Overwatch League roster breakdown: Boston Uprising

The Overwatch League is fast-approaching. The rosters have been revealed and the dates for preseason and the regular season are set. The world is ready for the league to start in January 2018. In this series of articles, I look to give new fans a valuable and in-depth look at all the franchises and players to prepare for opening week.

Image via Boston Uprising

In the inaugural season, the twelve teams will compete in a six-month long season and crown the eventual champion in July. The entirety of season one will be played at the Blizzard Stadium located in California. The OWL will not only be a pioneer league in the esports scene, but a centralizing force in creating the best player pool imaginable.

I wanted to start with the consensus worst team in season one of the OWL: Boston Uprising. And it’s not that this team can’t succeed, it’s that the roster is filled with unlikely heroes. A team of relatively unknown players, in a league this stacked with talent, isn’t tough. But, Overwatch is a team game. Individual names don’t win championships, teams do.

Let’s talk about the Boston Uprising

Ownership

Robert Kraft, chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group, and owner of the exceedingly successful New England Patriots franchise, was one of the first big names to show interest in the Overwatch League. Alongside some of sports’ most venturous owners, Kraft being attached gave the league some pomp and stability.

Obviously, the league is filled with sports ownership groups buying up franchises, but Kraft was undoubtedly one of the biggest names to sign on. If anything, his involvement made other potential investors seriously consider joining in. It also helped raise awareness and will continue to do so as more potential fans find the OWL.

Coaching staff

Yes, believe it or not, the OWL has coaching. It’s like any old sport; there’s a head coach and an assistant coach, and they make all the important roster and strategy decisions. It’s been proven how effective a good head coach can be in Overwatch, as teams in Korea’s Apex league have had make-or-break seasons with different head coaches.

Luckily, Boston’s lack of roster talent doesn’t transfer over to the coaching staff. Da-hee “Crusty” Park has plenty of experience coaching inexperienced (NC Foxes) teams. The original head coach, who was demoted back to assistant coach, is Jason “Shake” Kaplan. Shake spent his early playing days on Gale Force, Code 7, Complexity Gaming and eventually found his way to CLG.

It’s imperative that this coaching staff finds the right combination to make this all work. Shake and Crusty are both extremely capable of taking this team to another level this season.

Image via Boston Uprising

Boston Uprising Roster

Noh “Gamsu” Yeong-Jin; Tank
One of the more recognizable names and leaders on this roster. A former League of Legends player turned FPS-star, and is now the main-tank on Boston Uprising. Gamsu has spent the majority of his Overwatch career playing on the Korean team CONBOX Spirit, and moving back and forth from Apex Premiere to challengers because of relegation.

However, Gamsu was a brilliant choice for this new team. A player whose experience in the esports space dates back to an entirely different game. Gamsu will help new players transition into this league. He’s also valuable for his play style. He’s known to not take bad engagements and usually has a pretty low death total.

Kwam “Striker” Nam-Joo; DPS
The best hit scan player on the team, and similar to Gamsu, a recognizable and interesting player to watch heading into the season. The former ROX Orcas player will now have to help carry the Uprising franchise with his big play potential from Soldier:76 and McCree.

Stanislov “Mistake” Danilo; DPS
In a world of good Tracer mains, Mistake will have to step up and become a reliable back-line Tracer to compete. The Russian born player, and one of the more recognizable players on the team, will have to continue to play that disruptive Tracer style we’ve seen in the past. There’s a growing consensus that Mistake is much better than people realize. He’s a player to watch this season.

Kristian “Kellex” Keller; Support
In terms of production, it’s hard to say another player on this Uprising team has done more than Kellex. He’s consistently been one of the best Lucio’s in Europe. Despite not being on any successful Overwatch teams, Kellex has found a way to stick out among the crowd of good Lucios. He’s a name that could surprise some people in season one.

Shin “Kalios” Woo-yeol; Flex
Now here’s an interesting player, one that sat on RunAway’s bench for a season and played on Afreeca Freecs Blue for a season. Most likely the Uprising’s starting D.Va player, and could be used as a flex player with his variety of hero choices.

