Last weekend, the final circles were clicked, and the victors decided. 32 teams from across the globe whittled down to only 6, and from them, only 1 emerged victorious. After a hard-fought battle, Poland rose as the osu! Champions of 2017 - read on to find out more!
From new teams that just entered the fray like Romania to older returning ones like Japan, the osu! World Cup 2017 saw an overall increase in competitiveness from past years - joined with fiendishly difficult map-pools to test skills of some of osu!'s best players.
The Finals Weekend saw 6 remaining teams – the United States, Poland, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Taiwan, and Germany – all competing for the ultimate title of osu! Champion.
In a decisive display of hard-won skill, Poland reigned supreme in the final match, taking home the osu! World Cup and the title until next year - and becoming the first European team to win in osu!'s history.
If you supported them with a spiffy profile banner, you get to keep yours and broadcast your choice proudly until the next World Cup starts!
Here's what went down throughout the final battles:
South Korea: 7 - Taiwan: 6
Beginning with South Korea vs Taiwan, the endless rivalry between the two teams grew to a fever pitch, culminating in a colossal tiebreaker after some herculean effort from players on all sides. Pring and Pray from South Korea took turns carrying the team on their shoulders, while Flask and Rucker responded from Taiwan's side in kind.
Poised to lose the tiebreaker-Tengaku in the wake of South Korea's earlier win against Brazil, Taiwan pulled out all the stops, sending Rucker in with a Hidden mod pick on the ultimate match of the set - scraping a hugely respectable 300k score, but still sadly losing the match overall to South Korea 7-6.
Perhaps one of the most notable moments of the finals weekend, South Korea almost managed to scrape a win on AMAZING BREAK! with only ~28,000 score difference after a member of their team disconnected mid match. Outstanding effort.
United Kingdom: 7 - Germany: 1
Over the years the German roster has seen some monumental improvements and the birth of backbone carries like Dustice. The United Kingdom, fully determined in going for the very top, was not in the slightest interest of being stopped here.
Despite having been sent down to the Loser's Bracket by the Polish warriors in the weekend prior, the English roster recovered - knocking one decisive blow after another into the German defense line. Despite holding on to their best attempt, Dustice, imagaK, Neliel, and the rest could not muster up enough against the combined fury of Spare and Bubbleman – two of the United Kingdom's most prized circleclickers, ending the battle dominantly in favour of the United Kingdom 7-1.
Poland: 7 - United States: 6
Both strong contenders for the Champion title, the two teams felt tremendous pressure from each other. Team United States started off looking incredibly strong, taking 5 points in a row and producing FCs as if they were a cakewalk.
Just as everyone thought Team United States would finish the game in a flash and then walk on to claim their title 2 days later, idke's tablet pen inexplicably broke, sending Team United States' plan into disarray. Coupled with the wounded hand of their HardRock support player HappyStick, the US was suddenly painfully exposed to an explosive comeback from Team Poland.
And come back they did. Over the course of Poland's subsequent performance, there were at least 2 instances where Team United States could have packed the match in but failed to due to either players failing or just being slightly under in score. Everyone held their breaths as Team Poland, upon the 12th map of the match - Kokou no Sousei - clenched the absolute tiniest margin of victory by a mere 182 points.
At this moment, the American defense line crumbled, and then soon later the tiebreaker map went over to Poland. The Polish players celebrated as if they had just won the entire tournament, while the United States began the gruelling climb out of the Loser's Bracket.
United Kingdom: 7 - South Korea: 2
Returning to the Loser's Bracket, Team South Korea – the last hope for the Asian teams – was subjected to the wrath of Team United Kingdom. Despite their amazing run earlier, the English gentlemen seemed to have abandoned the code for etiquette and simply decided upon a path of sheer, unadulterated dominance instead.
Fighting bravely, Pring and Pray from the South Korean side stood up against the English menace as best they could with their signature backbone carry, but simply could not muster enough to claim the match, letting the United Kingdom run away with the match for a 7-2 finish in their favour, and securing themselves a place in the top 3 no matter what.
For the first time in the osu! World Cup's history, the Top 3 was home to not a single team from Asia - the end of an era.
