Overview of OGN’s APEX finals: Afreeca Freecs Blue vs EnVyUS
The finals of the first big Korean tournament in Overwatch was finally upon us! In it we saw one of the most well known squads — EnVyUS battling one of the older Korean squads in the face of Afreeca Freecs Blue. In what was unlikely finals match-up we saw them face against each other in Bo7 for first place prize of $90.000.
As usual, you can find my picks for “map and players of the day” at the bottom of the article. This time they’ll be accompanied by “player of the tournament”. In those I’ll be listing the players I thought performed best, the map I enjoyed watching most and and a few words on each.
Afreeca Freecs Blue came to the finals from group A, where they lost to Rogue, but beat up on FL and RGT. In the Ro8 they had really close 3–2 win over Reunited that could have went either way. They followed that with convincing 3–1 in the Ro4 over BK Stars, as underdogs in most’s eyes.
EnVyUS started the tournament in group C and in similar fashion lost to Lunatic-Hai, but got out of the group second thanks to wins over MS and T6. In what was considered huge upset they defeated Rogue 3–2 and then had same score over Kongdoo Uncia.
The predictions for the finals were varying wildly from person to person, some had the Koreans taking it and others bet on nV’s international roster. Even those who predicted same team winning rarely agreed on what the final score is going to be. Personally, my most likely scenarios, outlined with explanation in my “Preview & predictions” VOD, were 4–3 or 4–2 for Taimou and co., as I thought AF Blue will surely win the single CP map and Temple of Anubis.
The series began on Nepal, in my opinion the CP map which nV had highest chances of taking. It is important to note though that Blue were still the favourite for 1–0 lead.
On Sanctum, the Korean side opened with surprising 0 DPS heroes composition of Ana, Lucio, Zenyatta, Reinhardt, Zarya, Roadhog versus nV’s much more standard Ana, Lucio, Reinhadt, D.va, Roadhog, Soldier 76. As Harryhook’s Soldier broke the enemy Reinhardt’s wall fast his team picked up two quick frags and seized control over the point. They got to 90% without being challenged much, but then on the back of Transcendence and multi kill by ArHaN, Blue claimed the point for themselves. They held strong for while, but eventually the Soldier 76 damage proved too much and nV reclaimed the point and took the stage 100–80.
For Village Harryhook and co. continued running the same composition, whereas Afreeca switched to Ana, Lucio, Reinhardt, Zarya, Mei and Genji. After winning the initial high ground contest Blue took over the point, but nV claimed it for themselves quickly after, on the back of pick onto ArHaN. The rest of the stage continued with both teams trading control back and forth, but eventually nV’s superior individual skills pulled them ahead and they took it 100–98, taking 1–0 lead in the series.
Looking to equalize, or find themselves at disadvantage they are unlikely to come back from, Afreeca Freecs Blue selected Hollywood as their second map. They opened on the attack, the only change in their composition being Recry on Hanzo, instead of Mei. nV had only one change as well, INTERNETHULK trading the Lucio for Symmetra. That proved successful, as even though the Koreans took over A, it didn’t happen until the time bank had less than 10 seconds left. Despite them having good payload push, the time proved too long as several fights and one clutch play by Taimou was enough to stop them several meters before the second point.
After switching sides Afreeca showcased one of their specials, 3–2–1 consisting of Ana, Lucio, Reinhardt, ArHaN’s D.va, JIN’s Roadhog and Recry’s Mei. nV’s only change on the other hand was Harryhook swapping Soldier 76 for Reaper. Despite that not being too terribly effective in of itself, the composition worked well as his team took over A and started pushing the cart within just over a minute. Blue’s response to that was Recry switching to Soldier 76 as well, to mirror nV’s set-up. That however didn’t seem to improve things, for them, by much as Taimou and co. reached their destination and increased their lead in the series to 2–0, having more than 2 minutes in the time bank.
