Five lessons from Five Maps: Miraculous Youngster vs. Lunatic Hai
What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to bring you another special non-meta report article to fill in the gap before APAC (which kicked off last night). This past weekend, an important match in a surprisingly important tournament occurred: Miraculous Youngsters of China battled Lunatic Hai of Korea in the Seoul Super Cup. This clash of regional titans echoed with deep implications for Overwatch as a global esport; each region had something to prove to the world. Miraculous Youngster sought to answer the question: “can China hang with Korea and the West?”. Lunatic Hai used this tourney as an opportunity to debut many of their newly-signed members ahead of their ascension to Team Seoul of South Korea and also to prove to their fans that their loss GC Busan was only a pothole on the road to Dynasty.
This matchup met, then vastly exceeded all expectations. Miraculous Youngster proved to the world that yes, they can indeed hang and they did so on the backs of their world-class DPS and aggressive Tank play. Lunatic Hai started off rough, but reminded their fans why they fell in love with them in the first place. After taking hits on the chin from unexpected Miraculous Youngster strategies, Lunatic Hai blended individual standout carry plays with sublime moments of team unity that ultimately brought them the 3-2 win.
I was inspired by all of the hyped up plays I saw on reddit the morning after this match (which occurred at 2am my time) and set a challenge for myself: watch every fight in this Bo5 and attempt to describe the outcome of each engagement in a single sentence. 4000 words later I reached my goal, and had a mess of an article that was far too long for anyone to pay attention to. Instead, I cherry-picked five lessons – one from each map – that I learned from watching China and Korea fight as equals for the first time. Let’s start with the first map: Lijiang Tower
For those who cannot get enough of this matchup, I posted my match notes as bonus content in this google doc.
Lesson 1: Leave’s Doomfist was unstoppable and Lunatic Hai was not prepared for Miraculous Youngster’s team comps
Throughout this 2-1 map win by Miraculous Youngster, Leave was wreaking havoc in team fights whether his team won the fights or not. The morning after the match, I woke up to multiple highlights of his exploits including a 360 Seismic Slam, some interesting Rising Uppercut tech, but I was most impressed with a different play:
Anyone who has played Doomfist knows how difficult it is to Rocket Punch someone mid-air, much less a spastic Genji. Miraculous Youngster’s Doomfist was vital to their success against Lunatic Hai on Lijiang because of the hero’s ability to dump out large amounts of AOE damage with his Seismic Slam and Rising Uppercut while also disrupting enemy position with Rocket Punch. It was a front-loaded attack that often left Lunatic Hai unable to recover in time from the burst of damage to multiple targets, like in the extended version of the 360 Seismic Slam clip, where Leave used Miro as a punching bag, dealing immense amounts of burst damage that Defense Matrix could not block.
Speaking of Defense Matrix, it was not just the Doomfist that Lunatic Hai was unprepared for, it was Miraculous Youngster’s tanks on Control Center. D.Va had been a staple of Korean team comps throughout patch 1.14, primarily due to her ability to soak up large amounts of damage with her four second duration Defense Matrix. Miraculous Youngster countered this with Doomfist, but they also employed a Reinhardt/Zarya lineup on Control Center that abused LH’s D.Va play even further. Like Doomfist, most of Reinhardt and Zarya’s damage cannot be countered by Defense Matrix and Control Center’s close quarters fighting made it the perfect location for this tank duo. ZhuFanJun brought out his Ana to heal the big bodies, but his primary goal was to Nanoboost the tanks on cooldown to build their Graviton Surge and Earthshatter ultimates faster. Extra Shatters were especially deadly, especially when Lunatic Hai had no way to block them:
LateYoung’s Graviton was countered by Ryujehong’s Transcendence, but Jiqiren to beat the crap out of trapped Lunatic Hai players while Nanoboosted.
This then lead to even faster Earthshatters that caught Lunatic Hai unprepared again.
This lineup was planned to exploit Korean tendencies, and it performed beautifully. Playing with new members, Lunatic Hai did not have time to react before Miraculous Youngster triggered the chain reaction of tank ultimates fed by Nanoboosted ultimate charge gain. Miraculous Youngster drew first blood, and the world’s attention.
