Catching Up with Apex Season 2 -- 9 Plays You Might Have Missed
What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here and in lieu of a Meta Report this week, I’m going to do something a little bit different. There was not a lot of professional Overwatch last week, but sometimes quality can overcome quantity – at least when keeping up with what the pros are doing. Big individual plays can shape the narrative surrounding the “why” pro teams run the lineups that they do. It can be as simple as a Widomaker headshot, or as complex as a multi-ultimate combo. The point being, at the top level of Overwatch heroes are chosen for a reason and sometimes that reason emerges in a lineup-defining way. With that in mind, I present the 9 plays you might have missed in the last two weeks of Apex Season 2:
1. The Biggest Bang?
There’s an argument to be made for playing Tracer whenever there’s a Zarya in your team’s lineup, if only for plays like this one. There’s also an argument to be made that pushes to the top left of Hanamura often fall flat because of how little space is available for the attacking team. Big Bang Combos are mainstays of king of the hill maps, but Tracer’s mobility and rapid ultimate charge rate has contributed to her steady rise in usage on payload and 2CP maps. On offense, Tracer fits well into resurging dive comps, but on defense teams highly value her combo-ability with big tank ultimates like Graviton Surge.
2. Tviq demonstrates the Power of Positioning (and Helix Direct Hits) with Soldier 76
There’s no denying that Soldier 76 has been one of the premier DPS heroes since the balance change that brought increased his damage, but his overall usage was dampened by D.Va’s nigh-unkillable harassment. Well no more! In this clip, TviQ has positioned himself on the high right platform overlooking the entire point of Temple of Anubis, having used a combination of rocket jumps and sprinting to get there. Because Soldier 76 deals long-range sustained damage – rather than spike-y damage like McCree, long sight lines are essential for a successful 76 player. Stationed where he is, TviQ can see all avenues of attacking as well as punish any attacker who dives too deep by mowing them down when they try to flee.
Remember how I said Soldier 76 deals sustained damage rather than spike damage? That’s not entirely true, because Helix Rockets exist. After finishing off Tydolla’s Genji, TviQ nails Takethis’ baby D.Va with Helix direct hit that speaks to hours of practice. Soon after, he responds to a call from his teammates that Attune’s Tracer has ended up somewhere near point B and again nails the Helix from extremely long range. Helix direct hits deal the same damage (120) as a Pharah Rocket directs, and give skilled Soldier 76 players the on-demand burst that they sometimes need.
3. The next step in the Evolution of D.Va Torturing
During the Tank Meta, teams found themselves with an overabundance of D.Vas without their mech suits after teamfights. Realizing the opportunity to split-spawn their opponents – and gaining valuable seconds by doing so – pros began to develop progressively more interesting ways to bully the baby D.Vas like cats playing with their food. First it was simple Ana Sleep Darts followed by mocking the D.Va’s sleeping figure with dance circles. Then Roadhogs started to save suicidal D.Vas from death by jumping off the map by hooking them to safety. Now, it seems Misfits has taken it to a new level by completely barring Takethis’ desperate attempt to return to his team by stuffing three tanks in the choke and body-blocking her. I honestly didn’t even know this was possible.
4. The Ryujehong play you might have missed
Teams bring Anas for the obvious reason – she has the best single target healing output in the game. But Ryujehong showcases another reason why Ana is so good: she’s extremely resistant to flankers. Ryujehong plays Ana in a bit of a different way than traditional Ana players like Chipshajen, in that he almost always saves his Biotic Grenade to turn the tide of a 1v1. In this clip, he use it and some good positional awareness to avoid being killed by Saebyolbe’s Tracer. This puts him in a position to flip the table on the Tracer player; Ryujehong hits one shot which with a bit of help from Zunba’s Zarya bomb ends Saebyolbe’s life.
5. Luna, the ultimate Kiter?
Speaking of Ana, she’s pretty damn effective on the offensive as well. Let’s play a little bit of Overwatch Detective with this clip to find out how Ryujehong’s counterpart, Luna, contributes to four separate kills throughout this team fight. Leading off, Luna Nanoboosts Janus who has just Earthshattered Whoru’s Genji, which Luna promptly kills offscreen.
He then gets jumped Miro’s Winston who does what Miro does best and nearly kills Luna on the spot.
But Luna doesn’t care. Luna sleeps Miro just as the final health bar is about to tick off. Janus on Reinhardt cleans up after him.
Luna rushes under the bridge to grab the big health pack, but by the time he gets back to the point Whoru has returned and he’s seeking vengeance.
But Luna barely pays attention to him – he’s busy finishing off Zunba on the other side of the point.
Which he does.
Zunba dispatched, Luna casually pulls a 180 and…whiffs his first shot at Whoru. But what he does next is actually more impressive. You have to listen to the audio to hear it, but after the 180 and falling off of the bridge, Luna hits the clutch sleep dart before Whoru can Dash him to death.
While the camera is elsewhere, we see that Luna Biotic Grenade combos the sleeping Whoru to death
And then Lunatic Hai holds the point anyway. I still give my MVP to Luna here though, his actions directly or indirectly lead to the deaths of four Lunatic Hai members. Rock on, nutty Ana players.
