11 Plays you might have missed during the Apex Grand Finals
It’s 2:33 AM Pacific Standard Time, I just got home from a night out, and I’m setting up my workspace to watch two of the best teams in Korea battle to become champion of the largest Overwatch tournament of 2017 so far. This, is esports.
It’s 10:00 AM Pacific Standard Time, I just woke up at my desk after falling asleep at 5:40 AM during the Hanamura match. This, is also esports.
What’s up guys, CaptainPlanet here to present 10 plays you might have missed during the Apex Season 2 Grand Finals between RunAway and Lunatic Hai, because I’m guessing a lot of your nights might have resembled my own. Apex’s matches have always run late at night, since they’re stationed in Korea playing for a Korean audience. Unfortunately for us Westerners, that means a lot of late nights and early mornings. Overwatch is a team game first and foremost, but the skill and split-second decisions of individual players are sometimes lost in the whirlwind of ultimates, abilities, and bullets flying through the air. Since I slept through the last three matches anyway, I took some time to go through the Apex VODs and have picked out some of the prime examples of stand-out individual plays by the best of the best that Overwatch has to offer.
1: A slight difference in Korean Genji mechanics
Korean Genjis usually do not dash down after dashing up to get Nanoboost, saving their dash reset for later. In this clip, Haksal demonstrates why: he gets a much faster kill on Tobi by dashing immediately after slashing, rather than having to wait to slash a second time. This quick kill and reset allows him to start ripping off kills even faster - leading to a RunAway team wipe.
2: Secret Agent Esca
Here, Esca waits crouched in hiding as RunAway returns from spawn. As the Pharah-Mercy duo passes by, he’s able to nearly kill Bumper before either player reacts. Bumper then flies out of line of sight, only to be finished off by Miro, neutering this engagement.
Then he does it again in the very next fight to Runner, with Whoru dealing the finishing blow:
RunAway managed to win the fight anyway due to a huge Barrage from Kox, but this trend of RunAway supports dying early would continue to poke holes in their finals run.
3. Whoru gets literally dumpstered
Kaiser’s Reinhardt play was one of the main reasons to tune into Apex, and this clip is no exception. Fresh off killing Bumper, Whoru has his sights now set on Runner – but not if Kaiser has anything to say about. In a feat that seems like pure instinct, he tracks the flying Genji’s mid-air arc, turns 180 degrees, and charges him into the dumpster.
4. A perfect combination of ultimates, positioning, and abilities
In this final push by Lunatic Hai, both teams are missing a key player with Kaiser and Ryujehong dead. RunAway, however, has ultimate advantage with a soon-to-be-charged Graviton Surge and Dragonblade. Lunatic Hai attempts to push into a Reinhardt-less RunAway backline by diving into Kox’s Ana with Miro and Esca’s Winston and Tracer respectively. Bumper quickly shields Kox…
…but starts taking damage from Miro’s Winston ultimate, and Esca.
Miro then knocks Bumper into the air above the cart. Bumper has to act fast as his health runs out, so he drops the Graviton.
Bumper captures Tobi, Whoru, and Zunba in the Graviton Surge, and immediately dies after. Luckily for RunAway, this gives Haksal all the setup he needs to finish charging his Dragonblade. He pulls it out, and gets to slicing:
The fight isn’t over, however. In what turned out to be a really amusing freeze frame, we see Whoru killing Haksal with his own Genji, Haksal severely damaging Esca, and Miro eating a Sleep Dart on the cart:
Stitch finishes off Esca,
Miro wakes up, and jumps straight up in the air:
But by the time he lands, the overtime timer expires!
RunAway’s defensive hold here required timing, ultimates, cooldown abilities, and a bit of luck – but that’s Overwatch!
5. Zunba demonstrates the power of Defense Matrix
D.Va is played much more often in Korea than in the western regions, and part of the reason is how the Koreans use her to protect their teammates. The most flashy use of D.Va’s Defense Matrix is when players delete Graviton Surges, but sometimes a well-placed Matrix can keep a friend from dying when they over-extend. Miro, one of the most aggressive Winstons in the game, can turn the aggression up to 11 when he has Zunba covering his back – doing so here on Lunatic Hai’s Volskaya Industries defense. Miro felt safe enough to dive into a group of five RunAway players, immediately dropping to half health and taking a Biotic Grenade to the face. As he retreats, Zunba’s protective Defense Matrix lights up deleting a huge amount of incoming fire that otherwise would have killed Miro. This Defense Matrix usage is a common tactic in Korean Overwatch, and I hope to see more reactive Matrix usage if she starts to see more play in the West.
