Overview of OGN’s Apex group stage day 2: Europe enters the fray.

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) along 12 of Korea’s best.

Today we had two underdogs in group C, Conbox T6 and Mighty Storm, show their skills followed by the first appearance of foreign team in Runaway vs Reunited.

If you missed Friday’s play but you want to catch-up you can do it with my review here.
For those interested in my picks for “Map, 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: Conbox T6 vs Mighty Storm

Best known for being home of the ex-LoL pro Gamsu, T6 came along together only 2 days before the qualifier, as a group of top ranked players. Mighty Storm on the other hand were known for being the worse sister team within the Mighty organization. Both teams are considered underdogs for going into playoffs and after seeing the games that prognosis hasn’t changed for most.

As the opening map we had Nepal. On Village both teams opened with Tracer, Zarya, Winston, Lucio combination but while T6 rounded it up with Ana and Genji Mighty’s picks were Zenyatta and Reaper.
After the typical battle for high ground MS seized control of the point in a 6v3. However after a suspect over-aggression and missed ultimates on their part, T6 took the opportunity to take over the point, only to lose it to an overtime push. In a messy affair reminding of match 2 from day 1, MS took the 1–0 lead on the map.

Both teams keept the same compositions for Shrine. T6 managed to take over the control point early, on the back of nanoboosted Zunba on Zarya. Despite whiffing several ultimates they kept control over it for 61%. Then Mighty took over briefly, but T6 quickly reclaimed it with good Earth Shatter by Gamsu. Following that and another chaotic fight, in which MS fell prey to a Death Blossom by Munghoon Gamsu and co. came back to a 1–1 with 100–35 score.

On Sanctum we saw both teams switch-up compositions to Ana, Lucio, Reinhardt, Zarya and Reapered. Mighty however had Roadhog as 6th pick opposed to T6’s Tracer. Despite even initial trade, in terms of kills T6 managed to seize control with their Ana charging Nanoboost considerably faster. Following series of multiple ult. whiffs and sloppy skirmishes Conbox managed to secure the stage 100–90, taking 1–0 lead in the series.

Heroes pick rate for the tournament.

For map 2 MS chose Numbani, as the loser of the map picks the next one. There they opened with 3–2–1 composition featuring Roadhog, Winston, Zarya, Lucio, Ana and F3lho’s Reaper. T6 responded with a more standard composition, using same supports and tanks but dropping Roadhog for Mei and having Liz on McCree.
Gamsu and his men managed to hold the initial push with multiple great icicles by Munghoon’s Mei, despite trading evenly. For the rest of the push they held strong, not letting MS take even the first point in their pick.

After switching sides MS kept same composition, while T6 switched Mei and McCree for Soldier 76 and Genji on the attack. After their initial push was stopped by a hook onto Oparochi’s Lucio they quickly switched to a more standard choice: McCree and Reaper. Following that and a prolonged series of messy and uncoordinated skirmishes T6 managed to take the first point, and the map to a 2–0 lead in the series.

As the third map Mighty Storm picked Temple of Anubis. Despite the change of map MS chose to stick with their comfort 3–2–1 composition again. As the attackers, Conbox stuck to similar 2–2–2 switching to Genji and Tracer for their damage dealers. Despite good hooks by Jack, T6 quickly took the first point on the back on Myunghoon flanking, and creating picks on MS’s supports. On the second point Mighty Storm held strong on the back of good plays by their Roadhog and Reaper. That didn’t seem to be enough however, as with 30 seconds on the clock, T6 took the second point of the map after nanoboosted Death Blossom by Liz .
On the attack Mighty finally changed their composition, switching Jack to Tracer while T6 defended with the same composition, they took over the second point with. With Jack on a damage dealing hero, they looked to perform better, already pushing towards the second point of the map with 6:20 in the time bank. Regardless, they failed multiple pushes that looked promising and lost the series 0–3.

For MVP of the match OGN voted the duo of Zunba and Conbox T6’s star player — Myunghoon.

Match-up 2: Runaway vs Reunited

Despite being the underdog versus the European power house of Reunited, Runaway came to the stage under strong cheers from the crowd. In the qualifiers for Apex the Koreans, defeated LuxuryWatch RED twice, who themselves are top contenders for the unofficial ‘best team in Korea’ title. As explained by MonteCristo and DoA, the majority of the players on the team, similarly to the foreign scene, come from pro and semi-pro background in variety of other titles. Most notable of which the famous Korean streamer for „Sudden Attack“ and „League of Legends“, team captain, founder and dedicated Lucio player — Runner.
On the other end of the scene, coming from underwhelming performances in the Overwatch Open and changing one of their players, just before the event we had Reunited. Still considered Reunited the favourite in this match-up despite the aforementioned circumstances.