Joseph “DreamKazper” Sanchez; DPS
The third and final DPS-main and only player with a quality pocket Genji. DreamKazper is also one of the few American-born players in the OWL. He leaves Tempo Storm to (presumably) play a backup role to Mistake and Striker, but will be handy as a projectile player with Genji for certain matchups.

Park “Neko” Se-hyeon; Support
One of the few players to play in Apex, and the only player to experience the Apex playoffs. The upstart NC Foxes, who almost took the royal road to a title, lost 4-0 to a more experienced and talented Kongdoo Panthera team (London Spitfire). Neko on Support was a big reason for their success.

Mikias “Snow” Yohannes; Support
Enter one of the two Toronto Esports signings. Snow was a Support player for Toronto Esports, which was ran by the current Uprising president, Chris “HuK” Loranger, who is mostly responsible for bringing the support main over. Snow is undoubtedly a questionable roster decision, but he’s one of the few Uprising players with plenty of Mercy experience. He should slot in as a nice bench player.

Lucas “NotE” Messier; Flex
Similarly, NotE signed from the Toronto Esports organization. NotE will be behind Kalios as the team’s flex. It’s tough for NotE, having a smaller role on this team with the D.Va slot being filled. He’s one of the bubble players, and will have to work to get some recognition and an extension moving forward.

Connor “Avast” Prince; Support
Avast is a candidate to surprise some people in year one. His ability to stay alive and turn fights was a staple on the Luminosity Gaming Evil roster. For now, Avast will have to earn his roster spot as a Lucio main over Kellex.

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Featured image courtesy of Boston Uprising

South Korea Maintains Overwatch World Cup Dominance; Zunba wins MVP

South Korea wins their second consecutive Overwatch World Cup, taking out team Canada 4-1 at Blizzcon. Korea took out the United States, France and Canada en route to another title, only dropping four games in the process. Korea displayed the same mark of skill that’s been unbeatable in international competition since the start of Overwatch.

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/playoverwatch

Let’s break down how they methodically dismantled Canada, even with strong performances from the opposition. Despite close games throughout the set, South Korea still managed to pull out a 4-1 victory. At times, Canada would push them, but similarly to France and the US, it’s tough to contend with Korea through an entire seven game set.

Coupled with the questionable composition decision making from Canada, and the constant matchup advantage they had to overcome. It made for a tough afternoon for Canada and put them constantly on the back foot. It wasn’t as easy as the previous year, but Korea once again proved why they’re the best gaming country in the world.

Oasis
On University, Canada jumped out to a hot start. Randal “Roolf” Stark got early hits with charge on Zenyatta, spraying the small choke points. Roolf cutting entrance ways took Korea by surprise, and allowed Canada’s heavy-hitters to get ultimate charge. Brady “Agilities” Girardi using dragon blade to swing the fight and Lane “Surefour” Roberts finishing kills with every Tracer, closed out university with with an impressive 100-0 victory.

However, the challenge against Korea is sustaining that level of play. Instead, Canada switched to triple-DPS on Gardens and left themselves open to some of the worlds best tank play. Kim “Mano” Dong-Yu recognizes their lack of tanks, and took advantage. Even with Liam “Mangachu” Campbell owning the Pharah matchup, the two Korean tanks dominated the ground game.

On city center, it came down to some sneaky plays from Mano and Tracer player Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-yeol, who got an early pick on Canada’s Mercy and carried that all the way into a defensive full-hold. Korea kept up an aggressive style, and had Kim “Zunba” Joon-hyuk continue to push them back with his excellent D.Va play. It was clear that the positioning, and team targeting favored Korea. A 100-0 on City Center gave Korea the ever so important 1-0 lead.

Photo via twitch.tv/playoverwatch

Kings Row
Now, game one didn’t provide a lot of the flashiest player in Overwatch. The incredibly talented Yeon-oh “Flow3r” Hwang got to show, not only his versatility, but his creativity on Kings Row. He carried Korea with a few tire kills on Junkrat and a four-kill off Mano’s earth shatter on first point.

It was the snowball effect. After taking game three on control point, the momentum unmistakably shifted towards the winner. Korea clearly had the edge and Flow3r broke out because of it. Zunba getting to play his patented Zarya also helped out. Canada was held to one capture and 107 meters, which isn’t good.

