Overview of OGN’s APEX Ro8, day 1:Reunited vs AF Blue & BK Stars vs LW Blue.
With the Ro16 finally over we are entering the bracket play phase of the tournament. For the first big Korean Overwatch tournament’s postseason we have 3 of the top western teams (Rogue, EnVyUS and Reunited) battling 5 of Korea’s best for first place prize of $90.000.
For the first Bo5 tonight we had Reunited vs Afreeca Freecs Blue. Both teams have looked better and better as the season went on, to the point that now both can realistically reach Ro4.
In the second series of the day an all Korean affair of BK Stars vs LuxuryWatch Blue. A match-up that I personally thought will be decided in a duel between both teams’ star-DPS players Bunny & Saebyeolbe.
For the playoffs I will be retiring the “teams to watch” section of the summaries, instead I’ll be leaving comments for the teams, if I have any in the end of their match’s summary. I’m also renaming ‘map and players to watch’ to ‘map and players of the day’. As always you can find those at the bottom of the article. In them I’ll be listing the players performing best, in my opinion, the map I enjoyed watching most and some extra words on the picks.
After the shaky start versus Reunited, largely thanks to uNFixed looking more and more comfortable as DPS, have been steadily improving. Facing Afreeca Freecs Blue however, would be quite the test for the Europeans, as Recry co. were easily the best second seed team, with Talespin leaving nV. In addition to them improving as the tournament went on as well Blue also received extra boost from the new patch. As the ultimates are charging up slower, their excellent management of the ‘resource’ is even more valuable now. As a result of what I mentioned most considered the Koreans slight favourite.
The Bo5 began on Garden, Lijiang Tower. Recry and co. opened up with the Ana, Lucio, Winston, Zarya, Genji, Pharah composition they had success on Wednesday, right from the start. The only difference in the European camp was Vallutaja on the Tracer. Unfortunately for Reunited, Recry was just as hot today, as he was on Wednesday. On the back of his good rocketeering Blue took initial control of the point. Despite him raining death for the whole game Reunited managed to claim the point for themselves for just under 60% of the point, largely on the back of multi kill by uNFixed’s Genji. Ultimately however, the Korean side’s superior teamplay allowed them to reclaim the point and take 1–0 lead for the CP map.
For Night Market, Afreeca continued running the same composition, while the Europeans switched to 3–2–1 of Ana, Lucio, Reinhardt, Zarya, Roadhog, McCree. Off of picks by the cowboy Vallutaja and co. secure the point early, but the Koreans claimed it for themselves quickly on the back of Recry continuing to decimate the opposition. For the rest of the stage Afreeca continued dominating the opposition and took convincing 1–0 lead into the series.
As a second map Reunited selected Numbani, one of their best maps. They opened on the offense with extremely mobile dive composition of Ana, Lucio, Winston, D.va, Tracer and Genji, as Blue continued using the same heroes. The mobility caught the Korean side off guard and Morty’s men took point A in under a minute. As Vallutaja was devastating the opponents, picking up kills left, right and centre they continued pushing strong and were past the second point in just under 6 minutes. Despite a slow down, right in front of the delivery point, they managed to finish the run, having 4:32 in the time bank.
After switching sides, both squads changed-up things as the Freecs picked Ana, Lucio, Winston, D.va Pharah, Genji to attack against Reunited’s Mercy, Winston, D.va, Torbjorn, Tracer and uNFixed on Pharah. After series of fights and ArHaN and Recry going on fire Blue took over point A and started pushing the payload with 4 minutes on the clock. As the the Pharah and Torbjorn didn’t work out for them, the Russian and the Englishman traded them for Genji and Lucio. That managed to slow down the Koreans even more and they were past the second point, having under 3 minutes in the bank. Looking to change the tempo of the game ArHaN and Adam picked up Reaper and Reinhardt, but that wasn’t successful either as the Europeans didn’t let the Korean opposition deliver the cart.
For map 3 the Korean squad selected Temple of Anubis. They started on the attack, attempting something new for the series, with Ana, Lucio, Winston, Zarya, Roadhog and ArHaN’s Genji. For Reunited, ONIGOD continued playing the D.va, backed by Ana, Mercy, Winston, Tracer and uNFixed returning to Pharah after not impressing on Numbani. After some initial trouble the Korean side took point following key picks from Recry and JIN. As a response to that Morte and uNFixed swapped to Zenyatta and Mei, followed by Kruise taking over the Ana. That didn’t accumulate them much success either and Afreeca took over point B, having 3:13 in the time bank.
