UC Berkeley made it two straight when they topped UC Irvine in the final to win the Fiesta Bowl Overwatch National Championship on the campus of Arizona State University. The Sun Devil Fitness Complex saw a series of controlled performances from a Cal team that seemed to confound every opponent they faced and overcame every shift in strategy. The mental battle seemed won long before any players showed up in Tempe.
“[My teammates] thought that [UC Irvine’s] Pharah was a problem, I did not,” said Cal captain Daniel “Alined” Lee. “Everyone hyped up Irvine as the best team in the regular season, and they proved it when they beat us. But that’s because we weren’t used to the meta, and now the meta was in our favor”
Against the University of Toronto in the second semifinal of the day, Cal was able to neutralize the opponent’s Pharah played by David “Dimes” Huang. Dimes was able to deal plenty of damage but couldn’t turn the tide as Cal won with strong play from Andrew “Quantum” Huang and captain Daniel “Alined” Lee. It was Alined’s switch to Widowmaker at a critical moment on the Temple of Anubis match that saw flex player rack up a string of kills.
In the final, it was a tremendous team effort as every gear of Cal’s machine was in sync. Kevin “Slurpeethief” Royston on Reinhardt, along with Alined and Quantum controlled the action across all maps. This opened up opportunities for secondary damage-dealer “Gandira “Syeikh” Prahandika to play the role of finisher more often than not. Cal kept their focus on UC Irvine’s versatile Chansoo “Lootre” Park throughout the match and his frustration seemed to infect the rest of Irvine’s roster, including their tank players Aaron “Lionpoke” Boyer and Nick “Learntooplay” Theodorakis.
With their backs against the wall, down 0-2 in the best of five championship series, UC Irvine showed signs of life on Temple of Anubis themselves. They showed a nifty move to draw UC Berkeley out of the chokepoint in front of the “B” capture point and turned it into a successful capture with a low clock count. With a positive situation in front of them, UC Irvine just wasn’t up to the challenge as Cal was able to quickly advance on the B capture point and dig in for a sustained assault.
UC Irvine had a perfect match record coming into the Fiesta Bowl Overwatch Collegiate National Championship and looked like a favorite to knock off the defending champs, but the experimentation with strategies and team compositions revealed a team that was searching for answers against Cal.
“I’ve planned on moving on to other things in my life. I’ve got a job offer and all that stuff, so I knew this was probably the last time I was going to be on stage like this,” admitted Royston. “I wanted to give it my all. I’m so glad we were able to do that.”
The day’s festivities included a showmatch between the University of Arizona and the host school, Arizona State University, a battle that brought the loudest cheers and boos from the capacity crowd. The literal home team steamrolled the University of Arizona and gave the Sun Devils in attendance another category of bragging rights over their rival.
The team from UC Berkeley added three new players coming into the season and now they will enjoy their slice of the $50,000 scholarship prize for the first place team. The official back-to-back Tespa Collegiate Series – Overwatch champions have established UC Berkeley as a powerhouse college esports program.