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Why the Hype? Runaway vs Lunatic-Hai Show Match

Is the youtube video turned on? It is to set the mood for the whole article. Nostalgia. That is the word that defines this whole situation. With the debacle that was the Vancouver Titans this season and the slow chip away of Lunatic-Hai members, exacerbated by Jehong ‘Ryujehong’ Ryu leaving the Seoul Dynasty the APEX fans, especially Lunatic-Hai and Runaway, saw their world crumbling. It is indescribable the atmosphere when this show match was announced, it was like a live wire of electricity over water. The buzz in the air of anticipation as the fans waited to see who Runaway would play against, who are the players, and the count down to seeing their favorite players on the stage once again, together.

Those who didn’t watch APEX, this is like the original Dallas roster of Envyus against the original Florida roster of Misfits, but more emotional. This community watched their tournament die for another that didn’t have the same production value, fan engagement, or beloved whole teams, and now had a moment to relive what was lost presented in the form of this show match.

Why this is needed

Team Roster Nostalgia

This wasn’t new. It was expected when the Overwatch League was announced. It was a shiny new tournament, where fans got to see some of their favorite APEX teams transition into Overwatch League teams. Players who hadn’t had the best teams, such as Byungsun ‘Fleta’ Kim and Youngjin ‘Gamsu’ Noh, moved to new rosters where they were able to utilize their talents better. On the flip side, some teams like Lunatic-Hai couldn’t bring their whole roster because of age restrictions, and other teams like LW didn’t bring fan favorites like Gyeongho ‘Luna’ Jang. This was the start of the fracturing of fan-favorite rosters.

Vancouver Titans Grand Finals
2019-09-13 – Overwatch League 2019 Season / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

As the seasons went on the community saw more changes. Change is not bad. New blood can reinvigorate a team. It can also break fans from their attachment to teams as they see pieces fracture off. Pieces such as Yeonjun ‘Ark’ Hong who left LW/NYXL, Jinhyuk ‘Miro’ Gong, Gido ‘Gido’ Moon, Joonhyuk ‘Zunba’ Kim, and Ryujehong who departed the Seoul Dynasty/Lunatic-Hai roster. Then there is Runaway who had the high point of joining the league altogether as the Titans; then the fall as players moved to new teams.

Repaying Fans

Before the localization and Covid-19 situation that had teams split into regions, the Overwatch League wasn’t very time friendly for the fans in the Asia region. There were so many fans living in Asia that would stay up to watch their teams or players in the Overwatch League, which resulted in very early mornings or late nights. These dedicated fans had the homestand events taken away for health reasons regarding Covid-19, which was also a let down for many fans who had been cheering on the players remotely for two seasons already.

This throwback is bringing fans back to the foundation of what they loved about pro-Overwatch. It was about the teams, production value, and friendship. This is something for the fans who have stuck around since the beginning. It is getting engagement from fans who have long dropped the Overwatch League as well as adamant fans of the players. This is bringing a broken and fractured community back together, though the ties are still fragile.

Lunatic-Hai and Runaway?

Runaway Lunatic Hai
Courtesy of OGN

This show match is going to be between the original Runaway team and the Lunatic-Hai team. This is not pure original members, but they are beloved players from each team.

Runaway

Courtesy of Titan Discord

It is obvious that Runaway, who functions more like a family, wanted to do something for their old players after the situation with the Vancouver Titans. When the Runaway Titan’s had come back to Korea in Season 2, they all visited Daehoon ‘Runner’ Yoon and Hyeonah ‘Flowervin’ Lee showing their closeness with their old organization. They also had Flowervin come to visit them while they were in the Overwatch League a couple of times. Even though the professional connections were no longer there, the family and caring relationships were.

The Players

On the Runaway squad, there is the DPS duo of Hyojong ‘Haksal’ Kim and Chunghee ‘Stitch’ Lee. These two didn’t get that much playtime together on the Overwatch League stage, but they were a staple in the APEX and Korean Contender eras.

