One of the more entertaining matchups to take place in last weekend’s Alienware Monthly Melee was the lower bracket finals between Denial Esports and Selfless. Denial, ranked #37 globally, were looking to redeem themselves after their poor previous AMM performance in February. Selfless, the #6 team in the world, were in the same boat, coming off a tough elimination by Team Liquid in the Overwatch Pit Championship the week before. Not to mention, the history between these two teams is about as balanced as you can get, with each team taking two of their previous encounters.
Coming into the first map of Hollywood, Selfless was strongly favored to win, given their rank and their recent 3rd place finish in the Pit Championship. Denial, and more specifically zZa, had other plans. Coming out with a blistering attack and completing the map in less than 5 minutes, zZa’s Pharah combined perfectly with xQc’s Winston to start and finish kills in the blink of an eye. Selfless, although typically quite strong on Hollywood, were unable to get their footing throughout most of the Denial attack. A significant factor in this was losing Dafran early in every fight. Dafran, being one of the top Soldier: 76 players on the pro scene, absolutely needed to be there to counter zZa’s Pharah. With Dafran gone so often, zZa was left to his own devices, and rockets from the sky were able to pick apart the remainder of the Selfless defense. After with a stellar defense featuring several clutch resurrections from Gingerpop’s Mercy, Denial was able to full hold and take Hollywood 3-0.
Down 1-0 in the series, Selfless chose Watchpoint: Gibraltar as the map for Game 2. This is a map they are very strong on, and a map where Denial struggles with first and third point attacks. Knowing this, Selfless set themselves up for a game they should be able to win. And their initial offense all but sealed the deal. Putting up a time almost as impressive as Denial’s Hollywood time, they were able to complete the map in 6:40, leaving themselves over a minute in the time bank. This attack was largely on the back of Emongg, who put on an absolute clinic on Roadhog throughout the map. One of Emongg’s major contributions was consistently denying Gingerpop the chance to use the Resurrect and bring his team back to live. With Gingerpop constantly going down, Denial was unable to really stabilize the payload for long, and Selfless managed to complete the map in very good time.
Denial’s counter offensive was good, but fell short in the end. We saw more great play out of xQc, zZa, and Gingerpop, as well as some very timely Pulse Bomb sticks from Silkthread on Tracer. Held up for a short time by the aggressive Selfless defense, it would be a minute before Denial started moving the payload forward. This ended up making a huge difference later on. Finally getting through the first checkpoint and rolling through the second mostly uncontested, Denial came into the last stage of the map with just under three minutes left on the clock. However, once again, Emongg came up huge for his team, joined by Dafran, who did a much better job of countering zZa’s Pharah on this map. Denial, despite making it to the final stretch, was unable to complete the map, and Selfless took the game, 3-2.
With the series tied up 1-1, Denial elected to take the next game to Oasis, which is a map that strongly suits their play style. xQc in particular is quite good on this map, using Winston very effectively in conjunction with zZa, Danteh, and Silkthread to completely control the many tactical high grounds. However, Emongg was still on fire from the game before, and he came out all Scrap Guns blazing early on. Kresnik swapping from the Reinhardt onto D.Va for several stages played a huge role as well, as this proved to be very helpful in shutting down zZa. Even so, Denial and Selfless swapped stages all the way to Round 5, forcing a tiebreaker on the Gardens stage. In a 99%-99% nailbiter, Selfless barely came out on top, again with a huge contribution from Emongg. Taking that 3-2 win on Oasis, Selfless were now just one win away from heading to the grand finals.
With their backs against the wall, Denial picked King’s Row for Game 4, desperate to turn things around and stay alive. However, Selfless came out the gates strong, taking the first point in under two minutes, and using their aggression to push through most of the streets phase uncontested. Coming into the Omnic foundry with over 3 minutes on the clock, Denial needed a huge play to stop the payload before they lost all three points. Silkthread delivered, and continued delivering, getting two separate double kills with his Pulse Bombs, shutting down Selfless pushes before they could even get started. Denial, who decided to run triple tank on King’s Row instead of their normal lineup, managed to stall out the rest of the time on third point, and stopped Selfless just before the end.
Denial, just looking to complete the map and keep their tournament hopes alive, came out very strong and took first point and headed into second with over 4:00 on the clock to get into third. They managed to take the first team fight and move up in front of the pub, but a great Graviton Surge from Sinatraa stopped them dead in their tracks. At that point, Selfless took up their usual positions right outside the Denial spawn doors, eating precious time off the clock before even allowing Denial close to the payload. They continued this spawn camp for some time, forcing Denial into a last minute, all out push on the payload. With Gingerpop playing Ana instead of Mercy, however, they didn’t have the Resurrect that had given them so much in previous games. Dafran on the high ground was left uncontested to cut down the incoming push, and ended up with 5 eliminations in the final fight. Without even triggering Overtime, the match completed, and Selfless closed out the series 3-1.
Coming into the game, rankings and fans favored Selfless to win, but very few expected this series to be as close as it was. Denial is a squad that has experienced rapid growth as a team in the last couple of months, to the point where they are now on the verge of winning a major tournament like the AMM. To come in 3rd place and walk away with $1,000 is a major victory for Denial, despite being turned back by Rogue and Selfless in the finals of both brackets. One major factor in their defeat was their reliance on zZa to perform on Pharah. The Pharah/Mercy combination paid dividends for Denial on Hollywood, but it had diminishing returns on every subsequent map. Without zZa putting in as much work on Pharah, the Denial DPS team was unable to fully convert on kills. And of course, Emongg put in a massive amount of work throughout the series on Roadhog, consistently taking Danteh out of Meka, taking Gingerpop out of the sky, or shutting down xQc on a dive. With that, Selfless made their way into the grand finals to face Rogue.