Clearly, a hold for Canada seemed like a difficult proposition and a mistake on the character select screen left them vulnerable. Flow3r having the luxury of Pharah against Agilities on Junkrat left Canada having zero answers for korea’s air-attack. It took Korea essentially no-time to perverse the map as they traveled to an easy victory.

Hanamura
Kings Row was trouble for Canada. The utility of Flow3r, with his catalogue of effective heroes, makes for tough decisions. The failure to adjust to his picks got Canada in an 0-2 hole. On Hanamura, it was imperative that Canada wins. A loss and the dream completely dies. Hanamura, with second point defense being so strong, gave Canada a chance .

Fortunately, Canadarealized their mistakes from Kings Row and adjusted. After a few engagement losses on first point attack, a subtle switch off Genji to Roadhog and substituting in Soldier 76 on the second point made the difference.

On the other side, Korea’s first point defense utulized the lower ledge of the Hanamura gate. Orisa’s shield and Flow3r peppering the DPS angels with McCree nearly stopped the Canadian attack.

It took an inspired effort from Mangachu on D.va to even push it to a second point. From there, Canada snowballed and took it with 32 seconds remaining. Now it was going to take all Canada had to prevent a Korean win.

Korea has a secret weapon on Hanamura: Flow3r’s widow maker. Canada did attempt the triple-tank composition to counter the Widow-composition, but it back fired against them. Saebyeolbe’s Tracer did all the ground work. Zunba, in a similar role to Mangachu, kept pressure on high-activity areas with D.va. Korea now had strangle hold on the World Cup.

Junkertown
Junkertown was win or go-home for Canada. In that situation, Canada decided to bring out the unorthodox compositions. Using Orisa and Bastion on attack took Korea by surprise. Korea threw out triple defense, and weren’t prepared to face such a strong cart offense-to-defense. It forced Korea off that composition.

The real leg-work had to be done on defense. Korea had been basically perfect on offense up until Junkertown. It even started out great as Ryu “Ryujehong” Je-hong continually landed sleep darts and Zunba got constant self-destruct kills. It wasn’t until Surefour got his Tracer going and Agilities his junkrat.

The two of them being able to work in tandem to target fire the same opponent was a spectacle. It earned Canada another game in this tournament. Korea wasn’t going to clean sweep like they did against Russia in 2016.

Numbani
Flow3r’s talented in many different areas, but when Korea gets to throw him out on Pharah that’s when the matchup feels most disadvantageous. Numbani’s sight lines give Pharah free reign to attack and hide behind corners. Canada had no early counter, going with the Roadhog.

South Korea ended with a 2:46 and three points heading into a defense for the World Cup. The desperation was clear from Canada. Mangachu switched to Torbjörn for an second point offense. It got that weird and desperate for Canada. Luckily, Surefour finally got a chance to play his best character in Soldier 76 and that carried Canada to another round.

The overtime period ended swiftly. Korea had a much bigger time bank and Saebyeolbe wasn’t going to be denied on his Tracer.

MVP: Zunba
Surprised it’s not Flow3r? Well, Zunba absolutely earned this with just constant damage, blocking, and positioning. He was on fire a majority of the set. His aggressive D.va play made it incredibly difficult on Canada’s offense. He came through clutch on every character.

Flow3r had the explosive plays, but Zunba was hot all afternoon long. Overwatch fans in New York should have a big smile on their face.

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Featured image courtesy of twitch.tv/playoverwatch

USA-South Korea Lives Up to the hype in Overwatch World Cup Classic

It had the look of a historic upset until South Korea predictably took control narrowly escaping out of a decisive game three orb a draw. The American Overwatch squad accrued three quarters of the Hanamura’s first point before a brilliant stall that led into a Korean hold and draw. Korea avoiding a 3-2 deficit was the main factor behind the win.

Overwatch World Cup. Photo via twitch.tv/playOverwatch

The game itself was historic because it’s the first time a Korean team has ever dropped a singular game at Blizzcon. The perception (and reality) is that Korea is far and away the best region in Overwatch. Results back this claim up. Heading into this matchup, an American victory seemed like a pipe dream.

