Bunny Goes Boom
Chae “Bunny” Joon Hyuk
It’s no secret that BK Stars had a fantastic run in Apex. The team came into the league and we anticipated them to be a second string roster. Many would go so far to have predicted Kongdoo Uncia and NRG to exit Group B into the playoffs. But BK was far stronger than we predicted.
They stormed through their group, winning every series. They were so dominant that over the 11 maps they played, their opponents only managed to capture 12 points, averaging out to just 1.09 per map. To finish out their group stage run, BK Stars played a perfect series against the North American roster of NRG, never allowing them to capture even a single point.
They continued their dominance into the playoffs, where they took yet another 3-0 victory over LW Blue in the quarterfinals. The argument could have been made that this series was a less dominant showing from BK Stars because the patch affected some of their core strategies. And now, with the superpower of hindsight, we know this to be true. For the first time in Apex, BK Stars tasted defeat as Afreeca Blue took a dominant 3-1 win to eliminate BK Stars in the semifinals, ending their run.
BK Stars was far from the best team in Apex, but by no means were they a bad team. How deep they made it into the tournament is a testament alone of their strengths. When prodded as to what those strengths are, analysts would often reply with the same beaten to death reason that BK Stars has strong ultimate coordination. If prodded far enough, you would get another answer: the top Tracer player in the world.
Much Argued, Rarely Answered
One of the favorite topics in any esport that features multiple characters is which player is the best on any given hero. Perhaps unsurprisingly in Overwatch, this is no different. Currently, for some heroes, there is a consensus on who is the best. Miro on Winston, Ryujehong on Ana, and especially at this moment, Mickie on Dva.
But for most heroes, the answer very greatly depends on who you ask. Asking who the best Roadhog is would net you answers such as Evermore, Harbleu, Hymzi, Birdring or Taimou. McCree only gets more confusing as there are arguments for Taimou, Iddqd, Esca, Akm, and formerly Artier would have made that list. When the conversation moves to Genji, the opinions of fans get very heated. Shadowburn, Haksal, Arhan, Tviq and many more names are thrown your way.
But when it comes to Tracer players, we see two definitive names emerge above the pack: Bunny of BK Stars and Soon of Misfits. There are many honorable mentions, like Vallutaja or Saebyeolbe, but in my eyes, Bunny and Soon are a step above. Of course, you are entitled to your opinion and I’m sure you have your own way to conceptualize the game, but how I see it, Bunny is another cut above Soon because he’s more consistent, and simply put, the best Tracer player in the world.
The Holy Hand Grenade
Tracer’s Pulse Bomb is effectively a death sentence to most characters. For any 200 health character who gets stuck with a bomb, it’s twice the damage needed to burst them down. When used by a skilled Tracer, it’s a key tool to quickly eliminate a key target, as against even the tankiest heroes, a single magazine of rounds followed up by a bomb is enough to dispatch them.
Pulse Bomb's effectiveness is a key way we can see Tracer players differentiate themselves. Unfortunately, we can’t track how often a player manages to stick a Pulse Bomb on an enemy because we don’t have statistics and often times the bomb explodes off camera. But by watching the film, we can gain a sense of how regularly the Tracer finds a kill with her bomb, and onto whom the kill is found.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a player I’m willing to designate as the best Tracer in the world, Bunny is no slouch when it comes to how regularly he finds kills with his Pulse Bomb. In all fairness, he gets a healthy amount of assistance from Bernar in this regard. Bernar is one of the best Zarya players in the world and frequently lands some unreal Graviton Surges that Bunny is prompt to follow up on for some consistently impressive Big Bang combos.
But to say Bunny is dependent on Bernar would be a mischaracterization of his play. He frequently makes his own openings. Whether approaching from the flank, or running head on into his foes only to recall out the accuracy of his Pulse Bombs is uncanny. He seems more willing than most Tracers to commit the Pulse Bomb onto a tank, only to clean them up afterwards with a quick burst from his Pulse Pistols.
Bunny’s bomb effectiveness is impressive, but he doesn’t get to blow his foes to bits if he can’t do damage and build his ultimate. Fortunately, his ability to pick out targets and track them is unbelievably good.
More Than Just Point and Click
Due to the rapid fire nature of Tracer's pistols and the low damage of each individual round, she rewards players with strong tracking abilities as opposed to flicking. In English, this means instead of the ability to quickly place your cursor on your opponent's head, it is more important to be able to drag your mouse to match their movements and ensure more rounds hit their intended target.
Bunny does exactly this with ease. His smooth mouse movements keep his prey squarely within his crosshairs to ensure he does as much damage as possible. But what’s even more impressive is how quickly he changes targets. The best example of this was when BK Stars faced LW Blue on Nepal: Shrine.
Bunny was firing at Saebyeolbe’s Pharah up in the air. As he jetted out of range, Bunny, in an insane feat of reaction, almost immediately changed his focus to the Mercy of Gambler, who was pocket healing Saebyeolbe. Despite having been tracking another player, he was able to pick out his new target to quickly and precisely begin tracking a Mercy, who was flying at full speed with her Guardian Angel.
As impressive as Bunny’s ability to control his firing is, it isn’t the aspect of his Tracer play that sets him so far apart. We have many impressive DPS players who can track excellently. But what nobody else does is use Tracer's mobility like Bunny does.
