Deju Vu for the Seoul Dynasty entering week five on the outside of the playoffs

Stage one and stage two have had an eerily similar feel for the Seoul Dynasty. In both stages, the Dynasty get off to a hot start only to be fighting from the outside-looking-in heading into the final week of the stage. The two losses in week four insured the Dynasty another uphill battle, one that ended poorly for them in stage one.

The Dynasty flopping against the top teams

A heartbreaking 3-2 loss to the New York Excelsior and a rather sloppy performance against the London Spitfire put them back in an almost identical situation to stage one. With the same score lines, the Dynasty has a serious issue with not showing up against the consensus best teams. And after their latest upsetting performance, their playoff fate no longer rests in their own hands. It’s now dependent on the Los Angeles Gladiators or the Spitfire losing a few games by a somewhat wide margin.

Let’s look back at the matches, Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park has proven to be a serious problem for the Dynasty backline and for the bulk of that roster. In the two regular-season matchups, the Tracer-expert has made a living off disrupting the Dynasty gameplan. Sang-beom “Munchkin” Byeon is having a nice stage two, but the lack of Tracer duel wins is a problem, and Byung-sung “Fleta” Kim hasn’t looked as dominant in stage two. Down the line, the Dynasty struggled to contain any of the Excelsior playmakers.

Switching over to the London Spitfire, a combination of an assertive game plan and simply outperforming their counterparts on the other side have given the Spitfire an astounding eight-game winning streak over the Dynasty. As main Zenyatta player Sung-tae “BDosin” Choi likes to say, “Seoul Dynasty’s weakness is (the) London Spitfire,” and after two dominating efforts, it’s hard to disagree. No other team has been able to disrupt the cerebral style that the Dynasty brings into matches. It’s clear that bringing the fight to the Dynasty will give them trouble.

Not to mention the fact that these struggles against GC Busan pre-date the Overwatch League if you look back on how Lunatic-Hai ended their Apex run. What’s the cause of this? A regression of skill amongst the most noteworthy names on this roster or is this a coaching issue? The bulk of the responsibility isn’t on one player, but the lack of coordination and underperforming from the entire roster.

What’s going on with Ryujehong?

Je-hong “Ryujehong” Ryu is one of the more accomplished players in the Overwatch League. The first player on a grand stage to really separate himself from the rest of the pack. His skill has always been flashy, but sensible and measured.Ever since the benching in stage one, life’s been tough on Ryujehong. His struggles are bleeding into Jin-hyuk “Miro” Gong’s effectiveness and are overall hurting the dive.

As Overwatchers contenders commentator James “Jamerson” Lee pointed out to me, tracking Ryujehong’s discord orbs have not been easy. In the loss to the Spitfire and Excelsior, the emphasis on Ryujehong specifically made it really tough on him. The combination of focus fire and having to deal with Syung-heon “JJoNak” Bang and BDosin Zenyatta volleys lead to some rather un-Ryujehong like performances. It’s been a growing issue within the Dynasty’s attack and could be a point of contention moving forward.

Tobi at a press conference. Photo via Seoul Dynasty Twitter

Moreover, Ryujehong isn’t exactly known for his play on Zenyatta. Yes, he’s proven to play Zenyatta at an incredibly high level and is absolutely considered one of the best in the Overwatch League, but most of his notoriety as the supreme support main comes from his play on Ana. In no way do I think keeping Ryujehong on the bench is a smart move, but inserting Gi-do “Gido” Moon into some situations might be a switch the Dynasty need.

Identically, Jin-mo “Tobi” Yang hasn’t been playing at his best this season either. The same could be said for Fleta, who started stage one as the frontrunner for MVP. Randomly, the one position that’s been getting strong performances has been Munchkin or Joon-hyuk “Bunny” Chae on Tracer, who have both stepped up in stage two. On top of that, the contributions of Joon-hyuk “Zunba” Kim on D.va have been outstanding for a team struggling on dives.

Looking ahead for Seoul

Luckily for the Dynasty, the schedule ends with two bottom-six opponents, even if one of those is the struggling stage on playoff team Houston Outlaws. The other would be the Florida Mayhem who has shown great improvement in stage two. It will take a combination of the Los Angeles Gladiators (or Spitfire) ending the week 0-2 while losing both games by more than a few maps.

Unfortunately for the Dynasty, based on the way the Gladiators have been playing recently it, feels unlikely that will happen. If the Dynasty gets no help this week, they will find themselves watching their second consecutive playoff round from the couch, and based off expectations heading into the Overwatch League would be a colossal underachievement for them. Regardless of stage playoffs, the Dynasty sit at 13-5 atop the Pacific division and have their eyes set on the ultimate prize at the end of the inaugural season. 