The explosive DPS plays from young and talented Hyan “Flow3r” Yeon-Oh, intelligent Tracer play out of Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-yeol and consistency from the supports is unmatched. That’s why up until this point they hadn’t dropped a single game. The US pushed them to their limits, and nearly had them on the brink of elimination. A late game rally on Hamaura was the difference.

The play from the United States team was superb, even in a losing effort. With the help of a raucous Southern California crowd, Jake “JAKE” Lyons, Adam “Adam” Eckel, and Jay “Sinatraaa” Won competed closely with the best players in the world. At no point did the US ever looked outclassed. It was the first blemish on an otherwise perfect record for the South Korean squad.

It could be a sign of things to come or a result of the US having better talent than most realize. Any progress made towards matching the dominance Korea has shown early on in Overwatch is promising. Even with a first round exit, the underdog American team showed they’re no walk over.

American fans will recognize this team as the same familiar names with an influx of new talent. Matt “Coolmatt69” Lorio has bounced around from club to club, but has consistently been the best flex player in the US. Fans of the Houston Outlaws will get a chance to see Coolmatt69, Jake “JAKE” Lyons, and Shane “Rawkus” Laherty on a regular basis.

One of the few players not picked up in the Overwatch League was Adam “Adam” Eckel, who took it personally, and ended up outplaying Yang “tobi” Jin-mo’s Mercy for a majority of the game. The premier Lucio and Mercy main in Korea got surpassingly out-resurrected by quite a bit. Adam elevating his game, along with the rest of the US, made for some of the most exciting and heart throbbing Overwatch matches yet.

It was apparent that they belong in this game. Another year of play and development has partially closed the gap between the World and Korea. Most of these player competed in the contenders series, which improved the overall play of each region. Now the United States, with its vast player pool, gets a chance to try and tap into that.

An Overwatch World Cup Classic

The same sentiment kept being passed around.

The intensity, back-and-Forth action, and adrenaline from an American team pushing the best country in the world to their limits made it feel like a finals match. USA proved there’s areas to exploit on the Korean roster. Korea struggled on the back-line and made questionable character choices throughout the first few games. The US capitalize Korea switching off their base composition.

All in all, it was one of the most entertaining and hard-fought Overwatch matches in history. Completely unexpected which makes it even more compelling. Homegrown talent stacks up well and this performance is something the US can build on. Korea on the other hand will look to take home their second consecutive Overwatch World Cup against France.

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New York Annouces Team Name and Roster for the Overwatch League

In a formal announcement to the world, the New York ownership group of the Overwatch League revealed their new name, logo and roster, according to Jacob Wolf of ESPN. Without further ado, I present the New York…Excelsior?

This can’t be right. Excelsior? The word to describe superior quality at hotels and newspapers? Ok, I’ll give them a pass on the name. Finding a catchy, marketable and familiar name is hard. That’s fine. I’m sure their logo will make up for the team name.

Photo via https://blizzard.gamespress.com/Esports-Overwatch

…what happened? The last thing I remembered before passing out was some blue wavy lines that…oh no, oh god no, it can’t be…

Yes, the decision on the logo and team name are, uh, interesting, but the decision makers got one thing right: the roster. It won’t be the most talented roster, but it will be good enough to compete against the best teams. New York will have a high-powered Korean team that should generate some excitement.

Let’s make it clear, the Overwatch League is going to be chalk full of talent on the player end, but an ownership group filled with inexperience on the esports end might not be fully prepared for what’s to come. I’m not here to criticize a new, innovative league that is trying to build the scene, but there seems to be a disconnect between the fan base and the owners.

The New York Excelsior join the Shanghai Dragons, Seoul Dynasty, Boston Uprising, Dallas Fuel and last but not least the Las Angeles Valiant, for the inaugural season. London’s team announcement will be soon along with the six remaining cities.

Luckily, despite the disconnect, the league will be highly competitive. Overwatch, as a competitive entity, is still a mess in terms of the structure of the scene. The Overwatch League will be a remedy to fix that with all the talent available in the pool. At the very least, it will centralize everything and is guaranteed to capture the interest of potential fans.

Is the Overwatch League out of touch with h fans?
Now, this has little to do with silly names and ridiculous looking logos. It has more to do with a league that has invested millions of dollars into a game that’s still building a following. The 30 million player base is clouding the minds of executives making the competitive Overwatch scene feel bigger than it actually is.