United States: 7 - United Kingdom: 4
With no time to relax, the United Kingdom was poised against the defending champions as the United States sought to reclaim their place in the final two. Unbroken by a single defeat, the United States was well and truly ready to take back their prize, and went in swinging.
Putting up their absolute best, the United Kingdom simply could not outpace the United States' dogged determination. A titanic clash between two major rivals ended with the United States emerging victorious in a definitive display, taking the match 7-4 in their favour.
Now, the stage was set.
United States: 7 - Poland: 3
And finally, the stage was set for the most hyped match of the year – Grand Finals, Poland vs United States, and everything leading up to this point was just practice. On one hand, Team United States – the defending champion, reigning 2 years strong, with veterans who are well-rounded and new blood who are rising to step into the spotlight.
Team Poland stood as the underdog despite being in the winner's bracket – having had so many close calls to winning an OWC title in the past, denied again and again by the victory of others.
Team United States returned to the match-up with incredible momentum, having just locked down their match against Team United Kingdom the day prior. It was apparent from Game 1 that Team United States adjusted strategy to counter Team Poland more this time – banning Packet Hero, a No Mod map that the Poland team was simply too good at to risk.
The United States team captain Apraxia also showed willingness to become more active – with HappyStick still out of the picture, he had to step up and help his team stay afloat on certain picks.
Veteran players Wilchq, Rafis, and WubWoofWolf from Team Poland paid close attention to their opponents as they played, avoiding having 5 points taken in a row like they did in the beginning of the match 2 days ago.
However, the United States' implacable momentum all but thrust them to a decisive early victory, placing Poland's hopes of a champion title once more into grave jeopardy with a 7-3 win in the United States' favour.
Poland: 7 - United States: 5
With only ten minutes of break time for the two teams to prepare, the agonizing wait was used by both sides to consider strategies and steel themselves for the fight ahead. Both teams were playing at their absolute strongest - the stakes had never been higher.
Team Poland started off the second match with strategy adjustments this time – instead of banning Made of Fire HD, they banned Kakuzetsu Thanatos HR, a pick where Team United States just simply dominated. Meanwhile, Made of Fire, an "old but gold" AR8 map, really put a lot of good reading players to the test this time around, with players like Doomsday and WubWoofWolf showing signs of struggle, too.
Toy from the United States stepped up and delivered a much-needed 3x100 FC on Made of Fire, eliciting undying praise from the spectating crowds. Unfazed by his incredible performance under the joint leadership of the Polish veterans WubWoofWolf and Piggey, the Polish mustered their best and stepped up to thwart the United States' advance.
Before anyone knew it, Team Poland scored win after win and went from being down 2-4 to leading 6-5 - taking the game to the match point in their favour!
The pick was Team United States' as they were looking at tying the score before a necessary tiebreaker. Choosing between Ai wo Chikaishi Hime Kazari FM and Ryoushi no Umi no Lindwurm NM, they picked the latter – a highly challenging and gimmicky reading map reserved only for the top players.
Coming into the potentially final matchup, both teams seemed to have equal footing with Team United States possibly having a slight edge over the Polish. However, as everyone was dropping combos, WubWoofWolf – the one Polish player who has been around for every single OWC so far – stepped up and maintained combo through all hard sections.
8 years of furious determination and unrelenting practice manifested themselves in a glorious instant, and in what is possibly one of the best performances ever seen in the osu! World Cup, WubWoofWolf scored the definitive FC to end all FCs on Lindwurm, firmly securing the win for the Polish side.
And with it, the title and prize.
And that would conclude the final chapter to this year's OWC. 32 amazing teams, one epic journey, and a year to remember – 2017 is the 10th anniversary of osu!, and together as a community we have travelled so far.
Congratulations to Team Poland, Team United States, and Team United Kingdom for their amazing run this year! The talents they displayed, the prowess they demonstrated, from tears of regret to tears of joy – everything this year made for an amazing tournament.
This great victory is tinged with a little hint of sadness however, as we bid a fond farewell to Loctav, who is taking his leave from the osu!team now that the tournament has concluded.
Loctav was responsible for the back-to-back organization of the World Cups for many, many years, and is one of the main people responsible for the legacy of the tournaments, and we're very sad to see him go. Thank you for everything!
Stay gold, circleclickers, and remember – rhythm is just a click away!
See you next time!