I’ve often retorted to writing when I’ve felt the urge to get things off my mind, whether it’s voicing an opinion, educating or reflecting, and so I decided to take some time off, the day after our most recent loss to EnVyUs, to reflect on how and why. I don’t feel like I have a responsibility to offer this insight, nor is this blog to defend our poor performance (to some extent) but simply for me, myself, to reflect on what actually happened, and hopefully it will be an interesting read for those who decided to read.
OGN Group Stage and the Overwatch World Cup
After beating Afreeca Freeks Blue in OGN’s group stage, confidently, we considered ourselves pretty much done until after the World Cup. We had been travelling without break for 5–6 weeks at that moment in time, and everyone was exhausted mentally. Hotel beds will never feel like home (apart from the ones ELEAGUE provided).
Continuing hard practice was rough since the World Cup was coming up and we (at least I) knew there was a new meta coming up post-Blizzcon (because Blizzard, understandably so, would never wait for OGN to finish before implementing new heroes or balance changes). It felt not pointless, because you’d want to keep yourself sharp, but it certainly felt like time spent in vain for what about to come.
For the World Cup, me, TviQ and KnOxXx attended BlizzCon in Anaheim, prolonging our trip, while winz, aKm and uNKOE paid for trips home to France just to get some time off with family and friends.
When I arrived at my hotel in Los Angeles for the World Cup, after my third transatlantic and transpacific flight in the span of 5 weeks or so, and being awake for roughly 30 hours straight (taking a cross-pacific flight, and landing at 9 AM is not good for your jetlag), I almost felt this regret of even attending in the first place.
I felt light-headed from all the hard work, the hours, the non-stop travelling and non-stop thinking about Overwatch and how to always continuing improving, and working on those very small characteristics which separates an infamous non-stop aggressive Reinhardt to a Reinhardt player with the complete package, but I knew the opportunity to work as an analyst for the World Cup was a once in a a lifetime opportunity and after working hard for so long, now was not the time to sincerely turn things down and take a break, now was the time to up it another level and work harder than ever.
I loved being an analyst, and things in general went very smooth thanks to my fellow co-workers who was there to help whenever I had a question or asked for assistance in handling things on-air. It’s something I’d definitely want to do again, even for smaller tournaments, but in the future hopefully less “half-assed”, meaning reading up more on teams and studying strategy ahead of the tournament, rather than just arriving and then scribbling notes for 2–3 hours per day and structuring your thoughts to how you want to express them.
MonteCristo is certainly better in that regard, and his experience and countless of hours in reviewing VODs and breaking down team-fights was pretty mesmerizing, he simply saw more of what happened in every instance of the game, while with my pro player experience I was able to differentiate what was important and not so important (he’ll overtake that aspect pretty soon so #RIP).
Wrapping up Group Stages and bracing for quarterfinals
The day after the end of BlizzCon, it was back on my fourth 10+ hour flight back to Korea to wrap up group stages, and then prepare for playoffs. Coming back to Korea I felt motivated to perform after almost 2 weeks of just spectating, but we were still stuck in limbo just waiting for the next meta to hit. We cruised through group stages finally defeating Flash Lux 3–0, ending our group stages 9–0, and we knew we were by far the best team in the world in the current meta. No one could stop us.
Preparing for quarterfinals we didn’t even know when the patch was going to hit, just that it was going to be soon, and so we continued practice just in case our quarterfinal match was going to be played on the last Mei/Reaper meta, because we simply didn’t know.
The day the patch hit, we needed to pick our quarterfinals opponent, and after writing a preference list of opponents we eventually picked EnVyUs (which wasn’t our first pick choice). The reasoning being we had heard of their VISA issues and Taimou told us up in front that Talespin had left them even before their announcement, before our playoff “draft”. We never expected EnVyUs to be an easy opponent, but on a new patch, no one would be an easy opponent, it just felt like we had the best opportunity versus them due to exterior reasons.
Going into practicing on the new patch we struggled, hard. The first few days were easier because of the long awaited buff to Soldier, and us enjoying playing things like Hanzo, Widowmaker and Roadhog to play for picks (due to ultimate charge reduction). We had great results and continued our dominance. And then we played China’s Vici Gaming in scrims.
