Overview of OGN’s Apex group stage, day 3: Bastion’s debut!

For years hailed as the “Mecca of esports”, recently Korea has been largely overtaken by Overwatch in terms of casual play. As a result we are seeing the first Korean Overwatch tournament, featuring 4 top tier foreign teams (Rogue, NRG, EnVyUS, Reunited) alongside 12 of Korea’s best.

For today’s match-ups we had the second showing, in the tournament, of BK stars and the debut of MVP Space from group B. Following that up in group D, we saw Reunited’s second appearance, after getting upset by Runaway on Monday. This time they faced the Korean powerhouse Kongdoo Panthera.

For those interested only in my picks for “Game, players and teams to watch” scroll down to the bottom. In those I’ll be listing the players and teams I found the most intriguing, the map I enjoyed watching most and the reasons for my picks.

Match-up 1: BK Stars vs MVP Space

BK Stars came into this as the favourite with MVP being rumored to have poor scrim performances. Additionally they had shown they can coordinate well, to play around their star player and primary carry Bunny, in their 3–2 win over Panthera’s sister team — Uncia
The opening map, similarly to day 1 and 2 of the group stages, was Nepal. On Village BK started with a 2-2-2 of Winston, Zarya, Lucio, Ana, McCree and Bunny's signature Tracer. MVP responded with similar composition, having Reaper instead of McCree. After taking advantage in the traditional contest for the high ground, MVP took control and kept it without much trouble up until 70%. Then on the back of several picks BK took over the point, and despite brief loss of control they continued holding. Eventually they took the stage 100-99 in overtime with clutch plays by Doheyon's McCree and Bunny's Tracer.

On Shrine both teams continued with the same compositions and MVP took initial control again. As Bunny was unable to hunt down Sylph (Ana) and Pelka (Lucio) on his own, we saw Dohyeon switching to Genji. That proved effective as they finally took control of the point with MVP just under 90%. Despite good Death Blossoms by Poro the dive combination held strong for BK, letting Sylph build up only 1 more Nanoboost until the end of the match. Failing to adapt to opponent’s composition, MVP found themselves down 0-1 in the series.

Top Heroes by pick rate for the tournament, so far.

For the second map of their debut MVP selected King's Row. Being on the attack, BK opened with the unconventional composition of Reinhardt, Zarya, Lucio, Ana, Mei and Bastion. That took MVP (and the viewers alike) by surprise as Bunny and co. quickly took over the first point, after nanoboosted Bastion wiped out the opponents. Following that, BK went back to their comfort composition, replacing Mei and Bastion with Tracer and McCree. Their prowess with 'big bang' was displayed again as they cleared out MVP quickly, once they had Graviton Surge and Time Bomb available. Even though this was MVP's pick, BK continued rolling trough the map without being contested too much, finishing the run with just under 2:30 in the time bank.

After changing sides both teams switched up things as we saw MVP with Winston, D.va, Lucio, Ana, Reaper and Genji, while Bunny traded Tracer for Reaper. Despite strong initial hold and several good beyblades by BK, MVP eventually took over the point. The game continued in similar fashion as MVP were slowly pushing, even with Bunny performing really well and Daily not having much impact on Roadhog. That changed however, just as MVP were about to deliver the cart. With only several meters left BK finally dropped all 6 from MVP. They managed to hold there for the rest of the map and in overtime, increasing their lead to 2-0.

Having their second pick, MVP chose Hanamura as the third map. Being on the defense, they picked Reinhardt, Roadhog, Lucio, Ana, McCree and Mei. BK on the other hand attacked with extremely mobile composition and Twinkl being the only support, on his signature Lucio. The rest picked D.va, Winston, Zarya, Tracer and Genji. That was shown to be a good choice, as they took the point on their first push, with only Bunny dying — to a hook from Daily. BK followed up with quick push towards point 2 as they had considerable advantage in ultimates. That was enough to finish the run, as they took over the point in a prolonged series of skirmishes, with just under 5:50 in the time bank.

