Maryville University is simply unstoppable. Immediately after winning the North Conference playoffs in Riot’s Collegiate League of Legends tournament, their Overwatch team hurdled through Activision-Blizzard’s Overwatch Collegiate Championships to clinch the national title in a historic 3-2 victory over Northwood University.
Over 3,000 people were watching Blizzard’s YouTube stream of the grand finals on Sunday, and by 3:30 p.m. Maryville was already up 2-0. After a clean push on Rialto, it was looking like another routine stomp for Maryville through the meadows of collegiate Overwatch. All their players were firing on all cylinders, some quite literally. PapayaPete was doing some serious work on McCree at the end of Map 1.
Fresh out of an easy 3-0 win against UC Irvine, and a tournament run losing only one map to Utah, it could have been over early if Maryville could manage to win just one more team fight. But they were up against Northwood. Northwood didn’t lose a match the entire regular season.
Northwood took Rialto in a stunning hold after Maryville’s Tank Cameron “Cameron” Watson died early to a sea of well timed Northwood Ultimates.
The casters and the chat were going nuts, and play-by-play caster RichRad in a deluge of excitement pronounced that “Northwood starts on the reverse sweep adventure.”
Chat was too busy making monumental bets to notice.
At the start of Map 3, Volskaya, RichRad’s predictions weren’t looking so great. Maryville was easily fighting off Northwood, and Kobe “Halo” Hamand was racking up kills anywhere he could. Northwood ended the round with just one tick on the first objective, essentially giving Maryville the championship if they just grabbed two.
“If you are able to somehow, stop Maryville from basically taking two ticks, then it’s just everything to play for in control, that would be an insane performance coming out of Northwood,” said Nostradamus caster Kenobi.
That’s pretty much exactly what happened. Northwood’s Shaun “FishCake” Fisher Maryville seemed to be cracking under pressure. Joseph “Panic” DiBarto’s Baptiste whiffed an Amp Matrix, Parker “Lite” Louis’s Mei bungled a Blizzard, and Northwood kept their economy healthy while Maryville attempted push after push, each with diminishing returns. In the end, Maryville couldn’t even scrape one tick off of Northwood’s seemingly impenetrable wall, sending the match to game-five.
But Maryville was still confident.
“Going into the final map everyone was just saying that we needed to stay calm and remember that we’re still the better team and we just need to close it out,” said the operator of Maryville’s Twitter account.
The last map was Ilios, Maryville’s pick. Northwood pulled out all the stops, flinging themselves on the point. In the second round, Brandon “Nos” Zepeda threw down a crucial Blizzard, allowing for Adam “Dynasty” Elsheemy and Landon “Landon” McGee to feast on their frozen bodies. The push sent Northwood’s control percentage up to a scarier 59%, and a big pick from Dynasty onto PapayaPete held back Maryville for just a second.
But with 91% on the capture, Maryville needed just one good teamfight to take home the championship. Hasan “Crackn” Alfardi’s swift Self Destruct onto Northwood’s Main Tank Leo “Szns” Gzebb was the nail in the coffin. Maryville swept through the control point, and before anyone in chat could blink, they had the championship.
“It’s been a long awaited championship for us. Getting 3rd place in 2019, and then 2nd place in 2020, finally getting the trophy in 2021 is something that we can’t put into words how meaningful it is for us,” said the Twitter wizard.
Maryville walked away from the tournament with honor, and more importantly, a big, fat $24,000 check from Blizzard.
They don’t know what they’re going to do with the money yet. “I think it’ll be split among the players and applied to their accounts but not sure of the procedure there,” said Maryville’s social God.
Northwood isn’t walking away empty handed. They’ll receive $12,000, while semi-finalists Harrisburg University and UC Irvine take home $6000 each. And that’s not all. Even the quarter-finalists - Miami University, UT Dallas, Bellevue University and the University of Utah - receive $900 for their efforts.
This was the first OWCC tournament run entirely by Activision-Blizzard after their acquisition of Tespa late last year. It’s the first of many, and Maryville smells victory in their future.
“Now we have a target on our back and teams will try to knock us off the podium. It takes hard work to stay on top and we’re not slowing down anytime soon.”