Nuclear Unlock Codes
The way Bunny uses his blinks and recalls is what truly sets him apart from the only other player with a claim to the throne, Soon. As we saw at DreamHack Winter, Soon put on an undeniably impressive show. But he was also frequently overaggressive, which let him get picked off by the enemy Roadhog. Even worse, his overcommitting to his blinks meant that when he met a player on his level, like Buds, he would lose the duel.
Bunny has no such issues. His aggression is flawlessly calculated and he is so rarely caught out of position. Whether or not he realizes it, he seems to have a dedicated system of controlled blink usage; a system I like to call his Nuclear Unlock Codes.
Tracer, at most, has three blinks available at any given moment. I like to call them code yellow, orange, and red in order of how frequently they can be used. Bunny uses code yellow, or his first blink, incredibly freely, often using it for just a simple reposition in between fights, when he is under no threat at all. But that is where it stops; he nearly always keeps two blinks available in case they become needed.
For code orange, the second blink, the unlock codes require higher security clearance. Bunny’s second blink becomes used only while in an engagement. It’s often the first and second blink that he uses to avoid incoming fire or to flank around his foes. But still, Bunny restrains himself from resulting to code red unless absolutely necessary.
In order to unlock code red, one of two conditions must be met. The first option is that the use of the third blink will keep Bunny alive, such as when running away, or ducking behind a wall to avoid Self Destruct. But it’s the second option that so many Tracer players do not fully understand. That option being to secure a kill safely.
What this means is the final blink may be used to chase down a straggler. But Bunny only does this if he knows the target is alone, such as when they are the last remaining member of their team. And even if the target is alone, he only uses the third blink aggressively if his Recall is up to return him to safety in an emergency.
Bunny’s adherence to this system keeps him alive as he retains his mobility to escape any situation he finds himself in. This aspect of his play is what really sets him apart from many other top Tracers, who have a tendency to get caught and waste any advantage they may have found. However, this is a component of his play I can explain quite well, and in theory, could teach players to use. But some ways Bunny utilizes his Recalls is just beyond my mortal understanding.
Just In The Nick Of Time
Recall is a core part of Tracer’s kit. It allows her to dive into fights without being fully committed, as at the touch of a button, she can transport herself back in time, healing along the way. And most often, that’s how we see Recall being used, just as a way for the Tracer player to avoid death after committing a little too far into a fight.
But in a much less standard method of outplaying his foes, Bunny uses Recall to avoid critical enemy spells. Multiple times, we have seen him react to incoming threats be Recalling, often in place, which simply removes him from the map for a split second. He does this against Roadhog hooks and, more notably, enemy Genji combos.
When we saw Bunny’s Tracer going up against the Genji of Saebyeolbe, we were fortunate enough to witness some incredible outplays from both sides. But the play that required the quickest reactions to hit the tiny window was Bunny using Recall to avoid the damage from Genji’s dash.
Saebyeolbe went for the classic RMB into dash combo to try and execute Bunny, only to have his combo beautifully dodged. This left him without any cooldowns and he quickly fell prey to the Pulse Pistols of Bunny. His reaction time to outplay his foes with Recall isn’t even my favorite part of how he uses the skill. Instead, it would have to be how consistently Bunny places himself back right where he needs to be.
I don’t know how Bunny is able to play a DPS role, keep track of where he was three seconds ago, and where his foes are in relation to his position three seconds ago, but somehow, the man does it. Only in the most dire of situations does Bunny panic Recall just for the health. More often than not, it’s part of an elaborate positioning gambit.
The best example of what I mean is how Bunny baits supports into mispositioning, especially on king of the hill style maps. He will commit to fighting on one side of the point for a while, then use one to two blinks to reach the other side and skirmish there. Almost uncannily, when a support or vulnerable DPS player has stepped nearby where he was, he’ll recall. Suddenly, his foes find themselves face to face with one of the deadliest Tracers in the world.
At first glance, Recalls that put him in such perfect positions might seem like a pure coincidence, and at first, I thought so too. But the ridiculous consistency at which they occur forces me to believe it’s an insane, nearly unbelievable, feat of awareness.
Greatness is Rare
Players like Bunny are rare. He doesn’t require the constant babysitting most Genji's need, nor is he solely a playmaker. Over the course of the season, we’ve seen him shine on Solider and Roadhog as well, but he certainly has a preference for the plucky Brit. On a traditional playmaking hero, he can still be a team player. Especially on BK Stars, he is a huge part of what makes them one of the best combo teams in the world, following up on his allies crowd control with damage.
Alongside that team play, he brings his own share of playmaking ability. If we were to make a highlight reel of Bunny’s plays from just a single season, it would be nearly 30 minutes long. From winning duels against the enemy Tracer, four man Pulse Bomb kills, to insane 1v2 fights that Bunny wins to stall points for his team, he’s an absolute force to be reckoned with.
Bunny has so many traits that make him an exceptional Tracer player. His tracking and ability to pick targets is world class. The way he uses blinks and recalls sets him apart from any other contenders and his ability to both work in a unit and make huge solo plays makes him an incredibly valuable asset to any roster.
So far, we’ve seen just a single season from Bunny, but it’s left me hungry for more. I can’t wait to see where the best Tracer player in the world goes next.
What about Bunny's play has impressed you the most? Comment below or tweet your answer to us @GAMURScom.
Follow the Author: @ElbionTosscoble
Image Credits: Blizzard Entertainment