 

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Featured photo via Seoul Dynasty twitter

London vs Seoul

Spitfire triumphs over Dynasty: London vs. Seoul analysis

London Spitfire never cease to amaze me. Once again after looking shaky in their last match against the Gladiators, they pull a complete 180 and 4-0 Seoul for the 2nd time. They looked absolutely dominant, an image of the team that won Stage 1. Seoul had been looking strong other then their match with New York, where they loss 2-3. Other than that, they won every match this stage. London on the other hand already lost to Los Angeles Gladiators and Houston, looking like the weak link of the Koreans. That all changed with London vs Seoul.

If you know your Overwatch history, this shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. Before the OWL, Lunatic-Hai was the dominant force (Eventually becoming Seoul Dynasty). GC Busan (Now London Spitfire) came out of nowhere and won two consecutive 3-0 sets against Lunatic Hai. Now in the OWL, London it 8-0 on maps against Seoul. This means overall their map score is 14-0 against Seoul. Why does Seoul struggle against London? Well overall it’s hard to say, it could be a mental block, or clashing play styles. But as for what happened on Saturday, I can shed some light on why we saw history repeat itself again.

unlikely Hero Picks

For most of the match, Seoul ran fairly basic team comps. Sticking to the meta of Tracer, Genji, D.va, Winston, Zen, and another support. They only veered off this in certain situations. London on the other hand, decided to mix things up quite a bit.

On Hanamura, Jong-seok ‘NUS’ Kim is on Mercy duty. This is odd in Stage 2 since her nerfs making her a more niche pick. This worked marvelous for London however as he focused much of his healing and damage boosting on Ji-hyuk ‘birdring’ Kim. Also this gave them a mid-fight resurrect, that turned the tide of a few fights on Hanamura.

On Lijiang Tower, London went for another odd comp with double hit scan heroes. Usually this isn’t a good idea since it makes it difficult to deal with fast moving heroes like Tracer and Genji, but it shut down Byung-sun ‘Fleta’ Kim’s Pharah instantly. This forced Fleta to switch to Genji, however London’s DPS was so destructive, it didn’t make enough of a difference.

King’s Row was another odd map. London looked as though they were about to lose 3rd point and allow Seoul to finish the map. Joon-yeong ‘Profit’ Park made an incredible switch to Zarya at the last second. Zarya, by the way, has a less then 5% pick rate in the Overwatch league, and one of the lowest win rates overall. This didn’t matter as Profit charged up his Ultimate in only a single fight and helped his team fend off Seoul, denying them map completion.

GOING IN WITH A PLAN

This is the Overwatch League, you need to go in every match with a plan on every map. London had a few strong strategies going into this game. First, they decided to split Seoul’s attention with their tanks. Jae-hee ‘Gesture’ and Seung-hyun ‘WooHyaL’ Sung both went in and distracted Seoul, giving birdring and Profit room to show the league what they’ve got. Profit used this space given to establish my next point.

Je-hong ‘ryujehong’ Ryu must really hate Profit, I mean REALLY hate Profit. Last stage Jehong was on the bench against London in order to “throw them off.” This time Jehong played all 4 maps against London. He’s really an amazing support, he’s known for his great positioning and amazing game sense, but you wouldn’t know that from this match since Profit killed him so many times. Jehong ended the match with 34 deaths and only 8 kills on Zenyatta.

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Jehong giving Birdring a hug after the match. Courtesy of MLG Network and Twitch.

One thing I’ve always praised London for is their last second stalls. Kings Row is a perfect example of this in action. Seoul is about to cap the third point and London only has 2 players left alive. Instead of making the common mistake of attempting to hold out as long as they can in a ultimately pointless effort. They both fall back and hide in spawn, allowing Seoul to push the payload farther, up until the very last second when they are able to come back in with almost full 6, taking control of the payload. Spitfire knows it’s much better to sacrifice those 5-10 meters in order to stop the payload short of completing the map.

JUST BEING OUTPLAYED

Sometimes Overwatch boils down to who plays better. True, the heroes choices and the strategies are important, but sometimes who can click the most heads works too. Fleta is often considered best DPS in the league, but this weekend he wasn’t able to keep up with Birdring who just kept shutting him down.

The Tracer battle between Sang-beom ‘Munchkin’ Byeon and Profit looked very one sided. Seoul for a while now has been known to have weaker tracers, and that contrast is drastic when compared to Profit. And when they both switched to Zarya on King’s row, Profit as mentioned before charged up his ult in a single fight, used 3 Graviton Surges throughout the map which secured 10 kills and had an average energy of 65. Munchkin on the other hand, used only 1 Ult and failed to secure a single kill with it, and ended with an average energy of 35.