Lesson 2: Lunatic Hai’s team communication was not up to par initially and LateYoung is a hidden carry
The second map in the series, Numbani, was won less by Miraculous Youngster’s game plan and more by Lunatic Hai’s mistakes. On their attack, MY’s victories seemed to occur whenever a Lunatic Hai player was out of position. After taking the first point, Miro found himself cut off from the rest of his team in a room of death, leading to a second point cap:
Lunatic Hai stabilized after this lost fight on Numbani’s notoriously difficult-to-cap third point. They even handled a Graviton Surge, Nanoboost, and Earthshatter being dropped in the same engagement with ease. However, a single misstep on the final fight of the map sunk Lunatic Hai’s defense:
Tobi was forced into the side room, out of line of sight of Ryujehong’s Transcendence that would have saved him. Miraculous Youngster then snowballed their way through to the end, fighting through an unending 6v5 as Lunatic Hai spawners attempted to defend. But this paled in comparison to the mistakes Lunatic Hai committed on offense.
The second side of this map started off in an exciting manner, with Miraculous Youngster employing a previously unseen (to me anyway, and I’ve watched a lot of Overwatch) forward hold at the bus:
This worked marvellously, and resulted in a pick on Fleta and the camping of Lunatic Hai’s spawn as well as quickly pumping up ZhuFanJun’s EMP. Quirky strategies aside, Lunatic Hai soon appeared to have the point in the bag.
Fleta had baited YangX1aoLg into over-extending then won the Tracer duel. Xepher found and cornered ZhuFanJun, then chased away a Tactical Visor-ing Leave. Lunatic Hai had four players on the point, and Sound Barrier slowly fading – how did they lose this fight?
Throughout this stall, Lunatic Hai’s attention was split instead of focused: half of the team attempted to finish off Leave and Jiqiren at the mega, while the other half seemed to be preoccupied with Lateyoung and Creed on the point. Lunatic Hai was ahead in a 6v4, but attacked the remaining Miraculous Youngster players in two 3v2s, drastically increasing MY’s ability to stall. These 3v2s were almost even fights, especially when considering D.Va’s 1.14 Defense Matrix duration and the Primal Rage saved up by Jiqiren at the time. ZhuFanJun eventually returned to EMP and clear out the Lunatic Hai attackers and in a rare instance of misplay, Whoru tossed a Dragonblade into the wind by ulting with less than half of his health. Poor team communication is my only answer for this outcome.
Then, Lunatic Hai incredibly appeared to do the exact same thing on the next and final push.
Early picks on YangX1aoLg, Creed, and Leave left only Lateyoung remaining to contest the point, but his next actions are those of a genuine carry. First, he managed to D.Va bomb the point without getting de-meched, and caught Xepher in the process:
LateYoung then re-meched with a sliver of health…
…and bee-lined for the hacked mega health pack. This was extremely important because this healing provided ZhuFanJun with the missing Ult charge he needed to EMP the point and give Miraculous Youngsters the upper hand.
Watch ZhuFanJun’s ult counter in this clip as LateYoung flies away.
On the surface it looks like another Lunatic Hai choke, but starting from the initial picks until the end of fight, there was little Lunatic Hai could do to stop LateYoung from executing his plan. If Lunatic Hai had guessed this outcome was possible, they might have sent Xepher into the air chasing LateYoung’s baby D.Va form, since he got de-meched anyway. Alternatively, they may have called for Fleta to focus LateYoung earlier in the fight, rather than chase and kill Leave. In the moment, on this final fight, I believe Lunatic Hai did the best they could – but it was LateYoung’s heroics that won the map.
Lesson 3: Miraculous Youngster was stubborn and Lunatic Hai was prepared for Horizon Point B
Miraculous Youngster seemed to have pocket strategies for each map, and Horizon Lunar Colony was no exception. They executed a smart bait and switch play on point A offense, tricking Lunatic Hai into chasing Leave’s Widowmaker while the rest of Miraculous Youngster quietly moved their death-ball onto the point. Miraculous Youngster was so sneaky, that at one point they had captured half the point as a group of 5, without being contested:
Miraculous Youngster then had a pre-practiced strategy planned for point B – one that did not work. Perhaps Lunatic Hai had learned from their previous encounter with Miraculous Youngster’s Reinhardt/Zarya team composition, or maybe it was because Horizon’s point B is much larger than most – muting Graviton Surge and Earthshatter’s effectiveness. Lunatic Hai certainly had no issues staying spread out:
Even though they were being strategically countered, Miraculous Youngster refused to adapt. I recorded seven different fights on this point, and five of them involved Miraculous Youngster moving as group through the left side-room and Lunatic Hai squeezing them to death in a pincher maneuver from both sides, preventing their escape:
It seems reasonable to assume that while Miraculous Youngster may be mechanically skilled and creative in the strategies that they come up with to counter their opponents, they become exposed when their opponents adapt on the fly or have their own counter planned. This lack of ingenuity sunk their many attacks on Horizon’s second point, and Lunatic Hai easily swept the attack afterwards.
