Meta Athena gravitated away from Zarya, and it doomed them
Meta Athena’s Choi "Hoon" Jae-hoon has been sharing the love in OGN Overwatch APEX season two, bringing the enemy together for a group hug with his Graviton Surge. But in his team's series against Lunatic-Hai in the semifinals, fans were left wondering: Where is the love?
Hoon has been the main carry for Meta Athena and was the star name for the team during their run in the group stage. His play on Zarya was spectacular and the team gave him the resources to carry the team, helping them make it first out of their group and advance to the next stage of the Overwatch APEX.
In the second stage of the tournament, the team changed their focus slightly, not giving him as many resources to carry. The time it took him to generate an ult rose as a result. In the group stage it took him roughly 2:40 minutes to generate an ultimate on Zarya.
This is pretty fast, as Zarya’s ultimate takes longer to generate. In the second group stage, it took him close to four minutes to generate a Graviton Surge. That’s a minute longer to generate an ultimate, a trend continued into Meta Athena’s series against Lunatic-Hai.
Meta Athena often used Ana’s Nano Boost on Hoon so he could generate an ultimate quicker with the increased stats. In the semifinal, Kim "NUS" Jong-seok usually used his Nano Boost on Ha "Sayaplayer" Jeong-woo instead of Hoon and Hoon was left to his own devices to generate his ult.
In their series against Lunatic-Hai, Hoon put a decreased focus on Zarya and instead mostly played D.Va. This was likely because D.Va’s Defense Matrix received a significant buff and brought her to the forefront of the meta in Korea after a recent patch.
But Meta Athena has defined their style by not playing to the meta and instead playing to their strengths, especially their ability to employ creative strategies. Meta Athena often played multiple champions that may not have been “meta picks” but fit the team’s style.
So Hoon’s D.Va play in the semifinal was in contrast to the typical Meta Athena style. He more than doubled his playtime on D.Va in this one series, in fact. He went from 33.5 minutes played to over an hour on D.Va. Conversely, Hoon has played close to four of five hours played on Zarya. Before the semifinal, Hoon played Zarya for a little over three hours.
He continued to mainly play Zarya in the second stage of Overwatch APEX despite the team dedicating less resources to him. Much of Meta Athena’s success seems to have come from Hoon’s Zarya, so his switch off the hero against Lunatic-Hai is hard to figure out.
The combination of Hoon playing Zarya less and the team putting less resources into him contributed to their defeat. Meta Athena tried to change with the meta and ditched the play-style that got them to that point. The team came far this season, but failed at one of the final hurdles. Hoon will either have to become better at other heroes or Meta Athena will need to start investing in their carry again.