On the defense BK chose standard 2-2-2 composition with Reinhardt, Zarya, Lucio, Ana, McCree and Tracer. MVP attacked with 2-2-2 of their own, choosing Winston, D.va, Lucio, Ana, Reaper and Genji. Despite favourable trades on their initial push MVP were pushed back and didn't find much success in the following one. After a brief technical pause Sylph and co. finally took the point as he managed to push back Bunny's Tracer on his own. Heading to the second point however, they were at ultimate disadvantage and BK pushed them back easily after killing 3. Their next attack on the point had mixed effectiveness as they were trading favourably, but Bernar on Bastion and his crew, stopped them from gaining even one tick on the control point. After that prolonged series of skirmishes, the rest of the map continued with a strong hold from BK, taking the series in a convincing 3-0.

For MVP of the match OGN voted BK's two DPS players - Bunny and Dohyeon.

Match-up 2: Kongdoo Panthera vs Reunited

For the second match-up of the day we had the return of Reunited versus the hugely hyped up squad of Panthera. The Koreans, considered by some the best teams in Korea, recently won the „Danawa Battle“ with 3–0 in the finals against LuxuryWatch Blue. Additionally they have 3 of their players as the 3 highest ranked players on the competitive ladder — Rascal, Evermore and Butcherr. On the other hand, despite roster change and losing 0–3 on Monday versus Runaway, the Europeans didn’t look bad in their OGN debut. The discrepancy in recent form was enough however, for some, including OGN’s English broadcast commentators MonteCristo and DoA, to consider Reunited the underdogs.

For the opening map, control point select by randomizer, we had Nepal once again. On the first stage, Shrine, Panthera looked to have taken note of Reunited’s weakness against Runaway and opened up with a Rascal on Genji. The rest of their composition was Winston, Zarya, Lucio, Ana and Tracer. Reunited opened with similar, but less mobile composition, using Reinhardt over Winston and Reaper instead of Tracer for Unfixed. 
Vallutaja showed up for Reunited right from the get-go as he quickly eliminated Butcher in duel. Despite that the Koreans won the rest of the trades and Reunited’s supports as everyone else was dead to Kongdoo losing only one more. In the following engagement Rascal quickly dismantled Reunited with Dragonblade and Kongdoo continued holding strong. On their next attempt to take control the Europeans took Zenyatta and Genji for Morte and Unfixed. That worked splendidly as they traded 4 for Onigod and took control with ultimate advantage. They managed to defend briefly, however it was done at the cost of their ultimates, while Kongdoo built up all 6 of theirs in the meantime. In a prolonged final push and overtime the Koreans took 1–0 lead, ending the stage 100–57.

On Village both teams met in a fight for the high ground with same composition: Reinhardt, Zarya, Ana, Lucio, Mei and Reaper. In overly aggressive chase by Butcherr Panthera lost control and we saw the Europeans taking early control after trading kills in their favour even further. On the back of great Mei play by Unixed, Reunited managed to push the Koreans back to their spawn area. They continued holding strong even further, on the back of great Death Blossom by Vallutaja. Kongdoo quickly responded after they built up ultimate on their own Reaper, finally pushing back the Europeans and briefly taking control over the point. It was short reign though, as Vallutaja and co. came back quickly to reclaim the point and take the equalize the stage score with convincing 100–22.

On the deciding stage, Sanctum, Panthera continued with the Genji — Tracer duo , trying to dive the enemy supports. Reunited however stuck to Zenyatta looking to deny that opportunity with his ultimate in teamfights.
The Europeans managed to seize early control and continued holding trough Kongdoo’s attempts until just over 50%. That lasted briefly though, as Reunited returned with ultimates and quickly reclaimed the point. They managed to hold strong and ended up taking the lead in the series 1–0.

Evermore and Wakawaka with devastating combo.

