Mar 17 2017 - 8:23 pm

Meta Athena crumbles KongDoo Panthera with deep hero pool

The team is officially in the OGN Overwatch APEX season two semifinals.
Overwatch Staff Reporter
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Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Is there any hero that Meta Athena can’t play? So far, the Korean team has shown willingness to play 21 of Overwatch’s 24 heroes—and one of those three, Orisa, they haven’t played only because she isn’t live yet.

Despite Meta Athena’s incredible win streak, the team is considered the underdog in OGN Overwatch APEX season two. Innovative strategies—like their creative use of Mei on Eichenwalde earlier in the week—have proved enough to take out the tournament’s lower-tier teams like Afreeca Freecs Blue. But some doubted whether they could take on APEX favorites KongDoo Panthera and Lunatic-Hai.

In Meta Athena’s March 17 match against KongDoo Panthera, the team knocked one of those teams off their kill list, pushing KongDoo Panthera to the APEX lower bracket. Meta Athena continued to whip out their most creative strategies, employing their massive hero pool to stymie KongDoo Panthera.

Contributing the most to that massive hero pool, however, was one Meta Athena player: Libero. We’ve become accustomed to Meta Athena’s Mei strategies given Libero's Eichenwalde play, but that’s not Libero’s only surprise hero. On Hanamura, map three of the series, Libero played seven different heroes; in total, he showed prowess on ten Overwatch heroes across their KongDoo Panthera matches.

Been here all along

Hanamura is a map that’s not entirely conducive for the way Meta Athena likes to play. Rather than slow pushing, Meta Athena traditionally prefers close quarters aggression—and in previous matches, they’ve used Mei to force those engagements. With Hanamura’s high walls, however, it’s not as easy as using Mei’s Ice Wall to boost the team toward a more favorable positioning. And that’s why Libero, instead, chose to start on stealth hacker Sombra.

For much of APEX, Libero played almost no Sombra at all. Totaling the numbers up, it’s less than two minutes. Her importance for Meta Athena, like with Mei, is not about getting kills, but instead, about opening up the space for the rest of the team to plow through. And even though the play didn’t go exactly as planned, it still worked.

Right out of the gate, Libero rushed toward Hanamura’s gates in stealth mode, running far ahead of his teammates. As they got closer, Libero threw his teleportation device over the wall and into KongDoo Panthera’s backline. And KongDoo Panthera wasn’t expecting it. Typically, Sombra players would wait for the EMP ultimate to wipe out abilities for an entire team. But Libero? He just went for it.

It’s likely he was hoping to hack Reinhardt, temporarily removing his ability to shield his teammates. With Reinhardt in Zarya’s barrier bubble, he needed a new target—so he looked toward Zarya herself and hacked her. The chaos of it all is enough for Meta Athena to push in and clean up KongDoo Panthera. Libero went down shortly after, however, and immediately switched off Sombra; his work with her was done, leaving his teammates to take out the rest of KongDoo Panthera. With that, Meta Athena captured the first point.

Hanamura’s second point is more favorable for Mei than its first point. With no hesitation, Libero switches to Mei to employ the Ice Wall elevator strategy. It’s intended to work the same way as it has on Eichenwalde and with Sombra on the earlier point: Get the team in fast so they can crowd KongDoo Panthera players.

Headed in from Hanamura’s left hand side building right outside the temple, Libero’s Ice Wall was used as a bridge to pop the team up and over through window typically too high to reach. KongDoo Panthera, however, expected it: They used an Ice Wall of their own to close the blinds and lock Meta Athena out, at least for a few moments.

Meta Athena ended up getting onto the point briefly—mostly thanks to Ha “Sayaplayer” Jeong Woo on Widowmaker doing lots of damage—but they’re not able to hold it. When Libero, as Mei, got taken out, he showed a willingness to switch and try something different, to do more damage. Changing over to Soldier: 76, Libero rushes in to support his team, but by the time he gets there, they’ve been pushed back.

So it’s back to Mei. And it’s ultimately this Mei that, again, got Meta Athena to the point quickly, creating new pathways and shielding the team from KongDoo Panthera. Every decision was surgically precise. Meta Athena had a plan and they executed it. A quick capture on the second point then put Meta Athena on defense. Holding the point on Hanamura meant moving forward to APEX’s next stage.

The true enemy of humanity is disorder

Symmetra isn’t a weird pick on Hanamura defense, nor is triple support, which Meta Athena ran. For their attack, KongDoo Panthera tried to play Meta Athena’s game, pulling out the double sniper—Ana and Widowmaker—to force Meta Athena away from the choke.

And it did: But Meta Athena had Libero on Symmetra—a hero the team had not shown yet in APEX. Is there a role Libero can’t play? Despite not being able to ultimately hold the first point, Meta Athena was able to create stability on the first point using Symmetra and her turrets. Without a real need to stay at the wall entrance, Meta Athena forces KongDoo Panthera to switch off the Widowmaker and run a Pharah. And that worked in KongDoo Panthera’s favor.

On the second point defense, Libero switched over to Roadhog, then to Tracer and D.Va. While the rest of Meta Athena did what they do best—up-in-your-face style play—Libero kept KongDoo Panthera in chaos and breaking apart KongDoo Panthera’s attack. In the past, KongDoo Panthera’s strengths centered on Koo “Evermore” Kyo Min on Roadhog, but being forced onto Zarya had KongDoo Panthera crumbled.

Despite being taken down by Meta Athena, however, KongDoo Panthera isn’t out of the tournament. They’ll see LW Blue, who won their lower bracket match against Afreeca Freecs Blue on March, in the lower bracket finals. The winner of that match will move on to APEX’s next stage alongside Meta Athena. Who’s moving on to the semifinals will be determined on March 21.

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