6. The Kaiser Shatter we were all waiting for
Kaiser’s Earthshatters carried RunAway past LuxuryWatch Blue in the semifinals and everyone who tuned in to watch the Grand Finals of Apex was hoping to see more from the King of Swing. Kaiser begins this clip by not shattering, but instead demonstrating a minor but important Reinhardt mechanic: dropping Tracer Stickies. Esca – who by all means had a great series on Tracer – had a bad habit of not hitting Pulse Bombs throughout the finals and does so here by sticking Kaiser’s shield instead of his body. Kaiser drops his shield – dropping the Pulse Bomb to the ground – and backs away to minimize the damage from its explosion.
In the background, Miro has to contend with his own Tracer problems – dodging Stitch’s Pulse Bomb – but he leaves his backside wide open to Kox’s Dart:
Note the Kox was extremely far back behind the action – this was a long-range Sleep Dart indeed!
All obstacles removed, Kaiser slams the hammer down:
Tobi’s Sound Barrier was not enough to save Lunatic Hai here. Bodies fly left and right as Kaiser swings. Adding insult to injury, he nearly pins a fleeing Esca after demolishing his team:
We can always count on Kaiser to bring the pain.
7. One of many clutch Ryujehong Sleep Darts
Why do we watch Ryujehong? The answer is simple: he makes the most difficult Ana plays look like child’s play. This clip is only one of several clutch Sleep Darts Ryujehong landed throughout the series, but it exemplifies the power that one good shot can have. In this clip, Haksal and Kox unleash the Nanoblade against a Lunatic Hai squad that has zero ultimates. Of course, Ryujehong has other plans:
Had he missed, there’s no stopping the team wipe. Props should also be given out to the rest of Lunatic Hai for not waking Haksal after the Dart landed – individual play supported by team effort.
8. Kox and Ryujehong put on an Ana clinic
Rarely do the observers put the camera on an Ana, but the Apex observers made the right call by peeking into Kox’s point of view. Kox nails Whoru with an auto-attack + Bio Grenade combo to take him out:
Then turns around and Sleep Darts a jumping Miro from long range.
Kox scopes in to go for his counterpart, Ryujehong, who hits Kox instead while Kox’s shot misses to the right.
Seemingly in the same action, Ryujehong tosses his Biotic Grenade – ending Kox’s life the same way Kox took out Whoru…
Then Haksal unceremoniously off-screens Ryujehong, ending the streak of interesting Ana plays. Good things never last!
9. Baby D.Va bullying redux
By now the secret is out: if you can prevent a de-mech-suited D.Va from dying after wiping her team, you’re doing your team a favor. Lunatic Hai knows this, and bullies poor baby Bumper: preventing him from jumping off the edge of Hanamura Point B. Only a slight Zunba slip-up in the human/mech/iceblock wall allows Bumper to sneak through to his doom.
10. Esca wakes up
Make no mistake, Esca is good. But, he’s streaky. For whatever reason, he was also missing nearly every Pulse Bomb he attempted during the finals. This streakiness combined with his Pulse Bomb mishaps to create a narrative that Esca was under-performing, but once Lunatic Hai escaped elimination on Hanamura, Esca came alive. On the way to capping the first point of Dorado, Esca kills Bumper, Stitch, Kox, and a fleeing Runner in quick succession, making a quad-kill look effortless. He later goes for the cross-map Pulse Bomb, but misses and sticks the wall:
If Esca could have hit more stickies, there’s a very good chance Lunatic Hai wins the series without needing such a spectacular comeback. But I can’t complain about a 7 map grand finals.
11. Whoru, or is he actually Spiderman?
Genji players are some of the fastest improvisers in Overwatch, but I’ve never seen a heads-up play quite like Whoru here on Eichenwalde’s bridge. Mid-Dragonblade, he pops Bumper’s D.Va suit but fails to find cover in time to avoid the Self-Destruct. Whoru knows he needs a different kind of line-of-sight blockage, so he jumps off the edge of the map:
Miro then conveniently kills Bumper. Whoru hits his second of two jumps waiting for the explosion, then immediately Dashes back to safety, where he gets knocked off once again by Runner:
Unfazed, Whoru wall-climbs back up and kills Runner anyway. Genji players are truly masters of 3-dimensional space in Overwatch.
12. The Bonus Section
For my final play, I’m skipping plays and going right to the players. As I was going through the VODs, I noticed some really funny moments captured by the Apex camera crew of the players in the team booths and interviews prior to the game. Here’s a few of those:
12-1. Stitch “U mad bruh?”
12-2. Miro is silently judging you
12-3. Miro has a few choice words to say about Runner
12-4. Who does EscA’s nails?
because damn, he’s got it going on.
That’s all from me! Congratulations to Lunatic Hai for completing the 3-1 comeback to win 4-3 in Apex Season 2! Congratulations also to RunAway for proving to the world that they’re the real deal. Hopefully success continues to come their and Lunatic Hai’s way in the future.
Until next time,