For the offense, Reunited returned to Ana, Lucio, Winston, D.va, Tracer, Genji against Afreeca with similar composition, having Zarya instead of the ex-SC2 pro hero. Making quick work of the defense on point A, the Europeans stormed into the temple, having 6:30 on the clock. For B Recry made the usual swap to Mei. Despite the huge amount of time the Korean side managed to hold, taking once again the lead into the series for a 2–1.
Looking to equalize the series once again, Reunited picked Route 66. They began on the offense, slightly switching-up things again by picking Ana, Lucio, Reinhardt, Zarya, Reaper, Mei. Afreeca defended at Big Earl’s, only difference in their composition being ArHaN on his signature Genji instead of Reaper. Despite the Russian outperforming the opposing Mei, Blue held strong at the gas station. As that didn’t work out uNFixed picked up the Genji once again and after prolonged overtime the Europeans managed to reach the first point. Off of the Koreans overcommitting they continued pushing, reaching 52m, but once Afreeca returned the push got shut down easily again.
After switching sides Reunited continued using the same composition. For Afreeca, the only change was Recry picking up Widowmaker. Despite them finding some initial success with that the two snipers kept getting picked off by Vallutaja’s Tracer and as Dayfly couldn’t control it Recry switched Tracer and later on to McCree. However, neither of that worked out as Vallutaja was dropping them over and over, eventually preventing them to reach even the first point and tying up the map score to 2–2.
For the final map in the series, AF Blue chose Hollywood. On the defense they picked the Ana, Lucio, Reinhardt, Zarya, Mei, Genji composition they had already shown before. Choosing to start on the offense, Reunited opened with Ana, Lucio, Reinhardt, Zarya, McCree and Hanzo for uNFixed. As the archer didn’t work out he traded him for Genji and later on Reaper. Neither of those found him much success, but just as their time was running out Vallutaja came up with a clutch play, dropping 3 with Deadeye. As the Europeans took over point A and started pushing the cart as a result of that ArHaN picked up Soldier 76, even giving up 99% ready Dragonblade. In retrospect however that seems like the right choise, considering it was a key component in stopping the push 72 meters past the first point.
On the attack, the Freecs returned to the Genji, otherwise keeping the same configuration of heroes. Reunited chose to start with 3–2–1, made up of Ana, Lucio, Reinhardt, Zarya, Roadhog and Reaper. As the Koreans took over point A on their first push they had more than 5:30 to reach Reunited’s distance. However only a single quick push was required for them to take the map and the series 3–2, sending the boys in black and orange back home.
For the second match-up today we a prediction for stomp in favour of BK Stars, as LuxuryWatch Blue is easily the worst team in APEX’s Ro8. Their only hope would be Saebyeolbe massively outperforming enemy’s star player Bunny, but that seemed unlikely as the latter has shown excellent play every time we’ve seen him. And even if that was to happen BK had solid players around the board and their secondary star player Bernar, something LW couldn’t match with their other 5. In addition to the individual performances BK had also shown to be much more cohesive and coordinated than Blue.
The series opened on Sanctum, Nepal and LW started immediately with a surprise, they put Saebyeolbe on Pharah, accompanied by Mercy, Lucio, Reinhardt, Zarya, Soldier 76 against BK’s Ana, Lucio, Reinhardt, Zarya, Roadhog, Soldier. Saebyeolbe helped his team secure the point and was raining death on everyone from BK, until Bunny traded Roadhog for Tracer. From that point onward LW had no real control of the game and them forcing overtime was nothing, but annoyance for their opposition.
As Bunny started on Tracer right from the beginning on Shrine, outside of both teams swapping the Reinhardt with D.va, this stage started similarly to how the previous one ended, both in terms of compositions and gameplay. LW tried to answer to BK’s star pushing them back to spawn area alone by picking Genji and Tracer for NoName and Saebyeolbe, but that didn’t do much either. At least until BK got overly confident in overtime, and got wiped as a result… several times. In second overtime however, they reclaimed the point on the back of Bunny winning 1v2 vs Tracer & D.va for 1–0 lead in the series.