For a second map the ‘home-town’ boys picked King’s Row. They opened on the defense side with Reinhardt, Zarya, Roadhog, Lucio and Ana playing around Rascal’s Mei. The Europeans attacked with similar picks but put Vallutaja on Reaper instead of Roadhog. Evermore didn’t seem to think it’s good idea though, as he quickly hooked and dropped down Vallutaja, stalling Reunited’s first push. That didn’t seem to phase them much, as they followed up with good Earthshatter from Winghaven, to start pushing the payload with more than 5 minutes on the clock. With the cart entering the alleys Kongdoo managed to hold strong and wiped the Europeans multiple times with well coordinated ultimate combos by their tanks.
Despite that Reunited managed to reach the second point on the map but had only 1:50 in the time bank after doing so. As a result they didn’t have enough time to finish the run and ended it with 2 points and just under 60m towards the third, despite showing some impressive team-fighting themselves.

After switching sides both teams continued using same compositions. That resulted in the Koreans toking over the first point and starting the push slightly slower than Reunited. Entering the alleys they got wiped quickly, with a great Graviton Surge by Onigod and Vallutaja left-clicking everyone to death. The run continued at slightly faster pace than the Europeans’ which resulted in Panthera pushing past the second point with 2:30 on the clock, despite coming into the alleys at disadvantage. There we also saw them switch their composition to longer range poke, taking Pharah, McCree and Mercy to compliment Reinhardt, Zarya and Ana. They did good damage initially but quickly got engaged on as all 6 got killed. That proved instrumental though as after prolonged overtime on Panthera’s return the Europeans managed to hold the cart only 1.2 meters away from their distance. As a result they increased their lead in the series to a 2–0.

Kongdoo Panthera and Reunited facing the audience before the games.

Sitting on elimination point, Panthera picked Temple of Anubis for the third map. On the defense Reunited’s composition, seemingly designed to deal with potential Genji, was Winston, Roadhog, Mei, Tracer, Lucio and Zenyatta. Kongdoo however, were using their 3–2–1 with Rascal on Mei. That seemed to take the Europeans by surprise as the Koreans quickly took over the first point and headed towards the second with more than 7 minutes on the clock. Keeping the rest of the composition the same they traded Mei for Pharah and Lucio for Mercy. As that proved ineffective after several pushes Rascal switched again, this time to Genji and R2der went back to Lucio. Much like the first 2 maps, Reunited were ready for Genji today and continued holding the point. The 7 minutes proved too much however, as Kongdoo managed to take over the point with 36 seconds in the time bank.

On the defense we saw the Koreans once again go back to, what seems to be their comfort composition, 3–2–1 around Rascal’s Mei. Reunited also stuck to their guns, as the only change was moving Unfixed to Genji. The map opened with impressive duel by Vallutaja’s Tracer versus Evermore’s Roadhog, dropping the highest ranked player in the world on his signature pick on the ground. That resulted in a series of favourable trades and the Europeans took the first point. Rushing towards the second point they had 6:45 in the time bank and considerable ultimate advantage. The Korean side managed a miraculous defense though, not giving up even a single tick on the back of Rascal coming up huge. Following that Panthera held strong against Reunited’s attempts. After overtime push by Vallutaja and co. they finally got them on the scoreboard with 1 to Reunited’s 2.

For the fourth map Reunited had the pick from the escort maps, as per tournament rules. Their choice was Route 66, opening on the attack with 2–2–2, while Kongdoo were playing around Rascal’s Mei once again. Here the Koreans looked uncomfortable and Rascal’s Mei didn’t bring enough damage. As the Europeans pushed past the 2nd point Rascal switched to Tracer, but that wasn’t successful either and Reunited finished the run with just under 2:30 in the time bank.
Learning from their mistake Kongdoo finally went to 2–2–2 themselves, putting Rascal on Genji and Wakawaka on Tracer. That found more success as they managed to get to the first point in a prolonged overtime. The push continued at similar pace as they reached the second in a similarly hard fought overtime. Against all odds they did the same at the third point, heading to another attempt with a minute on the clock to Reunited’s 3:30.
A minute was enough only for just under 40m and Reunited got second run at the attack, opening with 2–2–2 and keeping the same composition of Reinhardt, Zarya, Ana, Lucio, Reaper and Mei. The time was enough as they reached the Koreans’ distance with more than 1:40 on the clock. With the 3:1 they are keeping their chances of playoffs alive.

