Who Won the Weekend: Guangzhou Charge and OWL tournaments

Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

It was one of the best weekends for competitive Overwatch and the Overwatch League in a while, which is why we've got an all-OWL Who Won the Weekend this time around.

The Guangzhou Charge

The Guangzhou Charge were an odd experiment upon their arrival in the league. They entered the 2019 season with a hybrid Chinese-South Korean-Western roster that included Chinese DPS prodigy Oh "Eileen" Yiliang (known from his time with LGD and in the world cup), hitscan extraordinaire Lee "Happy" Jung-woo, and Charlie "nero" Zwarg, who didn't turn age-eligible to play until about halfway through the year. Given all of the language and cultural barriers in place with the added lack of high-profile players when compared to other rosters coming into the league (Hangzhou Spark), many put Guangzhou at the bottom of their tier lists.

Despite that, Guangzhou snuck into the playoffs with an oddly raw and aggressive playstyle that was both charming and, ultimately, beatable.

This year, Guangzhou have been hurt by extenuating circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic along with regular old visa issues. They've been inconsistent from week to week (partially due to the difficulty that all teams have faced adjusting to the volatility of hero pools) and seemed to fall just shy of other powerhouse teams in Asia, particularly the Shanghai Dragons.

Yet, a closer look at both the play of the team and statistics reveals that Guangzhou have been on the cusp of a breakthrough for a while. Nam "Cr0ng" Ki-cheol has quietly made a name for himself as one of the best Sigmas in the world (if not the best). Happy is up there with the best hitscans in the league and Kim "Shu" Jin-seo has been world-class for a while.

It's fitting that, while Cr0ng surely has now made his case for rookie of the year against flashier DPS players like Shanghai's Lee "LIP" Jae-won, Florida's Kim "Yaki" Jun-ki, or even Paris' Kim "Sp9rk1e" Yeong-han, Eileen ultimately delivered the killing blows. The rise of Genji gave Eileen and the Charge the perfect opportunity to not only beat Shanghai but prove that they definitely deserve to be in the conversation for the best Asian Overwatch team. Guangzhou are also another nod to how well hybrid lineups can come together with a good system (as are the other Summer Showdown victors, the Paris Eternal). -- Emily Rand

Honorable Mention: OWL tournament structure

To the surprise of no one, the tournament structure is going very well in Overwatch League. May Melee provided some exciting moments, including the Shanghai Dragons pulling off a reverse sweep in one of the most thrilling esports series of the year. Fast forward a month and you have the underdogs Guangzhou unseating the Dragons to claim the Summer Showdown crown.

It was much of the same in the drama department in North America. Toronto upset Atlanta to make it to the semis, Paris shocked the Shock, SP9RK1E sparkled -- you get the idea. Paris continued their incredible Cinderella run, defeating the Philadelphia Fusion in the final.

What else sparkled, and it doesn't come as a shock, is how great these tournaments have been. They have been fun all month; the anticipation and drama they build only helps the league. Luckily, it seems that they've taken a page from the Call of Duty League structure and are doing a modified copypasta for Overwatch League. It will only make the league more palatable to more people (and avoid games between two losing teams that people don't particularly care about in a league that really hasn't had as much time to cultivate and build brand loyalty to the extent that, say, League of Legends has). In fact, for Season 4, make it the exact same thing. More tournaments in season equals more short-term excitement with long-term implications, and we're here for it.-- Arda Ocal