Lesson 4: Whoru is a god, and YangX1aoLg may have positioning issues
Poor YangX1aoLg. Either Dorado is not his most practiced map, Miraculous Youngster used the wrong team comp, or Lunatic Hai made it their objective to focus him. Whatever the reason behind it, he was more often than not the first player to die in fights lost by Miraculous Youngster. On offense, early picks on YangX1aoLg meant that it took five fights to take the first point with under 20 seconds left, piling on pressure for MY to even complete the map in time. On defense, early picks on YangX1aoLg accelerated Lunatic Hai’s progress through the map.
However, perhaps these picks were due to Lunatic Hai’s DPS starting to reach their peak performance levels. Fleta was finally hitting shots with his Widowmaker on offense, but on both offense and defense the killfeed turned into the Whoru show:
Whoru was especially devastating on offense, where he carried with a combination of set and improvised plays. He and Xepher teamed up to use a D.Va Bomb to force Miraculous Youngster to huddle together, leaving them exposed to Rocket Barrage:
Whoru also made a heads-up play to flank Miraculous Youngster to catch Leave returning from spawn on Widowmaker, then tore through Miraculous Youngster’s backline in a play that crippled Miraculous Youngster’s second point defense. By this fourth map, Lunatic Hai had fully awoken.
Lesson 5: Lunatic Hai is ready to be Team Seoul and Miraculous Youngster should be proud
The final match between Lunatic Hai and Miraculous Youngster on King’s Row had it all. It had weird Widomaker flanks:
It had cheeky Pharah moves:
It even had accidental kills by Doomfists. This match was competitive to the very end and its final fight personified not only the map, but the series itself. After capping the second point, Miraculous Youngster pulled out a prepared team composition specially crafted for the third point of King’s Row and it took Lunatic Hai by surprise. Behind Jiqiren’s aggressive Reinhardt charges, they bullied Lunatic Hai out of position at the dogleg and made significant progress towards the final point:
However in this microcosm of the matchup at large, Lunatic Hai’s team communication had noticeably improved. The Lunatic Hai old guard had warmed up – ready to make their usual clutch plays — and Fleta from the new guard was jiving with them as well. When Jiqiren Earthshattered three Lunatic Hai players and YangX1aoLg vaporized them an instant later, Lunatic Hai did not hesitate and they did not panic.
though, I would have
It required quick, but careful reaction from Ryujehong and Miro to return to the payload during the final fight. They avoided YangX1aoLg’s Deathblossom, but also remained close enough to contest when it finished atomizing the rest of their team. Ryujehong Nanoboosted Fleta on his way to the payload, and you can even see Fleta glance back as if to ask “are you sure you got this?” before turning his attention towards wiping MY’s backline.
Fleta will never hesitate again, nor should he: he’s playing with Miro and Ryujehong now. His, Xepher’s, and Munchkin’s confidence in themselves and their teammates will only continue to grow from here, and Team Seoul – or should I say Team Dynasty – should feel confident in the team they picked up. How poetic was it, that Ryujehong and Miro – the OG’s – were the two heroic Lunatic Hai members clearing out the final point in the end?
Miraculous Youngster should feel proud of their performance against Lunatic Hai. The last time a non-Korean team took more than a map off of Lunatic Hai was Rogue over a year ago in APAC 2016. Miraculous Youngster was able to develop several successful strategies and also have the mechanical skills to execute them against one of the world’s best. This has now opened the doors to the world stage for not only their team, but their entire region. Their strategic inflexibility is something that they can focus on improving for future competition. Seoul Super Cup unexpectedly brought us one of the best matches of the year and hopefully we get more of the same at the similarly global APAC 2017.
Until next time,