Both teams facing the crowd before the start of the match.

On the first stage of Ilios, the Well, the crowd favourites opened with 2–2–2 composed of Zarya, Winston, Lucio, Ana, Tracer and Genji. The Europeans, using same supports and Zarya rounded up their composition to 3–2–1 with Roadhog, Reinhardt and Vallutaja’s McCree. Reunited quickly took control of the point on the back of picking off Quad’s Tracer. After their second DPS returned the Koreans struck back quickly, with great play by Haksal on nanoboosted Genji. As a result Reunited switched Roadhog for Reaper but the game continued in similar fashion with multiple wipes on Reunited. The Koreans had great target selection and coordination but the 100–44 win was taken laregely on the back of Haksal terrorizing the Europeans’ backline.

On Ruins both teams maintained similar compositions, Runaway switched Tracer for McCree, while Reunited put Vallutaja to Tracer. Quickly taking control over the point, Runaway took a lead in ultimates, holding control for 70% until a fight in which Reunited burned all but one of their ultimates. Their control was brief, as the Koreans quickly pushed back, retaking control and ending the map 2–0 on the back of some more great Genji play by Haksal.

Looking to equalize the score Reunited picked Numbani as a second map. They opened the defense with another 2–2–2 composition, this time looking for picks off of Onigod’s Roadhog hooks. The Koreans kept similar composition with Haksal’s Genji continuing to terrorize the foreigners. That resulted in a quick take of the first point, followed by a push for more than 70m until Reunited finally managed to challenge and stop the push. It didn’t last long however as Runaway returned with series of coordinated skirmishes, wiping the Europeans once again and being on the final alley with more than 4 minutes in the time bank.
Here the Europeans finally seemed able to stop Haksal from single-handedly destroying them and even gained some momentum as they held strong for several minutes. It was done mostly on the back of clutch plays by Vallutaja and Onigod, but ultimately Haksal’s Genji proved too much again, as Runaway finished with just under 50 seconds in the time bank. Runner and co. however seemed to be aware of the Europeans’ focus on the ninja as they stopped dedicating all of their resources to him.

Runner, the captain and founder of the team celebrating a map win.

On the defense we finally saw Runaway switch it up, going to 3–2–1 with Zarya, Roadhog, Reinhardt, Ana, Lucio and of course Haksal’s Genji.
Reunited too changed things, attacking with heavily mobile composition of Winston, D.va, Genji, Tracer, Lucio and Ana. TKoreans figured out what’s going on fast and kept Ana way behind everybody else. Despite that, Reunied got on the point quickly and traded favourably with some great play by Vallutaja. This time the Europeans were able to contain Haksal’s Genji and took the point after killing him 2 separate times. Finally, with 3:30 in the time bank and ultimates advantage they started pushing the cart. With it being almost on the finish line and just under 2 minutes in the bank it looked like they had Runner and co. figured out, until Runaway struck with Kaiser’s nanoboosted Reinhardt and another dragonblade multikill by Haksal. In a tense overtime the crowd-favourites managed to secure the second map, bringing the Europeans to a match point on their own pick.

For map 3, Reunited picked Hanamura, as the first appearance of the map in Apex.
On the attack they came with a 2–2–2 taking Winston, Zarya, Tracer, Genji, Ana and Kruise’s signature Lucio. They quickly pushed for the first point, despite initially getting split-up by Mei wall. As a reaction to that Runaway switched away from 3–2–1 trading Roadhog for Tracer. Transitioning to the second point quickly, Reunited finally broke Runaway’s stellar target selection with Vallutaja constantly pestering them from the side with his Tracer. The strategy had mixed effectiveness as they continued trading favourably until, but failed to seize control and eventually the Koreanas pushed them away.
For the next push Vallutaja switched to McCree, looking for longer range damage, as Haksal switched back from Mei to Genji. Eventually with a minute left on the clock Reunited finally gained control over the point on the back of nanoboosted Death Blossom by Unfixed. The young Koreans however struck back. With clutch play from Quad and Haksal they repelled Reunited before they took even 2 ticks of the point.
Switching sides and in the face of elimination Reuinited switched Morte to Zenyata, for the first time in the series. Runaway on the other hand continued playing, what seems to be their signature composition of: Winston, Zarya, Ana, Lucio, Tracer and Genji. This time Reunited defended nicely, not allowing Haksal to pick off their supports. Despite that Quad and Runaway’s tanks came trough and managed to wipe Reunited, taking the first point. They quickly jumped on the second one and after a series of prolonged skirmishes they took it in similar fashion. Reunited managed to shut down Haksal several times, but that opened the door for Quad, Kaiser and Mono to run over them and take the series in an impressive 3–0 upset.
For MVP of the match OGN voted the team captain Runner and the Genji star player Haksal.