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/ogn

Approximately, OGN’s Apex gets 23,000 views on Twitch per broadcast (courtesy of esc.watch). Now Apex might not be the bet control to get an accurate number for how many Americans are tuning into Overwatch broadcast. From what I’ve seen, most Overwatch streams don’t get over 30k viewers. It’s dramatically smaller than the biggest games in esports currently.

Important to realize, there’s a major difference between a casual and hardcore player. 30 million players might sound sexy to potential investors, but that’s no guarantee of a successful league. Popular games have failed in the past to gain a competitive audience, as the game has to be exciting to watch more than anything.

Thankfully, the majority of fans are outside of the United States. Even if the American population doesn’t take to it, Asia and Europe have plenty of fans to fall back on. It’s the job of the league to take that player base and turn it into fans. First time in esports history, fans can cheer for their hometown team. It’s a great opportunity to really build something sustaining in esports.

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Header image courtesy of Blizzard

Deja Vu for RunAway in Game 7 of the Apex Final

Game 7. One game away from realizing a dream or living a nightmare. In RunAway’s case, it’s more like reliving a nightmare. The second heartbreaking Apex finals loss in the last three seasons comes at the hands of a team who had a similar uprising to the story of RunAway’s initial Apex run: GC Busan.

GC Busan after winning Game 7 over RunAway. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/ogn

GC Busan completes the royal road

GC Busan is the first team to run the gauntlet, or as they say in Korea, complete the “royal road,” to win their first Apex title. What that means is GC Busan entered the season as a brand new team that qualified through OGN’s challenger series and took the berth all the way to a championship. It’s remarkable what GC Busan and the City of Busan were able to accomplish in their first season. However, the success of the upstart GC Busan left one of the biggest Overwatch fan bases in disarray. RunAway started as a team of ringers back in season one. They also qualified through the challenger league. In a similar fashion to GC Busan, they seemingly came out of nowhere to be considered one of the best teams in Overwatch.

Now flashback to season two, a RunAway team still consisting of Stitch, Haksol and Kaiser, who at the time was one of the best Reindhart mains in Korea, took it to the established number one team in the world: Lunatic-Hai. In the finals, RunAway grabbed a 3-1 lead over Lunatic-Hai, a team they’d beaten in group stage two, only to drop the next three and lose on Eichenwald.

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/ogn

Sound familiar? That’s because it is. It’s deja vu for the talented Korean squad, and it’s going to be a hard pill to swallow moving forward. A dominating 3-1 lead over Lunatic-Hai and a 3-2 lead over GC Busan. Both end in complete heartbreak. Two game 7 losses on Eichenwald is the only thing separating RunAway from being considered the worlds best.

RunAway’s Game 7 losses match up to history’s great choke jobs

So, is this the new version of the Buffalo Bills of the early 90’s? Or the Cleveland Indians surrendering seemingly insurmountable leads to lose in the most depressing way imaginable? It’s similar, but this is a team that’s story is just beginning. If anything, these two losses felt like flukes, but it’s something RunAway will have to focus on moving forward: closing matches.

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/ogn

Nevertheless, I’m not here to diminish the accomplishments of both GC Busan or Lunatic-Hai, as both are well respected and talented teams, but something has to be said about RunAway squandering leads. Is it a lack of discipline when nearing the finish line? In my eyes, it’s their opponents finding another gear or a strategy that counter-acts everything RunAway is trying to accomplish.

In the case of GC Busan, that’s exactly what happened. The moment Hooreg and Profit switched over to the Tracer and Genji, RunAway had no answer. A team known for its strength in those two characters was surprisingly outplayed in every aspect. It was a complete 180-degree turn and something completely unexpected.

The main focus should be on the excellent team play of GC Busan and they’re decision making. It might feel like a fluke considering where this team started the season, but it was made clear early on that they were a serious contender.

Lastly, the future of Apex is uncertain. The Overwatch League is guaranteed to steal most of the talent, and the world of Overwatch’s focus will shift to North America. As for RunAway, it just a blip in the road. For RunAway players, two losses at the brink of a championship can change a person psychologically. It shakes a players confidence to the core and puts doubt in their minds, but the players on this team will continue to make an impact on the scene and over time the pain of these losses will fade.