Probably 2 days into scrims on the new meta, they abused D.Va in a way we’ve never played anyone. In a Roadhog and D.Va + 1 tank, triple tank composition, I as a Reinhardt NEVER had any shield to work with. I was essentially a shield-less Reinhardt, that would just get super punished for my charges, and unavailability to fire strike due to D.Va’s Matrix. I felt powerless.
In the previous meta I had the space to play aggressive and make plays, but in this meta I would be punished severely and abused to the point I was just bound to die unless the initial poking competition went our way.
KongDoo Uncia, a rather unknown team for us just excelled at this meta, we got completely rolled in scrims. The aggressive, flanking heavy, playstyle we had for so long grown accustomed to and played so ridiculously well was now just straight up countered, and our lack of competent passive tank players (myself included where one of my biggest flaws lies in playing passive and minimizing those very small mistakes which now decided to teamfights, rather than the big plays) became our downfall.
We’d straight up lose points because I, in a one minute poking battle, decided to fire strike, or drop my shield for half a second to gain movement speed in a backwards jump, and someone in my team got hooked at that very moment from the very punishing Korean teams. It felt fucking horrible.
We eventually after 3 or so days practice realized we were never going to excel in this meta, we would never win OGN out-playing any of these Korean teams, or even EnVyUs, with these compositions and slowly, drawn out battles (sometimes up to two minute per fight without end (Blizzard pls fix)). So we sort of decided to try and “hail mary” our way through playoffs in lack of confidence in this so very hard to counter meta.
We decided to aim for the enemy backline, knocking out their supports, thus making it easier for us to win the more drawn out fights with them having less sustain, and that’s where the Genji and Pharah came in.
Now, to complement this, I never enjoyed playing a Winston diving into a Roadhog, D.Va, McCree or even Reaper composition, I knew I was doomed in every jump towards the backline (and if my leap happened to come off cooldown before I died, welp, I wanted to get the fuck out of there), but Winston was the only character which would be able to sit on their only hitscan damage character reliably enough for us to take him out, giving our Pharah free-roam to take out any survivors after our initial aggression.
It worked decently, we certainly had more success with this vs. most other teams we scrimmed, but we weren’t dominating with any stretch of the imagination, on some points it just straight up doesn’t work due to map design, and it’s a composition that’s pretty much impossible to pull off good in defense anyway. So our plan was on defense to just try and stall, as long as possible, and then just beat teams in attacking times. It was our only option.
Now EnVyUs, credit where credit is due, figured our Pharah and Genji composition out very quickly when it came to the official game, and they just stood as 6 people in a clump and disengaged when I jumped, but what choice did I have? It was just a matter of time before my leap, sure sometimes we gained some ground due to them disengaging preemptively, but we always needed to force that dive so our Pharah wouldn’t get dealt with before we even had a chance to contest anything. It was a composition so unbelievably one-trick, and still our best chance at winning until we had fine-tuned things.
People will argue we had way more practice time than EnVyUs, but a few days extra, on an unrelated meta, isn’t enough to make your players more competent than other players on heroes, or playing a certain style, than any other team.
Taimou was well-respected for his unbelievable Roadhog on LAN before-hand, and it showed in our game. We had more time to practice, but we didn’t have time to shape a better and more prevalent Roadhog player before our official game.
Adaptability is a pretty worthless term in this regard. If the new meta favored using 2 projectile heroes per composition, do you think our match vs. EnVyUs would have had the same result? It might seem salty, but the truth is that BK Stars or KongDoo Uncia, previously not expected to make a top 4 run at OGN, now stand to meet each other in the grand finals after a meta change.
I knew this was coming, life isn’t always fair, shit happens. Just keep fighting.
I could go more in-depth about how the match turned out the way it did, but the short story there is we did our best in doing what we do best, in a new meta that doesn’t favor our players hero-pools or playstyles at all, and the craziness and desperation of it all ended catastrophically. We made many mistakes, we played undisciplined and desperate, and we didn’t deserve to win. I’ve personally not played Reinhardt so far from my comfort zone in my life.
Who knows what’s next in the chapter of Rogue. We’re taking a break after a 9 week long trip filled with happiness, smiles, fans, downfalls, frustration and success.