10 April 2017 - 17:16

Give up no meters: Lunatic-Hai perfects the Overwatch aggressive defense

Lunatic-Hai embraced the aggressive defense, and it pushed them toward a win.
Overwatch Staff Reporter
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Image via Blizzard Entertainment

All you see is a pair of glowing green eyes. Lunatic-Hai's Lee "Whoru" Seung Joon, on Genji, lurks in the shadows above Dorado's tight streets. Ryu "Ryujehong" Je-hong, on Ana, is peering out from the opposite high ground, awaiting the fusion core–loaded truck as it approaches the first corner.

Once it passes the first turn, Ryujehong launches his biotic grenade right into the mass of RunAway players sitting atop the payload. And that's when Whoru strikes: Ana's anti-heal puts RunAway at a massive disadvantage—and the attacking team gets torn up by Genji's blade.

By the time the OGN Overwatch APEX grand finals hit Dorado, RunAway was up 3-2. The underdog South Korean team struggled to best Lunatic-Hai on Assault and Hybrid maps, but saw a clear advantage in Escort rounds, until Dorado. Working off the momentum gained from a convincing win on Hanamura, however, Lunatic-Hai set up their defense on Dorado working from a page in their playbook—the aggressive defense.

Overwatch's aggressive defense puts the team in a position where they're unwilling to give up precious meters to the attacking team. And that's different from the norm: Usually, teams will set up at a choke point or around a corner so the attacking team has to push in at an awkward angle. The defending team has the upper hand in positioning; they take the fight to a place where they feel comfortable defending, even if it means giving up meters to the attacking team.

On Dorado, teams will often set up just past the archway leading into the city center, which means giving the attacking team an easy ride until hitting that point. Indeed, that's where RunAway attempted to hold Lunatic-Hai, and it didn't work—and RunAway ended up giving Lunatic-Hai the first point within mere minutes.

When Lunatic-Hai is on defense, they know to do something different. RunAway, expecting a pulled back defense, piles on top of the payload. When Ana's biotic grenade hits them, it's a surprise: Lunatic-Hai is not supposed to be this far up. It's not a coincidence, either. Lunatic-Hai's surgical precision in executing this aggressive defense shows this as something they've been working on—it's a page straight out of their playbook, and it worked.

Kings of the dive composition, Lunatic-Hai have a mobility advantage even on defense. Because they can zip around Dorado, whether it's with Gong "Miro" Jin-hyuk on Winston, Kim "EscA" In-jae on Tracer, or Whoru on Genji, Lunatic-Hai is able to secure both the high and low ground.

This style of play in indicative of an overarching trend in competitive Overwatch: As Overwatch continues to evolve and new play styles emerge, teams will have to get used to engaging in fights throughout maps, not just where they want to.

Like Lunatic-Hai, North American Overwatch team Selfless Gaming is a pioneer of aggression. They, too, pushed RunAway to their limits with a forceful defensive—and offensive—play style. Coming head-to-head during the Overwatch Monthly Melee in March, Selfless showcased a spawn-camp heavy style of play, pushing past the King's Row gates typically used as a choke point. Compared to Lunatic-Hai's defense on Dorado, Selfless' play is not perfect, but it still works. Selfless shows themselves willing to play anywhere, doing so without committing too many ultimates. RunAway is able to eventually take the King's Row capture point, but it took them almost the entirety of their allotted time to do so.

Likewise, RunAway is eventually able to push its way past the first archway with just over a minute left as the payload rolls into Dorado's city center during the Overwatch APEX grand finals. But that's it: The timer falls into overtime without even reaching the first checkpoint.

Lunatic-Hai struck RunAway from all angles, pushing into the RunAway backline and targeting down supports. With supports down, tanks are vulnerable—and RunAway doesn't stand a chance. And with that, Lunatic-Hai brought the series to a seventh match on Eichenwalde. With a win on Eichenwalde, Lunatic-Hai secured themselves as the Overwatch APEX champions and launched the aggressive defense into the forefront of Overwatch play styles.

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