Overwatch

Contenders China S2: Season Playoffs Primer – Team Chaser

Contenders China's playoffs are upon us and the six participants have been decided. Before the games begin on October 14th I thought it would be a good idea to go over the teams taking part, how they got here, the players from each team that we can expect to shine and where they can realistically expect to finish.

Please note that while I'm going to discuss how the teams have looked throughout the season, players that I mention by name are going to be ones that stayed on their teams' respective rosters through the end of the season. As much as I would want to hype up some early-season performances by certain DPS players it simply wouldn't be as relevant, as these posts are going to be how the teams look heading into the playoffs.

Instead of cramming them all into one post, I've decided to make one post for each team. Seven days until matches begin, six teams to cover. Thought it made sense and will hopefully be a better read for whoever is interested.


Team Chaser

After their upset championship win in the previous season the Chengdu Hunters academy team would come into 2021 Season 2 looking to replicate that success. With mostly the same roster as for their title win it seemed entirely plausible that they could do so. After starting the season a little wobbly however, Team Chaser would soon realise that not only were they a step behind the top team in the region but that they were also coming under fire from behind as another academy would attempt to overtake them for 2nd place.

Chaser would show that they are still the only team that are able to scratch Bilibili Gaming, losing to them five times throughout the regular season with a few close contests sprinkled in. Chaser ended Regular Season 1 firmly as the region's second-placed team, but that would quickly change with the team finishing 3rd in Regular Season 2, being swept out of the knockout stages by a hungry UP Academy.

Team Chaser enter the playoffs with a combined record of 11-3, going 37-9 in maps for a +28 map differential. 2nd and 3rd-placed finishes in the two knockout rounds put them on 120 points, tied in the standings for second seed with UP Academy but beating them out on tiebreakers.


Star Players

The heir apparent to a spot alongside the Overwatch League's 2021 MVP on the Chengdu Hunters, Li "Apr1ta" Yuanjinghao has essentially been the protagonist of the region this year. Contenders China has been the 'Apr1ta Waiting Room' and for good reason. Predominantly a hitscan player, though most known for their incredible Tracer, Apr1ta is a combination of all traits that make a player truly great. Unbelievable mechanical talent, fantastic awareness and positioning and all-round high in-game intelligence on any hero that they touch. Even more recently while mostly playing Soldier: 76, Apr1ta makes such a huge impact on almost every single fight, never afraid to chase a team through their rotations and pick up on every single opportunity that they see. They are the player that sums up the region this season and the one that has had most eyes on them.

Zhou "XRAY" Xiyan has had a season of development. Initially scouted by the team that would become UP Academy as a Wrecking Ball player, XRAY has branched out since joining Team Chaser to now boast an extended hero pool and leaving behind their former feeding ways. Their Wrecking Ball mechanics have never been in question, but they have evolved as a player so well over the course of 2021 in terms of awareness and working better with the rest of the team. On top of that they've more recently been showing off a very aggressive Reinhardt in brawl compositions and, more important, a Winston to open the door to Chaser running dive compositions. While XRAY's Winston has often hit a brick wall when it comes to playing against defensive Zenyatta and Ashe compositions, the development is clear to see. They're a talented player and getting better with every stage they play. Good to see.

Returning to Contenders China after a one-year stint in the Overwatch League, Chen "Lengsa" Jingyi would quickly find themselves a three-time champion of the region in 2021 Season 1. Lengsa would take a huge step forward in terms of performance for Season 2, becoming probably the best main support in the region on Brigitte and solidifying Team Chaser as a tricky team to play dive against. While they are a very passive Brigitte player they are able to quickly change gears when it comes to brawl compositions and play an incredibly aggressive Lúcio, constantly going after picks on opposing squishies. Lengsa has become supreme in both styles of play during this stint in Contenders and absolutely deserves more attention for it.


Expectations

The expectations put on the reigning champions should be to replicate the success of their previous season. They come into the playoffs as the second seeds yet again and having not won a stage title throughout the regular season. As was the case last season a win in the grand finals would be an upset, but not one that would come as a massive surprise. That should be the expectation.

Reality for Team Chaser here is a little different, however. Taking the fight to Bilibili Gaming is much easier said than done right now, the Spark academy team looking a clear level above the rest of the competition. While it's true that they have been the only team to beat BLG in maps this season so far, only one of those games went the full 5-map distance and still resulted in a loss for Chaser.

On top of that, indications right now are that the Guangzhou academy team, UP Academy, have also surpassed them for that 2nd-place position in the region with the last meeting between the two teams being a relatively comfortable sweep for UP.

Team Chaser are a team that are now in the position of having to genuinely prove themselves if they are to steal away another Contenders title. They're running out of time.

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