For a second map, LW selected King’s Row. They continued running the same composition, only Janus switching back to Reinhardt, as BK attacked with Ana, Lucio, Winston, D.va, Tracer, Pharah. After brief hold by LW, BK took A and without much trouble got to the second point, partially thanks to Blue switching multiple heroes. Past it, LW put up more of a fight and wiped their opponents on the back of good use of their ultimate advantage. That however stopped Bunny and co. only temporary as they returned and delivered the payload, having 2:14 in the time bank.
After switching sides BK tried the 3–2–1 again, but it lost them point A quickly to LW’s Ana, Lucio, Winston, D.va, Soldier 76, Genji. As a result Bunny returned to the Tracer and that was for all intents and purposes supposed to be the end of the map for LW, as the while it turned into a highlight reel farm with multiple Graviton Surge + Pulse Bomb/Self-Destruct combos from BK. However as BK got overly careless with their ultimates, LW seized the opportunity and managed to deliver the payload after a short overtime.
For their second attempt on offense, BK continued using same composition, as LW picked 3–2–1 of Ana, Lucio, Reinhardt, Zarya, Roadhog and Saebyeolbe’s Genji. Despite LW holding strong for the full time bank, BK forced overtime and came up clutch for an overtake, increasing their map lead to 2–0.
In search for a reverse sweep, LuxuryWatch Blue picked Volskaya Industries as the third map. Starting on the defense, they opened on 3–2–1 looking to play around Saebyeolbe’s Genji. BK on the other hand, continued using the same Ana, Lucio, Winston, D.va, Genji, Tracer set-up. They got repelled on the first push, but on their next attempt they took point A. Following up that with prolonged fight on B they took over that as well, having just under 4:20 in the time bank.
After switching sides LW maintained same composition as BK switched-up things again by putting Bunny on the Soldier, backed by Ana, Lucio, Winston, D.va and McCree. The defense by BK was looking strong until LW came in, 30 seconds remanining, with 4 to 1 ultimates advantage and took it for themselves in a well executed attack.After some preparation, Blue were looking to do the same for B with 5 to3 advantage, but this time BK defended the push. Having only left 40 seconds on the clock after that Saebyeolbe and co. forced brief overtime but didn’t have realistic chance of taking it again. As Bunny’s crew defended that they took the series 3–0, advancing into the Ro4.
Players of the day:
Saebyeolbe — despite his team losing 0–3 today this guy was a real monster! In my opinion he also outperformed Bunny for a considerable portion of the match-up, but as Overwatch is a game for 6, there is only so much he could have done. And whereas previously he had been mostly hitscan DPS, today he showcased good projectile play as well. For my and his sanity, I hope he gets snatched by a top Korean team in need of excellent DPS player. LW had a good run, but if we are honest it was largely predicated on Saebyeolbe’s play, more than anything else.
Bunny & Bernar — it has been an absolutely fantastic run watching these two. From two up-and-coming one-trick ponies to now being two of the best players in the world for their go-to pick. In addition both of them have started to branch off and show quality play on other heroes.
Vallutaja — as always delivered spectacular performance. He did a ton of work for the team today and quite possibly outperformed both of the opposing DPS players. Sadly, it wasn’t enough for the team to win. Not much more to say other than that he continues to be one of the best and most versatile hitscan DPS players we’ve got. In addition to that he’s incredibly unique in his approach to certain situation, which makes him even harder to deal with. Hopefully, with Reunited returning to Europe and getting some break they can fix their issues so the Estonian can rack-up some titles.
Recry & ArHaN — Recry continued looking just as good on the Pharah today, which to be honest I’m slightly surprised by. And unlike his debut, him getting caught at this point seems to be rarity, rather than regular occurrence. He had displayed incredible mechanical skill even in their loss against rogue, but I couldn’t have guessed he’ll improve this fast in terms of positioning. What adds even more to his effectiveness on the team is his aggressive play. When he isn’t getting, it seemingly enables ArHaN to go wild, without his team actually supporting him too much. Obviously ArHaN is fantastic player in his own right, as we saw most recently in BlizzCon’s Championship, but in this team — he’s very much a secondary carry right now.
Honorable mentions: ONIGOD, uNFixed.
Map to watch: Reunited vs Afreeca Freecs Blue: Hollywood — one of the rare moments when I thought the last map in BoX series is the best one. Had everything exciting game should have in my opinion. Both teams showed good play and adaptation to different situations, as well as a lot of clutch plays. On top of that it being the last map in BoX made it even more exciting. And that play on A by Vallutaja will be one people will be linking to for some time, before we forget it!
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.