Shadowburn is definitely not a star player”. But it wasn’t only Shadowburn’s tale that begun that day, it was also the day Team EnvyUs won their first trophy in the West, elevating their status to the No. 1 team in the world.
Parallel Paths in 2017
The two teams followed very different paths in the following months after MLG Vegas with Team EnvyUs going back to Korea for yet another season of APEX as the defending champions, while Faze Clan kept playing in online tournaments in the West in the absence of LAN events. Both teams had roster changes during that period, with Team EnvyUs dropping INTERNETHULK after APEX S2 and signing Effect, while also getting Kyky as a coach, and Faze Clan dropping three members along the way (TwoEasy, zombs and Forsak3n) and signing temporary stand-ins (MikeyA, Lui). The roster they field now (with Carpe) was finalized before Contenders S1 with the addition of iuKeEe and NamedHwi as support staff. Spree and Joemeister had joined previously.
None of them had much success in securing a title in 2017. Team EnvyUs had to face tougher competition and had they had more practice, they could have won the Overwatch Rumble against Rogue. Faze Clan, on the other hand, was always floating around 5-8 placements in every competition they had participated, partially because Shadowburn was playing from Russia with a ping disadvantage and team lacked structure altogether, which iuKeEe and NamedHwi brought to them lately.
In Contenders S1, so far, both teams looked at their strongest. Team EnvyUs still had the more dominant performance in the online portion of the tournament, while Faze Clan lost a match only to Team EnvyUs while also managing to take an Assault map from them making a statement that they are not lagging too far behind.
The Fateful Reunion
Judging by their performance levels in the regular season, the two grand finalists for the ΝΑ side of Contenders are expected to be Team EnvyUs and Faze Clan, despite the potential for upsets still there.
This time around another figure whose last appearance in a tournament was in MLG Vegas 2016 will accompany Team EnvyUs. That man is Seagull who at that time played for NRG esports. Coincidentally, despite both NRG and Faze Clan being in the same group back then, they never faced each other in a match, since Faze Clan moved on to the semifinals cruising through the upper bracket. Not only that, but that event was also KyKy’s last appearance as a player for Cloud9′s roster and he played against both NRG and Faze Clan, losing to the latter but beating the first to move on to the semifinals.
Six out of the seven players of Team EnvyUs, together with their coach, were in that event. For Faze Clan, alongside Rawkus, Shadowburn and FCTFCTN, Joemeister was playing for Complexity in that event, that lost to Team EnvyUs in their first game. If this finals becomes a reality, it will be a fateful reunion of many players whose last LAN in the West was MLG Vegas.
It will also be a chance for redemption and payback for this Faze Clan roster that was built around Shadowburn with Rawkus as the Flex Support and FCTFCTN as the Main Tank. Once Contenders S1 ends, Team EnvyUs will move on to their Overwatch League’s adventures together, under a new name, while this Faze Clan roster will probably lose some of its star players and they will have to rebuild, if the organisation stays in the Overwatch scene.
It is my hope and wish that we get to see this rematch between these great players in the finals.