Runner is not only the founder of Runaway but also in the earlier days did play with the boys before deciding that he was not the best fit. Sangbeom ‘Bumper’ Park was a Season 2 fan favorite in the Overwatch League, a leader of the team as well as his trash talk and happy personality. It was the first major hit to the fandom when he left. It will be interesting to see what position he plays as Sanghoon ‘Kaiser’ Ryu is in the lineup. He was the iconic tank player for Runaway who had some of the most memorable plays. Juseok ‘Twilight’ Lee, who was newly announced to be joining the San Francisco Shock will be joining the roster to fill out the support line up.

The Fans

The split of the Vancouver Titan roster was tough on the Runaway fans. They had spent a season and a half cheering on a team whose organization did not pay attention to the Asian region’s fans (or some would say fans in general). In the Titan Discord, there was an ever-present lingering of Runaway as it originally was a Runaway discord. Kaiser and Runner Emojis, as well as the Runaway logo, can still be seen in the discord.

To see the Runaway Titan roster be dropped and in that manner hurt many of the fans. They felt betrayed and hurt. In the end, this is allowing them to get the closure that they didn’t have in the Overwatch League. They get to see some of the original members of their team play together as a final send-off as they split up to their new teams.

Lunatic-Hai

Lunatic Hai Runaway
Courtesy of LTJ instagram

There were many other teams that were in the APEX era that the Runaway organization could have picked an iteration of LW (NYXL) or GCBusan. They picked Lunatic-Hai. These two teams have a long history together not only in the professional Overwatch scene but also personally. Lunatic-Hai and Runaway are connected through Runner and have faced each other multiples times. This matchup has been replayed in multiple iterations, most recently in the Overwatch League, the Runaway Titans prevailed. Previously to Lunatic-Hai becoming the Seoul Dynasty and Runaway becoming the Vancouver Titans, Lunatic-Hai In Apex won the major match in the Season 2 finals. This rivalry built up great friendships that always create a lively match in-game.

Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

The Lunatic-Hai roster is a mixture of their APEX seasons. There are the original members of Taejun ‘Leetaejun’ Lee, Jinmo ‘Tobi’ Yang, and Miro. Zunba is considered as good, if not better than original member status, and then Seungjoon ‘Whoru’ Lee, as well as MVP Gido, join to round out the roster. This will be interesting to see how Whoru does with supports and tanks he is comfortable with as he has been struggling with the NYXL. This is an iteration of the iconic lineup, but all the players are still close.

Players MIA

It is disappointing that Seominsoo and Jjanu will not be joining the lineup for Runaway. On the Lunatic-Hai side, fans mourn the fact that Ryujehong and Injae ‘Esca’ Kim will not be appearing. Ryujehong has publicly said that he wants to take a break, while Esca is currently in the military and cannot part take. Surely all the former members of both squads will be watching the match to cheer on their old team members.

*As of May 21 on Mirage’s Twitch stream where Ryujehong was present in the stream he has said that he is no longer a hard no. He is on the fence about participating because of the outreach of individuals who have contacted him about the match. It is still possible to see Ryujehong participate depending on his decision.

**Within an hour of the initial discussion of the show match Ryujehong has said on Mirage’s stream that he will be calling Blizzard and OGN to say he will participate. He is drinking and hopefully after tonight will still stick with this choice. It also seems as Esca did ask to see if he can participate, though with the military there could be complications.

May 31st KST

This match for many fans is garnering more excitement than the May Melee. It is a resurgence of memories. It is also enabling new fans to see what many of the older fans fell in love with. To even see the names of Miro, Zunba, Runner, and Kaiser in the line up has a spark of excitement that was long lost. The match will be a harkening back to the twitch emote spam (though YT is also available for those who prefer that platform) and some legendary Korean talent (no news on English broadcast or casters). If the community doesn’t get OGN production of an APEX opening, trash talk, and karaoke, it will be a travesty, but seeing them all together is enough.

Thanks to the Seoul Dynasty/Gen.G/ NYXL/ San Francisco Shock/ Washington Justice/Lucky Future for allowing the players to participate in this event. Thanks to Justin C. for convincing off-tank Zunba to participate.

More information will be coming soon, but for now, mark the calendars for Sunday, May 31st (KST).

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