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featured image courtesy of twitch.tv/ogn

flex player

Overwatch Opinion: Everyone should be a flex player

It’s been a while, but here’s the second installment of our Overwatch Opinion series. As the name suggests, this is a series where we share our opinions about Overwatch, so remember to take everything with a grain of salt. Today we will be sharing our three reasons why everyone should be a flex player.

Reason One: You might have to

flex player

Image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

We’ve all had games where five people have instalocked DPS (one of those DPS being us) and all five refuse to switch. This leaves the last person either having to solo tank or heal, more than likely solo healing. Surprise, surprise your team wins…how’d you pull that off?

Seriously though, nine times out of ten your team will lose that match because of lack of heals and protection. There’s nothing to stop the enemy team from poking you to death or standing in the way of their ultimates. Every team needs a balance of damage, healing and protection to have higher chances of winning. By being a flex player, you will be able to fill those roles and achieve that balance.

But it’s not just flexing a role but also being able to flex to a certain hero depending on the situation.

Reason two: Overwatch is a game of counters

flex player

Image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch, at its core, is a game of counters. If the enemy’s Winston is causing havoc in your backlines, then someone on your team has to go Reaper. Or if the enemy team is running dual barriers with Reinhardt and Orisa, then a Bastion or Junkrat is called for.

Being able to flex to a hero that either counters another hero or what the enemy is doing raises your chances of winning, especially if the enemy doesn’t adapt to your hero changes. Though hopefully they would adapt and switch heroes because a fun part of Overwatch is the punch/counterpunch back and forth that happens in-game.

Reason three: It’s fun to be a flex player

If winning isn’t motivation enough, then how about fun? We are of the opinion that being a flex players is more fun in the long run. Why? Well, it definitely keeps the game from going stale.

Playing one role or hero day in and day out easily leads to burnout and disinterest. That’s why it’s good to be able to flex because breaks up the monotony of being a main. We get that everyone has there favorite heroes and we respect that. Though why limit yourself to swinging a hammer or shooting arrows when you could be riding walls or blinking through time?

Food for thought.


Featured Image Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

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Overwatch update

Overwatch update: Mercy and Lucio

There was an Overwatch update yesterday that brought the dreaded Mercy changes as well as a tweak to Lucio.

For all of the patch notes click here.

Overwatch update: Mercy still a must pick

If you were hoping that these changes would lower Mercy’s pick rate, think again. All this change did was remove one step of the process for her burst resurrecting.

Mercy will still be able to Rez at least two people at once with all the perks of Valkyrie on top of that. Don’t get us wrong, this is definitely an improvement over the Resurrect reset before, yet it doesn’t change the fact that Mercy’s current kit is too good to pass up.

Mercy also had another change in this patch. Thankfully this one has nothing to do with Valkyrie and Resurrect. The change is an extended glide added to Guardian Angel. With it, players can use jump while using Guardian Angel to slingshot off her target or to get to targets faster.

We think that this is a fun addition to her kit that lends her more survivability. Though more survivability for Mercy means more headaches for DPS trying to kill her.

Speaking of survivability let’s look at the change to Lucio.

Overwatch Update: Wall ride boost

The speed boost Lucio receives after ending a wall ride has been increased by 65%. This was done as a way to compensate for the loss of speed wall ride suffered due to a recent bug fix. And boy, Lucio sure feels faster coming out of wall rides.

The boost will definitely let Lucio cover ground (walls?) faster and give him just a bit more survivability.

That’s it for the recent update (hopefully the last one to feature Mercy for a while). The next patch will probably occur next month sometime after Blizzcon and the Overwatch World Cup, and we’ll be here to break down those changes for you.


Featured Image Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

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Matchup Breakdown: GC Busan and RunAway even as it gets for Apex Season 4 Final

The long, arduous Apex season is drawing to a close with the best possible matchup remaining in the Grand Finals. Thirty-two teams have been leveled down to the upstart GC Busan, who’s having a coming out party in Season Four versus a team that was once in their position: RunAway, who’s now in a role reversal as the experienced team.

