After a challenging qualifiers, UOB Zeus braved the snow to take on all rivals for the Overwatch King of the North crown, reports Gaming Editor Roshni Patel
After battling the best teams for their place in the live semi finals, the Birmingham team made the valiant effort to travel through the snow in the hopes of defending their crown. Joined by Underwatch from the University of York, Rogue Swan from Swansea University and Keele Kings from Keele University, Birmingham had some tough competition for the crown, with last years runners up, Underwatch, returning with a new and improved roster after their loss in 2017’s Overwatch King of the North finals.
The first of 2 semi-finals saw Underwatch and Rogue Swan clash head to head once again, for the first coveted finals spot, with Underwatch desperate to clash with Birmingham again in the finals, despite previously losing to Swansea in the first qualifiers. Beginning on the escort map, Dorado, Underwatch quickly took the map as the Swans failed to apply sufficient pressure to ensure their victory. Determined not to falter at the first hurdle, Swansea broke out the Doomfist and managed to overwhelm York to take hybrid map, Kings Row. However, York returned to crush all hopes, as they took a resounding win on assault map, Horizon: Lunar Colony, where they didn’t even allow Swansea a third of the first point. Sealing the deal with an excellent use of ultimates on Lijiang Tower, they finished their semi finals 3-1.
The second semi-finals featured another qualifier rematch, as UoB Zeus took on Keele Kings. Streamed on the University of Salford Twitch channel with ad-hoc casters, Zeus leapt into a favourable map pool, with team favourite Eichenwalde, a hybrid map, chosen for the first game of the series. Despite giving up ground in the beginning stages of the map, they were able to break the Keele defence on their own attack run, to push the payload to the destination they had denied Keele once again. Faltering on Hollywood, Zeus practically handed Keele Hollywood, the second hybrid map, where Keele were given too much space to defend against Birmingham, and with no time in Zeus’ timebank, round 3 only required Keele to capture a 3rd of the assault point, which they did with ease. But Zeus was far from out as game 3 was played on Kings Row. Famously a Birmingham favourite, their hours of practiced shined through, as they swiftly shut down Keele in their time bank assault. Going into map 4 at 2-1, Zeus knew a 3rd win was all they needed to close out the series and put them in the finals to defend their crown. Blocking Keele Kings in the first choke point of Dorado, an simple escort map, Birmingham executed their signature hold and attacking win, to take the series 3-1.
Returning to the main UoMesports channel and rejoining the main casters, Underwatch and Zeus retook their desktops to fight for the King of the North crown. Going into a more varied map pool, where the rounds favoured both teams, adding tension and excitement to what was going to be a entertaining finals.
Beginning on the control map Nepal, York took an early lead with a decisive riptire to begin their attack on Village, with Birmingham following suit to open the Sanctum round with a riptire of their own. However, York swiftly took over, with the use of many well timed ultimates, used in succession. Determined not to relinquish their crown easily, once again holding in the courtyard choke, before attacking themselves and decimating York’s defence with exceptionally sneaky plays coming out of Sewon’s Widowmaker, who wrapped round to snipe York from behind after they had quickly shot troublemaker Kirkmania out of the skies. Bitter in their defeat, York sought to take another of Birmingham’s favourite maps, Kings Row. While Birmingham made the better assault, York wore them down as they attempted to escort the payload. In comparison, York struggled to take the first point, but glided through the escort stage with tank jeffkaplan laying down strong Reinhardt earthshatter ultimates to keep Birmingham at bay.
Adamant to hang on to their place in the finals, Birmingham came out strong on the final assault map, Temple of Anubis, where they defended against York’s brazen attempts to simply ‘walk’ onto the point, whittling down their time bank as a result. Swapping roles, Birmingham entered and finished strong, with over 5 minutes to spare. Entering time bank with a mere minute, York once again tries to stroll onto the point and were swiftly sent back to spawn, allowing Birmingham to tie up the scores with ease.
Moving onto the deciding map on Blizzard World, Overwatch’s newest hybrid map, the two teams took their places as attackers and defenders, with Birmingham beginning their defence in quite an unorthodox perch, which ultimately led to their demise, as York’s strolling strategy finally worked out as they pressured the unprepared Birmingham out, and sailed to the end of the map with little resistance. In comparison, Birmingham struggled to take point A initially, with Sewon’s Widowmaker catching some key kills to aid with the team’s assault and escort attempt. However, it wasn’t to be, as they were repeatedly killed and denied any progress.
Nevertheless, both teams performed exceedingly well, and while the crown was taken by the University of York, Birmingham still showed they were a team with more than a few tricks up their sleeves, with each of their members capable of holding their own and dealing damage and eliminations. As another King of the North tournament drew to a close, it was clear that next year Birmingham would return for the crown, come rain, snow or shine.