Group B became known as the group of death due featuring APEX Season 1 semifinalist and IEM Gyeonggi champions LW Blue, top western team and DreamHack Winter champions Misfits, IEM Gyeonggi finalist Lunatic-Hai, and an Afreeca Freecs Red team that has been impressive in scrims. Just like Group A, this pool was set up for some good matches, as well as the potential for upsets.
The first match took place between LW Blue and Misfits on the first day of the season. LW Blue was able to outlast Misfits in a 3-1 win. LW Blue took a close match on Illios before Misfits pulled one back on Hollywood. LW Blue cleaned up the final two maps to take the series.
In the next series, Lunatic-Hai destroyed Afreeca Freecs Red in three straight maps. They shut them out on Lijiang Tower, took the point in round two on King’s Row after both teams pushed the payload the whole way, and finished the series off on Volskaya, taking the first point quickly before being stalled on the second point. The 3-0 victory put Lunatic-Hai on top of the group.
On the day of their next series against LW Blue, Lunatic-Hai had to make a roster change. Reports came out that Lee “LEETAEJUN” Tae Jun and Geum “dean“ Dong-geun allegedly engaged in relationships with fans of the team. With all of the bad publicity, the two players retired and Kim “EscA” In-jae replaced LEETAEJUN on the active team.
But, the change did not weaken the team; instead, it made them stronger, as they beat LW Blue in a 3-1 series. LW Blue took the first game on the new map Oasis, but Lunatic-Hai came back to win the next three maps. Though they won three maps in a row, these games were extremely close, with only one point separating the sides on each map.
Misfits came back from their defeat against LW Blue to sweep Afreeca Freecs Red. The first map was close on Nepal, but Misfits ran over Afreeca on the other two. Misfits took half the time to push the cart further than Afreeca on King’s Row before taking both points on Temple of Anubis in under two minutes.
Afreeca had one last shot at redemption when they took on LW Blue, but it was the same result, as LW swept Afreeca in commanding fashion. A strong Lijiang tower led to close wins on both Hollywood and Volskaya.
Misfits was left to fight for their right to move on in the tournament against one of the strongest teams, Lunatic-Hai. Despite putting up a strong fight and making the maps close, Lunatic-Hai swept the western team to knock them out of the tournament. But, the 3-0 scoreline does not do justice to how close the series actually was.
At the end of the round-robin, Lunatic-Hai stood atop the rest, with LW Blue joining them in the next round of the tournament. After their roster change, Lunatic-Hai has looked like the best team in the tournament, dominating an immensely tough group. LW Blue won in the right places to move on as well.
Though Misfits will be leaving Korea disappointed, they can still hold their heads high as they put up a strong showing in a hard group. Misfits would have advanced in most other groups but were a bit unlucky to be placed where they were.
Despite the hype surrounding the team before the tournament started, Afreeca performed poorly and was unable to win a single map in three series. The roster will be forced to play for their spot in APEX as they make their way to the promotion tournament.
There are many top players on Lunatic-Hai that can be pointed to as a carry, but the main player to keep an eye on is Ryu “ryujehong” Je Hong. ryujehong plays as a support on Lunatic-Hai, but he challenges the perception of what role a support plays on their team.
ryujehong is arguably the best Ana player and is also a fantastic Zenyatta player because he uses both champions’ high damage to defend himself when DPS players jump on him. He does not back down from a fight and frequently pops up in the killfeed after sniping down an opposing player.
Group Standings (Series record, followed by map record in parentheses)
First; Lunatic-Hai 3-0 (9-1)
Second: LW Blue 2-1 (7-4)
Third: Misfits 1-2 (4-6)
Fourth: Afreeca Freecs Red 0-3 (0-9)
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