My picks for “Map, players and teams to watch”:
Players to watch:
Vallutaja
 — fans who’ve kept up with Overwatch outside of OGN’s Apex are probably familiar with his skills. For those who haven’t however, he showed surprisingly great performance, when we consider his team got defeated 3–0. Displayed skills on multiple heroes, which put him over Haksal (for me) who showed up strong only on one. Despite him pulling off some impressive plays, one thing that seemed to be lacking on the team was play-making. Regardless he was quite spectacular even in that department and it’s hard to see Reunited asking him to step up even further instead of someone else on the squad.

Runaway’s Runer and Haksal in the MVP interview.

Haksal — first game in the tournament and the high schooler already showed super-star performance. For map 2, on Numbani he proved extremely effective again, even when the team didn’t dedicate all of their resources to him the resources and still was very effective. I will remain cautious however, as similarly to Bunny on day 1, he wasn’t as effective when he switched heroes. Additional problem I have with considering him more than a star player for his team, is the performance on the third map. He was still useful to his squad and played well mechanically, but seemed more like an annoyance rather than star-player after Reunited adjusted their play.

Mono and Kaiser — it’s a bit weird to list both players at once but both have very similar strengths and weaknesses to their play. In addition, I think both being together on a team creates a duo better than the sum of its parts. Extremely solid play by both on multitude of heroes. What seemed like a weakness to their play is that they didn’t seem to be as proficient of initiators as players like Pumple and Bernar. To my observation however, they are very much the backbone of the team. While Haksal and Quad run around making plays, the two tanks kept saving them from dying in a silly manner and remained focused on winning the game, rather than chasing away opponents. On top of that when the need arose on Hanamura both of them showed more than capable to do the damage and clean-up house, for the team to take both points.

Teams to watch:
Reunited
 — yes, they got ‘stomped’ by Korean team that’s unknown internationally. They still showed good play on map 2 & 3 and they’ve only had 4 days for practice with their new player — Onigod. The team definitely looked like they can become solid squad and still reach playoffs. One disturbing aspect of watching them is how heavily reliant they were on Vallutaja to make something happen. I definitely hope change, from Kyb to Onigod, doesn’t leave them as a top team that’s there just to show us how good their Estonian carry is and they can actually contend for titles. They got tough schedule ahead though, as they are facing a the Korean powerhouse Kongdoo Panthera on Wednesday.
Runaway — very good performance by the team in defeating Reunited 3–0. However, similarly to Flash Lux, the question remains how versatile are they strategy wise. A positive for them going forwards is that Mono and Kaiser looked extremely solid. On the other hand both of their DPS players, Haksal and Quad, showed highly explosive play at different points of time, to complement the tank duo . Additionally Shine displayed smart play and was even called out by Runner as the real second MVP. Throughout the series he was rarely out of position and seemed like he was never picked off by Reunitet. Runner on the other hand looked good enough with Lucio and was putting a lot of effort in the captain role, keeping everyone engaged and fired up. 
Now that footage of their play is out, it will be interesting to see how others will be dealing with them. For tonight though, they showed very impressive and clean performances and if this is anything to go by, the other teams better start preparing for them. 
Map to watch: Runaway vs Reunited — Ilios. The game was very much a stomp outside of the initial engage on the Well. As a result many might consider it poor game, but I was thoroughly impressed by Runaway’s target selection and crisp execution. Even more impressive was their ability to hold on to ultimate lead, once gained. If you have time and want to see closer map I’m also recommending Hanamura. There we saw both teams adapting to each other. What was even more impressive by Runner and co., they also showed good performance with their star player playing only above average and the others seamlessly stepped-up when it was needed.


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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