Ground Zero have locked their place into the Overwatch Contenders Australia Season 1 2020 playoffs after claiming their second victory in a row, although they faced new opposition in Sydney Drop Bears in this week’s final.
Ground Zero’s firm grip on the rest of the Contenders field was tightened in Week 2, after the Perth-based org secured their second weekly win and another 100 points. However, instead of getting a rematch with NoWeaver, they faced down the old dynasty of the Sydney Drop Bears to run it back.
The three-time champions of Contenders Australia look vastly different from when they were winning titles back in 2018, although the same fighting spirit lives on. After a 3-4th place finish in Week 1, the Drop Bears clawed their way back into the final of Week 2 after taking down NoWeaver 3-0.
It was redemption for Winter “Winter” Thomas and his squad, who had to recuperate after a tough loss to the French organization.
“The first week’s loss was tough on the boys,” he told Snowball Esports. “We knew we were better but just played awfully on the day.
“That week we also had me on hitscan and thk on projectile which we thought was good, but in the end it wasn’t, so over the past two weeks we put me back on projectile and thk back on hitscan and really grinded it out. In the end, it paid off.”
Working in the Thai DPS has been easier than expected for Winter. Having worked alongside Korean and Pacific talent like Dreamer and Nyang last season, bringing in thk helped them fill out some depth in their squad, even if there’s a little language barrier.
“Incorporating thk has been really easy for us as he’s really given his all to learn English through lessons and convos with us all. He’s also really friendly and fits into our environment really well as he’s not afraid to have some banter.”
Doing what’s best for the team, instead of trying to flex his mechanical muscle, has also been the path Winter’s taken throughout his career. He doesn’t see himself as the player to pop off anymore, instead making sure that his teammates can get the spotlight, and ultimately do what gets the team the win.
“After gaining experience throughout my whole career, I’ve turned into more of a stepping stone for my teammates to carry,” he said. “I like doing the stuff that doesn’t get appreciated, and doesn’t get the big reactions from the casters and the fans, but rather what leads to those moments.
“I have spent the last three seasons being the IGL for my teams and I feel like that has given me further knowledge on how I analyse what’s going on in front of me. I can’t 1v6, I’m not as gifted as players such as ckm, Signed, and Jordation.
“I’ve developed into a more ‘What can I do for the team, not what the team can do for me’ player. I don’t get those big pop-off moments that go in montages and highlight reels, but it brings the team wins, and wins are what matters.”
After locking down the 50 points for making it to the grand final, they were hopeful to try and double it. However, they couldn’t contain the beast that is Ground Zero, with Winter noting that the now two-time Contenders bracket winners look unstoppable.
“GZG have been ahead of the pack these past two weeks,” he said, “however I think the bans have favoured them. They’ve had Adam on his signature D.Va pick, although beating them just comes down to who plays better on the day.”
Among the carnage though, the Drop Bears did find a weak spot in Ground Zero’s armour on Watchpoint: Gibraltar. A strong defense snowballed into a good offense, with SDB stealing away their perfect week in the second-last map.
ggs @GroundZeroOCE 3-1 loss, almost got to map 5. Was a really fun game and we have definitely improved since last week. Here is me getting a shatter so fat I fucking choked up. pic.twitter.com/GIH2yZczts— Minny (@MinnyOCE) March 16, 2020
They caught Ground Zero by surprise with Hanzo, Baptiste, and Sigma, three heroes that might not have seen play if it weren’t for the hero bans. With Winston out of the picture for Week 2, along with Lucio, dive comps have been a bit stunted, and bunker made a short brief rise.
Sydney Drop Bears’ flexibility allowed them to work around these bans, and played around Ground Zero’s Torbjorn strategy perfectly.
“Hero bans are decent for us as we have six really flexible players on our line-up,” said Winter. “It’s more about finding what works best for everyone and then seeing how that matches up against other teams.”
When the rematch eventually comes — which Winter is sure will happen — Sydney Drop Bears won’t be caught off-guard again. They’ve only got Ground Zero in their sights, and they’ll fight to try and reclaim their spot at the top.
“GZG are our only threat and we are not worried about anyone else.”
In the week’s other action, Mindfreak cemented their second straight 3-4th result with a loss to GZG in the semi, while NoWeaver only managed to rack up 35 points after making the grand final in Week 1.
Athletico were knocked out early in the bracket by Paradigm Shift, while Warriors fell short of their first top four berth once again. ScrimBux and X69GAMING rounded out the rest of the top eight, securing 20 points.
Overwatch Contenders Australia will return in May. Open Division will take place in the coming weeks, with eight spots in Trials up for grabs.
You can follow Winter and Drop Bears on Twitter