GC Busan over C9 Kongdoo. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/ogn

In terms of talent, no one is surprised to see either of these teams reach the final. GC Busan qualified as a challenger team heading into this season, but it was clear early on that this team belonged in Apex. After a clean 4-0 sweep of Cloud9 Kongdoo (formerly Kongdoo Panthera), this team has arrived. It wasn’t just a sweep, but a complete and total annihilation of a more experienced and favored team.

Flip to RunAway, a team who had their hearts broken against the juggernaut Lunatic-Hai in the Season Two finals. RunAway got out to a 3-1 lead only to blow three straight games in a gut wrenching loss that stuck with them heading into Season Three. Amid that loss and a losing Kaiser midway through the season made it tough for the team to adjust. A season later, RunAway is back to their perch and once again four wins away from an Apex title.

It’s a fantastic matchup for Overwatch fans, and after both teams pummeled their opponents in the Apex semifinals, both teams enter these finals playing at their best. It’s also a chance to see a Lunatic-Hai-less Apex Finals for the first time since Season One. Let’s break down each aspect of the matchup.

DPS: RunAway

DPS is where this series is going to be won and lost. No question about it, both these teams thrive in their playmakers. On one side, GC Busan can rely on Park “Profit” Joon-Yeong on Tracer and Lee “Hooreg”Dong-Eun picking heroes based on matchups (as he did against Kongdoo). Those two make up maybe the second best DPS duo in all of Apex.

However, RunAway sports the best DPS-duo with Lee “Sitch” Choong-Hui on Tracer and Kim “Haksal” Hyo-Jong as the best Genji main in the world. It’s not a good reason RunAway has managed to get this far but it is the main reason. Stitch’s ability to get to the back line on offense and Haksal’s constant ultimate charge for endless Dragon Blades makes them this effective.

Whilst, on paper it might favor RunAway’s dynamic combination and use of the dive-heavy compositions with Genji. GC Busan has some of the most effective game planning, and as we saw against C9 Kongdoo, Hooreg has the ability to shut them down. Neutralizing Haksal’s Dragon Blade damage and capitalizing on better ultimate economy is key.

RunAway vs NC Foxes. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/ogn

Tank: RunAway

The tank line in this matchup doesn’t feel as important as the DPS-matchup, but in some ways, players like RunAway’s Hwang “TiZi” Jang-Hyeon and GC Busan’s Hong “Gesture” Jae-Hee have helped decide some matchups this year. In my eyes, it’s extra important for GC Busan to outplay RunAway in this area as a dive-counter.

In a sense, this area of the game should be a push. TiZi and Gesture separated themselves as two of the best Winston mains. It’s a big reason why these two teams find each other here. The advantage for RunAway is in Choo “JJANU” Hyeon-Woo on D.Va. In the semifinals, he displayed the ability to play a support D.Va and was a big reason the two DPS-mains were able to live forever and take chances.

Essentially, the two Winston’s will cancel each other out. Sung “WOOHYAL” Seung-Hyun is the wildcard here. In a flex position, he’s been playing more tank and has come on at the end of the season. He’s a major reason this team has even made it to this point and could spoil Ruxaway’s day if he plays his best.

Support: RunAway

Despite RunAway having the advantage in all three areas, the margins here are razor thin. But unlike the other two, RunAway has the biggest matchup advantage at support. Kim “KoX” Min-Soo is the main reason for that. Park “Bumper” Sang-Beom has been unbelievably reliable as the RunAway Lucio, but there aren’t many players with the sort of game changing effectiveness that KoX has on all his characters.

For GC Busan, it was a revolving door for their supports to start the season. The addition of Jun “Closer” Won-Sik gave them some stability with a Lucio-main. However, the ultimate coordination has not been as strong as RunAway’s this season. That could be the difference for GC Busan when trying to defend against Haksal’s Sound Barrier-Dragon Blade.

Back to KoX, RunAway is not afraid to flex him out toReaper or another tank. The moving compositions make it really tough for opposing teams to game plan against. That’s why KoX will be such a major factor in this matchup. Other than that, KoX has a great sense of when to use Transcendence with Zenyatta.

In the one time they faced off this season, it was as close as it gets. GC Busan not only won on control point and the escort map Route 66, but fairly dominated. Unfortunately for them, RunAway’s strongest on hybrid maps and has a pension for assault maps. As it stands now, the set winner is most likely going to come down to who wins the two escort maps (games four and six).