This doesn’t end with the DPS, the tanks were just as dominant . Gesture looked as amazing as always match ending with 16 more kills then his Winston Counter part. And WooHyaL on D.va looked just as dominant, dying 50% less than Seoul’s D.va player.

London Spitfire are definitely a force to be reckoned with. They often look shaky and inconsistent, but times like these prove why they are defending champions. Seoul isn’t quite out yet however, with a fairly easy week 5 ahead of them, we may be looking at a rematch in the Stage 2 finals. Even if it ends one sided, the skill range here is still incredibly close. Matches like London vs Seoul are matches I wish we could watch every single week.

 

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Featured image courtesy of MLG Network

Seoul Dynasty decisions raise questions after missing out on stage one playoffs

Halfway through stage one of Overwatch League the geniuses of the world seemed to have it all figured out. The Seoul Dynasty were the clear favorite. Teams such as the Boston Uprising and Houston Outlaws weren’t considered actual threats yet. The London Spitfire were the dysfunctional Korean team.

Fast forward only two weeks later, the world of Overwatch has flipped on its head. The Seoul Dynasty are on the outside looking in. The most prestigious organization in the game completely fell apart. Losing to the London Spitfire and New York Excelsior is one thing, but getting swept by the Los Angeles Valiant and coming close with the Outlaws and San Francisco Shock is something entirely different.

Underperforming Players

The onus of the struggle doesn’t fall on one certain aspect, but the collection of decisions and underperformances. The coaching staff has even resorted to trying new lineups and testing different combinations. Overall, the roster decisions have proven to be costly. Sitting Ryu “Ryujehong” Je-hong and keeping Kim “KuKi” Dae-kuk on the bench in favor of Gong “Miro” Jin-hyuk.

The regular cohesiveness isn’t quite there for the Dynasty lately. Outside of having Kim “Fleta” Byung-sun hard-carry with a litany of destructive heroes, the rest of the team is struggling to work together. Fleta’s picks seem to be the one thing keeping this team moving forward.

Going back to Miro’s play, it’s obvious that he’s not on the same page with his supports right now. Miro’s getting caught out with bad positioning at a high rate. He’s failing to make the normal plays we see out of his Winston and it all stems back to the lack of synergy between Miro and Yang “tobi” Jin-mo. Tobi’s known as one of the premier support players in Overwatch history, but being forced into the Mercy role has limited his value.

Tobi is an excellent Mercy, but it’s just not his top choice in his hero pool. Considering this along with Ryujehong and Miro’s struggles is the most probable cause for this team missing out on the playoffs.

The Munchkin/Bunny/Wekeed Dilemma

As I previously stated, Fleta is a wrecking ball crashing through your window. In many ways, he’s able to single-handedly pick up the slack for his team with his mind-boggling playmaking ability. It’s not only that but his timeliness on hero picks to get the best possible matchup.

The problem isn’t Fleta, it’s the revolving door of half-Tracer mains that can’t seem to earn that second DPS spot. The best teams in the Overwatch League are incredibly deep at the DPS position. The Dynasty don’t have the same luxury when they’re still trying to find the right spot for each player.

Chae “Bunny” Joon-hyuk is presumably the most talented of the group, but he has no versatility whatsoever. If The Dynasty to play strictly dive, like the Boston Uprising or Philadelphia Fusion, Bunny would be a mainstay on the starting lineup, but that’s not always the case. Byeon “Munchkin” Sang-beom is the most experienced, but is limited similarly to Bunny in terms of hero pool.

If the Dynasty look to improve the roster heading into stage two, look for that spot next to Fleta to be a priority. For the time being, the same rotation of players will continue. Fleta is the focal point of any Dynasty game plan so being able to work to his strengths will benefit the entire team. In many instances, Bunny seemed to be the one that meshed the best.

Benching Ryujehong not out of the question

No one is safe on this team after a disappointing stage one, not even the highly regarded Ryujehong. There’s a scenario where talented Zenyatta player, Mun “Gido” Gi-do, gets more starts over Ryujehong. Even Tobi could potentially be subbed out for a better Mercy. Everything is on the table if this continues.

One thing to consider is the new meta plays similar to the olden days when Lunatic-Hai was the best team in Korea. Mercy getting nerfed will open up the door for more creative support picks and giving the Dynasty more weapons at their disposal. In any case, the Seoul Dynasty will be just fine. Even if it takes some minor or major tweaking, this team is too talented to stay down for long.  

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Featured photo via Seoul Dynasty Twitter