For the first double CP map of the series AF Blue selected Voslkaya Industries. A map nV hadn’t played with their new roster, but I speculated they’d be good on, thanks to the strengths and hero pools of the players. As nV continued playing 2–3–1 around Harryhook’s Soldier 76, Afreeca attacked using a 2–2–2 ofset-up of Ana, Lucio, Winston, Zarya, Genji and Recry’s Reaper. Despite the shotgun specialist picking up multiple kills the first attempt on A didn’t work out and he switched to McCree. Initially that wasn’t successful either, but eventually they took over off of fight in which they used up 3 ultimates and they headed towards B, having more than 5 minutes left in the time bank on the clock. That was enough for them, as with 2:50 left Recry’s McCree initiated a fight, by getting double kill. The Freecs made the best out of the opportunity and half a minute later they had taken over B as well.
Finally finding some success, they kept using the same composition as nV were attacking, utilizing the familiar 2–3–1, Soldier 76 set-up. As the foreigners took over A within a minute, ArHaN switched to Mei for the defense on B. That worked better, as they manged to repel several assaults, but eventually nV got on the point on the back of tripple kill by Harryhook’s Soldier 76. That led to a prolonged fight and eventually they secured B, having 3:37 in the time bank.
After switching sides again both teams continued using same set-ups. As Afreeca’s dive composition was more effective this time, Harryhook switched to Tracer after dying once. However Recry’s McCree caught him and that was enough for Blue to secure A. Having to defend on B only for a minute Harryhook swapped over again, this time to Mei and that was enough for his team to hold the point.
For nV’s second crack at the offense both teams maintained same 2–3–1. The hometown team playing around Recry’s McCree whereas the foreigners did so around Harryhook’s Soldier 76. Thanks to Taimou landing early hook, his team got on the point quickly and were already pushing toward B, within 50 seconds of the doors opening. As nanoboosted Harryhook was decimating the opposition shortly after, nV secured B as well, increasing their lead in the series to 3–0.
Looking for an unlikely reverse sweep, Afreeca Freecs Blue selected Watchpoint: Gibraltar. A map on which both teams had shown good performances recently. For the offense ArHaN switched to Genji. The Korean squad looked absolutely discombobulated and nV’s 1–4–1, with INTERNETHULK on Winston let them advance only 73 meters past the start. That continued after the switch of sides and within 50 seconds of the doors opening nV were the first foreign team to lift championship cup in Korea.
Player of the day:
Chipshajen — obvious player to point at today. Not only because of the gap between him and the opposing team’s Ana, but because of the consistently great performance across all four maps today. Despite the games being controlled rollover by nV, none of the other nV players maintained a superb level for all four maps. He’s definitely one of the best players in the world and if uNKOE is returning to his inconsistent self, I’ll be moving Chips up in my personal rankings and having him as the second best Ana in the world (LH’s Ryujehong is first in my ranking).
Honorable mention: Recry.
Map of the day: Volskaya Industries — the map on which Afreeca put up the best fight. Still wasn’t too good of a performance and we didn’t see their impenetrable defense and usual stellar ultimate management, but unfortunately (for them) it was their best performance.
Player of the tournament:
Taimou —those who followed my content or the whole event know he’s been great in all of nV’s series. Even when they lost he was still playing well and being one of the best players on the server, but when nV won he was the base that allowed the rest to perform. On top of being one of the most individually skilled players and having ton of impact on the game, he’s also one of the most versatile players. In the playoffs alone, despite showing primarily Roadhog, he‘s played seven heroes. In the finals he was a bit more measured than usual, so we didn’t get to see him completely dominating Afreeca, but on the bright side he also didn’t get caught as much. Definitely one of my favourite players to watch, because of how exciting he is and I’ll be looking forward to tracking his progression as a player.
About the author:
Hello readers! I go by the ID RadoN and probably similarly to many of you, I’ve been playing video games for years. My introduction to esports happened in 2009 and ever since, I’ve been following different titles within the industry. Other games I currently follow are LoL, CS:GO, QL with the occasional SFV, DOTA2, SC2 and HotS. If you wish to provide feedback, support and follow future content, or simply know more about my thoughts on gaming and esports,@RadoNonFire on twitter.
Photo credits: OGN.