Whatever the result, it should be a great show and a great preview of the worlds best players before the Overwatch League kicks off. If I had to make a pick, it feels as if RunAway is due for a title. GC Busan will do whatever necessary to make sure that doesn’t happen. Series should go six or seven games.


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Overwatch PTR: New Mercy changes…again

The Overwatch PTR was updated Thursday with some new changes to Mercy…again. This follows the changes that were being tested last week which got rid of Mercy’s ability to double rez. Not everyone was a fan of those changes, but these latest changes should change that.

Overwatch PTR: Resurrect Token

The new changes bring back the ability to double rez. Though this change didn’t involve bringing back the cooldown reset for Valkyrie. What Blizzard did instead, as Overwatch Principal Designer Geoff Goodman explains in his post on the PTR forums, was to give Mercy a rez token.

Overwatch PTR

Screenshot taken from us.battle.net/forums/en/overwatch/

The Rez token lasts until it’s used or when Valkyrie times out. This change still allows for players to “burst rez” but without the added hassle of using Resurrect before activating Valkyrie. Though one problem with this change is that it still promotes the “hide and rez” play style. Instead of waiting for her whole team to die Mercy just waits for two to die.

Still this is an improvement on the current situation because the cooldown reset is gone. Meaning that Mercy won’t be able to rez more than two people through Valkyrie, like she can now.

As with the last changes these new ones aren’t set in stone. There’s still the possibility that Blizzard thinks these new changes aren’t suitable. All we can do is wait and see what happens. Thankfully there was one change not related to Resurrect that we think will be here to stay.

Overwatch PTR: Guardian Angel Slingshot

For a while now there has been a bug that’s caused Mercy to have zero-air resistance when cancelling Guardian Angel. According to Goodman the bug was “intensely frustrating for most Mercy Players, but some players enjoyed using this bug to gain extra mobility.” Taking inspiration from these players Blizzard has added an unlock boost to Guardian Angel.

Overwatch PTR

Screenshot taken from us.battle.net/forums/en/overwatch/

What the unlock boost does is that it lets Mercy slingshot off of her targets. This gives Mercy more mobility and will let her escape hairy situations easier because of the added travel distance.

 

If you want to test out the latest Mercy changes they are currently live on the PTR.


Featured Image Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

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Mercy's resurrect

Mercy’s Resurrect: A potential change incoming

It seems the hits just keep on coming to Mercy’s Resurrect. On Thursday Josh Engen, community manager for Overwatch, took to the forums to share some changes being tested. Those changes being that Mercy’s Resurrect will no longer reset or have a reduced cooldown when Valkyrie is used. We assume that these changes are responding to how the ability and Valkyrie currently work together in the game.

Mercy’s resurrect: The more things change…

Resurrect was changed because it encouraged players to hide and wait for the huge rez. Blizzard hoped the changes would do away with that play style. Unfortunately the way that Mercy’s Resurrect and Valkyrie work together now still encourages that to a degree.

Valkyrie’s cooldown reset and reduction allows players to rez two players back in a fight if they use resurrect right before popping Valkyrie. This invites Mercy players to use the “hide and rez” strategy, while also having the added benefits of Valkyrie. Essentially giving her a multi-rez, a wicked chain heal and flight.

Suffice it to say we can see why Blizzard wants to test out some changes to how Valkyrie affects Resurrect. We also think that the proposed change to how Valkyrie affects Resurrect is a good one.

Valkyrie: Rez from above

When Valkyrie is activated now (on the PTR) it will double the range of Resurrect. Meaning that Mercy will be able to rez allies from 10 meters away instead of five. We think this is a good change for two reasons.

First, it removes her ability to rez multiple targets, which will in turn finally do away with the “hide and rez” play style because the point of that play style is to get multiple resurrects. Second, we like it because it provides Mercy a bit more protection while using Resurrect in Valkyrie. Instead of being right on your ally’s corpse you can now safely be a few feet above it.

Now these are just some changes to Valkyrie being tested on the PTR. We don’t know for sure if they are going to make it into the game at large. But since these changes would definitely get rid of the “hide and rez” strategy we think there’s a strong chance of them happening. Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Featured Image Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

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