The primary ingredients for a great Overwatch moment are a) a hotly contested match and b) a cheeky strategy the other team doesn’t see coming. During the fourth game of last night’s Overwatch World Cup match between South Korea and Finland, both these things happened. Then the game crashed.
This year’s Overwatch World Cup—in which teams made up of the best players from 24 nations compete until a winner is ultimately crowned at BlizzCon—has gotten off to a rocky start. Last night’s inaugural matches were poorly promoted, leading to repeated refrains of “wait, the World Cup has already started?” Maybe the lack of fanfare was for the best, given that the production was marred by sound issues, graphics that weren’t supposed to be on-screen, shaky casting, and worst of all, a glitch that stopped the most exciting match of the night dead in its tracks.
South Korea and Finland are two of the most talent-heavy teams in the World Cup. Both include a plethora of Overwatch League standouts; South Korea—having won the previous (and only) two World Cups—has especially gone all-in, assembling a murderer’s row that includes five members of OWL team New York Excelsior as well as standouts from Los Angeles Valiant, Philadelphia Fusion, Seoul Dynasty, and London Spitfire. Last night’s match promised fireworks, and it delivered with exciting plays from both teams.
Coming into the match’s fourth game on Italian map Rialto, South Korea had a slight lead with two map wins to Finland’s one. Finland refused to bow to South Korea’s dynastic dominance, though. On offense, they completed the map with the help of an absolutely massive, team-wiping Zarya Graviton Surge-D.Va bomb combo from Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin and Joonas “Zappis” Alakurtti. Then, on defense, they came out downright frisky, using a quad-tank composition to block South Korea’s spawn door with a big ol’ ball of meat. Spawn camping rarely happens in high-level pro Overwatch, so it was a surprising strategy, to say the least. The high-risk, high-reward plan seemed to be paying off, but then something weird happened.
Finland’s Lucio suddenly found himself suspended in mid-air, and their Reinhardt started doing a moonwalk that can only be described as Jackson-esque—impressive for such a mountainous Goliath of a man. The game, it seemed, had frozen up.
“Ooooookay,” said one of the commentators, taken by surprise just like everybody else.
“Welp, this might be a redo on this one!” said the other.
Then they seamlessly transitioned into talking about team compositions, because commentating over esports is a weird job.
Initially, fans suspected a crash stemming from an unstable build of the game. A Blizzard producer and observer, however, set the record straight.
“Just to note this has nothing to do with client crashing for anyone. LAN just straight disconnected,” he said on Twitter. “In the past ~2.5 years of doing OW production, This has been the worst and most unfortunate crash I’ve been in.”
Nearly 30 minutes later, the game finally resumed. Amazingly, despite having shown their hand earlier, Finland rolled out with the exact same meat wall strategy. South Korea didn’t have much trouble crashing through it, given that they knew what was coming. Against all odds, a gritty Finland managed to brawl and stall South Korea at Rialto’s final point, taking the match to a fifth map. On Nepal, both Finland and South Korea won one round a piece, and the final round came right down to the wire, with South Korea’s sheer pressure eventually breaking free from Finland’s dual-sniper web.
The match was contested on stage in South Korea, meaning that the team took home their first win of the World Cup in front of a hometown crowd. An extremely patient hometown crowd.