Bonus trivia (credit for it goes to @MonteCristo): this was the first win of Europeans against a Korean team.

My picks for “Game, players and teams to watch”:
Players to watch:

Vallutaja wrecking havoc on King’s Row.

Vallutaja — well, I put him here when they lost and he definitely earned it today too. Showed formidable performances again and with his team stepping up his play was more than enough to secure the win. Similarly to Monday’s games positioned well, did a lot of damage and outdueled opponents multiple times. I continue to think he’s a bit lacking in the play-making department, compared to players like E1kiNo and Bunny, but the rest of his gameplay makes up for the difference. Hopefully the team will go into the playoffs and we see him versus other top-tier opponents on the OGN stage.
Sylph — another support player making my rankings. Displayed enviable positioning throughout the series and managed to outduel Bunny’s tracer multiple times throughout the series. Outside of being terrorized by Reunited’s dives on Village looked very solid, so it will be interesting to see if he can maintain good performances. Will be impressive if he can, considering MVP are looking like the second weakest team in the group.
Rascal — similarly to Vallutaja on Monday, showed up huge for his team but it wasn’t enough. Obviously has the mechanical prowess, as he’s tied for 1st on the competitive ladder, but his game definitely seemed raw compared to other top tier carries we’ve seen so far. The wide hero pool and making good decisions for the most part gives me hope that we’ll see him improve further. Additionally, his team having more time together, should also give boost to his performances.
Bunny — another great set of Tracer games and sadly again, not too much else. Still the most impressive timing on Tracer we’ve seen throughout the tournament. He also continued to do tons of damage, but unlike his last appearance on stage, he wasn’t demanding the majority of team’s resources to do so. That definitely gives me more hopes for the team as a whole. The questions regarding his effective champion pool do remain, but with his team stepping up it won’t be as much of a problem.
Honorable mentions: Morty and Unfixed.

Teams to watch:
 — well… I’ll take the chance for expected, I told you so. The team looked to have cleared up a lot of the issues they had versus Runaway. Onigod performed much better and so did Unfixed (#unearthlyicicles). With those two opening up more space Vallutaja had all the chances that he needed secure his crew the win. The others remain looking solid and putting Morty on Zenyatta seemingly fixes all the issues they had against Genji. Will be interesting to see how much they improve going further. I’m expecting Unfixed and Onigod and Morty to step slightly more individually. Additionally with having more time on the team Onigod’s coordination should improve too. They definitely reclaimed a place among the top teams in the tournament by the good performance today so I’m curious to see how deep can they go.
Kongdoo Panthera — tough loss for the team but they still have the opportunity to reach the playoffs and definitely got the talent to do so. Their compositions seemed a bit questionable at times. Coordination also wasn’t on par with other top teams either and they’ll have to fix that before facing Runaway. Additional chink in their armor is that Butcherr seems to live by the ‘Do dive!’ motto 24/7 and was constantly overextending and dying today. Regardless, similarly to Reunited I do have hope (definitely not as much though) for them improving and going further into the tournament. They simply have too much raw talent in the roster, not to do it in my opion. And after all, whatever happens with that we’ll see a good team not going into the playoffs. From what we’ve seen throughout the group stages so far, they are the most likely candidate.

Map to watch: Kongdoo Panthere vs Reunited — King’s Row. Overall very exciting map with both teams showing good play. In addition to nail-biting result we got several highlight clips out of this one and the Koreans and Europeans alike got to show the strengths of their teams. If you have more time I’d recommend their game on Nepal for the same reasons as well as BK Stars vs MVP Space on King’s Row for the Bastion factor.

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.

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