6. This single support, Sombra strategy teams have been running on Lijiang Tower
Sombra players these days are often flamed even before teams leave the hero select screen. Good Sombras are hard to come by after all, but the pro community has started to warm up to new, Sombra-based strategies. Particularly, teams are starting to play around with single-support, Triple DPS Sombra lineups on Lijiang Tower’s Control Center, where Sombra’s EMP is nigh unavoidable. The Sombra in this lineup hacks the nearby health packs for her pair of flankers (a Genji and Tracer) to stay topped off, while also quickly charging her ultimate. Twilight then drops the EMP on the point, deleting Panker’s Reinhardt shield as well as the bubble that Butcherr had just applied to him.* Panker dies instantly afterwards without means to defend himself and Myunghoon easily cleans up with his Dragonblade. In terms of impact that a good EMP can have, you can make the argument that it’s near the level of Graviton Surge. Sure, it does not lock a team in place, but it’s instant, un-dodge-able, and reduces your opponent’s ability to fight back to nearly zero. So the next time you’re on the ranked ladder and someone locks in Sombra, think twice before flaming. Make sure you use their hacked health packs early and often, and maybe you will get to experience your own EMP-based team wipe.
*As a side-note: this is the most cinematic EMP I’ve ever seen, shoutout to OGN’s observers
7. Stealth-Roadhog hooks to combo with Earthshatters
Outiside of Graviton Surge, Earthshatter is perhaps the most impactful ultimate in Overwatch. But pros have a problem with Earthshatter: actually landing it. Reinhardts are constantly trying to block, bait, and counterbait each other into wasting their Earthshatters into each other’s shields. The Reinhardt mindgames are real – so teams are constantly looking for ways to make their Earthshatters more consistent. Enter DNCE on Roadhog – a hero that has fallen somewhat out of favor on king of the hill since the Hook 2.0 change. He sneaks into a position that Conbox is not expecting, then hooks…the Roadhog. Whoops. We can see what Kongdoo Uncia was trying to do here because Panker’s Earthshatter hits milliseconds after DNCE’s hook; it would have hit every single Conbox player had it connected with Gamsu’s Reinhardt to drop the shield. This hook play is much more consistent and faster than spamming down the shield, or trying to guess when Gamsu would blink in the shield battle mindgame. Keep an eye out for innovative methods of dropping the Reinhardt’s shield – even if only for a split second – whenever a team has an Earthshatter burning a hole in their pocket.
8. Remember that thing I said about Biggest Big Bang?
Mendokusaii did one better in this clip from Cloud 9’s Lijiang Tower match against Afreeca Freecs Blue. Again, great example of the synergy between Zarya and Tracer
9. The EnVyUs Crossfire
The relevant action starts here
But I suggest starting from here to see all of Taimou’s highlights.
This is the highlight you’ve all been waiting for. Everyone knows that Taimou…has good aim, but his otherworldly Widowmaker play is part of a larger Overwatch concept: the Crossfire. Monte and Doa correctly catch on to what’s at play here, but don’t have time to fully explain what makes the Crossfire strategy work between Taimou ripping off headshot after headshot. Crossfire requires two hitscan at opposing sides of the enemy, piling on the pressure simultaneously. The opposing team cannot hide behind a one-way Reinhardt shield, and so one of the two hitscan players always has an open look.
As the main EnVyUs faction pushes the cart, Taimou sets up the Crossfire by flanking to the back side of the point on his Widowmaker. To their credit, BK Stars catches on to his positioning as soon as he picks off Carpe in spawn, but Taimou outplays their effort to chase him away by nailing the clutch headshot on Bunny’s Tracer. Taimou retreats, but then returns to this same position after nailing Bunny – now on Genji – this time uncontested. As the Cart turns the corner, Harryhook pops his Nanovisor on the other side of the arena and BK Stars has to choose between the Aimbot and the TAimbot. Unable to come to a consensus, they keel over dead instead.
Bear with me, I’m going to invoke a sports analogy because this is my article, damnit, and I’ll do what I want. Thanks to a couple of rule changes and a sudden increase in skilled sharpshooters in the NBA, teams like the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets have rewritten the rules on how offenses work in the league. Stacking their lineups with long range shooters and skilled ball-handlers has opened up floorspace that was never before thought possible, and the teams that make use of this new style of play have flourished in the contemporary NBA. The Crossfire style of play in Overwatch is a natural mirror to what’s happened in the NBA in the past couple of years. A new rule change (the recent balance patch) has opened up the door for skilled sharpshooters (hitscan players) to rewrite the rules of controlling space in Overwatch. Just like defenses struggle to defend the Steph Curry / Draymond Green pick and roll, so does BK Stars struggle to defend against EnVyUs’ own brand of Finnish Curry. Of course, it does help that Taimou can get just as spicy as Steph: when they’re on, they can’t miss…
I hope you all enjoyed this diversion from the Meta Report – I’ll be back next week late in the week, I’m going to be travelling all weekend!
Until next time,